All posts by Jim Zellmer

Reader’s workshop: The science denial curriculum

Robert Pondisco:

I owe my education career to reader’s workshop, the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project, and its founder Lucy Calkins. I started as a mid-career switcher with a two-year commitment to teach fifth grade in a South Bronx public school. Two things about my school are worth knowing: It was the lowest-performing school in New York City’s lowest-performing district. And we were devoted to Calkins’s Units of Study.

My initial response to the reading and writing “workshop model” Calkins helped make famous and ubiquitous was willing suspension of disbelief. To the degree I remembered learning to read at all, it had nothing in common with how I was expected to teach it. Next came frustration. My “TC” staff developer spoke in inscrutable koans, encouraging me to “be the author of your own teaching.” When I took that advice and gave explicit instruction, however, she shook her head and said, “That’s not teaching, that’s giving directions.” Frustration gave way to exasperation, then resistance, and finally hostility. I left the classroom determined to advocate for curriculum and instruction thanks to Calkins and balanced literacy. My struggling fifth graders needed a lot of things, but not that.

Profligacy for Austerity?

Bryan Caplan:

Suppose you strongly desire to drastically increase the amount of education that people consume.  What should you do?

The obvious answer: Make education completely free of charge – and have the government pay the the entire cost.

I say this obvious answer is obviously right.  As I explain in The Case Against Education, I favor extreme educational austerity, because I think the education system is a waste of time and money.  Nevertheless, given the goal of drastically increasing educational attainment, completely shifting the cost burden from consumers to taxpayers is highly effective.

Yes, there is some “crowding out” – when the U.S. government spends an extra billion dollars on education, consumption of education probably rises by less than a billion dollars.  Still, total U.S. consumption of education has ultimately increased by trillions of dollars as a result of past government subsidies.

This seems undeniable, but Tyler Cowen now suggests that free college is a way to restrain education spending!

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.

2011: A majority of the Madison School Board aborted the proposed Madison Property Academy IB charter school.

Is a supermarket discount coupon worth giving away your privacy?

David Lazarus:

Most large companies doing business in California are required by the state’s new privacy law to disclose what they know about customers and how that information is used.

This resulted in fairly straightforward announcements by many businesses.

Then there’s Ralphs, the supermarket chain owned by Kroger.

Customers recently encountered a form at stores spelling out information that may be collected when joining the company’s Ralphs Rewards loyalty program.

The form is eye-opening, to say the least, in laying out the extensive efforts Ralphs says it could take to learn about customers’ lives beyond the supermarket, including your job, your education, your health and your insurance coverage.

While most if not all such corporate disclosures define possible data collection as broadly as possible to err on the side of caution, Ralphs’ form is unusually all-encompassing for a supermarket loyalty program.

“It’s scandalous,” said Joseph Turow, a professor of communication at the University of Pennsylvania who focuses on privacy issues. “Why does a grocer need to know so much about its customers?”

Information Suppression in Academia and Peer Review

The Portal:

There was however, a remarkable story of science at its both best and worst that had not been told in years. After an initial tussle, we dusted off the cobwebs and decided to reconstruct it raw and share it with you, our Portal audience, for the first time. I don’t think it will be the last as we are now again looking for our old notes to tighten it up for the next telling. We hope you find it interesting, and that it inspires you younger and less established scientists to tell your stories using this new medium of long form podcasting. We hope the next place you hear this story will be in a biology department seminar room in perhaps Cambridge, Chicago, Princeton, the Bay Area or elsewhere. Until then, be well and have a listen to this initial and raw version.

CBS Anchor to Warren: Are You Saying ‘Tough Luck’ to People Who Saved for College?

Andrew Kugle:

CBS anchor Tony Dokoupil on Friday asked Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) about her exchange with a father who accused Warren of hurting people who saved for college.

“For Americans who are in that father’s position, who felt they did the right thing and you’re bailing out those who didn’t, what’s your response?” Dokoupil said.

“Look, we build a future going forward by making it better,” Warren said. “By that same logic what would we have done? Not started Social Security because we didn’t start it last week for you, or last month for you?”

Yale Art History Department to scrap survey course

Margaret Hedeman and Matt Kristofferson:

Yale will stop teaching a storied introductory survey course in art history, citing the impossibility of adequately covering the entire field — and its varied cultural backgrounds — in one course.

Decades old and once taught by famous Yale professors like Vincent Scully, “Introduction to Art History: Renaissance to the Present” was once touted to be one of Yale College’s quintessential classes. But this change is the latest response to student uneasiness over an idealized Western “canon” — a product of an overwhelmingly white, straight, European and male cadre of artists.

This spring, the final rendition of the course will seek to question the idea of Western art itself — a marked difference from the course’s focus at its inception. Art history department chair and the course’s instructor Tim Barringer told the News that he plans to demonstrate that a class about the history of art does not just mean Western art. Rather, when there are so many other regions, genres and traditions — all “equally deserving of study” — putting European art on a pedestal is “problematic,” he said.

“I believe that every object I discuss in [“Introduction to Art History: Renaissance to the Present”] (with the possible exception of one truly ghastly painting by Renoir) is of profound cultural value,” Barringer said in an email to the News. “I want all Yale students (and all residents of New Haven who can enter our museums freely) to have access to and to feel confident analyzing and enjoying the core works of the western tradition. But I don’t mistake a history of European painting for the history of all art in all places.”

Computers that can make commitments

Chris Dixon:

What else can you do with computers that make commitments? One fertile area being explored is re-architecting popular internet services like social networks and marketplaces so that they make strong, positive commitments to their communities. For example, users can get commitments baked into the code that their data will be kept private and that they won’t get de-platformed without due process. Third-party developers can safely invest in their businesses knowing that the rules are baked into the network and can’t change, protecting them from platform risk. Using the financial features of blockchains, users and developers can receive tokens in order to participate in the upside of the network as it grows.

A Johns Hopkins Study Reveals the Scientific Secret to Double How Fast You Learn

Jeff Haden:

When you’re trying to learn something new — like, say, making that new sales demo really sing — you need to practice. When you’re trying to gain expertise, how much you practice is definitely important.

But even more important is the way you practice.

Most people simply repeat the same moves. Like playing scales on the piano, over and over again. Or going through the same list of vocabulary words, over and over again. Or, well, repeating anything over and over again in the hopes you will master that task.

Not only will your skills not improve as quickly as they could, in some cases, they may actually get worse.

According to research from Johns Hopkins, “What we found is if you practice a slightly modified version of a task you want to master, you actually learn more and faster than if you just keep practicing the exact same thing multiple times in a row.”

Madison 2020 Referendum Climate: Taxpayers decide some states aren’t worth it

Ben Eisen and Laura Kusisto:

The average property tax bill in the U.S. in 2018 was about $3,500, according to Attom Data

Solutions, a real-estate data firm. But many residents in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and California had been deducting well over

$10,000 a year. In Westchester County, N.Y., the average property-tax bill was more than $17,000, the highest in the country.

Among the people who are uprooting, many say they had long considered a change. But they saw the tax law as a reason to finally undertake the potentially difficult task of changing their state residency.

“It was another bucket of straw on the back of the camel,” said John Lee, a wealth-management executive and longtime resident of the

Sacramento, Calif., area. Mr. Lee and his wife, Tracy, moved their primary residence last winter to Incline Village, a resort community on the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe.

Let’s Compare: Middleton and Madison Property Taxes

2019: Madison increases property taxes by 7.2%, despite tolerating long term, disastrous reading results

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.

Yale Faculty call for ideological diversity

Valeria Pavilonis & Matt Kristoffersen:

But conservative professors criticized what they saw as a lack of effort to recruit a faculty body that better represents the nation’s political makeup. Four professors interviewed by the News said that as is, Yale’s climate stifles political discourse. According to a 2017 survey, almost 75 percent of Yale professors said they were liberal. Still, according to University President Peter Salovey, Yale is actively seeking to recruit scholars from a range of backgrounds with different perspectives.

“I think diverse points of view, ideas that challenge the mainstream … represented in a University setting are critical to both providing a great educational environment and also to making headway in scholarship and research,” Salovey said in an interview with the News. “And that diversity of thinking includes, but is not limited to, a range of political opinions.”

The University’s reputation as a liberal school is not new. Conservative pundits often consider Yale to be a perfect atmosphere for “snowflakes” — a term used against students and faculty members who passionately advocate for ideas far to the left of the American political spectrum. And in a 2017 News survey, under 10 percent of Yale faculty respondents identified as conservative. This finding nearly matched nationwide data from a different faculty political opinion poll cited by Inside Higher Ed in 2007 nearly a decade prior.

According to another study conducted by a professor at Sarah Lawrence College and a researcher at Stanford University, academics in the Northeast are polarized even more. The ratio of liberals to conservatives is 28:1 according to this data from 2014.

To prominent history professor Carlos Eire GRD ’79, Yale’s liberal bent can choke productive discussion.

Nowhere Is the Hypocrisy of Progressives More Apparent Than in Education

Nikima Levy Armstrong:

In the years leading up to my run, progressives talked a good game about their desire for equity, diversity and inclusion. I watched as they marched in the streets with us during Black Lives Matter protests. They put #BlackLivesMatter signs up in their windows and on their lawns. Some of them helped to shut down streets and freeways; while others wrote op-eds and made passionately-written Facebook posts about the need to challenge injustice and end white supremacy. Their enthusiasm and exuberance in standing for justice seemed authentic, for a while. 

However, all of that excitement and passionate commitment was put to the test when I decided to run for office on a racial justice platform, focused on ending racial disparities, closing the opportunity gaps in public education, and seizing power on behalf of communities of color that are too often marginalized and relegated to second class citizenship.

The lukewarm support that I received from some of the same progressives who had marched with me and shut shit down was like a splash of Minnesota ice cold water in my face, reminding me that things were not quite what they seemed. During my experience, I truly began to pay attention to the hypocrisy between the nice sounding words and actions of many progressives and their failure to fight for systemic changes to laws and policies and indifference to the plight of poor people of color. 

When I put two and two together, it all made sense—people who are living comfortable lives and for whom the system was designed for their benefit will rarely, if ever, make any significant sacrifices that threaten their discomfort, sense of entitlement or political power.

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.

2011: A majority of the Madison School Board aborted the proposed Madison Property Academy IB charter school.

University cancelled seminar by feminist speaker following threats of protest from transgender activists

Camilla Turner & Ewan Somerville:

A university cancelled a seminar by a feminist speaker, citing “academic freedom”, following threats of protest from transgender activists.

The University of East Anglia has been accused of “no-platforming” Kathleen Stock, a professor in philosophy at Sussex University, who was due to address academics there next week about philosophical issues surrounding diversity and inclusion.

But she was informed that her seminar has now been postponed in order to respect “the views of members of the transgender community”.

The university also cited “security and health and safety issues” and argued that allowing her talk to go ahead “raised issues of academic freedom”.

Prof Stock, who has been labelled a “Terf” by transgender activists, said she has been effective “no-platformed” by the university.

Terf, which stands for Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminists, is generally used as a derogatory term to describe those who believe that “identifying” as a woman is not the same as being born a woman. It can also be used to refer to people who are deemed to hold “transphobic” views.

Prof Stock said she had been told that the university grew concerned after transgender activists threatened to protest at the event.

“I think this is part of a wider pattern where an invitation to speak is given in the normal way, and then senior management panic in response apparently to some kind of protest,” she said.

The Best Parts of Your Childhood Probably Involved Things Today’s Kids Will Never Know

Annabelle Timsit:

The endless stretch of a lazy summer afternoon. Visits to a grandparent’s house in the country. Riding your bicycle through the neighborhood after dark. These were just a few of the revealing answers from more than 400 Twitter users in response to a question: “What was a part of your childhood that you now recognize was a privilege to have or experience?”

That question, courtesy of writer Morgan Jerkins, revealed a poignant truth about the changing nature of childhood in the US: The childhood experiences most valued by people who grew up in the 1970s and 1980s are things that the current generation of kids are far less likely to know.

That’s not a reference to cassette tapes, bell bottoms, Blockbuster movies, and other items popular on BuzzFeed listicles. Rather, people are primarily nostalgic for a youthful sense of independence, connectedness, and creativity that seems less common in the 21st century. The childhood privileges that respondents seemed to appreciate most in retrospect fall into four broad categories:

Guilty white teacher defends Madison school chaos

David Blaska:

This trenchant observation drew a response from one Stan Endiliver, who (contrary to his intention) betrays why virtue-signaling progressives like himself are piping at-risk kids to disaster by playing the victim fife.

MMSD teacher here; relax

1. If you are a parent of a student in MMSD, you have nothing to fear.[Blaska: as long as you stay out of the line of fire.] There are many caring teachers and principals that are doing great things. Our district is not perfect, but we are doing our best to serve all kids …

3. If you are looking to Blaska as a saviour, just move. [Blaska: Which is why Sun Prairie is building a second high school] He has no idea what he is talking about. I am in a MMSD school every day, and have been for 15 years, and his vision of us is ludicrous. Leading kids out of school to squad cars is exactly why we are in the position we are in. We have a lot of kids dealing with real trauma and there are a lot of problems that are rooted in mental health issues. Give the district more resources to heal, and that would be a great place to start. 

5. It all comes to back to race. Have you done your homework on Madison? The zoning? The fact that our schools were only fully integrated in 1983? The days of blindly complying with your teacher are over, but many people would love to go back to the time when it was like that.

I hear teachers say things like “when I was in school, you would never…” well guess what, when we were in school we were being socialized into a white supremacist system. That system is coming down, and this worries a lot of people, whether they consider themselves woke or not. — Stan Endiliver

That system is coming down

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.

Notes and links on previous Superintendent searches.

2013; 2019 Jennifer Cheatham and the Madison experience.

