All posts by Jim Zellmer

“The Most Intolerant County in America (and the Most Tolerant City)”

Jon Miltimore:

The Atlantic recently asked PredictWise, an analytics firm, to rank US counties based on partisan prejudice (“affective polarization”). The results are now in, and they are fascinating.

The most intolerant country was not Rabun County in northeastern Georgia, where the film Deliverance was shot. Nor was it in Albany County, Wyoming, where Matthew Shepard was killed. And it was not in Tallahatchie County, Mississippi, where Emmett Till was lynched more than a half-century ago.

The most politically intolerant county in the United States, The Atlantic says, appears to be Suffolk County, Massachusetts.

Suffolk County and America’s Most Politically Intolerant

Suffolk County, part of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, represents the heart of the Boston-Cambridge-Newton part of New England.

Politically, Suffolk County is about as progressive as America gets.

As of 2016, it had a (mostly white) population of 784,230, all of whom cram into 58 square miles of land surface area. The median family income is about $58,000. It is highly educated, with 44 percent of residents holding a bachelor’s degree or higher, and it is barely a stone’s throw from two of America’s most esteemed universities—Harvard and MIT.

Politically, Suffolk County is about as progressive as America gets. The county’s three congressional districts—the 5th, 7th, and 8th—are represented by progressive Democrats: Rep. Katherine Clark, Rep. Ayanna Soyini Pressley, and Rep. Stephen Lynch. Just 5 percent of county residents identify as Republican. No GOP presidential candidate has claimed Suffolk County since Calvin Coolidge—in 1924.

Beware of Being “Right”

Steve Stosny:

Those afflicted with this terrible but common habit lose sight of behavioral possibilities that would make them feel more valuable when they most need it—when they feel devalued. They grow alienated from their more humane values, which makes them feel progressively less valuable. To compensate, they inflate their egos to fragile proportions, which seem to need more and more power as defense. This dynamic, fueled by the systematic substitution of power for value, leads to what is commonly and erroneously considered the narcissistic constellation of personality disorders.

Covariant with the substitution of power for value is the persistent need to be right while making others wrong. Seeming to be right justifies disrespect, contempt, and other forms of emotional pollution, which spread like wildfire in our electronic age. In addition, they suffer an illusion of certainty. High adrenaline emotions, particularly anger, create profound illusions of certainty, due to their amphetamine effects. The amphetamine effect creates a temporary sense of confidence and certainty, while narrowing mental focus and eliminating most variables from consideration. That’s why you feel more confident after a cup of coffee (a mild amphetamine effect) than before it, and it’s why you’re convinced that you’re right and everyone else is wrong when you’re angry.

Free Thought and Official Propaganda

Bertrand Russell:

Moncure Conway, in whose honour we are assembled today, devoted his life to two great objects: freedom of thought and freedom of the individual. In regard to both these objects, something has been gained since his time, but something also has been lost. New dangers, somewhat different in form from those of past ages, threaten both kinds of freedom, and unless a vigorous and vigilant public opinion can be aroused in defence of them, there will be much less of both a hundred years hence than there is now. My purpose in this address is to emphasize the new dangers and to consider how they can be met.

Let us begin by trying to be clear as to what we mean by “free thought.” This expression has two senses. In its narrower sense it means thought which does not accept the dogmas of traditional religion. In this sense a man is a “free thinker” if he is not a Christian or a Mussulman or a Buddhist or a Shintoist or a member of any of the other bodies of men who accept some inherited orthodoxy. In Christian countries a man is called a “free thinker” if he does not decidedly believe in God, though this would not suffice to make a man a “free thinker” in a Buddhist country.

I do not wish to minimize the importance of free thought in this sense. I am myself a dissenter from all known religions, and I hope that every kind of religious belief will die out. I do not believe that, on the balance, religious belief has been a force for good. Although I am prepared to admit that in certain times and places it has had some good effects, I regard it as belonging to the infancy of human reason, and to a stage of development which we are now outgrowing.

But there is also a wider sense of “free thought,” which I regard as of still greater importance. Indeed, the. harm done by traditional religions seems chiefly traceable to the fact that they have prevented free thought in this wider sense. The wider sense is not so easy to define as the narrower, and it will be well to spend some little time in trying to arrive at its essence.

Should Children Do More Enrichment Activities? Leveraging Bunching to Correct for Endogeneity

Carolina Caetano, Gregorio Caetano and Eric Reed Nielsen:

We study the effects of enrichment activities such as reading, homework, and extracurricular lessons on children’s cognitive and non-cognitive skills. We take into consideration that children forgo alternative activities, such as play and socializing, in order to spend time on enrichment. Our study controls for selection on unobservables using a novel approach which leverages the fact that many children spend zero hours per week on enrichment activities. At zero enrichment, confounders vary but enrichment does not, which gives us direct information about the effect of confounders on skills. Using time diary data available in the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID), we find that the net effect of enrichment is zero for cognitive skills and negative for non-cognitive skills, which suggests that enrichment may be crowding out more productive activities on the margin. The negative effects on non-cognitive skills are concentrated in higher-income students in high school, consistent with elevated academic competition related to college admissions.

Modes, Medians and Means: A Unifying Perspective

John Myles White:

Any traditional introductory statistics course will teach students the definitions of modes, medians and means. But, because introductory courses can’t assume that students have much mathematical maturity, the close relationship between these three summary statistics can’t be made clear. This post tries to remedy that situation by making it clear that all three concepts arise as specific parameterizations of a more general problem.

To do so, I’ll need to introduce one non-standard definition that may trouble some readers. In order to simplify my exposition, let’s all agree to assume that 00=0

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00=0

. In particular, we’ll want to assume that |0|0=0

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|0|0=0

, even though |ϵ|0=1

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|ϵ|0=1

 for all ϵ>0

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ϵ>0

. This definition is non-standard, but it greatly simplifies what follows and emphasizes the conceptual unity of modes, medians and means.

Constructing a Summary Statistic

To see how modes, medians and means arise, let’s assume that we have a list of numbers, (x1,x2,,xn)

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(x1,x2,,xn)

, that we want to summarize. We want our summary to be a single number, which we’ll call s

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s

. How should we select s

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s

 so that it summarizes the numbers,  (x1,x2,,xn)

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(x1,x2,,xn)

, effectively?

To answer that, we’ll assume that s

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s

 is an effective summary of the entire list if the typical discrepancy between s

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s

 and each of the xi

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xi

 is small. With that assumption in place, we only need to do two things: (1) define the notion of discrepancy between two numbers, xi

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xi

 and s

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s

; and (2) define the notion of a typical discrepancy. Because each number xi

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xi

 produces its own discrepancy, we’ll need to introduce a method for aggregating the individual discrepancies to order to say something about the typical discrepancy.

Project: Roman roads diagrams

Sasha Trubetskoy:

The Roman roads diagram project is a series of maps driven by an unconventional idea: what if we represented Ancient Rome’s famed road network in the style of a modern transit map?

So far I’ve made five diagrams (below). Click for more information.

You can see how my style has evolved since I made the first map back in 2017. My ultimate goal is to make a book out of these. I’ll probably have to redesign a few of them.

Face masks versus shields in schools: Doctors weigh in

Sophie Bolich:

With the start of the school year rapidly approaching amid a recent uptick in coronavirus cases, healthcare professionals, parents and school administrators are weighing the best options for returning to school in the fall.

Options include limiting class size, a modified schedule, restricting access to community areas such as playgrounds, daily temperature checks and the use of PPE, such as face masks or shields.

Brian Ellison, business development manager at Midwest Prototyping, said that face shields in particular have drawn interest from local school administrators, especially private schools.

In March, Ellison partnered with Lennon Rodger, director of the Engineering Design Innovation Lab at UW–Madison, and Jesse Darley, a mechanical engineer at Madison design firm Delve, to create a face shield prototype using easily accessible materials. The team named the open source design the Badger Shield.

Since then, the project has expanded to include other forms of PPE. Recently, Badger Shield saw an increase in demand for pediatric-sized shields, which could be used alone or in conjunction with face masks if and when kids return to the classroom.

The World That Twitter Made

T Greer:

Allow me to explain something important about Twitter.

 This something is obvious to anyone with more than 10,000 followers on the platform but not so readily apparent to those with only 500 or so. My girlfriend is in the latter category, and she struggles to understand my animus for for it. The difference in follower counts partially explains the gap. But she also came to America’s public sphere late, and never really experienced the world before twitter. That was the public sphere of blogs and forum posts, not tweets and retweets. She can be happy with what she has: she knows of nothing of what was lost. 

In many ways the twitter experience of the user with a low follower account is somewhat similar to the experience of the old blogosphere. Many of my readers came to the internet in the 2010s; before I proceed with this point it is probably sketching out just what the internet was like in the world before them. That internet was organized differently. Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Medium, Reddit, and Instagram either did not exist then or were the preserve of teenagers and university age students. Those platforms were for flirting and goofing off and gossiping behind your parents back. People who wanted to discuss bigger things—culture, art, history, science, business, politics, or what have you—went to the blogs. Well, the blogs and the forums. 

That feeling when the news archives read like today’s front page

Alan Borsuk:

They make for timely reading. Among the news stories I found:  

Then: Sept. 7, 1976, The Milwaukee Journal. This was the first day of court-ordered desegregation of Milwaukee Public Schools. I organized the newspaper’s coverage that day. The hope was that this was “the beginning of an exciting new era in Milwaukee education,” as one story put it. Which, of course, isn’t an accurate way to describe the era since then. Desegregation overall in the Milwaukee area has been limited, at best, and, by some measures, segregation of Black students particularly has increased in recent years.       