Hong Kong’s 145-year-old St Joseph’s College, which houses a declared monument, set for HK$500 million facelift

Chan Ho-him:

Hong Kong’s 145-year-old St Joseph’s College, which houses a declared monument, is set for a HK$500 million (US$64.3 million) facelift for the first time in decades.

The redevelopment plan, which spans 22 years in three phases, involves the building of a new swimming pool, a student dormitory, a new entrance and an innovation and performance hub.

The aided secondary school for boys, located on Kennedy Road in Mid-Levels and operated by the Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools, has a student population of about 1,000 and was founded in 1875.

The north and west blocks of the college, also known as the “old building” and “old hall” respectively, were built in the 1920s and are the only pre-war constructions within the campus. Because declared monuments are subjected to statutory protection, they will not be touched during the development.

Civics: What Congress Can Learn From Wisconsin About Fixing FISA Corruption

Tom Tiffany:

Innocent men and women were spied on. Several years of private phone, bank, tax, and email records were secretly seized, and a handful of families were subjected to armed pre-dawn raids of their homes simply because they engaged in political speech. To top it off, prosecutors and, even worse, a judge slapped these targets with a gag order to keep them silent. They didn’t want the public to know how far their government would go to undermine voters at the ballot box, and people who believed fervently in a cause.

Much like the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Act Court, Wisconsin’s unusual John Doe law gave prosecutors exceptional powers to conduct secret investigations on the thinnest showing of suspicion, with a judge as a one-sided partner. There is no adversarial process to determine probable cause, and the retired judges who presided over the court had no immediate accountability.

No one was ever charged with any crime, but lives were turned upside down and reputations were destroyed as prosecutors illegally leaked private documents to the press. Fortunes were spent on lawyers to defend conduct that, in the beginning and in the end, was legal.

Secrecy and a lack of accountability allowed prosecutors to turn the John Doe law from a useful law enforcement tool intended to protect the reputation of the person being investigated into an abusive weapon. The investigation went on for years, and in a sense it is not over yet. The innocent subjects of that investigation still have not received their property back from snooping bureaucrats and prosecutors. It has been more than six years.

When we learned about the vast abuses by state government officials, I worked with Walker and my legislative colleagues, including some Democrats, to end the abuse. The reforms I authored limited John Doe powers to only those crimes where secrecy really is needed, such as gang-related crimes as to which witnesses may be fearful, crimes involving children, and unsolved murders or possible murders, where the risk of smearing innocent people also is high. We eliminated the unconstitutional gag order against those under investigation and required prosecutors to renew their authority for an investigation every six months before a panel of duly elected judges who might at least be held accountable by voters.

We did that in Wisconsin. Now Congress must act similarly to fix the current FISA warrant process so it cannot be weaponized against our citizens.


UW Regents eyeing tuition increase in next budget biennium, System president says

Kelly Meyerhofer:

The tuition freeze has been in place for in-state undergraduates at four-year campuses since 2013 and in 12 of the past 14 years at the two-year campuses. The state budget passed last summer requires tuition remain frozen through the 2020-21 school year.

“We’re exploring a process, and I probably won’t be here in August, but I believe this process will be embraced by the board where they will put forward a tuition increase a year ahead of the implementation,” said Cross, who plans to retire when a new president is expected to begin sometime this summer. “In the coming biennial budget request, you will see the proposed tuition increase as a part of the revenue projections for the coming year.”

The tuition increase, which Cross told lawmakers would be “roughly” inflationary, is far from a done deal.

The regents typically approve their state budget request in August of even-numbered years. The governor and Legislature then take up their request in the first half of the following odd-numbered year by adding or removing items to the agency’s request.

System spokesman Mark Pitsch said Wednesday the regents have made no budget recommendations. Board of Regents president Drew Petersen did not immediately return a call and email seeking comment.

Cross’ hinting of a tuition increase in the next budget cycle would differ from the 2019-21 biennium when the board approved a plan that called for no tuition increases for undergraduate Wisconsin residents.

Turkey buys Delphi licenses for an estimated one million students

Jon Aasenden:

The ministry of education in Turkey recently announced that they will be offering Delphi free of charge to their students through a license deal with Embarcadero. An estimated one million students will thus learn object oriented programming through this initiative.

Getting object-pascal back into universities and education is very important. Not just for Delphi as a product and Embarcadero as a company, but to ensure that the next generation of software developers are given a firm grasp on fundamental programming concepts; concepts that represent the building-blocks that all software rests on; a curriculum that has taken heavy damage from the adoption of Java and C# in the early 2K’s.

Object Pascal as a language (including Freepascal, Oxygene and various alternative compilers) have been fluctuating between #11 and #14 on the Tiobi index for a few years. Tiobi is an index that tracks the use and popularity of languages around the world, and helps companies get an indication of where to invest. And despite what people have been led to believe, object pascal has seen stable growth for many years, and is far more widespread than sceptics would have you believe.

Big tech’s hypocritical wokeness might soon backfire

Joel Kotkin:

Not long ago, in our very same galaxy, the high-tech elite seemed somewhat like the Jedis of the modern era. Sure, they were making gobs of money, but they were also “changing the world” for the better.

Even demonstrators against capitalism revered them; when Steve Jobs died in 2011, the protesters at Occupied Wall Street mourned his passing.

Increasingly, Americans no longer regard our tech oligarchs as modern folk heroes; today companies including Google, Apple and Facebook are suffering huge drops in their reputations among the public.

Social justice, for some

The tech oligarchs make a big show of their social “wokeness.” They play up on gender issues, despite a wicked record of sexual harassment at companies like Google and across the “bro culture” of the male-dominated valley.

Worse still are issues of class. The Bay Area, as CityLab put it, has devolved into “a region of segregated innovation” where the rich wax, the middle class declines and the poor suffer increasingly unshakeable poverty. Over the past decades wages for African Americans and Latinos in Silicon Valley have fallen during the boom while much of the work, up to 40 percent, has gone to temporary immigrant workers, the modern-day equivalent of indentured servants.

Why teen depression rates are rising faster for girls than boys

The Conversation:

We’re in the middle of a teen mental health crisis – and girls are at its epicenter.

Since 2010, depression, self-harm and suicide rates have increased among teen boys. But rates of major depression among teen girls in the U.S. increased even more – from 12% in 2011 to 20% in 2017. In 2015, three times as many 10- to 14-year-old girls were admitted to the emergency room after deliberately harming themselves than in 2010. Meanwhile, the suicide rate for adolescent girls has doubled since 2007.

Rates of depression started to tick up just as smartphones became popular, so digital media could be playing a role. The generation of teens born after 1995 – known as iGen or Gen Z – were the first to spend their entire adolescence in the age of the smartphone. They’re also the first group of teens to experience social media as an indispensable part of social life.

Of course, both boys and girls started using smartphones around the same time. So why are girls experiencing more mental health issues?

Mining three surveys of more than 200,000 teens in the U.S. and U.K., my colleagues and I were able to find some answers.

School Board chooses Matthew Gutiérrez as next Madison superintendent

Scott Girard:

Gutiérrez said in the release he was “honored and humbled to be selected,” touting community engagement and support to teachers, students and families as “top priorities.”

“During my visit to Madison, I was extremely impressed with the high level of community involvement and how community members hold education as a top priority,” he said. “I realize that with this role comes a tremendous responsibility, and I will work hard to ensure that we keep our strategic framework goals and our students at the center of what we do.

Logan Wroge:

In an interview Friday, Gutierrez, 39, said he was grateful to even be considered for the job and is excited to move to Madison.

While visiting Wisconsin last week, Gutierrez said he “would be the strongest advocate for every single learner.” He said there’s still work to do in the district, but believes “all the right structures are in place.”

Throughout the summer, Gutierrez said he plans on conducting a “listening tour” to better understand the community and the district. He said he is already looking at dates before June 1 to come to Wisconsin and learn more about Madison.

As part of the listening tour, Gutierrez wants to hear from teachers about what programs and initiatives the district should focus on to prevent teachers from feeling overburdened.

“So many of the decisions that we make in central office directly impact teachers,” he said. “Sometimes we forget because we’ve been out of the classroom for 10 years, 20 years, 30 years, that we continue to pile things onto teachers.”

Gutierrez said his base salary will be $250,000, slightly higher than Cheatham’s annual salary of $246,374. He has been superintendent of the Seguin Independent School District, which is outside of San Antonio, Texas, since 2017.

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.

2011: A majority of the Madison School Board aborted the proposed Madison Property Academy IB charter school.

Notes and links on previous Superintendent searches.

2013; 2019 Jennifer Cheatham and the Madison experience.

Matthew Gutiérrez links

Cap Times’ Esenberg cartoon takes political left to new lows

Shannon M. Whitworth:

As I black man, I have had my fill of the patronizing and condescending self-righteousness of these self-appointed white guardians who justify any gutter tactic in the name of their causes. I am appalled that the irony of publishing the cartoon as we celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (someone who never would have stooped so low) seems to be completely lost on the publisher. Of the racism I have experienced since I moved to Wisconsin over 25 years ago, the worst has come from white people on the political left who presume to tell me how bothered I should be about racism in Wisconsin. This self-flagellation to have black people absolve them as “one of the good ones” is as uncomfortable as it is pathetic. Further, do not champion yourselves as protectors of black people by presuming we are too stupid to figure out how to register to vote.

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.

A Matter of Facts

Sean Wilentz:

With much fanfare, The New York Times Magazine devoted an entire issue in August to what it called the 1619 Project. The project’s aim, the magazine announced, was to reinterpret the entirety of American history. “Our democracy’s founding ideals,” its lead essay proclaimed, “were false when they were written.” Our history as a nation rests on slavery and white supremacy, whose existence made a mockery of the Declaration of Independence’s “self-evident” truth that all men are created equal. Accordingly, the nation’s birth came not in 1776 but in 1619, the year, the project stated, when slavery arrived in Britain’s North American colonies. From then on, America’s politics, economics, and culture have stemmed from efforts to subjugate African Americans—first under slavery, then under Jim Crow, and then under the abiding racial injustices that mark our own time—as well as from the struggles, undertaken for the most part by black people alone, to end that subjugation and redeem American democracy.

The opportunity seized by the 1619 Project is as urgent as it is enormous. For more than two generations, historians have deepened and transformed the study of the centrality of slavery and race to American history and generated a wealth of facts and interpretations. Yet the subject, which connects the past to our current troubled times, remains too little understood by the general public. The 1619 Project proposed to fill that gap with its own interpretation.

To sustain its particular take on an immense subject while also informing a wide readership is a remarkably ambitious goal, imposing, among other responsibilities, a scrupulous regard for factual accuracy. Readers expect nothing less from The New York Times, the project’s sponsor, and they deserve nothing less from an effort as profound in its intentions as the 1619 Project. During the weeks and months after the 1619 Project first appeared, however, historians, publicly and privately, began expressing alarm over serious inaccuracies.

Civics: Hong Kong Protest Tech

Wilson Quarterly:

Governments also drew lessons from the so-called “Battle of Seattle” of 1999 and other actions, seeking to deter the property damage often associated with anti-capitalist protests – and blunt the effectiveness of even peaceful mass gatherings through tactics such as “kettling” (or confining) protestors to particular areas.

Hong Kong’s role as a workshop for a new era of protest takes shape amidst broader global assertions of state power that have resulted from almost two decades of deadly terrorist activity that followed 9/11. These powers are underpinned by rapid advances in the technologies used to track the movements and activities of citizens.

The 2014 Umbrella Movement – named for the umbrellas used by protestors as a shield against tear gas – had already demonstrated the formidable resolve of the city’s pro-democracy protestors. The protests that broke out again in Hong Kong in 2019, spurred by proposed changes in the territory’s extradition law, have taken the city’s residents into new terrain as the tides of fortunes have shifted back and forth over ensuing months.

The Academy Overweights Co-Authored Articles, To The Detriment Of Women, Faculty Of Color, And Faculty With Surnames That Fall Later In The Alphabet

Linus Yamane:

In light of the frequent campus climate issues of recent years, many of us in higher education have been thinking about inherent biases in our institutions’ appointment, promotion and tenure systems. How might faculty of color and women be systematically thwarted when they try to move up the academic labor market? One fundamental way such biases manifest themselves is how academe gives credit for single-author and multiple-author journal article publications.

In my field of economics, the number of authors per paper has increased monotonically over time. …  [I]f departments do not distinguish between single-authored and co-authored journal articles, it is easier to increase the number of publications with co-authors.

When I talk with faculty members of color, they express a concern about this practice of co-authoring papers. They tell me that it is harder for faculty of color to find co-authors. In many ways, finding a co-author is like finding a spouse. We tend to marry people who look like ourselves. Tall people tend to marry other tall people. Educated people tend to marry other educated people. White people tend to marry other white people. There are similar patterns with co-authors. They tend to have ties to the same graduate schools. They have interests in the same subfields. And faculty members of color tend to write with other faculty of color. But with fewer faculty of color in academe, it is harder for those scholars to find appropriate co-authors.

Unfortunately, while the practice of co-authoring articles creates a bias against faculty of color, we can do little to change the situation immediately. If we can increase the number of faculty members of color in higher education, that will help, but it will take some time.

For today, we must focus on being careful about properly crediting the work in co-authored journal articles when we evaluate faculty members. While single-author papers send a clear signal about skills and abilities of the author, co-authored papers do not provide specific information about each author’s skills and abilities. That ambiguity can result in systematic biases. We must make sure that we recognize the work of co-authors in a fair and consistent way. …

‘I hope the concept of cultural appropriation is a passing fad’

Lionel Shriver:

I hate to disappoint you folks, but unless we stretch the topic to breaking point this address will not be about “community and belonging.” In fact, you have to hand it to this festival’s organisers: inviting a renowned iconoclast to speak about “community and belonging” is like expecting a great white shark to balance a beach ball on its nose.