Now: The Milwaukee School Board passed a resolution in June calling for a new effort to desegregate schools across the Milwaukee area. Good luck.  

Then: Sept. 26, 1986, The Milwaukee Journal. I wrote a story that focused on the sharply differing levels of educational success of kids in the suburbs and kids in the city. I quoted John Witte, a University of Wisconsin-Madison professor: “To the extent that education achievement is equated with life chances, these two groups face very unequal opportunities.”     

Now: Yup.  

Then: April 19, 1995, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, with a large front page headline, “Fuller quits.” After almost four years as superintendent of MPS, Howard Fuller resigned, saying the system was too mired in the status quo to make necessary changes.

2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results

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

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration

Edgewood professors appeal eliminated positions, defend ethnic studies

Yvonne Kim:

Edgewood College professors whose positions were eliminated in late May are awaiting final board review after appealing their cases, which they say are reflective of larger restructuring concerns.

After three tenured and three tenure-track professors were notified May 27 that their positions would be eliminated as a step to “align faculty and staff positions with changing student needs,” two accepted voluntary separation packages. The other four, however, contacted the American Association of University Professors, which sent a letter June 10 to Edgewood President Andrew Manion saying the announcements violate AAUP’s regulations and do not prove “adequate cause” for terminating the appointments. 

Nine days later, elected faculty members of the Academic Rank Committee seconded the AAUP’s claims. Without “adequate cause,” the college can only remove faculty due to financial exigency or discontinuation of an academic program — neither of which the committee said is applicable.

“(We) understand the financial position facing the College, but actions such as these which are contrary to the Faculty Association by-laws open the College community to the potential for damaging and expensive consequences and may adversely impact the College’s mission to serve the students,” the committee wrote in the letter.

Manion has not responded to the letter. He began his role as president in June of this year, facing enrollment declines of over 20% in recent years.

THE BOURNE COLLECTION: ONLINE SEARCH IS OLDER THAN YOU THINK!

Marc Weber:

The real history is longer and richer. Full-text online search was prototyped in the early 1960s—partly through Charlie’s work – and commercialized by decade’s end. But pre-computer machine-aided search goes all the way back to punched card sorters. These were conceived in the 1830s and built in the 1890s, during a period of huge advances in card catalogs and other manual retrieval techniques. Real-time, interactive search was pioneered in the 1920s with Emmanuel Goldberg’s microfilm “search engine,” built into a desk.

By the late 1950s, manufacturers were selling a Rube Goldbergian mix of different storage and retrieval technologies to governments, corporations and the military: Rapid Selectors capable of searching 330 pages per second on microfilm, magnetic media or microfilm integrated into punched cards, and various futuristic looking viewers. Some were already computer controlled, and major conferences were starting up around how computers would soon revolutionize the entire field.

Grafton School District loses appeal, must reimburse parent for private school tuition

Annysa Johnson:

The Grafton School District must reimburse a mother who spent $78,000 a year in tuition, plus expenses, for her son to attend a private boarding school that specializes in learning disabilities, a federal judge in Milwaukee said Wednesday.

In issuing the order, U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman upheld a 2019 decision by Administrative Law Judge Sally Pederson who ruled the district had failed to provide a now-18-year-old student with the free and appropriate public education required by state and federal law.

“We’re thrilled,” said Jeffrey Spitzer-Resnick, a longtime civil and disability rights attorney, who represented the family. “My client is looking forward to being reimbursed.”

He said the district owes the mother at least $260,000 for tuition, travel expenses, attorney’s fees and interest. 

The mother who, like her son, is identified in the court records only by initials, said they were pleased with the decision and hope it improves services for other students with disabilities.

Watch stories about childhood memories and children

Evan Roberts:

or many, experiences as a child greatly effect the choices of adulthood. From how a child is raised to how parents handle raising their own children, and even the decision to bring a new member into a family, the choices we make for our future can be influenced by what has happened in our past.

Often it is only through reflection that clarity emerges, whether that be self-reflection or sharing stories with others. On July 9 five Americans, including me, will join Storytellers Project LIVE, In Your House! to share true, first-person stories from their lives, each story dealing with the world of kids.

“Kid Stories” will be a show for adults about childhood and children.

The show will be livestreamed at 8 p.m. EDT on the Storytellers Project’s Facebook page and YouTube channel.

7.13.2020 Madison School District Fall Referendum Presentation Deck

Administration PDF:

Proposed Question 1:

Shall the Madison Metropolitan School District, Dane County, Wisconsin be authorized to exceed the revenue limit specified in Section 121.91, Wisconsin Statutes, by $6,000,000 for 2020-2021 school year; by an additional $8,000,000 (for a total $14,000,000) for 2021-2022 school year; by an additional $9,000,000 (for a total of $23,000,000) for the 2022-23 school year; and by an additional $10,000,000 (for a total of $33,000,000) for the 2023-2024 school year and thereafter, for recurring purposes consisting of operational and maintenance expenses?

“Unknown revenues from the state…
Now more than ever public education funding is at risk and local control will matter.”

Question 2:

Shall the Madison Metropolitan School District, Dane County, Wisconsin be authorized to issue pursuant to Chapter 67 of the Wisconsin Statutes, general obligation bonds in an amount not to exceed $317,000,000 for the public purpose of paying the cost of a school building and facility improvement project consisting of: renovations and additions at all four high schools, including safety and security improvements, plumbing/heating and cooling, science labs and classrooms, athletic, theatre, and environmental sustainability improvements; land acquisition for and construction of a new elementary school located near Rimrock Road to relocate an existing elementary school; remodeling the district owned Hoyt School to relocate Capital High; and acquisition of furnishings fixtures and equipment?

The presentation deck failed to include:

1. Total tax & spending changes over time.

From a kind reader, posted at mmsdbudget:

MMSD Budget Facts: from 2014-15 to 2020-21 [July, 2020]

Property taxes up 37% from 2012 – 2021.
1. 4K-12 enrollment: -1.6% (decrease) from 2014-15 to projected 2020-21

2. Total district staffing FTE: -2.9% (decrease) from 2014-15 to proposed 2020-21

3. Total expenditures (excluding construction fund): +15.9% +17.0% (increase) from 2014-15 to proposed 2020-21

4. Total expenditures per pupil: +17.8% +19.0%(increase) from 2014-15 to proposed 2020-21

5. CPI change: +10.0% (increase) from January 2014 to January 2020

6. Bond rating (Moody’s): two downgrades (from Aaa to Aa2) from 2014 to 2020

Sources:
1. DPI WISEdash for 2014-15 enrollment; district budget book for projected 2020-21 enrollment
2. & 3.: District budget books
5. Bureau of Labor Statistics (https://www.bls.gov/data/)
6. Moody’s (https://www.moodys.com/)
– via a kind reader (July 9, 2020 update).

2. A comparison of Madison’s maintenance spending vs other taxpayer supported school districts.

“Madison spends just 1% of its budget on maintenance while Milwaukee, with far more students, spends 2%” – Madison’s CFO at a fall 2019 referendum presentation.

3. Enrollment forecasts.

4. Achievement and spending information; “bang for the buck”.

5. Substantive property tax burden between school districts. The included mill rate comparison is one part of the equation.

Changes in assessed value, redistributed state and federal taxpayer fund changes and spending growth data have gone missing.

2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results

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

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration

Here’s a List of Colleges’ Plans for Reopening in the Fall

The Chronicle:

Below is our list of colleges that have either disclosed their plans or set a deadline for deciding. New additions include Bennett College, Canisius College, Dillard University, Empire State College, Keene College, Mills College, and Saint Joseph’s College of Maine. Among the colleges with status updates are Franklin & Marshall College, Pepperdine University, and West Chester University.

Add your college to the tracker or tell us if its plans are different than reported below. Use this form and provide a relevant link if you want your institution to be included.

Letter on Civil Rights

US Department of Education:

We have been deeply affected by the recent events that have contributed to racial discord and strife throughout our country. Like so many of you, we continue to be concerned about the impact of these events on our children and on the future of our country. Racism has no place in our nation or in our schools. In each generation, ordinary Americans have fought to secure equality in our laws and in our lives. Their hard- earned victories enshrined equal protection in our Constitution and banned discrimination in our schools, workplaces, and public facilities. Next week, on July 2nd, we commemorate one of those landmark achievements as we celebrate the 56th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This anniversary is a timely reminder to mark our society’s progress and to strengthen our resolve to realize the law’s full promise: racial equality for all.

Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VI) prohibits entities receiving federal funds, including our nation’s schools, from discriminating based on race, color, or national origin. For decades, the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has worked to investigate race discrimination faced by students. Each day, we work to ensure all students have equal educational opportunities regardless of race, color, or national origin.

Now, more than ever, OCR is committed to ensuring that no student is treated differently because of the color of their skin. In the last three fiscal years alone, OCR has entered into 520 resolution agreements requiring schools to make changes to address racial discrimination concerns (a 16% increase as compared to the three prior fiscal years). Of these resolution agreements, 164 addressed racial harassment (a 27% increase as compared to the three prior fiscal years), and 50 resolved racial bias in school discipline (a 108% increase as compared to the three prior fiscal years).

“They won’t be critical thinkers.”

David Choi:

“It was because I recognized that unless we are giving opportunity and a quality education to the young men and women in the United States, then we won’t have the right people to be able to make the right decisions about our national security,” McRaven said. “They won’t have an understanding of different cultures. They won’t have an understand of different ideas. They won’t be critical thinkers.”

“So we have got to have an education system within the United States that really does teach and educate young men and women to think critically, to look outside their kind of small microcosm because if we don’t develop those great folks, then our national security in the long run may be in jeopardy,” McRaven added.

McRaven recommended the US develop a “culture of education” within communities, particular those where residents believe they cannot afford an education or where they think their children aren’t “smart enough.”

2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results

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

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration

How one woman’s stolen identity exposed a system of exam fraud

Yvette Tan:

This week around 10 million students across China have sat the Gaokao – a college entrance exam which determines their entire future.

Hanging over their heads, though, is the recent revelation that hundreds of other students before them were victim to an identity theft scandal which saw them robbed of their results.

For Chen Chunxiu, it was an exam that could change everything. Doing well in the Gaokao meant the farmer’s daughter had a shot of getting into her dream university. Failing meant it would remain just that – a dream.

She failed.

Denied admission to college, she took up various jobs – a factory worker, a waitress – before eventually becoming a kindergarten teacher.

But 16 years later, she found to her shock that she had, in fact, earned a place at the Shandong University of Technology – and enrolled there.

But it hadn’t been her. Her score – and in fact, her entire identity – was stolen by a girl whose relatives had pulled strings to make this happen.

155-ACRE COLLEGE CAMPUS

Malta Auctions:

Details:

  • Green Mountain College, One Brennan Circle, Poultney, Rutland County, VT 05764

  • Located on the Vermont/New York Border in the Southern Vermont Lakes Region

  • 40 Minutes to Lake George, 75 Minutes to Albany; 3.5 Hours to Boston; 4 Hours to New York City; 3 Hours to Montreal

  • Magnificent 155 Acre Campus Improved with 22 Buildings of High-End Brick & Slate Construction

  • Turn-Key Opportunity – Equipped/Furnished

  • Campus Received a Perfect “Green Rating” by Princeton Review’s Green Honor Roll

  • Wood-Fueled Biomass Steam Heat System. Built in 2010 at a Cost of $5,800,000

  • Skiing, Hiking & Bike Trails on and/or Nearby Property

  • Potential Alternative Uses Include Religious Compound, Assisted Living, Housing, Summer Camp, Addiction Retreat and Many Others
     

Kids won big in school choice ruling

Ross Izard:

Last week, the Supreme Court of the United States issued a landmark ruling invalidating the use of state constitutional “Blaine Amendments” to bar faith-based schools from participating in K-12 scholarship programs. That ruling removes the largest legal impediment to private school choice in three dozen states and throws open the doors of opportunity for millions of students nationwide.

But while the historic decision in Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue hinged on a scholarship program in Montana, it also represented the finale of a long and bloody fight right here in Colorado.  

Three years ago, almost to the day, what would become one of the most pivotal school board races in America was taking shape in Douglas County. At the core of that election was Douglas County School District’s first-of-its-kind local K-12 private school choice program, which would have allowed up to 500 students to attend an approved private school of their choosing with a district-funded scholarship. 

Scamocracy in America

Angela Codevilla:

Over the past fifty years the rules of public and even of private life in America have well-nigh reversed, along with the meaning of common words, e.g. marriage, merit, and equality. Social inequality, even more than economic, has increased as personal safety and freedom have plummeted. People are subject to arbitrary power as never before. No one voted for these changes. Often, as with the negation of the Defense of Marriage Act and of the referendum-approved California constitutional provision to the same effect, these reversals expressly negated law. Just as often, as in the case of our mounting restrictions on freedom of speech, they have happened quite outside any law. Altogether, they have transformed a constitutional republic into an oligarchy at war with itself as well as with the rest of society. The U.S. Constitution and the way of life lived under it are historical relics.

Our ruling class transformed America’s regime by instituting a succession of scams, each of which transferred power and wealth to themselves. These scams’ blending into one another compel us to recognize them, individually and jointly, as the kind of governance that Augustine called “magnum latrocinium,” thievery writ large. Thievery of power even more than of money—colloquially, scamocracy.

Neither Aristotle nor anybody else ever counted scamocracy in their category of regimes because rule by fraud exists naturally only as regimes reach the terminal stages of their corruption.

Power over substance

Children’s Well-Being Goes Hand in Hand With Their Dads’ Mental Health

Catherine Wade and Julie Green:

We know from recent research that children whose mothers are depressed may respond differently to stress, have altered immunity and be at greater risk of psychological disorders. This work adds to the body of research showing children can be affected in negative and long-term ways by their mothers’ mental ill-health.

But what about dads?

Men’s mental health is more on the societal radar these days – but less so in terms of fatherhood. This area has been relatively under-researched. So how important is a father’s mental health to the way thier child grows and develops? Very important, as it turns out.

Mathematician Has Created a Teaching Method That’s Proving There’s No Such Thing as a Bad Math Student

Jenny Anderson:

Math is a notoriously hard subject for many kids and adults. There is a gender gap, a race gap, and just generally bad performance in many countries.

John Mighton, a Canadian playwright, author, and math tutor who struggled with math himself, has designed a teaching program that has some of the worst-performing math students performing well and actually enjoying math. There’s mounting evidence that the method works for all kids of all abilities.

As of 2017, his program, JUMP (Junior Undiscovered Math Prodigies) Math, is being used by 15,000 kids in eight US states (it is aligned with the Common Core), more than 150,000 in Canada, and about 12,000 in Spain. The US Department of Education found it promising enough to give a $2.75 million grant in 2012 to Tracy Solomon and Rosemary Tannock, cognitive scientists at the Hospital for Sick Children and the University of Toronto, to conduct a randomized control trial with 1,100 kids and 40 classrooms. The results, due out in late 2017, hope to confirm previous work the two did in 2010, which showed that students from 18 classrooms using JUMP progressed twice as fast on a number of standardized math tests as those receiving standard instruction in 11 other classrooms.

Carlton Jenkins is named Madison’s next K-12 Superintendent

Scott Girard:

Carlton Jenkins said moving to work in the Madison Metropolitan School District would be like “going home.”

One of two finalists to become the district’s next superintendent, Jenkins was an associate principal at Memorial High School in 1993 and earned his doctorate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Throughout the day Tuesday, the Robbinsdale School District superintendent spoke with students and staff via video, interviewed with the School Board and participated in a community Q and A session on Facebook Live.

“You will have a superintendent, if you select me, that comes here unapologetically knowing and loving Madison,” Jenkins said. “I am a Badger through and through.”

The School Board announced Jenkins and Oak Park Elementary School District 97 superintendent Carol Kelley as finalists last Thursday. After both interview this week, the board will deliberate in closed session Thursday.

Those who have thoughts on the choice can submit comments on the district’s website by 11 a.m. Thursday. To leave comments on Jenkins, visit mmsd.org/jenkins. Kelley’s community Q and A will be 7:15 p.m. Wednesday night.

The district’s timeline for a hire outlines a potential August start date.

Logan Wroge:

Carlton Jenkins will become the next superintendent of the Madison School District, returning to the city where he started his administrative career in education more than 25 years ago.

The Madison School Board announced Friday it chose Jenkins, superintendent of Robbinsdale Area Schools in suburban Minneapolis, as the permanent leader of the Madison School District. He will be the first Black superintendent of Madison.

He starts the job Aug. 4.

In a second search to fill the superintendent vacancy after the initial pick fell through this spring, the board opted to go with Jenkins, 54, over the other finalist Carol Kelley, a superintendent of the Oak Park Elementary School District 97 in Illinois.

“I speak for everyone on the Board when I say that we are very excited to share this news with our community,” Board President Gloria Reyes said in a statement.

Jenkins received a Ph.D. in educational leadership and policy analysis from UW-Madison in 2009 and a master’s degree in educational administration from the university in 1993.

Related:

2013 – 2019: Jennifer Cheatham and the Madison experience.

2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results

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

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration

A Sino-American bond, forged by Chinese students, is in peril

The Economist:

THE FIRST Chinese graduate from an American university, Yung Wing, deemed his college years the great adventure of his life. Alas, his graduation from Yale in 1854, sponsored by missionaries who spotted his talents as a boy in rural Guangdong, was a high point. Soon political mistrust and prejudice, both in America and China, filled his life with setbacks. These included the ending of his scheme that involved bringing 30 Chinese youths to America each year. Back in Beijing, imperial mandarins saw value in the science that the youngsters studied in New England. These officials were especially eager to take up a promise that the military academies of West Point and Annapolis would admit Chinese cadets. Then, in a mark of disdain for the ailing Qing empire, America broke that promise. Mandarins were further appalled by the irreverent, sports-loving, churchgoing Yankee ways picked up by Yung’s charges. In 1881 they summoned the boys home in disgrace. Yung lost his American citizenship to a xenophobic law passed a year later, the Chinese Exclusion Act.

Yung would recognise the pressures his Chinese heirs face today. In the coming weeks many will have to decide how and whether to pursue studies in America. They are living through a moment when campuses, borders and minds on both sides of the Pacific are being closed by mutual suspicion (including overly sweeping American fears about on-campus espionage) and a pandemic.

Attempting to dictate what words we use is a way to exert power over our thoughts

David Harsanyi:

I recently ran across a piece in the Philadelphia Inquirer that lays out four racist words and phrases that should be banished from the English language. It begins like this:

Editor’s note: Please be aware offensive terms are repeated here solely for the purpose of identifying and analyzing them honestly. These terms may upset some readers.