The topic I had submitted instead was “fiction and identity politics,” which may sound on its face equally dreary.

But I’m afraid the bramble of thorny issues that cluster around “identity politics” has got all too interesting, particularly for people pursuing the occupation I share with many gathered in this hall: fiction writing. Taken to their logical conclusion, ideologies recently come into vogue challenge our right to write fiction at all. Meanwhile, the kind of fiction we are “allowed” to write is in danger of becoming so hedged, so circumscribed, so tippy-toe, that we’d indeed be better off not writing the anodyne drivel to begin with.

Let’s start with a tempest-in-a-teacup at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine. Earlier this year, two students, both members of student government, threw a tequila-themed birthday party for a friend. The hosts provided attendees with miniature sombreros, which—the horror— numerous partygoers wore.

Media Stupidity Is Uniting Left and Right

Matt Taibbi:

Just a few elections ago, the national press policed the boundaries of both Democrat and Republican politics. You couldn’t sniff either party’s nomination without media assent.

After more high-profile crackups, including a few over the weekend, the press might be months from being pushed all the way to the outside of a general election campaign. Having declared war on Donald Trump and his voters years ago, news outlets are committing to a similar pile-on of Bernie Sanders.

Maybe this will end as an inspirational unity story, like Independence Day, when an invasion of gross aliens brought America together. At present, it just seems short-sighted.

The low point came Saturday, when Joy Reid on MSNBC’s AM Joy show had on a “body language expert” named Janine Driver to declare Sanders a liar, because his posture reminds her of a turtle. There’s not much to say about this except it’s the same combo of junk forensics and yellow journalism that Bill O’Reilly made infamous.

Restating talking points has become rather common, unfortunately.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Pocket Worthy · Stories to fuel your mind. Too Many Americans Will Never Be Able to Retire

Noah Smith:

The U.S. bounced back from falling fertility once before, in the late 1980s. But as economist Lyman Stone has written, there are reasons why history may not repeat itself. High and increasing costs of housing, child care and education show no sign of reversing. The need for ever-higher levels of education in order to thrive in the U.S. job market is causing families to delay childbirth, which results in fewer children. Stone projects that U.S. fertility rates could fall as low as 1.5 or 1.4 — the levels that prevail in Japan and some European countries.

There is one more source of population growth that the U.S. has traditionally depended on — immigration. Low-skilled immigrants make it easier to raise kids by providing cheap child-care services. High-skilled immigrants earn more and pay a lot of taxes, while using few government services themselves, meaning that their fiscal contribution is enormously positive:

Related: Property taxes for schools up by highest rate in a decade.

Madison Memorial student arrested after trying to bring knife into school

Scott Girard:

A Memorial High School student was arrested Thursday morning while allegedly trying to bring a “long fix-bladed kitchen knife” into the school, according to the Madison Police Department.

An incident report states a plow driver called 911 after seeing the student walking near the school with the knife around 9:21 a.m.

“The witness said the suspect attempted to conceal the weapon up a sleeve after realizing he was being watched by the plow driver,” the report states.

2005: Gangs and school violence forum: audio and video.

2017: West High Teacher on our disastrous reading results:

“Here’s my data from this year and this is why I’m here: 

Of the 65 students plus or minus it kind of changes this year 24 of them are regular ed students. 

Another way to say they don’t have an IEP so there is no excuse for that reading intervention in (that group). 

12 of those 24 have been enrolled in Madison School since Pre-K kindergarten or kindergarden. 12 students have been in Madison Schools.”

Why Black People in Madison Wisconsin are Impatient, and Should Be.

Kaleem Caire:

With regard to K-12 education, Madison has known about the widespread underperformance of Black children in our city’s public schools for more than 50 years, and the situation has gotten worse. Instead of creating important and transformationl systemic changes, we act like “programs” alone will solve our problems, when we know full well that they will not.

I hope after reading (or scanning) this list, that you join me in becoming extraordinarily and absolutely impatient in your desire to address these challenges, and engage in less talk and more action and investment so we can do a far better job or preparing future generations to climb out the potholes that previous generations, and ours, have created for them.

We have been dealing with these disparities for far too long. In K-12 education in Madison, despite modest investments in efforts to improve things, we have seen little progress. It’s not that we haven’t done anything. You will see below that work has been done and investments have been made. However, we have never really focused on creating and manifesting broad systemic and comprehensive change in the institutions that could help us move forward, such as our public schools. Going forward, we must do more and do better. We cannot afford to lose another generation to our ignorance, soft approaches or inaction.

Please read below and see for yourself just how long we’ve been spinning in circles. This is why Black people in Madison are impatient, and we should be.

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.

2011: A majority of the Madison School Board aborted the proposed Madison Property Academy IB charter school.

Commentary on Madison’s K-12 Climate (lacks a substantive look at our long term, disastrous reading results)

Child opportunity index:

But the data don’t paint an entirely rosy picture for Madison. In a pattern researchers have mapped across the country, local black and Hispanic children are disproportionately concentrated in “very low opportunity” neighborhoods, and white children have significant advantages.

Michael Johnson, president and CEO of the Boys & Girls Club of Dane County, urged area residents to take a hard look at how the city is serving all children, not just those in affluent neighborhoods.

“We should be careful not to over-celebrate when there are too many young people still hurting from the challenges we face in our region,” he said. “On one hand, it’s a great win for the city to get a score like that, but it’s not reflective of how African American families are actually living — especially kids.”

The study adds to a growing body of research demonstrating that the places where children grow up influence their long-term health, education and career outcomes. Most famously, economist Raj Chetty’s Opportunity Insights project has shown how a child’s future is shaped by the ZIP code he or she lives in.

The report.

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.

The teachers’ strike gripped LA for 6 days. A year later, what are the results?

Howard Blume & Sonali Kohli:

Arnoldo Vargas’ life hasn’t changed much since last January when he joined thousands of Los Angeles teachers in a momentous six-day strike. He drives the same 2006 Camry, has no more than 41 students in his art classes compared to an average of 42 last year, and would love to see his own eighth-grade son and first-grade daughter in smaller classes.

“A lot of the gains, I don’t see them … day-to-day, to be honest,” said Vargas, who teaches at Banning High School in Wilmington.

A year after some 30,000 teachers walked out of their classrooms and upended the daily routine of more than half a million students and their families, most parents and teachers would be hard-pressed to see defining differences in classrooms and schools. Most classes are one student smaller, and the district has been unable to hire the nurses promised for every campus.

The strike helped fuel a nationwide wave of activism and drew attention to what many say is a lack of resources supporting public schools. But there remains much debate about how much — or how little — changed inside classrooms.

Civics: Pack the Union: A Proposal to Admit New States for the Purpose of Amending the Constitution to Ensure Equal Representation

Harvard Law Review:

For most of the twenty-first century, the world’s oldest surviving democracy has been led by a chief executive who received fewer votes than his opponent in an election for the position.1× The first of these executives started a war based on false pretenses that killed hundreds of thousands of civilians.2× The second — a serial abuser of women3× who hired as his campaign manager a lobbyist for violent dictatorships4× — authorized an immigration policy that forcibly separated migrant children from their families and indefinitely detained them in facilities described as “concentration camps”.

Democracy, as they say, is messy

But even when democracy is messy, a society’s commitment to the endeavor rests on the belief that giving power to the people is appropriate and fair.7× Recent events have highlighted some of the ways in which federal elections in the United States are profoundly undemocratic and, thus, profoundly unfair.8× The Electoral College — when it contravenes the popular vote — is an obvious example of this unfairness. But it is just one of the mathematically undemocratic features in the Constitution. Equal representation of states in the Senate, for example, gives citizens of low-population states undue influence in Congress. Conversely, American citizens residing in U.S. territories have no meaningful representation in Congress or the Electoral College.

How can we create a workforce full of lifelong learners?

Ravi Kumar:

We all agree that the world we work in today is so different from the world that was when our current learning systems were designed. Everything around us—our workplaces, our workforce, and entire industries. And learning—continuous, lifelong learning—is a bare essential for us to keep up.

The people who will flourish in this new world are those who can a) learn to learn, b) learn to unlearn, and c) learn to relearn. Yet, in a recent global survey of 1,000 business leaders, conducted by Infosys Knowledge Institute, these skills received short shrift. Respondents were far more likely to list teamwork, leadership, and communication when asked which skills they considered to be important now. While this thinking limits the tremendous potential in the talent market, the finding itself points to the huge latent competitive advantage for companies that actually nurture learnability and embrace lifelong learning.

Is college still worth it?

Michelle Singletary:

Soon, high school seniors across the country will find out which colleges have accepted them for admission in the fall.

For many, next comes a decision that could tether them to monthly debt payments for decades.

Outstanding student debt stood at $1.5 trillion in the third quarter of 2019, an increase of $20 billion over the previous quarter, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

Without adequate savings or enough scholarships and grants to go around, students and their parents feel they have no other choice than to take out student loans.

But, rightfully so, this debt sentence has sparked a debate: Is college still worth it?

How to Read Less News But Be More Informed, According to a Futurist

Ephrat Livni:

You might think someone who gets paid to predict the future would be mad for gadgets and forever spouting off on social media. But you’d be wrong. Writer and futurist Richard Watson may teach London business students and Silicon Valley tech companies how to think about crafting tools for tomorrow, but he’s not even on Twitter.

What’s more, Watson doesn’t really follow the news in any conventional way. He reads Sunday newspapers, in print, retrospectively. He’s not trying to catch up but to check and see which of the many headlines turned out to be relevant a few weeks or a month later. In other words, Watson is neutral about current events. He’s placing any given moment in a much greater context than the day or the week. Watson’s scale is grand and includes all of human history and its possible futures. In this very long view, nothing is such a big deal, although anything may become relevant eventually.

Should You Go to Graduate School?

Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic:

Although the rich world is enjoying a long spell of unprecedented job growth and low unemployment, competition for the most competitive roles remains fierce. Tech companies like Google and Microsoft reportedly receive two million applications per year, and banks like Goldman Sachs attract in the thousands.

While these employers, among a growing number of others, are unanimously highlighting the importance of critical soft skills — such as emotional intelligence, resilience, and learnability — as determinants of performance, the most in-demand jobs require graduate credentials, to the point of surpassing current levels of supply. Consider, for example, that there are around 500,000 open IT jobs, but only 50,000 new IT graduates each year.

At the same time, the number of people enrolling in university continues to rise, effectively devaluating the undergraduate degree. In America, one-third of adults are college graduates, a figure that was just 4.6% in the 1940s. Globally, UNESCO reports that the number of students earning a university degree has more than doubled in the past 20 years.

School and Parent Choice + Taxpayer Funds Supreme Court Case: Kendra Espinoza vs Montana Department of Revenue

Supreme Court:

MR. KOMER: Mr. Chief Justice, and may it please the Court:

This case asks whether the Federal Constitution allows the wholesale exclusion of religious schools from scholarship programs. It does not.

Yet, Montana’s Blaine Amendment requires that exclusion. As a result, the Blaine Amendment discriminates against religious conduct, beliefs, and status in violation of the free-exercise clause under Trinity Lutheran.

The Montana Supreme Court disagreed. That court held that barring religious schools from the program did not violate the Federal Constitution

Notes and links on Espinoza v Montana.

Mission vs organization: leadership of the taxpayer supported ($500m+ annually) Madison School District

David Blaska:

Only 8.9% of Madison’s African American high school students are proficient in English, according to 2019 ACT scores. One of every five African American students never graduate. In math, 65% of black students test below basic proficiency, according to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. Not to worry, the district now prohibits teachers from telling parents if their child wants to change genders.

Cheatham’s behavior education plan, Anderson wrote, “led students to conclude that there are no longer any consequences for bad behavior.”

The parents and teachers at Jefferson Middle School know that all too well. They are wondering how a 13-year-old boy who shot another student with a BB gun in December remained in school after two dozen previous incidents, including threatening to “kill everyone in the school.” The district is hunting down the whistleblower who leaked the student’s chronic misbehavior record.

School gag rules hide much of the chaos in the classroom, but no schoolhouse door can contain the disrespect for authority — as when 15 to 20 young teenagers busted up Lakeview Library last March, taunting: “We don’t have to listen to the police.” In December alone, 56 cars were stolen in Madison. Police arrested 15 kids (all but two younger than 17), along with three adults.

The district’s brain-dead, zero-tolerance for the N-word — no matter the educational context — resulted in the summary dismissal of a beloved black security guard and of a Hispanic teacher. The district still hasn’t done right by a dedicated positive behavior coach at Whitehorse Middle School, who school officials threw under the bus even before the district attorney cleared him of all wrong-doing. (The man is white.)

Parents are voting with their feet. MMSD enrollment is expected to decline — even though more people are moving here than any other city in the state. Meanwhile, Sun Prairie is building a second high school. Between the state open enrollment program and private schools, just over 13% of Madison’s children are opting out. Good luck convincing their parents to vote for Madison’s $350 million spending referendums next fall.

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.

Notes and links on previous Superintendent searches.

2013; 2019 Jennifer Cheatham and the Madison experience.

“I’ve never worked [for a school district] more obsessed with mediocrity….”

Dylan Brogan:

On top of news headlines over safety problems at Jefferson, the district is also

investigating a whistleblower who is believed to be a teacher at the school.

Using an anonymous email account, the educator leaked to Isthmus and Channel3000 the behavior record of the student who shot two classmates with a BB gun. Isthmus did not report on the document when it was received on Dec. 11. But the television station ran with it, using the headline, “Student in BB gun incident previously threatened to ‘kill everyone in the school.’”

The leaked document was a report from EduClimber, software that teachers use to track student behavior incidents. It showed that the student on Sept. 20 was yelling threats in the hallway including “how he hated school and wanted to shoot it up and kill everyone in the school.”

The staff member who documented the incident also wrote that the student’s “language felt like attention seeking behavior rather than actual threats.”

“However, I have no idea how the students in class felt about his comments regarding shooting up the school and killing people,” adds the Jefferson teacher in the EduClimber report. “Over time he calmed down and was able to stay in the class.”

For weeks, Isthmus has been in contact with the whistleblower via email. The teacher says the document was leaked to the media because it was proof that Kurth had “been lying.” 

After the BB gun incident, Kurth had written in a Dec. 3 email to parents that “at this time we do not have any reason to believe the student intended to harm anyone with it.”

A Jefferson parent, who did not wish to give her name, says her daughter was on the bus when the incident occurred. She was upset about how Kurth handled the situation, especially after she saw the Channel3000 story.

“[The story] revealed that this same boy threatened to kill everyone at the school and was involved in 25 incidents in just a few months. That seems like Dr. Kurth lied,” says the parent. “A typical person would know that his threats and behavior go hand-in-hand and that he needs help. Plus, it’s just scary to think that someone threatened our kids and we were never told by the school, and that the same kid was still allowed at school and on the school bus.”

Why are Madison middle school principals leaving?

Choose Life: China’s Birthrate Hits Historic Low, in Looming Crisis for Beijing

Sui-Lee Wee and Steven Lee Myers:

The number of babies born in China last year fell to a nearly six-decade low, exacerbating a looming demographic crisis that is set to reshape the world’s most populous nation and threaten its economic vitality.

About 14.6 million babies were born in China in 2019, according to the National Bureau of Statistics. That was a nearly 4 percent fall from the previous year, and the lowest official number of births in China since 1961, the last year of a widespread famine in which millions of people starved to death. That year, only 11.8 million babies were born.

Births in China have now fallen for three years in a row. They had risen slightly in 2016, a year after the government ended its one-child policy and allowed couples to have two children, a shift that officials hoped would drive a sustained increase in the number of newborns. But that has not materialized.

Reasons Not to Study Life Science or Anything Related

Lei Mao:

So sounds like you don’t need to know anything and there is no prerequisite in order to do life science studies. This is true to some extent. Otherwise you would not see there are so many middle school or high school students spending their summer doing life science research in some labs. The only one thing I think is useful for life science or you can learn from life science is the design of experiments. This is probably the only thing in life science that shares something in common with other disciplines. What makes you stand out in life science is not how well you are doing for the course work, but how well you know about using different kind of experiment instruments, and your experiences of different kind of life science experiments. These knowledge and skills are highly domain specific, and they do not apply to other disciplines.

Wait, how about data analysis? Can we learn data analysis from life science? In life science, the experiments could be categorized based on the size of data you generated. For experiments generating small amount of data, usually it is too simple to analyze, and you would learn nothing. Compute the mean and standard deviation of the samples, analyze whether there is any statistical difference between the control group and experiment group. Because usually the students and even the professors do not know too much about statistics, they often made mistakes in choosing the right statistical methods for analysis, thus resulting in error-prone conclusions. This is called “You don’t know what you were doing”. For experiments generating large amount of data, such as genome sequencing experiments, it is usually handled and processed by professional software. Essentially you got results magically from a black-box software without knowing what the underlying analytical algorithms are. This is called “You don’t know what it was doing”.

The Triple Jeopardy of a Chinese Math Prodigy

Kit Chellel and Jeremy Hodges

Before he was denounced as a thief and cast out of the hedge fund industry, before he was a Goldman Sachs banker or a math prodigy, Ke Xu was a little boy in Hubei province, China, who loved puzzles. His parents, junior government clerks, didn’t have much money, so Xu would scour the house to find old algebra and science textbooks. He spent hours with the series 100,000 Whys, children’s brainteasers with a Maoist flavor. The commune wants to build 40 tractors—how many wheels should it buy?

When Xu was 16, his head teacher identified him as a gifted student and recommended him for a scholarship at the Raffles Institution in Singapore, a prestigious British-style boarding school with the Latin motto Auspicium melioris aevi (Hope of a better age). Xu mastered English and cruised through his classes, if not the school’s extracurricular activities. Cricket was a mystery he could never solve.

Madison West High School student found with loaded handgun in school, police say

Logan Wroge:

West High School student was arrested Tuesday after he brought a loaded handgun to the Near West Side school, Madison police said.

Tyrese T. Williams, 18, was arrested on a tentative felony charge of possession of a firearm in a school zone, Madison police spokesman Joel DeSpain said.

West High’s school resource officer received information Tuesday morning about a student possibly having a gun in the building, DeSpain said. The handgun was found in Williams’ backpack when it was searched, DeSpain said.

Principal Karen Boran said in an email to parents that “response protocols” were put in place when school staff learned about the potential of a firearm.

2005: Gangs and school violence forum: audio and video.

2017: West High Teacher on our disastrous reading results:

“Here’s my data from this year and this is why I’m here: 

Of the 65 students plus or minus it kind of changes this year 24 of them are regular ed students. 

Another way to say they don’t have an IEP so there is no excuse for that reading intervention in (that group). 

12 of those 24 have been enrolled in Madison School since Pre-K kindergarten or kindergarden. 12 students have been in Madison Schools.”

More, here.

NBC 15 coverage:

Police department spokesman Joel DeSpain said a school resource officer was notified Tuesday morning that a student may have a gun in the building.

DeSpain said the gun was found in Tyrese T. Williams’ backpack. The 18-year-old was arrested for possessing a firearm in a school zone.

According to Tim Lemonds, the school district spokesperson, in an interview with NBC15 News: “The way the principal and her team and especially our educational resource officer – the way they were able to respond quickly and isolate this student and make that area safe for other students, to address the issue, was exactly the way we train.”

A letter was sent to parents by Madison West High School principal Karen Boran.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: school district’s over reliance on property taxes

The Economist:

In 1990 a generation of baby-boomers, with a median age of 35, owned a third of America’s real estate by value. In 2019 a similarly sized cohort of millennials, aged 31, owned just 4%. Young people’s view that housing is out of reach—unless you have rich parents—helps explain their drift towards “millennial socialism”. And homeowners of all ages who are trapped in declining places resent the windfall housing gains enjoyed in and around successful cities. In Britain areas with stagnant housing markets were more likely to vote for Brexit in 2016, even after accounting for differences in income and demography.

Religious-schools case heads to a Supreme Court skeptical of stark lines between church and state

Robert Barnes:

Parents who believe religious schools such as Stillwater absolutely are the places for their children are at the center of what could be a landmark Supreme Court case testing the constitutionality of state laws that exclude religious organizations from government funding available to others. In this case, the issue rests on whether a scholarship fund supported by tax-deductible donations can help children attending the state’s private schools, most of which are religious.

A decision in their favor would “remove a major barrier to educational opportunity for children nationwide,” plaintiffs said in their brief to the Supreme Court. It is part of a movement by school choice advocates such as Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to allow government support of students seeking what she recently called “faith-based education.”

Said Erica Smith, a lawyer representing the parents: “If we win this case, it will be the U.S. Supreme Court once again saying that school choice is fully constitutional and it’s a good thing and it’s something parents should have. And that will provide momentum to the entire country.”

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, said such a ruling would be a “virtual earthquake,” devastating to the way states fund public education.

And Montana told the court that, as in 37 other states, it is reasonable for its constitution to prohibit direct or indirect aid to religious organizations.

“The No-Aid Clause does not prohibit any religious practice,” Montana said in its brief. “Nor does it authorize any discriminatory benefits program. It simply says that Montana will not financially aid religious schools.”

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.

New York City now spends $325 million a year to send students with disabilities to private schools

Alex Zimmerman:

Shortly after Mayor Bill de Blasio took office in 2014, he made it easier for students with disabilities to attend private schools with the city picking up the tab.

That policy change is quietly having an enormous impact: The cost of sending students with disabilities to private schools has doubled since de Blasio was sworn in and has reached $325 million per year, dwarfing the price tag of some of the mayor’s highest-profile education initiatives.

The expense eclipses the mayor’s Renewal program to turn around struggling schools ($192 million per year); a recent increase in the funding formula that governs city school budgets ($125 million); and even the often-debated Absent Teacher Reserve for educators without permanent placements ($136 million in 2018).

“Progressive Cities have higher graduation gaps between students of color and white students than conservative cities”


Leaders of progressive cities often frame their policy proposals in terms of what’s best for those with the least opportunity and the greatest obstacles. And yet, students in America’s most progressive cities face greater racial inequity in achievement and graduation rates than students living in the nation’s most conservative cities.

As you read, keep in mind that this is a first look at the problem plaguing progressive cities. Our work is just getting started.

Progressive cities are failing to prepare students for their future.

Our most conservative cities are closing opportunity gaps.

This report is an attempt to highlight a problem we see as fixable.

All of us, whether we identify as progressive or conservative, should not be satisfied with impassioned rhetoric and token initiatives alone. We need positive action.

It’s time to stand up and make sure our leaders work with communities to create a path for success for all students.

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.

There’s a new obstacle to landing a job after college: Getting approved by AI

Rachel Metz:

College career centers used to prepare students for job interviews by helping them learn how to dress appropriately or write a standout cover letter. These days, they’re also trying to brace students for a stark new reality: They may be vetted for jobs in part by artificial intelligence.

At schools such as Duke University, Purdue University, and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, career counselors are now working to find out which companies use AI and also speaking candidly with students about what, if anything, they can do to win over the algorithms. This shift in preparations comes as more businesses interested in filling internships and entry-level positions that may see a glut of applicants turn to outside companies such as HireVue to help them quickly conduct vast numbers of video interviews.

Why Won’t My Child Show Any Work?

Matt Weber:

As an AoPS Academy campus director, a big part of my job is meeting with parents of prospective students. One of the most common complaints I hear is that their children never show any work. Parents are surprised when I push back, gently, on the underlying assumptions. In fact, showing work is sometimes a bad idea, and forcing students to show work unnecessarily can be harmful.

Doing all math work mentally is, of course, not a good habit. Adults understand this because they have been through the entire course of schooling, and they know what lies ahead for their children. They know that Algebra, Geometry, and other higher level classes will require students to lay out their thoughts on paper in order to have any hope of solving the problems.

But many students who come to us can get everything right in their school math classes without showing any work at all. Why should they? The directive to write down lots of intermediate steps often feels like something that is done for the teacher’s benefit, not for the student’s.

China’s Birthrate Hits Historic Low, in Looming Crisis for Beijing

Sui-Lee Wee and Steven Lee Myers:

The number of babies born in China last year fell to a nearly six-decade low, exacerbating a looming demographic crisis that is set to reshape the world’s most populous nation and threaten its economic vitality.

About 14.6 million babies were born in China in 2019, according to the National Bureau of Statistics. That was a nearly 4 percent fall from the previous year, and the lowest official number of births in China since 1961, the last year of a widespread famine in which millions of people starved to death. That year, only 11.8 million babies were born.

Births in China have now fallen for three years in a row. They had risen slightly in 2016, a year after the government ended its one-child policy and allowed couples to have two children, a shift that officials hoped would drive a sustained increase in the number of newborns. But that has not materialized.

Hong Kong teachers living in fear over protest support

Xinqi SU and Yan Zhao:

Hong Kong’s teachers say they are living in fear as the city’s democracy protests rumble on, with some not daring to discuss the movement and others anxious they could even lose their jobs if they are caught supporting it.

The education sector has always been at the vanguard of the financial hub’s pro-democracy fight, with teachers and students taking to the streets in 2012 to oppose a government order for schools to teach classes that praised China’s communist history while criticising democracy movements.

And since the recent wave of protests started last June, police said out of the 6,500 people arrested, about one third are students and around 80 are teachers.

Millions have come out on the streets in demonstrations sparked by opposition to a now-abandoned proposal to allow extraditions to mainland China.

But they morphed into wider demands for greater democratic freedoms and police accountability in the starkest challenge to Beijing since the former British colony was returned to Chinese rule in 1997.

– Explain every post –

Primary school teacher Nelson is facing disciplinary proceedings for writing Facebook posts critical of the police, telling AFP he is under investigation by the education bureau following an anonymous tip.

Feds close 1 of 4 cases into UW-Madison’s handling of sexual assault

Kelly Meyerhofer:

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights dismissed a UW-Madison case in November because of the agency’s inability to contact the person who filed the complaint to get information relevant to the investigation, according to a department spokesperson.

Federal and university officials declined this week to provide details on the closed case, which was launched in May 2016.

A federal student privacy law prevents the university from sharing specifics, UW-Madison spokeswoman Meredith McGlone said. She noted the university uses timely and fair policies and practices to investigate allegations of sexual assault.

A survey of UW-Madison students released last fall found that about one in four responding undergraduate women reported they had experienced some form of unwanted sexual contact during their time at the university, while 11% had been raped. The survey also showed students reporting higher levels of knowledge about sexual assault and campus resources than a similar survey conducted in 2015.

Disruptive students may not be the easiest to have in class, but perhaps defiance should be encouraged.

Ashley Lamb-Sinclair:

It tends to be common knowledge that Albert Einstein was bad at school, but less known is that he was also bad in school. Einstein not only received failing grades—a problem for which he was often summoned to the headmaster’s office—but he also had a bad attitude. He sat in the back of the class smirking at the teacher; he was disrespectful and disruptive; he questioned everything; and, when he was faced with the ultimatum to straighten up or drop out, he dropped out. That’s right: Albert Einstein was a dropout. And yet, he grew up to become one of the greatest thinkers in human history.

One can write off Einstein’s accomplishments as an exception to the rule; they can reason that his behavior was actually a symptom of being so smart that school didn’t challenge him, which is probably somewhat true. But what if what made Einstein a change agent was his rebellious nature rather than his intelligence? After all, the world is full of brilliant people who accomplish very little compared to Einstein.