Steel yourself, brave reader, here they are:

Peanut gallery

Eenie meenie miney moe

Gyp

No can do

The same grammarian who authored the piece had previously confronted the “deeply racist connotation” of the word “thug,” noting that president Donald Trump “wasn’t the least bit bashful” when calling Minneapolis rioters “thugs” in a tweet, despite the word’s obvious bigoted history. In 2015, President Barack Obama referred to Baltimore rioters as “thugs” as well. He likely did so because “thug” — defined as a “violent person, especially a criminal” — is a good way to describe rioters. It’s true that not everyone in a riot engages in wanton violent criminality. Some participants are merely “looters” — defined as “people who steal goods during a riot.” That word is also allegedly imbued with racist conations, according to the executive editor of the Los Angeles Times and others.

Attempting to dictate what words we can use is another way to exert power over how we think. Few people, rightly, would have a problem with referring to the Charlottesville Nazis as “thugs.” Only the “protester” who tears down a Ulysses S. Grant statue or participates in an Antifa riot is spared the indignity of being properly defined.

The recent assaults on the English language have consisted largely of euphemisms and pseudoscientific gibberish meant to obscure objective truths — “cisgender,” “heteronormativity,” and so on. Now we’re at the stage of the revolution where completely inoffensive and serviceable words are branded problematic.

New York’s school decision a slap in the face to parents

Karol Markowicz:

Well, they did it. Mayor Bill de Blasio and his schools Chancellor Richard Carranza have finally confirmed an absurd plan to have school restart on a part-time schedule in the fall. What will parents who still have to work full-time do? Who cares! What will teachers who have school-age children do? That’s their problem. The new “Let them eat cake” is “Hire a nanny.”

The mayor treated this announcement as some sort of reflection of what parents wanted. “75% of families want to send their kids back to school in the fall,” he tweeted. The survey sent to parents had three options and none of them was “Reopen schools full-time.” The mayor had to know a majority of parents would have picked that.

Because everything to Hizzoner is about President Trump, de Blasio added, “What we WON’T do is ignore the science and recklessly charge ahead like our president. We will do it the right way. We will keep everyone safe.”

There is, of course, absolutely no way to “keep everyone safe” and, as the mayor who ignored the COVID-19 epidemic until the last possible second, even famously going to the gym the day after he was forced to close schools, de Blasio knows this.

The Coddling of the Elites

Hamilton Nolan:

The search for “justice” isn’t easy. The raw politics of achieving it are complex enough. Trying to define it—to find its philosophical and moral underpinnings—is harder still. But there is one very simple rule of thumb that will make this job easier: Anyone who attempts to define “justice” as “Whatever allows me to maintain my position atop the cultural hierarchy unchallenged” is a fucking fraud.

I say this, of course, in the context of today’s letter, published in Harper’s and signed by more than 100 of the worst people in the world of public intellectualism, titled “A Letter on Justice and Open Debate.” The letter is certainly not about any reasonable definition of “Justice,” and is about Open Debate only to the extent that people who make very healthy salaries arguing in public for a living seem to have a bizarre aversion to being argued against. This aversion, I’m afraid, now borders on the pathological. We have entered a brave new world in which those waving the banner of “Free Speech” accuse their opponents of being unable to take criticism while waging a histrionic campaign against anyone who dares to criticize them. Accusing your opponents of doing exactly what you are yourself guilty of is a classic propaganda technique. It works well, unfortunately.

Academic acceleration in gifted youth and fruitless concerns regarding psychological well-being: A 35-year longitudinal study.

Bernstein, Brian O. Lubinski, David Benbow, Camilla P.:

Academic acceleration of intellectually precocious youth is believed to harm overall psychological well-being even though short-term studies do not support this belief. Here we examine the long-term effects. Study 1 involves three cohorts identified before age 13, then longitudinally tracked for over 35 years: Cohort 1 gifted (top 1% in ability, identified 1972–1974, N = 1,020), Cohort 2 highly gifted (top 0.5% in ability, identified 1976–1979, N = 396), and Cohort 3 profoundly gifted (top 0.01% in ability, identified 1980–1983, N = 220). Two forms of educational acceleration were examined: (a) age at high school graduation and (b) quantity of advanced learning opportunities pursued prior to high school graduation. Participants were evaluated at age 50 on several well-known indicators of psychological well-being. Amount of acceleration did not covary with psychological well-being. Study 2, a constructive replication of Study 1, used a different high-potential sample—elite science, technology, engineering, and mathematics graduate students (N = 478) identified in 1992. Their educational histories were assessed at age 25 and they were followed up at age 50 using the same psychological assessments. Again, the amount of educational acceleration did not covary with psychological well-being. Further, the psychological well-being of participants in both studies was above the average of national probability samples. Concerns about long-term social/emotional effects of acceleration for high-potential students appear to be unwarranted, as has been demonstrated for short-term effects. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved)

Don’t ask if artificial intelligence is good or fair, ask how it shifts power

Pratyusha Kalluri:

Law enforcement, marketers, hospitals and other bodies apply artificial intelligence (AI) to decide on matters such as who is profiled as a criminal, who is likely to buy what product at what price, who gets medical treatment and who gets hired. These entities increasingly monitor and predict our behaviour, often motivated by power and profits.

It is not uncommon now for AI experts to ask whether an AI is ‘fair’ and ‘for good’. But ‘fair’ and ‘good’ are infinitely spacious words that any AI system can be squeezed into. The question to pose is a deeper one: how is AI shifting power?

From 12 July, thousands of researchers will meet virtually at the week-long International Conference on Machine Learning, one of the largest AI meetings in the world. Many researchers think that AI is neutral and often beneficial, marred only by biased data drawn from an unfair society. In reality, an indifferent field serves the powerful.

DeVos suggests giving parents federal education money if their schools ‘refuse to open’

The Week:

If schools aren’t going to reopen, we’re not suggesting pulling funding from education,” DeVos told Fox News in a interview. “Instead,” the government is considering “allowing families … (to) take that money and figure out where their kids can get educated if their schools are going to refuse to open,” she said. It’s unclear if that very broad idea is even possible, seeing as Congress mandates how federal funds can be used. DeVos has long been a proponent of charter schools, which use government funding but run separately from public schools, and letting parents use tax vouchers to pay for education at private schools.

After President Trump complained about the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines for reopening schools being “too tough,” Vice President Mike Pence said the guidelines would be revised. – Kathryn Krawczyk

It Wasn’t My Cancelation That Bothered Me. It Was the Cowardice of Those Who Let It Happen

Margaret Wente:

It doesn’t take much to get cancelled these days. Last month, my turn came around. The experience was unpleasant, but also completely ludicrous. And I learned a lot. I learned how easily an institution will cave to a mob. I learned how quickly the authorities will run for cover, notwithstanding the lip service they may pay to principles of free speech.

After all, they’re terrified. They’re afraid that if they don’t beg forgiveness and promise to do better, they’ll be next at the guillotine.

I was cancelled by one of Canada’s quainter institutions, a University of Toronto graduate residential school called Massey College. Few people outside Canadian academia have heard of it. But the cultural revolution has entered its mass-spectacle Reign of Terror phase, and so my story made news across Canada. I was depicted as a racist, anti-feminist heretic whose mere presence inside Massey’s halls would have presented a threat to students.

But Massey College hasn’t fared too well, either: In this climate, every fusty institution is just one trivial scandal away from public-relations crisis and knives-out infighting, as all concerned flail about in a bid to prove their moral purity. I’ll survive. I’m not sure Massey will.

* * *

Massey College was created in the early 1960s by Torontonians eager to evoke the genteel old Oxbridge days. And it remains a charming place, though a bit precious. It is made up of Senior Fellows (distinguished professors from the university, as well as luminaries from the city’s intellectual elite) and Junior Fellows (graduate students), who don their gowns to dine together, and perhaps mingle over a glass of port. The Senior Fellows are overwhelmingly white; the Junior Fellows increasingly multicultural. Until recently, the head of the college held the anachronistic title of Master, after the British style. Yet despite these antiquated trappings, Massey College prides itself on being a vibrant forum for high-minded debate and liberal ideals.

The college has an appendage called the Quadrangle Society, which is basically a jumped-up book club. Its members, of whom there are hundreds, are drawn from the non-academic world. Although membership is by invitation only, it is not terribly exclusive, and nobody is quite sure of its purpose. It is a WASPish take on what once might have been called a “salon”—back in the days when words like that could be used unironically without provoking eye rolls.

This Rocket Scientist Is Tracing Black Ingenuity Through Barbecue

Howard Conyers, PhD, as told to Hilary Cadigan:

Every weekday, Dr. Howard Conyers goes to work at NASA’s Stennis Space Center outside New Orleans, where he designs facilities for testing rocket engines. Then every night he comes home and gets to work on his second job, the one that doesn’t pay: documenting the history of Black barbecue. For the past six years, Conyers has been working to compile oral histories from Black whole-animal pitmasters across the South and tracing the traditional methods of roasting hogs and other animals over pits in the ground—a practice that dates back well over 400 years. I caught up with Conyers over a series of phone calls to learn more about this work, how it began, and why he does it. —Hilary Cadigan

One of my earliest memories is my father cooking a whole hog in a refrigerator. He gutted one of those old white International Harvesters, took out all the insulation and plastic, and put metal pipes through it with pieces of wire. On the farmland where I grew up in Clarendon County, South Carolina, we used it as a barbecue pit—a reusable update on the traditional method of digging a hole in the ground. Other places use cinder blocks. In Chicago they use fish tanks. You can trace the ingenuity of Black people through barbecue across the country.

I barbecued my first hog when I was 11 years old. We’d cook them nice and slow—12 to 15 hours each—and use literally every part of the animal. It was always one of the biggest things that brought my family together. But being a Black farmer in America, like my father was, comes with many injustices and little economic viability. In the 1970s and ’80s, Black farmers were constantly denied loans. They made less than their white counterparts on the same commodities: tobacco, cotton, hogs. My father became a welder to make ends meet; he held on to our land out of passion for it. And like most farmers of his generation, he wanted his children to get an education, which took us away from that land.

Wisconsin joins federal lawsuit against DeVos over CARES funding for private schools

Annysa Johnson:

Wisconsin on Tuesday joined several states and the District of Columbia in suing the U.S. Department of Education and Secretary Betsy DeVos, arguing its policy dictating how states share federal pandemic relief funds with private schools is unconstitutional and siphons much-needed funding from public schools.

“The funds allocated to schools in the CARES Act provide vital support at a time when schools have had to make significant changes to the way they teach students,” said Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul.

“Instead of ignoring congressional intent and diverting funds away from public schools, Secretary DeVos should follow the law.”

The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. Plaintiffs include the states of Michigan, California, Maine and New Mexico.

At issue is a rule issued by DeVos’ office in late June that spells out how states are to allocate a portion of their K-12 funds under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security, or CARES, act, with private schools.

Notes and links on the state of Wisconsin’s taxpayer supported K-12 governance.

Most students say they experienced very little meaningful online instruction.

Robin Lake:

Although the vast majority of students say they had access to some form of online education this fall, a nationally representative survey by the Center for Promise at America’s Promise Alliance showed that 78 percent of teens surveyed report spending between one and four hours on online learning during a typical day—far less time than a regular school day. Thirty-two percent of all students surveyed say they had two or less hours of online learning per day. Even taking into account that a typical school day includes time for socializing, transferring between classes, etc., this is a concerning loss of learning time. 

According to one national survey by Common Sense Media, nearly one in four teens say they’re connecting with their teachers less than once a week. Almost half (41 percent) haven’t attended an online or virtual class since in-person school was canceled. 

For most students, then, remote learning this fall was typically a solo endeavor: watching a teacher’s pre-recorded video, doing a project assigned by email, or even completing worksheets mailed home. Only a small number of students are regularly connecting online with teachers and classmates. Even then, students spent far less time than usual learning anything.

Signaling vs. certification at Harvard

Tyler Cowen:

Harvard will be teaching solely on-line this fall (with some students in residence), yet charging full tuition rates.  Many commentators are thus suggesting this supplies evidence for the signaling theory of education.

But not exactly.  The signaling theory, taken quite literally, is that education is a very difficult set of hurdles to surmount, and if you can get through Harvard you must be really really smart and hard-working.  Caltech maybe, but Harvard like Stanford and many other top schools makes it pretty easy to get through with OK enough grades.

The hard part about Harvard is getting in.  By selecting you, Harvard certifies you (as long as you are not part of “the 43% percent,” legacy, athletes, etc…but wait that counts too!).

Why isn’t there a service that just certifies you directly?  Surely you could run a clone of the Harvard admissions department pretty cheaply.

Culture and Student Achievement: The Intertwined Roles of Patience and Risk-Taking

NBER:

Patience and risk-taking – two cultural traits that steer intertemporal decision-making – are fundamental to human capital investment decisions. To understand how they contribute to international differences in student achievement, we combine PISA tests with the Global Preference Survey. We find that opposing effects of patience (positive) and risk-taking (negative) together account for two-thirds of the cross-country variation in student achievement. In an identification strategy addressing unobserved residence-country features, we find similar results when assigning migrant students their country-of-origin cultural traits in models with residence-country fixed effects. Associations of culture with family and school inputs suggest that both may act as channels.

Wisconsin hopes To avoid another K-12 School Closure

Brianna Reilly:

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers said he would try to avoid another statewide closure of K-12 schools if COVID-19 outbreaks were to occur in classrooms during the upcoming school year. 

Instead, the former state superintendent — who ordered the closure of school buildings in mid-March — said if the state is effectively “managing the virus and boxing it in,” it’s likely any schools directly impacted by such an outbreak would be able make the individual decision to temporarily shutter to manage the novel coronavirus before resuming instruction as planned. 

“We would take time and effort to make sure we’re in close communications not just with county public health officials but also school officials to see how it’s working out for them and whether they need to take a pause or not,” he told reporters in a briefing Tuesday.

“Hopefully if we’re in a position where the virus is being managed in the state of Wisconsin, that we would more likely see individual schools or maybe a classroom taking 14 days to self-isolate at home rather than a statewide shutdown.” 

The Democrat’s comments come as education officials continue planning for the upcoming school year and state leaders work to distribute masks and thermometers to K-12 institutions in preparation for what the Department of Public Instruction has said “will undoubtedly” be a different-looking school year. 

The agency last month released its 87-page “Education Forward” guidance document that lists a series of recommendations districts should take to mitigate the risks amid the ongoing pandemic, including daily temperature checks or symptoms screening, modified schedules and more. 

MIT and Harvard file suit against new ICE regulations

MIT:

On Monday, in a surprising development, a division of Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced that it will not permit international students on F-1 visas to take a full online course load this fall while studying in the United States. As I wrote yesterday, this ruling has potentially serious implications for MIT’s international students and those enrolled at institutions across the country.

This morning, in response, MIT and Harvard jointly filed suit against ICE and the US Department of Homeland Security in federal court in Massachusetts. In the lawsuit, we ask the court to prevent ICE and DHS from enforcing the new guidance and to declare it unlawful.

The announcement disrupts our international students’ lives and jeopardizes their academic and research pursuits. ICE is unable to offer the most basic answers about how its policy will be interpreted or implemented. And the guidance comes after many US colleges and universities either released or are readying their final decisions for the fall – decisions designed to advance their educational mission and protect the health and safety of their communities.

Legacy and Athlete Preferences at Harvard

Peter Arcidiacono, Josh Kinsler, Tyler Ransom:

The lawsuit Students For Fair Admissions v. Harvard University provided an unprecedented look at how an elite school makes admissions decisions. Using publicly released reports, we examine the preferences Harvard gives for recruited athletes, legacies, those on the dean’s interest list, and children of faculty and staff (ALDCs). Among white admits, over 43% are ALDC. Among admits who are African American, Asian American, and Hispanic, the share is less than 16% each. Our model of admissions shows that roughly three quarters of white ALDC admits would have been rejected if they had been treated as white non-ALDCs. Removing preferences for athletes and legacies would significantly alter the racial distribution of admitted students, with the share of white admits falling and all other groups rising or remaining unchanged.

Civics: A Letter on Justice and Open Debate

Harpers:

Our cultural institutions are facing a moment of trial. Powerful protests for racial and social justice are leading to overdue demands for police reform, along with wider calls for greater equality and inclusion across our society, not least in higher education, journalism, philanthropy, and the arts. But this needed reckoning has also intensified a new set of moral attitudes and political commitments that tend to weaken our norms of open debate and toleration of differences in favor of ideological conformity. As we applaud the first development, we also raise our voices against the second. The forces of illiberalism are gaining strength throughout the world and have a powerful ally in Donald Trump, who represents a real threat to democracy. But resistance must not be allowed to harden into its own brand of dogma or coercion—which right-wing demagogues are already exploiting. The democratic inclusion we want can be achieved only if we speak out against the intolerant climate that has set in on all sides.

Colleges Face Rising Revolt by Professors:

Anemona Hartocollis:

College students across the country have been warned that campus life will look drastically different in the fall, with temperature checks at academic buildings, masks in half-empty lecture halls and maybe no football games.

What they might not expect: a lack of professors in the classroom.

Thousands of instructors at American colleges and universities have told administrators in recent days that they are unwilling to resume in-person classes because of the pandemic. …

Faculty members at institutions including Penn State, the University of Illinois, Notre Dame and the State University of New York have signed petitions complaining that they are not being consulted and are being pushed back into classrooms too fast. …

Many professors are calling for a sweeping no-questions-asked policy for those who want to teach remotely, saying that anything less is a violation of their privacy and their family’s privacy. But many universities are turning to their human resources departments to make decisions case by case.

What’s wrong with ‘work hard, be nice?’

Joanne Jacobs:

I’ve always liked KIPP‘s motto: “Work hard. Be nice.” It’s clear and concise. It’s not a false promise, like “if you can dream it, you can do it.” Furthermore, students can work hard and be nice right now, not in some distant future. It stresses effort and good character, rather than being “special.”

After 25 years of educating primarily black and Latino students, the charter network is retiring the slogan and rejecting “the illusion of meritocracy,” writes Richard Barth, KIPP Foundation CEO.

In addition, KIPP will review discipline practices, reassess security and use “restorative” conflict resolution practices.

In a letter to alumni, co-founder Dave Levin apologizes for a culture that “perpetuated white supremacy and anti-Blackness.”

Hong Kong: books by pro-democracy activists disappear from library shelves

Agency France Press:

Books written by prominent Hong Kong democracy activists have started to disappear from the city’s libraries, online records show, days after Beijing imposed a new national security law on the finance hub.

Among the authors whose titles are no longer available are Joshua Wong, one of the city’s most prominent young activists, and Tanya Chan, a well known pro-democracy lawmaker.

Beijing’s new national security law came into force on Tuesday and is the most radical shift in how the semi-autonomous city is run since it was handed back to China by Britain in 1997.

China’s authoritarian leaders say the powers will restore stability after a year of pro-democracy protests, will not stifle freedoms and will only target a “very small minority”.

But it has already sent fear coursing through a city used to speaking openly, with police arresting people for possessing slogans pushing independence or greater autonomy and businesses scrambling to remove protest displays.

Wong said he believed the removal of the books was sparked by the security law.