Chicago Teachers Union Inc.: How the clout-heavy labor group spends its money

Lauren Fitzpatrick & Nader Issa:

Some CTU members have grumbled on Facebook about how their dues — a flat $55.85 per pay period — are being spent directly on political candidates. For example, the union put $215,000 into Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle’s failed campaign for mayor. The CTU also shifted $56,000 from its budget to the CTU-PAC.

“Can someone please post, again, the way to opt-out of your union dues going to support political candidates?” one teacher wrote on the “Members First” Facebook page of CTU members who have been pushing for more accountability on union spending. The group unsuccessfully ran a slate against the current teachers union leadership.

“That is on the minds of many members who are frustrated with the lack of transparency and accountability in political spending,” another member responded to the Facebook post. “Opting out of PAC voluntary contributions is an option, and sends a message and hopefully brings about change.”

Asked about the union’s political activities, Jennifer Johnson, the CTU’s chief of staff, says the CTU’s work is “inherently political.” But she notes that members can decide whether their dues go to the union’s PACs.

Related: WEAC: $1.57M for four State Senators.

How Swedes were fooled by one of the biggest scientific bluffs of our time.

David Sumpter:

Over the last few years, hundreds of thousands of Swedes have spent an estimated total of more than ten million euros on a book which many of them believed contained a scientific account of human psychology, written by an expert in the area. The book’s success has led many companies and other organizations to order personality tests, from a growing number of suppliers eager to exploit the new market, and apply them on their employees. Surrounded by Idiots has had a major impact on how Swedish people talk to each other about psychology and discuss the behaviour of those around them. Indeed, Thomas Erikson has undoubtedly had the greatest influence on the public’s interest in psychology in a generation.

Unfortunately, the theory behind this book, and the various follow-ups, is no more than pseudoscientific nonsense. And Erikson appears to lack even basic knowledge of psychology or behavioural science. This is why we at VoF (Vetenskap och Folkbildning — the Swedish Skeptics Society) named Thomas Erikson fraudster of the year in 2018.

Accusing an individual of being a fraud should never be done lightly. We need to be very sure of where we stand. Here I lay out the case as to how and why Thomas Erikson books have misled so many people…

China Ends Independent Admissions Program for Colleges

Yuan Ye:

China’s decades-old independent admissions program allowing top universities to cherry-pick talents from high schools is coming to an end.

In a notice published Tuesday, China’s Ministry of Education announced that the Independent Freshman Admission Program (IFAP) — an alternative to the country’s test-centric college admission program instituted in 2003 to recruit students who may have underperformed on the rigorous exams — will be replaced by a new pilot plan that vows to address enrollment inequality with a centralized recruitment scheme.

Under the new plan, 85% of applicants’ eligibility will be based on their college entrance exam — or gaokao — scores, restricting schools from making independent decisions based on their own criteria, according to the notice. A number of universities had already lowered their preferential admissions quotas last year.

Currently, 36 elite schools have been picked for the pilot program, with the application process starting in April. However, certain students with outstanding performance in related fields — as yet unnamed — could be exempt from the strict standards, according to the notice.

The new enrollment process will be more equal and transparent than IFAP, said Wu Xiaogang, a sociologist at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. The system has been dogged by controversies over enrollment corruption and fraud, as well as accusations of favoringstudents from privileged families.

A cry for freedom in the algorithmic age

The Economist:

As artificial intelligence makes its way to all areas of life, the most prominent people aiming to explain the technology and translate it for the public tend to be scientists, businessmen and often, Americans. Gaspard Koenig is different. A French philosopher, he runs GenerationLibre, a think-tank that promotes classical liberal values of individual freedom. And he brings vibrant intellectual energy to the debate.

In his latest book, “The End of the Individual: A Philosopher’s Journey to the Land of Artificial Intelligence” (Éditions de l’observatoire, 2019), Mr Koenig argues that society should be cautious about the power of AI not because it will destroy humanity (as some argue) but because it will erode our capacity for critical judgement. He already sees that happening, as people blindly follow algorithmic recommendations, be it to watch a film or use a map. He frets this will only get worse.

Anti Parent and Student Choice Political Rhetoric

Will Flanders:

Conservatives are often accused of being “science deniers” when it comes to issues like climate change. But recent events reveal that those on the left suffer from significant confirmation bias when it comes to a stance that is increasingly central to the liberal education agenda — opposition to charter schools.

In December, the Network for Public Education put out a report entitled, “Still Asleep at the Wheel.” The study purports to examine the prevalence of waste in the Department of Education’s Charter School Program, which provides resources for new charter schools to get started, or for existing charter schools to expand and improve. 

The NPE report claims that a significant number of charter schools that received grants under the program never opened, or had already closed. But even a cursory look at the data revealed to me that at least three of the schools in my home state described as “closed” are very much open — indeed, they are among the top-performing schools in the city of Milwaukee. If they got that wrong, what else might there be?

Further examination of the report’s findings led myself and the president of School Choice Wisconsin, Jim Bender, to write a post for the Fordham Institutethat brought to light some additional errors. Indeed, at least 10 Wisconsin schools that the report claims are closed remain open. Christy Wolfe, vice president of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, identified similar errors in the identification of closed charter schools in California. Additionally, Nina Rees, president of NAPCS, pointed out that the total amount of money received by schools that never opened is likely to be far less than what is reported in the study because such schools are likely only to receive the planning portion of multi-year grants.

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.

Montclair State sued over unconstitutional speech policy, arbitrary favoritism toward student groups

Alliance Defending Freedom:

A student and a student group represented by Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys filed a federal lawsuit against Montclair State University officials Wednesday after they forced students to stop peaceful, expressive activity without a permit. The lawsuit also challenges the university’s Bias Education Response Taskforce and an unconstitutional class system that grants preferential treatment to student organizations based on their viewpoints.

On Sept. 10, 2019, Mena Botros and two fellow students dressed in orange jump suits and held up signs voicing their support—as pretend criminals—for gun-free zones. The purpose was to express their belief that laws creating gun-free zones only benefit criminals and harm law-abiding citizens. Despite peacefully expressing their ideas in a common outdoor area of campus, a campus police officer forced them to stop. He told the students that anyone who wants to speak on campus has to obtain permission at least two weeks in advance and that the dean’s office would assign them a time and place to speak. The students, affiliated with Young Americans for Liberty, are challenging the two-week requirement because it unconstitutionally suppresses all speech and because it allows the university to deny or delay a student’s request for permission for any reason.

“A public university is supposed to be a marketplace of ideas, but that marketplace can’t function if officials impose burdensome restraints on speech or if they can selectively enforce those restraints against disfavored groups,” said ADF Legal Counsel Michael Ross.

Ethnic Studies 101: Playing the Victim

Heather Mac Donald:

On November 27, 2019, Harvard University denied tenure to an ethnic-studies professor specializing in Dominican identity. Students and faculty at Harvard and across the country sprung into protest mode. The failure to tenure Lorgia García Peña, they said, resulted from Harvard’s racism. NBC Nightly News, the New York Times, the Boston Globe, and other outlets covered the controversy from the same angle.

In fact, García Peña had been catapulted into the academic firmament with a speed that most non-intersectional professors can only dream of. She has been showered with benefits. Thirty-one percent of Harvard’s tenure-track professors lost their tenure bids in the 2018‒19 academic year without alleging bias, since most of those failed contenders were white. Yet García Peña has gone through her academic career playing the victim, reflexively accusing those around her of white supremacy. In this, she is a perfect synecdoche for ethnic studies itself, which also stakes its identity on the conceit that it is in a nonstop battle for survival against the forces of racism and exclusion.

To the contrary, ethnic studies is ascendant. It is spreading rapidly throughout K‒12 schools; its ideology has already bled into the political realm. It’s worth reviewing García Peña’s career as an emblem of a fast-rising academic field whose worldview is taking over American culture.

UW System presidential search committee will consider non-academic applicants

Kelly Meyerhofer:

The University of Wisconsin System’s presidential search committee is casting a wide net for applicants in not stating a preference for candidates with a doctoral degree, opening the door for a non-academic to potentially lead the state’s public colleges.

The committee assigned to select System President Ray Cross’ successor held a conference call Friday to go over the job description. Committee members agreed on language that calls for at least 10 years of experience in a “significant senior executive position” and an understanding of public higher education.

University leaders traditionally have come from academia, though some politically appointed governing boards for universities have chosen businessmen or politicians. The strategy has seen mixed success with faculty and staff often arguing that those leading institutions should have experience working at them and others saying that the job has evolved to demand more government and business acumen.

What Went Wrong With IBM’s Watson

Felix Salmon:

What if artificial intelligence can’t cure cancer after all? That’s the message of a big Wall Street Journal post-mortem on Watson, the IBM project that was supposed to turn IBM’s computing prowess into a scalable program that could deliver state-of-the-art personalized cancer treatment protocols to millions of patients around the world.

Watson in general, and its oncology application in particular, has been receiving a lot of skeptical coverage; STAT published a major investigation in 2017, reporting that Watson was nowhere near being able to live up to IBM’s promises. After that article came out, the IBM hype machine started toning things down a bit. But while a lot of the problems with Watson are medical or technical, they’re deeply financial, too.

As of 2018, IBM is shrinking: In 2011, when the company first introduced the idea that Watson might be able to one day cure cancer, its revenues were $107 billion. They’ve gotten smaller every year since, ending up at $79 billion in 2017. That presents enormous problems for any CEO, who’s generally charged with growing the company, or, failing that, growing the stock price.

Math 101: A Reading List for Lifelong Learners

Jennifer Ouellette:

1. Number: The Language of Science
Tobias Dantzig
Plume, 2007

“First published in 1930, this classic text traces the evolution of the concept of a number in clear, accessible prose. (None other than Albert Einstein sang its praises.) A Latvian mathematician who studied under Henri Poincare, Dantzig covers all the bases, from counting, negative numbers and fractions, to complex numbers, set theory, infinity and the link between math and time. Above all, he understood that the story of where mathematical ideas come from, how they relate to each other, and evolve over time, is key to a true appreciation of mathematics.”

Why are Madison middle school principals leaving?

David Blaska:

Wanted: More Milton McPikes, fewer guilt mongers 

Obsessed with identity politics, Madison school board member Ali Muldrow posts on social media an article headlined:  “The discomfort of white adults should never take priority over the success of our black and brown students.”

“I didn’t come here to teach those kinds of kids.”

As harmful as that kind of statement is, very few teachers are brazen enough to express their racist thoughts out loud. If teachers express bias at all, particularly White teachers, they do so silently or even unconsciously — implicitly.

Are they also victims of MMSD identity politics?

The clear implication is that school board member Muldrow is, once again, accusing Madison educators of racism most foul.

Hire more educators of color? Fine with us. Go For It!

But if race is so important, why have so many principals of our middle schools failed? Tequila Kurth stepped aside this week as principal of often-violent Jefferson middle school to take “an extended leave of absence.” That makes nine schools at MMSD’s 12 middle schools to experience a change of leadership in the last 3½ years, according to  Chris Rickert in the WI State Journal.

Rickert also named Kenya Walker, who quit as principal of Black Hawk Middle School in April 2017 amid suspicions of financial mismanagement, and Sherman Middle School Principal Kristin Foreman the next year after a teacher alleged in a blog post that the school was “in crisis.” Those were the only principals Rickert named.

We reached out to Ms. Muldrow to ask why the leadership turnover at Madison’s middle schools? If these principals are incompetent, why were they appointed? If color is so critical, why did they fail?

Madison’s long term, disastrous reading results: middle school governance edition

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.

Chris Borland criticizes Wisconsin Badgers, NFL in Aaron Hernandez Netflix documentary

Colten Bartholomew:

Chris Borland criticizes Wisconsin Badgers, NFL in Aaron Hernandez Netflix documentary

Former University of Wisconsin linebacker Chris Borland spoke harshly of the football program and his brief time in the NFL on a Netflix documentary released this week.

Borland was featured in two of three parts of “Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez,” a documentary detailing the life and death of Aaron Hernandez, the former New England Patriots tight end who was convicted of murder and took his own life while in prison.

Borland, an Ohio native who won three Big Ten Championships during his Badgers career, criticized the program and college football as a whole for the position it puts players in.

“At Wisconsin, I was taken aback by how serious practice was taken. I was playing on every special team, I was running scout team, I was running with our twos on defense. Objectively, just like, too much of a load for anybody. And I saw, you know, a line of our upperclassmen with their pants to their knees just waiting to get their Toradol injection. And I didn’t know this at 18, I thought, ‘Oh my God, these 15 upperclassmen starters are taking steroids before the game.’ Completely naïve. I later found out it was Toradol, this painkiller that our team docs would administer so guys could play with whatever they had going on,” Borland said in the second part of the series.

“To see that at 18, that was really enlightening to just how seriously it’s taken. Kind of my first glimpse at, ‘This is very real. It’s a big industry. And they’re willing to put in basically kids, young men, in situations that will compromise their long-term health just to beat Northwestern.’”

Brian Lucas, UW’s Director of Football Brand Communications, said players’ well-being is “first and foremost” in their decision-making process.

Digital sharecropping

Nicholas Carr:

A while back I wrote that Web 2.0, by putting the means of production into the hands of the masses but withholding from those same masses any ownership over the product of their work, provides an incredibly efficient mechanism to harvest the economic value of the free labor provided by the very many and concentrate it into the hands of the very few.

Richard MacManus’s new analysis of web traffic patterns helps illustrate the point. Despite the explosion of web content, spurred in large part by the reduction in the cost of producing and consuming that content, web traffic appears to be growing more concentrated in a few sites, not less. Using data from Compete, MacManus shows that the top ten sites accounted for 40% of total internet page views in November 2006, up from 31% in November 2001, a 29% increase. The greater concentration comes during a period when the number of domains on the web nearly doubled, from 2.9 million to 5.1 million.