America’s cultural revolution is just like Mao’s

Xiao Li:

After leaving China for America two decades ago, my father only returned to his homeland once. I had turned 18, and I think he wanted to show me something of his youth, of which he spoke little. In the dusty village where he grew up, we met an endless stream of old men who wanted to see the village’s prodigal son. Gifts were offered and extravagant greetings were swapped. Then, after each visitor had departed, my father would tell me, matter-of-factly, what they did to him during the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution.

The harmless-looking retired cadre, now an amiable old man who pinched my cheeks, had been the village party secretary who forced my father to perform manual labour — running after cows with a basket to pick up the droppings — because, as the son of a landlord, he could not be trusted with an education. The local businessman, now on his second wife and third Audi, had belonged to a gang of high school children who beat him for being descended from counter-revolutionaries.

Some of my father’s tormentors were blood relatives, who were especially keen to display their revolutionary credentials through violence, a situation that was sadly not uncommon: it was rumoured that Bo Xilai, who nearly supplanted Xi Jinping before being imprisoned, had broken his own father’s ribs as a Red Guard. Only the death of Mao Zedong in 1976 saved my father, who took the university entrance examinations a few years later, and never looked back.

Since the beginning of — shall we call it our 2020 cultural moment? — much ink has been spilled on whether there are similarities between the current protests-cum-riots and China’s Cultural Revolution. Even though some of its cheerleaders openly make the comparison, most commentators dismiss the idea, including UnHerd‘s Daniel Kalder.

To my father, and indeed to many of his contemporaries, the answer is clear. They had lived through it, and although they cannot put their finger on the why, they can feel a certain febrility in the air which reminded them of the events of half a century ago. But with their accented English and unfashionable politics (few, for some reason, are especially well-disposed toward the western Left), they have been largely excluded from the conversation. Or they could be biased, as western Marxist academics used to say of the testimonies of eastern European refugees who had been in Communist prisons.

The Purpose of Persuasion

Yasha Mounk:

But the erosion of values like free speech and due process within mainstream institutions does put philosophical liberals at a unique disadvantage. It is difficult to convey just how many amazing writers, journalists, and think-tankers—some young and some old, some relatively obscure and others very famous—have privately told me that they can no longer write in their own voices; that they are counting the days until they get fired; and that they don’t know where to turn if they do. (Astonishingly, a number of them are far enough to the left to have supported Bernie Sanders in the primaries.)

This, to me, is a huge part of the reason why the defenders of the free society have seemed to lack conviction in recent months and years. Feeling, at best, begrudgingly tolerated by the institutions that employ them, they are always on the back foot: writing and speaking with one eye on Twitter, one eye on a hostile editor, and one eye on the attacks being shared on their own company’s Slack channel. (As you may have noticed, that requires too many eyes.)

How Our Anti-American Education System Made Riots Inevitable

Inez Feltscher Stepman:

The past fire-lit weeks in America’s cities have made clear that the protests, and the riots that attend them, have little to do with the condemnable alleged murder of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis.

Even in the non-violent demonstrations, protesters can be seen burning the American flag, an act that just 30 years ago engendered such outrage it spurred Congress to pass an unconstitutional law, but doesn’t even warrant coverage today. In broad daylight, protesters have defaced and toppled statues dedicated to any and all figures of America’s history.

Lest anyone think the mob’s Year Zero behavior stopped with the slaveholding Confederacy, in Boston a monument to the 54th Massachusetts, an all-black Union regiment during the Civil War, was among those vandalized. Matthias Baldwin, an early abolitionist, got the same treatment in Philadelphia, as did the lesser-known Rotary Club founder Paul Harris, whose plaque in Washington D.C. was marked simply with an ignorance-acknowledging “probably a racist.” The monument to the author of the Emancipation Proclamation on the National Mall was likely spared only because of the protection of the National Guard.

As John Daniel Davidson has noted, toppling statues is not a good sign for the future of the republic; it looks a lot less like a policy conversation about police reform than it does regime change and revolution.

The unplanned impact of mathematics

Peter Rowlett:

As a child, I read a joke about someone who invented the electric plug and had to wait for the invention of a socket to put it in. Who would invent something so useful without knowing what purpose it would serve? Mathematics often displays this astonishing quality. Trying to solve real-world problems, researchers often discover that the tools they need were developed years, decades or even centuries earlier by mathematicians with no prospect of, or care for, applicability. And the toolbox is vast, because, once a mathematical result is proven to the satisfaction of the discipline, it doesn’t need to be re-evaluated in the light of new evidence or refuted, unless it contains a mistake. If it was true for Archimedes, then it is true today.

The mathematician develops topics that no one else can see any point in pursuing, or pushes ideas far into the abstract, well beyond where others would stop. Chatting with a colleague over tea about a set of problems that ask for the minimum number of stationary guards needed to keep under observation every point in an art gallery, I outlined the basic mathematics, noting that it only works on a two-dimensional floor plan and breaks down in three-dimensional situations, such as when the art gallery contains a mezzanine. “Ah,” he said, “but if we move to 5D we can adapt …” This extension and abstraction without apparent direction or purpose is fundamental to the discipline. Applicability is not the reason we work, and plenty that is not applicable contributes to the beauty and magnificence of our subject.

5 tips on how to cover teacher layoffs

Chad Aldeman:

Even in a normal year, it can be challenging to cover the teacher hiring process.

School districts project their student enrollment for the coming year and use those estimates to decide how many teachers they’ll need at each school. After subtracting teacher turnover and retirements, districts then hire to fill any remaining spots.

This summer is, of course, far from normal.

As school districts begin to announce their plans for the fall without clarity on how many students are likely to enroll or whether teachers will return to schools, reporters will need to help readers understand what choices districts are facing and what their decisions will mean for teachers and other education employees.

Budget uncertainties will make reporters’ jobs even harder as they attempt to explain potentially misleading terms like pink slips, layoffs, and RIFs (reductions-in-force). Most challenging of all, reporters will also have to try to determine how all these decisions will affect the quality of services students receive.

To help journalists wade through all that murkiness, I’ve identified five tips for reporters to produce smart, accurate journalism about the layoff process.

1: A pink slip is not a layoff

Many states require notices to be sent to any teacher who may face a layoff in the year ahead, but this doesn’t mean their job loss is guaranteed. Those rules, in turn, force districts to overidentify workers who might be at risk. Without careful reporting, the public perception of layoffs may be larger than the eventual impact.

Campus Climate Commentary

Philip Carl Salzman:

These new identity Marxists were quickly indulged within departments of women’s studies and feminist & gender studies; departments of black studies, Hispanic studies, and ethnic studies; and departments of queer studies and transgender studies. The mandate of these departments was propaganda and indoctrination on behalf of the favored sex, race, or sexuality. Aided by nihilistic, postmodern epistemology, the belief in truth and the academic search for truth were thrown out and replaced with identity-based “knowledge,” because “each person has her own truth.” Alleged experience and emotion now trump research, evidence, and logic.

A series of identity Marxist lies became the center of teaching and publication in the social sciences and humanities. Let us begin with the fourth-wave feminist lie that North Americans live in a “rape culture.” Feminists in anthropology and other fields taught their students that they live in a rape culture, and the students absorbed it as if it were mother’s milk. You might have thought that anthropologists have some idea what a culture is, but apparently feministanthropologists, which means just about all anthropologists, seem to have fallen into ideologically induced amnesia. Let us remind ourselves what culture is: culture is a set of conventional beliefs, values, and practices. To say that we have a “rape culture” would mean that we believe rape to be a good thing, that we teach our children to rape, and we reward rape, just as we regard reading as a good thing, teach our children to read, and reward success at reading (or at least used to). But we do not regard rape as a good thing, do not teach our children to rape, and do not reward rape, but rather punish it. So this feminist assertion is an outright lie. This is not rocket science, but feminist professors ignored our cultural reality in order to scare impressionable young women, who were becoming lax now that most feminist goals had been achieved, back into the security of the feminist camp.

The black studies lie, publicized with great effect by Black Lives Matter, is that black men are murdered every day by police, and that no black boy on the way to school or black man driving to work is safe from being murdered. If one is even slightly interested in facts and evidence, then it is clear that there is no empirical basis to this statement. There are around forty million African Americans, of which around twenty million are male. There are around fifty million contacts between police annually. In 2019, 1,004 individuals were killed by police using lethal force. Of those killed, 158 were black. Of those 158, all but ten were armed, but of those ten, six attacked the police. But even if we count the unarmed counterfactually as non-threatening, the percentage of unarmed male blacks killed is .00005% of all black males.

UW-Madison professor sells plywood to students

David Blaska:

The frightening thing about UW-Madison professor Walter C. Stern’s column last Sunday, “To move ‘Forward,’ we must confront troubled past,” is not how he tortures history to fit his ideology. It’s that he teaches his identity politics to your children’s teachers and — one suspects — many of the late-night visitors to State Street and Capitol Square this long hot summer.

Stern justifies the toppling of Wisconsin’s iconic “Forward” statue because, “while the statue and the state motto it embodies represent progress, their vision of progress does not extend to all.”

Does the professor understand that forward is a direction, not a final destination. That progress is not perfection?

“I use ‘Forward’ in my UW-Madison classes,” he writes, “to help students grasp how celebrations of conquest and white male domination became embedded within the daily fabric of American life.”

Here we thought “Forward” represented a strong woman. No wonder UW-Madison students want to tear down Abraham Lincoln (a white male). Who replaces Old Abe? Al Sharpton?

Tenured professors such as Stern supply the intellectual apologia for the tear down of society. They sell plywood. Menards only stocks it. Tommy Thompson, you’ve got your work cut out for you as interim president of the University of Wisconsin System.

Commentary on US Governance and Economic Effectiveness

Noah Smith:

The U.S.’s decline started with little things that people got used to. Americans drove past empty construction sites and didn’t even think about why the workers weren’t working, then wondered why roads and buildings took so long to finish. They got used to avoiding hospitals because of the unpredictable and enormous bills they’d receive. They paid 6% real-estate commissions, never realizing that Australians were paying 2%. They grumbled about high taxes and high health-insurance premiums and potholed roads, but rarely imagined what it would be like to live in a system that worked better.

When writers speak of American decline, they’re usually talking about international power — the rise of China and the waning of U.S. hegemony and moral authority. To most Americans, those are distant and abstract things that have little or no impact on their daily lives. But the decline in the general effectiveness of U.S. institutions will impose increasing costs and burdens on Americans. And if it eventually leads to a general loss of investor confidence in the country, the damage could be much greater.

The most immediate cost of U.S. decline — and the most vivid demonstration — comes from the country’s disastrous response to the coronavirus pandemic. Leadership failures were pervasive and catastrophic at every level — the president, agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and the Food and Drug Administration, and state and local leaders all fumbled the response to the greatest health threat in a century. As a result, the U.S. is suffering a horrific surge of infections in states such as Arizona, Texas and Florida while states that were battered early on are still struggling. Countries such as Italy that are legendary for government dysfunction and were hit hard by the virus have crushed the curve of infection, while the U.S. just set a daily record for case growth and shows no sign of slowing down.

Three Ideas to End the Rot on College Campuses

Charles Lipson:

In the early 1950s, at the nadir of McCarthyism, the Cincinnati Reds baseball team was so fearful of anti-communist crusaders that it actually changed the team’s name. Overnight, they reverted to their original name, the Cincinnati Red Stockings, and then for several years became the Redlegs. The anti-communism was justified; the mob mentality was not. Today, we are all Redlegs. This time, the repression is coming from the left.

It’s not just that a careless word can cost your job, it’s that people tremble in fear that they might say the wrong word. Today, as in the past, the loudest, most extreme voices claim the right to control speech and judge whether it is worthy of being heard at all. The giants of technology and media have either bowed to these demands or embraced them enthusiastically. The result, as in the early 1950s, is a shriveled, impoverished public square. Genuine debate is suppressed, even in classrooms, which should nurture informed discussion with multiple viewpoints. All too often they have become pipelines for indoctrination.

What’s wrong with this rigid groupthink? First, it takes real problems, such as police misconduct or Confederate statues, and inflates them for political purposes. It vastly exaggerates their extent and gravity, mistakenly generalizes them (Ulysses Grant is not Stonewall Jackson), ignores significant progress in correcting old errors, calls any disagreement “racist,” and relies on intimidation and sometimes violence, not democratic procedures, to get their way. The loudest voices say America and its history are fundamentally evil, that its institutions need to be smashed so they can be reestablished on “socially just” foundations. The mob and their fellow travelers will determine what is just. Who gives them that right? This arrogation of power and attack on public order will not end well.

The second problem is that America’s major institutions have been overwhelmed by these demands and have bowed down to them. Public trust has eroded in all America’s major institutions since the late 1960s. We now see the supine results. Instead of standing up to this swelling irrationalism and intimidation, they have appeased it—and sometimes embraced it. Predictably, appeasement has only fueled more extreme demands.

The rot began in America’s universities before spreading to mass media, cultural magazines, philanthropies, museums, and corporations. More and more parents are concerned that it now suffuses K-12 education. They don’t want a Pollyanna history, but neither do they want their children indoctrinated with a grim, doctrinaire view that America is an evil nation, incapable of reforming its own defects.

Cops are OUT of Madison schools

David Blaska:

Madison school board just voted 7-0 to terminate immediately school resource officers. Not dependent on Madison Common Council decision. “It is a school board decision and we just made it,” said board president Gloria Reyes at 4:35 p.m. 06-29-2020.

First, a special session began at 4 p.m. to vote on ending the district’s contract with the Madison Police Department that places an officer in each of the comprehensive high schools. Only at 5:30 p.m. will there be a public input session.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: The Assessment Gap: Racial Inequalities in Property Taxation

Carlos Avenancio-Leo ́n and Troup Howard:

We use panel data covering 118 million homes in the United States, merged with geolocation detail for 75,000 taxing entities, to document a nationwide “assessment gap” which leads local governments to place a disproportionate fiscal burden on racial and ethnic minorities. We show that holding jurisdictions and property tax rates fixed, black and Hispanic residents nonetheless face a 10–13% higher tax burden for the same bundle of public services. This assessment gap arises through two channels. First, property assessments are less sensitive to neighborhood attributes than market prices are. This generates racially correlated spatial variation in tax burden within jurisdiction. Second, appeals behavior and appeals outcomes differ by race. This results in higher assessment growth rates for minority residents. We propose an alternate approach for constructing assessments based on small-geography home price indexes, and show that this reduces inequality by at least 55–70%.

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district has for decades raised property taxes via annual increases and referendums.

1. 4K-12 enrollment: -1.6% (decrease) from 2014-15 to projected 2020-21

2. Total district staffing FTE: -2.9% (decrease) from 2014-15 to proposed 2020-21

3. Total expenditures (excluding construction fund): +17.0% (increase) from 2014-15 to proposed 2020-21

4. Total expenditures per pupil: +19.0% (increase) from 2014-15 to proposed 2020-21

5. CPI change: +10.0% (increase) from January 2014 to January 2020

Andrew Van Dam: Unfair property assessments lead to widespread overtaxation of black Americans’ homes: African Americans have long said they bear a disproportionate burden for taxes that support local police, schools and parks, but nationwide measures of this type of systemic racism are hard to come by.

To expose the structural and historical factors behind these discriminatory property tax assessments, the economists analyzed more than a decade of tax assessment and sales data for 118 million homes throughout the country.

In almost every state, property tax assessments were higher in areas with more black and Hispanic residents. In city after city, the authors show it is not just differences in the buildings or land but also the racial composition of the neighborhood that matters. The gap between white families and minority households remains large — 10 percent — when you combine data for Hispanic and black families.

OpenStreetMap, a global map for worldwide insight

Mikel Maron:

Want to learn more? The annual State of the Map conference is an amazing opportunity to learn more about how OpenStreetMap is used around the world — and it’s happening online this weekend (and will be recorded, if you’re reading this later). Tune in to catch  “); background-size: 1px 1px; background-position: 0px calc(1em + 1px); background-repeat: repeat no-repeat”>Taylor Reich presenting Pedestrians First, the  “); background-size: 1px 1px; background-position: 0px calc(1em + 1px); background-repeat: repeat no-repeat”>Million Neighborhoods team is sharing their methodologies, and  “); background-size: 1px 1px; background-position: 0px calc(1em + 1px); background-repeat: repeat no-repeat”>Jennings Anderson is examining global-scale patterns in how companies are contributing to OpenStreetMap data. Check out the  “); background-size: 1px 1px; background-position: 0px calc(1em + 1px); background-repeat: repeat no-repeat”>full agenda of State of the Map and see you there.

Universities Sowing the Seeds of Their Own Obsolescence

Victor Davis Hanson:

The media blitz during these last several weeks revealed a generation that is poorly educated and yet petulant and self-assured without justification.

When mobs tore down a statue of Ulysses S. Grant and defaced a monument to African-American veterans of the Civil War, many people wondered whether the protesters had ever learned anything in high school or college.

Did any of these iconoclasts know the difference between Grant and Robert E. Lee? Could they recognize the name “Gettysburg”? Could they even identify the decade in which the Civil War was fought?

Universities are certainly teaching our youth to be confident, loud, and self-righteous. But the media blitz during these last several weeks of protests, riots, and looting also revealed a generation that is poorly educated and yet petulant and self-assured without justification.

Many of the young people on the televised front lines of the protests are in their 20s. But most appear juvenile, at least in comparison to their grandparents — survivors of the Great Depression and World War II.

How can so many so sheltered and prolonged adolescents claim to be all-knowing?

Ask questions like these, and the answers ultimately lead back to the university.

Millions of those who graduate from college or drop out do so in arrears. There is some $1.5 trillion in aggregate student debt in the U.S. Such burdens sometimes delay marriage. They discourage child-rearing. They make home ownership hard — along with all the other experiences we associate with the transition to adulthood.

Homeschool requests overload state government website

North State Journal:

Wednesday evening, the website for the N.C Department of Administration’s Notice of Intent to Establish a Home School was not available due to volume.

The website around 9:20 p.m. read, “The system is not currently available due to an overwhelming submission of Notices of Intent (NOI). It will be back online as soon as possible. We apologize for any inconvenience as we work to process NOIs as quickly as possible.”

Classical Conversations Inc. CEO Robert Bortins, responding to the site being down, told NSJ, “Families are uncertain if the public schools will be able to serve their families needs for school this fall. The pandemic schooling at home gave them the opportunity to see that they could homeschool, and now they are choosing to do it intentionally.”

Earlier today, Gov. Roy Cooper delayed his expected announcement on the plan to reopen schools for the 2020-21 school year, saying his administration needed more time to study the data, trends, and achieve buy in from parents and teachers.

If We Jettison Standardized Testing, What’s Its Replacement?

George Leef:

The COVID-19 pandemic probably won’t kill the SAT, but will no doubt leave it in a badly weakened condition.

Both the SAT (and its close competitor, the ACT) have had to cancel administration of their tests for the last few months and, according to this Washington Post story, universities have decided that they will make their admission decisions without those test scores.

Before COVID-19, support for standardized testing was already eroding and recent developments are sure to cause further slippage.