Even if we grant that traffic numbers are unreliable and that page views are not the only way to measure traffic, the trend seems clear: A few big sites increasingly dominate the web.

On the surface of it, this might seem to contradict the long-tail, or power-law, theory. But it’s not so simple. As MacManus shows, the greater concentration of traffic can largely be explained by the popularity of two “social networking” sites, MySpace and Facebook, which together accounted for 17% of all page views in November 2006. Both MySpace and Facebook are made up of millions of “user profiles” created by their members. If we counted each profile as a separate site, which in a content sense it is, we would find no increase in the concentration of traffic, consistent with the long-tail theory.

Candidate Quotes from Madison’s 2020 Superintendent Pageant

Scott Girard:

Behavior Education Plan

Vanden Wyngaard: “Just like in previous districts I have been in, it appears we have a perception issue in the community.”

Gutiérrez: “What I’ve seen is a rather comprehensive plan. I think it may be a little overwhelming for folks. How can we simplify that to be user-friendly, easy to read, easy to follow?”

Thomas: “There’s a group of teachers who are not excited and at the same time there’s a group of kids who are not excited about it, so I’m not exactly sure how we got there. We have to create structures and strategies to build relationships.”

Charter schools

Vanden Wyngaard: “I expect us to partner with charters. I would partner with any other group so why wouldn’t I do that as well? Parents made a decision on where their child could best learn. Our job is to make sure the children of Madison can be successful.”

Gutiérrez: “There are circumstances when public schools partner with a charter system to serve students. Those are very unique circumstances. I believe that we’ve got to continue to find a way to meet the needs of our students in the public school system. It’s just part of our democratic society.”

Thomas: “I’m an advocate of traditional schools. And I’m an advocate of ensuring that every school is of high-quality.”

No budget or reading discussion?

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.

Notes and links on previous Superintendent searches.

2013; 2019 Jennifer Cheatham and the Madison experience.

Madison’s long term, disastrous reading results: middle school governance edition

Chris Rickert:

In at least two cases, principals left under a cloud.

In 2017, district officials decided not to pursue legal action against former Black Hawk Middle School Principal Kenya Walker, who abandoned her position and oversaw more than $10,000 in spending on the school’s credit card that could not be accounted for. In 2018, Sherman Middle School Principal Kristin Foreman decided to leave after a teacher alleged in a blog post that the school was “in crisis” due to deteriorating student behavior and disrespect for staff.

Tense hallways

Former Jefferson math teacher Mauricio Escobedo said Kurth had “lost control of the school” and described an environment there in which he felt threatened and had “all kinds of racial epithets and insults hurled at me” by students.

According to confidential student records obtained by WISC-TV (Ch. 3), the student in the Dec. 3 incident had been involved in 25 disciplinary incidents this school year prior to his suspension in the BB gun case.

Escobedo was fired on Dec. 20, he said, after pointing out to school leaders that the student who fired the BB gun had previously threatened to “shoot up the school.” Officially, he was let go for failing to earn a state teaching license, he said.

Kurth did not respond to email and Facebook messages seeking comment. Escobedo is one of five teachers who have left Jefferson during the current school year.

While declining to comment on specific employees, district spokesman Tim LeMonds said one of the teachers left for personal family reasons, two for another job in the district, one for “dissatisfaction” with her job and one for not meeting state licensing requirements.

Escobedo, who said he has more than 20 years of teaching experience, said he was properly licensed. But Department of Public Instruction spokesman Benson Gardner said that unless Escobedo “has used another name, he has never held a license to work in a school in Wisconsin.”

David Blaska:

Just Wednesday afternoon (01-15-2020) a Jefferson middle school student hospitalized with a concussion after being punched by a classmate. The victim told police he had been bullied for some time by the boy who hit him.

A school staff member said the victim fell to the floor after the initial blow, and was then punched a couple of more times. The employee said the suspect was screaming and knocking over chairs.

Mauricio Escobedo told Blaska’s Policy Werkes:

“I was fired and ushered out the back door because I would not allow Tequila Kurth to cover up her dangerous lack of sound disciplinary policies. On Wednesday, yet another child was nearly killed at Jefferson. YOU helped to divulge the fact [earlier this week] that the Jefferson Administration was no longer in control of the school to a wider audience than I could ever reach.  For that, I thank you.

And now that Tequila Kurth is gone, the job is remains unfinished. …

The idea that race should be considered before meting out disciplinary consequences (or disciplinary data) is inimical to the foundational principle that Justice is blind.  This aberration of America’s justice System must be changed inside of the MMSD from which it was removed by verbal artifice and deception.”

Because of the leadership change, the parent/citizen meeting is rescheduled for 6 p.m. February 6 at the school.

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.

Two Tsunamis are About to Hit Higher Education

Andrew Gillen:

But the second tsunami bearing down on higher education will be even bigger — informed choice on the part of students and parents.

For years we’ve asked students to make one of life’s most important decisions essentially blindfolded. We’ve told them a college degree is the surest path to success but have given them little guidance on where to go to college or what major to choose once they get there. As a result, too many students leave with a mountain of debt and a credential that isn’t worth much on the labor market. The new data will help equip students — and their parents — with the information necessary to avoid these costly mistakes in several ways.

First, the data will help guide students toward non-risky majors. Potential students will know that earning a Bachelor’s degree in Nursing is likely a safe choice, as there are 100 programs that pass GEE for every program that fails.

Second, the data will help students avoid risky programs within generally non-risky fields or colleges. Of the universities in the top 5 of the US News and World report college rankings, Harvard and Yale both had one program fail, and Columbia has 10 programs that fail. Helping students avoid these financial bad apples will help all students by keeping the pressure on individual academic programs, not allowing them to coast on a college’s (or field’s) reputation.

Civics: Toronto is surveillance capitalism’s new frontier

Shoshana Zuboff:

The city of Toronto now sits in the crosshairs of a uniquely 21st-century economic model that I call surveillance capitalism. Invented at Google two decades ago, surveillance capitalism claims private experience as free raw material for translation into behavioural data. Most data are hunted, captured and valued not for service improvement but rather for their rich predictive signals. These data flows lay the foundation for a lucrative new surveillance economy. First, data are extracted from private experience. Next, they are conveyed to computational factories called “machine intelligence,” where they are fabricated into behavioural predictions. Finally, prediction products are sold to business customers in markets that trade exclusively in human futures, where companies compete on the quality of predictions: they sell certainty.

Surveillance capitalism has become the default model of the tech sector and now migrates across the normal economy, infiltrating every sector: insurance, education, health care, retail, finance, transportation, the list goes on. As its name suggests, this rogue mutation of capitalism operates stealthily, designed for secrecy and camouflaged by a fog of carefully crafted rhetorical misdirection, euphemism and mendacity, all of which aims to keep us ignorant.

Many taxpayer supported K-12 school districts use Google services, including Madison.

Civics: US Government-funded Android phones come preinstalled with unremovable malware

Dan Goodin:

An Android phone subsidized by the US government for low-income users comes preinstalled with malware that can’t be removed without making the device cease to work, researchers reported on Thursday.

The UMX U686CL is provided by Virgin Mobile’s Assurance Wireless program. Assurance Wireless is an offshoot of the Lifeline Assistance program, a Federal Communications Commissions plan that makes free or government-subsidized phones service available to millions of low-income families. The program is often referred to as the Obama Phone because it expanded in 2008, when President Barack Obama took office. The UMX U686CL runs Android and is available for $35 to qualifying users.

Researchers at Malwarebytes said on Thursday that the device comes with some nasty surprises. Representatives of Sprint, the owner of Virgin Mobile, meanwhile said it didn’t believe the apps were malicious.

The first is heavily obfuscated malware that can install adware and other unwanted apps without the knowledge or permission of the user. Android/Trojan.Dropper.Agent.UMX contains striking similarities to two other trojan droppers. For one, it uses identical text strings and almost identical code. And for another, it contains an encoded string that, when decoded, contains a hidden library named

Once the library is loaded into memory, it installs software Malwarebytes calls Android/Trojan.HiddenAds. It aggressively displays ads. Malwarebytes researcher Nathan Collier said company users have reported that the hidden library installs a variant of HiddenAds, but the researchers were unable to reproduce that installation, possibly because the library waits some amount of time before doing so.

‘Cancel Culture’ Comes to Science

Peter Wood:

An unhappy side effect of the digital age is “cancel culture.” Anyone with an attitude of moral superiority and a Twitter account can try to shut down an event where opinions he dislikes are likely to be spoken. For several years the National Association of Scholars has inveighed against this infantile form of protest, which undermines free expression of ideas and legitimate debate. Now the cancel caravan has arrived at our door.

We are holding a conference co-sponsored by the Independent Institute in Oakland, Calif., in early…

Nearly half of the Palmyra-Eagle school board quits following the ruling that the district won’t dissolve

Bob Dohr:

Three of the seven members of the Palmyra-Eagle Area School Board, including the president and vice president, have resigned following the state’s denial of the district’s dissolution attempt.

School board president Scott Hoff, vice president Tara Bollmann and clerk Carrie Ollis announced their resignations at the Jan. 14 board meeting, effective at the end of the meeting.

The resignations come five days after the School District Boundary Appeal Board, a panel made up of school board members from around the state, denied the district’s dissolution by a 6-1 vote.

The school board ordered the district to dissolve last year after the failure of an operational referendum that members said was needed to keep the financially-troubled district open.

Hoff said one of the reasons he stepped down is because during the SDBAB’s hearing process, a member of a citizens group came forward and said a community member was willing to give $100,000 in matching donations to help the district if the current school board would step down.

“They need the money far more than they need me,” Hoff said. 

Hoff also said those who came to the appeal board with ideas on how to save the district need an opportunity to put those in place. 

“I’d be nothing more than a roadblock,” he said. 

Civics: Warren says she would bypass Congress, begin canceling student loans on 1st day as president

Jordyn Pair:

Presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) said on Tuesday that she would start to forgive student debt on the first day of her presidency by using legal tools meant to bypass Congress.

“We have a student loan crisis — and we can’t afford to wait for Congress to act,” Warren said in a tweet that included a link to her student debt erasure plan. The U.S. Department of Education already has authority to cancel student debt, she added.

Warren also released a letter written by three legal experts that vouched for the legality of erasing student debt through executive action. The experts described it as “lawful and permissible.”

A 2014 Saturday Night Live skit on then President Obama’s attempts to create law around Congress.

How Will History Books Remember the 2010s?


We aren’t just approaching the end of a very newsy year; we’re approaching the end of a very eventful decade. To mark the occasion, Politico Magazine asked a group of historians to put all that happened over the past 10 years in its proper historical context—and literally write the paragraph that they think will describe the 2010s in American history books written a century from now.

Will the seemingly significant events we have lived through this decade be important in the grand scheme? Are there powerful historical forces playing out that we’re missing? Where will Black Lives Matter, the social media revolution, #MeToo, climate change, Barack Obama and Donald Trump fit into the history books?

Many described the 2010s, in the words of Andrew Bacevich, as an era of “venomous division,” characterized by massive racial, economic and political divisions. Some saw hope in the discord—as a catalyst for much needed reform, soon to come. Still other historians pointed out less-noticed trends—in technology and foreign policy—that will resonate far into the future.

How will the future remember the 2010s? Here’s what the experts had to say:

How Negativity Can Kill a Relationship

John Tierney & Roy Baumeister:

There’s an elegant symmetry to traditional wedding vows: for better or for worse. But love is not symmetrical, and most of us don’t realize how lopsided it can be. The worse matters far more than the better in marriage or any other relationship. That’s how the brain works.

Our thoughts and feelings are skewed by what researchers call the negativity effect, which is our tendency to respond more strongly to negative events and emotions than to positive ones. When we hear a mix of compliments and criticism, we obsess over the criticism instead of enjoying the praise. This imbalance, also known as the negativity bias, evolved in the brain because it kept our ancestors alert to deadly threats, but too often it warps our perspective and behavior. A slight conflict can have ruinous consequences when the power of bad overwhelms your judgment, provoking you to actions that further alienate your partner. You’d fare better by using your rational brain to override your irrational impulses, but to do that you need first to understand just how powerful bad can be.

In relationships, the negativity effect magnifies your partner’s faults, real or imagined, starting with their ingratitude, because you’re also biased by an internal overconfidence that magnifies your own strengths. So you wonder how your partner can be so selfish and so blind to your virtues—to all that you’ve done for them. You contemplate one of life’s most exasperating mysteries: Why don’t they appreciate me?

Madison 2020 Superintendent Pageant: Eric Thomas appearance notes

Logan Wroge:

“We have a district that is successful for a group of kids. We have a different district that’s not being successful for a group of kids,” he said of the Madison School District. “That means our organization is uniquely and excellently designed to get the results that we’re presently getting. If we keep doing what we are doing … I can’t imagine why anybody thinks we’re going to get different results.”

Thomas, who goes by his middle name, Eric, said he would not just seek “buy-in” from teachers on programs or initiatives, but rather “co-create” with them changes to improve the district.

If chosen from the pool of three finalists for superintendent, it would be Thomas’ first position leading a school district.

In front of a few dozen people in the theater at La Follette High School, Thomas addressed questions submitted by those in the audience or watching a live-stream of the meeting.

More on Eric Thomas.

Certain events may be streamed (and archived), here.

Despite spending far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 school districts, Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

Notes and links on previous Superintendent searches.

2013; 2019 Jennifer Cheatham and the Madison experience.

US colleges struggling with low enrollment are closing at increasing rate

Karina Huber

For 185 years this college campus in Vermont was teeming with students. Now it sits empty. In January, the school announced it would be closing.

‘I’ve had a very long professional career. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do – to stand in front – in our auditorium with 400 people and telling principally students, but faculty and staff, that we wouldn’t be opening this fall,” said  Bob Allen, President at Green Mountain College.

The liberal arts college, that specialized in environmental studies, wasn’t bringing in enough revenue to keep up with costs. Enrollment was down and it had to offer ever-larger tuition discounts to attract students. 

While annual tuition was around $36,000, no one paid that.

“We were actually discounting that about 67%. So the average student was really only paying about $12,000 for tuition,” said Allen.

Four years ago, UTLA increased its member dues by 33 percent. What did the union do with the money?

Mike Antonucci:

In the summer of 2015, Alex Caputo-Pearl, president of United Teachers Los Angeles, gave a state of the union speech in which he alerted members to the dire necessity of raising dues by 33 percent. Without the increase, he said, UTLA would be “bankrupt or dramatically weakened” in the years to come.

Though there was considerable squawking from the rank-and-file, they ultimately approved the increase in February 2016.

Did the increase have an impressive effect on UTLA’s finances and avert a cataclysm to its bottom line? An examination of the union’s financial disclosure reports to the Internal Revenue Service both before and after the dues hike indicates it didn’t do much except pad UTLA’s payroll and bank account.

Before the increase went into effect, UTLA collected $41 million in dues, of which about $9.4 million was spent on officer and staff compensation. The union’s net worth was about $28.5 million, of which about $7.9 million was in non-interest-bearing cash. This hardly appears to be a case of impending doom.

The dues increase led to an additional $5.8 million in revenue, of which about $1.4 million was added to staff salaries and benefits. The number of UTLA employees earning more than $100,000 ballooned from 12 to 23 in just two years.

The union had other windfalls. Its legal expenses fell by more than one-third, and its accounting expenses by two-thirds.

L.A. Unified pays $25 million to settle sexual misconduct cases

Howard Blume:

The Los Angeles Board of Education on Tuesday agreed to pay more than $25 million to settle lawsuits over alleged sexual misconduct. Some cases were related to well-known incidents of abuse at Telfair and De La Torre elementary schools, for which teachers went to jail. Others never led to convictions. The larger settlements are about $2 million per student.

Officials with L.A. Unified like to believe they’ve turned the page on the worst employee misconduct following a spate of high-profile cases, and they can cite a long list of new safeguards. But attorneys for the victims questioned the district’s commitment to reform.

“No one has a full account of how many children have been abused, how many cases they’ve settled,” said attorney John Manly, who represented some of the victims. “This board has made every effort to keep it secret. That is troubling. There is a culture at LAUSD that accepts this as a cost of doing business.”

L.A. Unified General Counsel David Holmquist defended the district’s intentions and response.

School Helps Top Testers Bring Home the Bacon for Lunar New Year

Sixth Tone:

A Shanghai-based women’s rights group is planning to propose a new parental leave policy for the city that would extend time off for new parents and include mandatory leave for fathers, Sixth Tone’s sister publication The Paper reported Wednesday.

The Shanghai Women’s Federation — the municipal branch of China’s quasi-official women’s rights group — said Wednesday that it plans to raise the issue during the city’s upcoming “two sessions” political meetings. The federation is seeking to extend the current maternity leave from 138 days to six months, and to introduce shared parental leave for couples, with fathers having at least 30 days of mandatory time off after the birth of a child.

A spokesperson for the federation’s Shanghai branch said the proposal is aimed at encouraging more fathers to get involved in childrearing, as well as supporting women’s professional development after giving birth, according to The Paper. She added that the move could also help boost the city’s fertility rate.

Education and Men without Work

Nicholas Eberstadt:

America today is in the grip of a gradually building crisis that, despite its manifest importance, somehow managed to remain more or less invisible for decades — at least, until the political earthquake of 2016. That crisis is the collapse of work for adult men, and the retreat from the world of work of growing numbers of men of conventional working age.

According to the latest monthly jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “work rates” for American men in October 2019 stood very close to their 1939 levels, as reported in the 1940 U.S. Census. Despite some improvement since the end of the Great Recession, Great Depression-style work rates are still characteristic today for the American male, both for those of “prime working age” (defined as ages 25 to 54) and for the broader 20 to 64 group.

Unlike the Great Depression, however, today’s work crisis is not an unemployment crisis. Only a tiny fraction of workless American men nowadays are actually looking for employment. Instead we have witnessed a mass exodus of men from the workforce altogether. At this writing, nearly 7 million civilian non-institutionalized men between the ages of 25 and 54 are neither working nor looking for work — over four times as many as are formally unemployed. Between 1965 and 2015, the percentage of prime-age U.S. men not in the labor force shot up from 3.3% to 11.7%. (The overall situation has slightly improved in the last four years, but this group still accounted for 10.8% of the prime-age male population in October 2019.) Over that half century, labor-force participation rates fell for prime-age men in all education groups, but the decline was much worse for men with lower levels of educational attainment than for those with higher levels. Labor-force participation dropped by about four percentage points for college graduates and by two points for men with graduate training; it fell by 14 points for those with no more than a high-school diploma, and by 16 points for those who didn’t finish high school. By 2015, nearly one in six prime-age men with just a high-school degree was neither working nor looking for work, and for those without a high-school diploma, the ratio was worse than one in five.

Study: Newark’s large charter school networks give students a big boost. Other charters, not so much.

Patrick Wall:

Newark’s largest charter school networks give students a big bump in their test scores, while other charter schools are far less effective at boosting scores, a new study finds.

Students who enrolled at schools run by the city’s two largest charter operators — KIPP and Uncommon Schools — saw large and lasting gains on their test scores, according to the analysis of data from 2014 to 2018. But students who attended a different set of charter schools, on average, got a much smaller boost.

The study by the Manhattan Institute adds to previous research showing that Newark’s charter schools, which educate more than a third of the city’s public-school students, collectively raise students’ test scores. But the analysis also sheds new light on the wide variation within Newark’s large charter sector, showing that the big charter school networks with the most students drive the sector’s positive results.

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district has long resisted parent and student choice, despite spending far more than most and tolerating long term, disastrous reading results.

Milwaukee and many other cities offer extensive parent and student choice. An interview with Henry Tyson, Superintendent of the inner city St. Marcus elementary school.

An elegy for cash: the technology we might never replace

Mike Orcutt:

Think about the last time you used cash. How much did you spend? What did you buy, and from whom? Was it a one-time thing, or was it something you buy regularly?

Was it legal?

If you’d rather keep all that to yourself, you’re in luck. The person in the store (or on the street corner) may remember your face, but as long as you didn’t reveal any identifying information, there is nothing that links you to the transaction.

This is a feature of physical cash that payment cards and apps do not have: freedom. Called “bearer instruments,” banknotes and coins are presumed to be owned by whoever holds them. We can use them to transact with another person without a third party getting in the way. Companies cannot build advertising profiles or credit ratings out of our data, and governments cannot track our spending or our movements. And while a credit card can be declined and a check mislaid, handing over money works every time, instantly.

The Rise of the Rural Creative Class (?)

Richard Florida:

One of the most persistent myths in America today is that urban areas are innovative and rural areas are not. While it is overwhelmingly clear that innovation and creativity tend to cluster in a small number of cities and metropolitan areas, it’s a big mistake to think that they somehow skip over rural America.

A series of studies from Tim Wojan and his colleagues at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service documents the drivers of rural innovation. Their findings draw on a variety of data sets, including a large-scale survey that compares innovation in urban and rural areas called the Rural Establishment Innovation Survey (REIS). This is based on some 11,000 business establishments with at least five paid employees in tradable industries—that is, sectors that produce goods and services that are or could be traded internationally—in rural (or non-metro) and urban (metro) areas.

The survey divides businesses into three main groups. Roughly 30 percent of firms are substantive innovators, launching new products and services, making data-driven decisions, and creating intellectual property worth protecting; another 33 percent are nominal innovators who engage in more incremental improvement of their products and processes; and 38 percent show little or no evidence of innovation, so are considered to be non-innovators.

The first table below charts this breakdown for rural and urban areas. Establishments in urban areas are more innovative, but not by much. Roughly 20 percent of rural firms are substantive innovators, compared to 30 percent of firms in urban areas.

I recall chatting with a former Madison School District Superintendent, who, when I asked about learning from rural (far less $) schools, replied that “I would never do that”.

Life Under the Algorithm

Gabriel Winant:

Until, it turns out, they don’t anymore. The unwinding of this agreement in recent decades, such that workers must continue to produce more without expecting it to show up in their pay stubs, has now been the subject of a good deal of discussion and debate. The decline of unions, the rise of inequality, the crisis of liberal democracy, and the changing face of American culture all, in one form or another, relate to this transformation. We work and work and barely get by, while wealth pools up in obscene quantities out of view. Pile more pig iron, but don’t imagine you’re high-priced. What, ask new books by Emily Guendelsberger and Steve Fraser, is this colossal insult doing to our heads? No wonder, Guendelsberger observes, the country is collectively “freaking the fuck out.”

In her new book, On the Clock: What Low-Wage Work Did to Me and How It Drives America Insane, Guendelsberger re-creates a version of Barbara Ehrenreich’s famous experiment in Nickel and Dimed. Guendelsberger, a reporter for the alt-weekly Philadelphia City Paper until it was sold off and shut down in 2015, went undercover at three low-wage workplaces: an Amazon warehouse in Indiana, a call center in North Carolina, and a McDonald’s in San Francisco. Whereas Ehrenreich’s main discovery was that there still existed an exploited working class—a controversial point in the late 1990s and early 2000s—Guendelsberger takes inequality and exploitation as given, asking instead what these jobs are doing to the millions who work them.

What does the phrase “in the weeds” mean to you? In the professional-managerial class, “in the weeds” signifies knotty detail (as in the Vox public policy podcast, The Weeds). In the working class, Guendelsberger points out, “in the weeds” means the same thing “swamped” does in professional-speak: overwhelmed and stressed out. And America’s working class, Guendelsberger argues, is in the weeds all the time, increasingly subjected to an automated neo-Taylorism. Workers are scheduled by algorithm, their tasks timed automatically, and their performance surveilled digitally. This was what she learned on these jobs: “The weeds are a terribly toxic place for human beings. The weeds make us crazy. The weeds make us sick. The weeds destroy family life. The weeds push people into addiction. The weeds will literally kill you.”

What Guendelsberger found in her experiment was that employers now “demand a workforce that can think, talk, feel, and pick stuff up like humans—but with as few needs outside of work as robots. They insist their workers amputate the messy human bits of themselves—family, hunger, thirst, emotions, the need to make rent, sickness, fatigue, boredom, depression, traffic.” The results are “cyborg jobs,” and they account, by Guendelsberger’s reckoning, for almost half of the American workforce. The hidden moments of reclaimed freedom that make any job bearable are being discovered and wiped out by bosses everywhere: That trick you used to use to slow down the machine won’t work anymore; or that window of 23 minutes when you knew your boss couldn’t watch you is vanishing. Whatever little piece of humanity survived in these fragments dies with them.

Madison’s Jefferson Middle School principal taking ‘extended leave of absence’

Shanzeh Ahmad:

Madison police said a Jefferson student suffered a concussion Wednesday after being punched by a classmate who had been bullying him for some time. The injured boy was taken to a hospital, and the student who punched him was removed from the classroom and later taken to the Juvenile Reception Center on tentative charges of substantial battery and disorderly conduct, police spokesman Joel DeSpain said.

Another incident in December resulted in the arrest of two 13-year-old boys, one for shooting a BB gun out of a bus window and the other for bringing the BB gun inside the school the next day, police said. Two girls, ages 13 and 14, were struck by the BB gun shots as they were getting off the bus. All of the teens were Jefferson students.

No safe space for reformers at Madison’s Jefferson middle school? “One can create the greatest safe space on earth here in Madison but when they go out in the world you are killing these children, they won’t be able to function out in the world which lacks such safe spaces.”

Desegregation, Then and Now

R. Shep Melnick:

The central, unstated assumption of Hannah-Jones and other defenders of court-ordered busing is that the meaning of the crucial term “desegregation” remained constant from Brown v. Board of Education in 1954 to busing in Boston two decades later. To oppose busing in Detroit, Dayton, or Delaware (as Biden did), so the story goes, is to reject the most important Supreme Court decision of the 20th century. Moreover, if “desegregation” has a coherent, constant meaning, we should focus on the benefits of the entire project, from desegregation of the border states in the 1950s to the “reconstruction of Southern education” in the 1960s and 1970s, to the effort to create racially balanced schools outside the South during the 1970s and 1980s. There is no need to distinguish among the diverse projects lumped under the heading “desegregation.”

This story is just plain wrong, as anyone who has studied the history of desegregation well knows. The starting point for any serious evaluation of desegregation must be acknowledging how much the meaning of that key term changed over time. We can argue over the merits of this transformation, but not over the nature and extent of the change.

In his opinion for a unanimous court in Brown v. Board, Chief Justice Earl Warren presented arguments he hoped would not only convince legal skeptics, but appeal to the better angels of citizens in the North and South. He never explained what school districts must do to achieve desegregation. For that omission the Court has been justly criticized, since its silence allowed the South to evade its constitutional responsibilities for a decade and a half. Nor did Warren provide an adequate explanation for why state-sponsored segregation is wrong. His reliance on dubious social-science evidence needlessly left him open to attack by segregationists.

Although the Court never cited the famous words of Justice John Marshall Harlan’s dissent in Plessy v. Ferguson — ”Our Constitution is color-blind, and neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens” — that understanding lay at the heart of the NAACP’s legal argument and formed the foundation of the Court’s discussion of remedies. In oral argument, the NAACP’s Robert Carter explained that the “one fundamental contention which we will seek to develop” is that “no state has any authority under the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to use race as a factor in affording educational opportunity among its citizens.” Thurgood Marshall assured the Court that “the only thing that we are asking for is that the state-imposed racial segregation be taken off, and to leave the county school board, the county people, the district people, to work out their solutions of the problem to assign children on any reasonable basis they want to assign them on.”

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.

“Madison teachers say ‘society is murdering black & brown people”

David Blaska:

We are a group of educators planning a Black Lives Matter Week of Action in Madison as part of the National BLM Week of Action February 3-7, 2020.

The Black Lives Matter movement recognizes the impact of mass incarceration, poverty, non-affordable housing, income disparity, homophobia, unfair immigration laws and policies, gender inequality, and poor access to healthcare. All of these injustices exist in the intersection of race, class and gender. And they have always existed and continue to exist within our Madison community, including within our own school system.

…. If society continues to marginalize, murder, and devalue Black and Brown lives, then there is little hope for America to ever reach her fullest potential.

We call all of our colleagues, administrators, students, families and community members to partner with us as we engage in the National Black Lives Matter at School Week of Action February 3-7, 2020. We commit to analyzing and challenging both our personal and systemic or institutional racialized beliefs and practices.

For Extra Credit: Madison superintendent hopeful would concentrate on social justice and equity. Read it and weep.

diversity/inclusion programs “benefit higher education institutions rather than contributing to a commitment to inclusion, equity and creating a diverse workforce.”

Jack Grove:\

One interviewee observed that the leadership courses were in essence adapted from those aimed at “white, middle-class women”, and had not been tailored to provide “tools to navigate the complex interpersonal relationships we have to think about as BME people”. Another questioned whether black staff would want to “conform to the white style of leadership…that may not work for us because we are not white”.

Some questioned the fact that the courses were run by black trainers without an academic background, with one stating that it was “bit strange” that there were only BME people in the room.

“White senior academics…should be brought in at the end so that they can also understand first-hand some of the issues we are facing – which many of them don’t really comprehend,” said one black male interviewee quoted in the paper.

This lack of engagement from senior management led some to conclude that “institutions are using these courses as a tick-box exercise to say they are supporting BME staff”, Professor Bhopal told Times Higher Education.

Cracking the code on reading instruction stories

Holly Korbey:

In late 2018, WHYY Philadelphia education reporter Avi Wolfman-Arent was asked to coffee by a group of suburban Philadelphia moms who had “this little movement” going to push their highly regarded school district to help their struggling readers, some of whom had been diagnosed with dyslexia.

Wolfman-Arent had recently heard APM Reports senior producer and correspondent Emily Hanford’s audio documentaries on reading instruction and decided to pursue the local story because he understood there was “something in the water about it.”

His February 2019 story, Meet the ‘crazy’ moms saying one of Pa.’s top-rated school districts can’t teach reading, surprised readers with its description of parents who were angry at a well-funded, desirable suburban district where as it turned out, lots of children hadn’t learned how to read.

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

We all agree that inequality is bad. But what kind of equality is good?

Joshua Rothman:

Michael and Angela have just turned fifty-five. They know two people who have died in the past few years—one from cancer, another in a car accident. It occurs to them that they should make a plan for their kids. They have some money in the bank. Suppose they were both killed in a plane crash—what would happen to it?

They have four children, who range in age from their late teens to their late twenties. Chloe, the oldest, is a math wiz with a coding job at Google; she hopes to start her own company soon. Will, who has a degree in social work, is paying off his student debt while working at a halfway house for recovering addicts. The twins, James and Alexis, are both in college. James, a perpetually stoned underachiever, is convinced that he can make it as a YouTuber. (He’s already been suspended twice, for on-campus pranks.) Alexis, who hopes to become a poet, has a congenital condition that could leave her blind by middle age.

At first, Michael and Angela plan to divide their money equally. Then they start to think about it. Chloe is on the fast track to remunerative Silicon Valley success; Will is burdened by debt in his quest to help the vulnerable. If James were to come into an inheritance, he’d likely grow even lazier, spending it on streetwear and edibles; Alexis, with her medical situation, might need help later in life. Maybe, Michael and Angela think, it doesn’t make sense to divide the money into equal portions after all. Something more sophisticated might be required. What matters to them is that their children flourish equally, and this might mean giving the kids unequal amounts—an unappealing prospect.

The decline of nonfiction in the IP era

James Pogue:

In early 2018, I was spending a warm West Hollywood Sunday evening on the balcony of a young director of film development, drinking a beer and hoping for an early night[*]. I had planned to sleep on his couch, but when I suggested we turn in, he said, “Nah, just take my bed, I’m probably not sleeping tonight.” I asked why not, and he looked momentarily surprised, as though it was strange I wasn’t aware of the impending event that had a small but important segment of the film and publishing industries alive with anticipation at the two ends of the great book-to-film pipeline connecting agents, assistants, film execs, and book scouts through endless emails and group chats. “That new David Grann story drops at midnight,” he said.

I expressed mild shock at this, saying it was sadistic for an agent to send out notices to otherwise self-respecting adults calling on them to stay up to read and compose notes on a magazine story instead of trying to sleep before a workday. Surely they would still be expected, as is the custom in the newly big business of turning books and magazine pieces into films, to send the regular weekly memo about recent publications their peers and bosses might find interesting enough to read, or maybe to offer on, and to be alert and shrewd at the regular meetings about the reading that everyone did over the weekend. The expectation now is to mine, on a bulk scale, for writing that producers might want to buy. In this case, the aim was to acquire a story by a staff writer at The New Yorker who I personally don’t consider one of his generation’s great talents—though living in Los Angeles in the era of book-to-film has given me reason to wonder about the acuity of my taste in literature. My friend gave me a slightly patronizing look, implying that he didn’t need, at that moment, to hear opinions about the great David Grann from a younger writer whose work emphatically does not keep execs and agents awake late on a Sunday night waiting to pull million-dollar triggers. Rather than live as a curmudgeon, I would do better to learn from this moment and start producing books and articles that would get me up off his couch and into some serious money. He knew I knew how to do it because he’d told me how, many times.

Hard Questions: Hear the Voices of Young Journalists

Simpson Street Free Press:

Several of the most dynamic and accomplished young journalists working in the Madison media market answer questions from student reporters.

Emily Hamer is a general assignment reporter for the Wisconsin State Journal. She recently took on the criminal justice beat for the paper.

Jenny Peek is a digital news editor for Wisconsin Public Radio and an education reporter for Isthmus.

Amanda Quintana is a general assignment reporter and news anchor at WISC-TV, News 3 Now.

Taylor Kilgore is a graduate of the UW-Madison School of Journalism and the managing editor at Simpson Street Free Press.

Unmerited: Inequality and the New Elite

Nicholas Lemann:

About 25 years ago, I spent a memorable afternoon in London with Michael Young, the author of the strange 1958 dystopian novel in the form of a dissertation called The Rise of the Meritocracy, which introduced that term into the English language. In the United States, for years, people have liked to insist that wherever they work or go to school is a meritocracy, meaning, roughly, that they understand it as an open competition in which the most deserving succeed. Americans assume meritocracy to be an unalloyed good; the term implies a contrast to some past system or an era when success went instead to lazy inheritors, timeservers, or adept players of office politics.

Young, however, wanted not to celebrate meritocracy but to warn the world against it. He had the detached air of someone who has quietly noticed everything, and a sense of humor so bone-dry that most people missed it. By the time I met him, he was Baron Young of Dartington—an oft-noted irony. But intellectually, he was a creature of the post–World War II British Labour Party, in which he served as an important adviser on education, and of the impoverished East End, where he did his sociological research. He had been involved in the great expansion of the state-run school system after the war, which was an aspect of the broader socialist project aimed at creating structured mass opportunity for the first time in British history. It was in keeping with the tenor of the time that this effort relied on administering intelligence tests to masses of 11-year-olds, who were then each directed into what was, essentially, a blue-collar or a white-collar educational track and who would, when they were a few years older, take another set of exams that would anoint a small cohort as bound for higher education.

No safe space for reformers at Madison’s Jefferson middle school? “One can create the greatest safe space on earth here in Madison but when they go out in the world you are killing these children, they won’t be able to function out in the world which lacks such safe spaces.”

David Blaska:

“Teachers are very very afraid.” — former teacher*

Parents are mobilizing for a showdown at Madison’s Jefferson middle school, which they describe as ruled by virtue-signaling administrators and out-of-control students.

The flash point was on December 3 when a 13-year-old boy shot a girl with a BB gun outside from a bus window. The student had remained in school despite a history of transgressions, include threatening to shoot up the school “and kill everyone” three months earlier.

* Former teacher Mauricio Escobedo told Blaska Policy Werkes that students at Jefferson, located on the same campus as James Madison Memorial high school on Madison’s far west side, must be bribed with candy and potato chips to follow instructions because there are no penalties for disobedience.

School district spokesman Tim LeMonds seemed to acknowledge problems at Jefferson. He told the Werkes: “We’ve been reviewing the culture and climate of that school for a few months now and we are working with the leadership at that school.” 

Despite spending far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 school districts, Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

I raised my hand and said, ‘Well, I don’t agree. I don’t have skin in the game. I’m not white.’ The educational philosophy of the school district is focused on feelings of safety not on discipline.”

Mr. Escobedo told this blog: “One can create the greatest safe space on earth here in Madison but when they go out in the world you are killing these children, they won’t be able to function out in the world which lacks such safe spaces.”

Escobedo feels that school administration blamed him for leaking the disciplinary file of the December 3 shooter to Channel 3000, which he denies. “Instead of focusing on safety policies, school principal Tequila Kurth wrote memos that threatened the school employee/s who divulged this public information.” Kurth is in her second school year as principal at Jefferson.

LeMonds, public information officer for the school district, told Blaska Policy Works no one has been accused of leaking the information. “That was federally protected information, so the district has been actively investigating the release of that record. We haven’t even narrowed it down to a point where we can interview folks.”

Escobedo said: “I come from business and if you’re black or white, I don’t care what race, if you’re hired at McDonald’s and you burn the food, they’re going to fire you because you are not getting the job done. But here in this school, here in Madison WI and in the United States, schools are saying ‘alright students you are failing but we’re going to protect you from failure. We’re not going give you an F but draw you a happy face for effort.’”

Notes and links on previous Superintendent searches.

2013; 2019 Jennifer Cheatham and the Madison experience.

Schools without discipline will fail

Peter Anderson:

Jennifer Cheatham’s tenure, to a not-insignificant extent, became increasingly defined by her efforts to deflect vocal pressure from Freedom Inc., by how those efforts affected her determination to convince opinion leaders of her commitment to racial justice, and by her inability to actually reduce the black achievement gap.

To reinvigorate her bona fides, she caved in to unsubstantiated claims of racism and sacrificed teachers with no record of bias. 

But that undermined teachers’ ability to discipline disruptive students who are African-American, and, in consequence, significantly contributed to schools becoming increasingly dysfunctional, which leads to middle class flight. Then, because her efforts also proved misdirected to reduce the black achievement gap, Dr. Cheatham misrepresented performance data by lowering expectations in order to artificially inflate the reputation she cultivated.

Behavior Education Plan

The debilitating problems began with the roll out or Dr. Cheatham’s Behavior Education Plan in 2014. The plan itself was a well-intentioned replacement of the earlier zero tolerance policy, which had a disparate impact on black students from troubled homes. The Plan provided for a progressive approach to discipline, and restorative justice in lieu of punishment, that was intended to keep misbehaving students in classrooms.

Problems arose in the Plan’s implementation that led students to conclude that there no longer any consequences for bad behavior.

No consequences for misbehavior

For the Plan’s positive approach to work, it was critical that students continued to believe that there were real consequences for bad behaviors, which meant they had to see positive reinforcements and restorative practices as something serious, and not as a free pass to continue misbehaving. Otherwise, discipline will break down and the other students will increasingly be unable to learn, and will convey that fact to their parents.

Additional Commentary.

Despite spending far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 school districts, Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

Notes and links on previous Superintendent searches.

2013; 2019 Jennifer Cheatham and the Madison experience.

2020 Madison Tax & Spending Increase Referendum Planning: School Board Rhetoric Ko

Scott Girard:

During a board retreat Saturday to discuss strategies for both a capital and an operating referendum in April, board members generally agreed they wanted to vote in March — before board member Kate Toews’ term is over and a new board member takes her place.

Toews is not running for re-election to Seat 6 in April, and some board members said it could be a complex topic for a new board member to walk into. Board president Gloria Reyes also said she wants the outreach and communication process to begin as soon as possible.

“I do strongly believe that if we’re going to start a process and strategy we should all have voted,” Reyes said.

Public input on the projects, presented Monday night during an Operations Work Group meeting, shows overall support for both, though there are some concerns about how the operating funds would be used.

Board members and district staff have been working with a plan for a $315 million capital referendum to renovate the four high schools, build a new school in the Rimrock Road neighborhood and relocate the alternative Capital High School to the Hoyt building. The same ballot could ask voters for up to $36 million in operating funds over four years. That would allow the district to exceed state revenue caps by $8 million in 2020-21 and 2021-22 and $10 million in 2022-23 and 2023-24, though some board members asked to go lower than that at least for the first school year.

That complicates this summer’s budget process, as the board will have to approve two budgets — one for if the operating referendum passes and one in case it fails — but it also presents an opportunity for the board to show voters its priorities and the cost to the district if it fails, board members said.

Much more on the planned 2020 tax and spending increase Madison referendum.

A presenter [org chart] further mentioned that Madison spends about $1 per square foot in annual budget maintenance while Milwaukee is about $2.

Despite spending far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 school districts, Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

2013; 2019 Jennifer Cheatham and the Madison experience.

Curated Education Information