Undoubtedly, the greatest blow was the decision by the University of California (UC) system to stop relying on standardized tests and develop a new test of its own within five years. One opponent of standardized tests (quoted in this Los Angeles Times piece) declared that this marks “the beginning of the end” for the SAT.

Under the plan, UC schools will be “test optional” for incoming students this year and next. For the following two years, UC institutions would be “test blind” for California residents, meaning that SAT and ACT scores would not be used at all, although out-of-state students could still submit scores. And by 2025, the state will either have developed a completely new admissions test or, if no such test has been approved, the UC system will go completely test blind.

UW Madison Education School Professor on “Forward” and History

Walter Stern, via a kind reader:

It is an example of repackaging history as myth, and myths such as these hold nations together by constructing a supposedly shared and honorable past. But through their inaccuracy these myths also project an understanding of who does — and does not — belong. They spin a national history for some, not all.

That is why the current battle over monuments is so heated, and I suspect that many defenders of recently toppled monuments worry about what will hold us together if we abandon the national myth that statues such as “Forward” embody. If we knock past presidents and as anodyne a notion as “progress” off their pedestals, then what are our lodestars?

Stern is assistant professor of educational policy studies and history at UW–Madison: wcstern@wisc.edu

Milwaukee School board to begin discussions on desegregating schools in southeastern Wisconsin

Annysa Johnson:

As issues of race, racism and structural inequities dominate the national consciousness, Milwaukee Public Schools board members are laying the groundwork for what they hope will be a new push to address the hyper segregation in southeastern Wisconsin.

The board unanimously passed a resolution last week calling on activists, elected officials and others to develop a regional plan to desegregate schools and reduce inequities among schools in the region.

While the plan would initially focus on schools, board members said it must also address the myriad factors that have created and maintained what is a white ring around a predominantly black and brown city — from housing and transportation to job creation and economic development.
MPS School Board member Bob Peterson.

“The purpose of this resolution is to really raise the ante, to publicly push school districts, municipalities, county boards to address how they’re going to help end Jim Crow in metro Milwaukee — the systematic, institutional racism that has been part of this region’s history since the first white people came and took the land from Native Americans,” said board member Bob Peterson, who proposed the resolution with board member Sequanna Taylor.

Madison has not addressed school boundaries for many years. The School Board approved the expansion of our least diverse schools, despite nearby available space.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Madison to receive 15% reduction in redistributed state tax dollars (property tax values and referendum spending are factors)

Jason Stein:

Estimates for WI general school aids are out from DPI – not surprisingly given its increases in property values, Madison schools will see max 15% decrease (largest decrease in raw $s in the state). Milwaukee Public Schools expected to get a 2% increase: bit.ly/38lfSWQ

Budget Brief, via the Wisconsin Policy Forum:

But for districts like Madison with above average property values and spending per pupil, the third part of the state formula actually subtracts aid. In this third tier, Madison is losing a projected $44 million in 2021, more than double the $20 million lost in 2011. The state limits general school aid decreases to 15% or Madison would be losing even more this coming year.

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district has significantly grown spending, despite slight enrollment declines.

Property taxes up 37% from 2012 – 2021.

1. 4K-12 enrollment: -1.6% (decrease) from 2014-15 to projected 2020-21
2. Total district staffing FTE: -2.9% (decrease) from 2014-15 to proposed 2020-21
3. Total expenditures (excluding construction fund): +17.0% (increase) from 2014-15 to proposed 2020-21
4. Total expenditures per pupil: +19.0% (increase) from 2014-15 to proposed 2020-21
5. CPI change: +10.0% (increase) from January 2014 to January 2020
6. Bond rating (Moody’s): two downgrades (from Aaa to Aa2) from 2014 to 2020

Espinoza Is a Boon for School Choice Nationwide

Libby Sobic:

Yesterday the Supreme Court of the United States handed down a landmark decision that will allow low-income parents across the country to send their children to private schools with their taxpayer dollars. In a 5–4 ruling, the Court decided in favor of Kendra Espinoza and two other mothers in their case brought by the Institute for Justice (IJ) against the Montana Department of Revenue.

Espinoza is a single mom who has wanted to send her two daughters to a religious school in Montana through the tax-credit scholarship program. Big Sky Scholarships provided families with a tax break if they contributed to charitable organizations that provide scholarships for students to attend private schools. The program was initially created to provide students with scholarships to attend any private school.

But soon after Big Sky started, Montana’s Department of Revenue declared that the scholarships could be used only for non-religious private schools. IJ filed this case on behalf of the Montana mom but lost in the Montana supreme court. The court shut down the entire tax-credit scholarship program, arguing that it was unconstitutional because it included religious options for parents and that it would be impossible to separate religious private schools from other private schools in this program.

Yesterday the Supreme Court held that “the application of the no-aid provision discriminated against religious schools and the families whose children attend or hope to attend them in violation of the Free Exercise Clause of the Federal Constitution.” In his majority opinion, Chief Justice John Roberts highlights that Montana’s program discriminated against religious schools because of the mere fact that they are religious: “Montana’s no-aid provision bars religious schools from public benefits solely because of the religious character of the schools. The provision also bars parents who wish to send their children to a religious school from those same benefits, again solely because of the religious character of the school.”

But with the Court ruling in favor of Espinoza, Montana families will be able to use the Big Sky Scholarship program to send their children to private schools, religious or not, which they otherwise could not afford. And even better: This victory reaches much farther than the 559 miles across Montana. It will allow states throughout the U.S. to provide assistance to families for private school through the creation of school-choice programs, including vouchers, tax scholarship programs, and education-savings accounts (ESAs).

Commentary on Campus intellectual diversity

Mark Hemingway:

But now, with “cancel culture” on the rise as protesters nationwide tear down statues in the aftermath of the police killing of George Floyd, the biologist says he feels an uneasy sense of vindication — and the tide turning.

“I’ve started to get calls in the last week or two – the people who mocked me and others … for making too much of what appeared to be college kids going wild on college campuses,” he said on the Joe Rogan podcast on June 18. “Some of them have started to call and say: ‘I got it wrong. What do we do now?’”

It turns out that a quiet counterrevolution is already underway. 

In March of last year, President Trump issued an executive order making federal research funding contingent on universities having adequate free speech protections. At the state level, Texas last year became the 17th state since 2015 to enact legislation protecting First Amendment rights on campus. Currently, the conservative National Association of Scholars is working with four states – Missouri, Iowa, Kansas, and Arizona – to go further: pass laws to increase “intellectual diversity” at public universities.

South Dakota has already done so, and the law’s requirements amount to the most sweeping campus reforms in the country. It was triggered last year by a minor controversy over the stifling of a planned “Hawaiian Day” on one campus — a last straw for critics of cultural hypersensitivity that revived intellectual diversity legislation opposed by the state Board of Regents. 

Under intellectual diversity laws, not only must dissenting views be tolerated, but college administrations are required to actively take steps (yet to be specified) to ensure that students are exposed to competing cultural and political viewpoints.

I’m leaving academia.

James Heathers:

That is, I will start a job, at a company, doing something a lot like science, very soon. I have signed a contract.

It was popular a few years ago to write about this experience. We called it ‘quit lit’. Documents in the genre tended to run long, and alternated between detailed accounts of fairly torrid career experiences (which were interesting) with additional self-indulgent drivel about values and feelings (which were not).

Well, if everyone else gets to play, so do I. My attempt to join this genre here is as terse as I can make it, while still being comprehensive.

The reason for it existing is not because you need a full exegesis of my feelings, but because: while I would prefer to be understood, I would like to explain the circumstances here. These might be useful to other people.

Or maybe you’re curious.

Madison School Board Drops attempt at Changing Teacher Seniority Requirement for Layoffs

Scott Girard:

The Madison School Board will not discuss controversial changes proposed to the Employee Handbook Monday night as planned.

Board president Gloria Reyes announced in a press release sent by Madison Metropolitan School District spokesperson Tim LeMonds Monday afternoon that the item had been removed from the agenda and would be discussed at a special meeting at a later date.

“This change in the agenda is to provide additional direction and allow for more discussion and collaboration with stakeholders prior to any board discussion and subsequent action on employee handbook changes,” the statement reads.

The changes included a few items that Madison Teachers Inc. opposed. The union had been organizing its membership to speak Monday night before the meeting or send emails to board members opposing changes to layoff rules, specifically.

District administration had recommended the changes, which would shift the criteria for layoffs or shifting surplus staff among schools from seniority to a series of performance measurements like Educator Effectiveness evaluations, cultural competence and experience, among other things.

Kelley Meyerhofer:

The Madison School Board president hit pause on proposed employee handbook changes scheduled for a Monday evening vote that would have handed Madison School District more control in laying off staff and expediting the termination process.

The district’s teachers union had pushed back against the proposal and the way in which it came about, saying administrators were engaging in a “divide and conquer” strategy during a time of crisis that would destroy a decades-long working relationship with Madison Teachers Inc. and the thousands of employees it represents.

District administrators had proposed eliminating seniority as the sole criteria to lay off employees or move individuals to different schools. Instead, the chief of schools would have selected employees for layoffs in consultation with principals.

Officials also requested allowing for 30-day layoff notices instead of the annual May 15 layoff notices.

Interim Superintendent Jane Belmore said in materials made public last week that the changes would help the district diversify its workforce and provide more financial flexibility at a time when it is bracing for coronavirus-related budget cuts.

Raises, officers both out as Madison School Board OKs 2020-21 budget — but COVID-19 may cause changes

Kelly Meyerhofer:

The district said total compensation has exceeded the rate of inflation for the last seven years — something it said has helped recruit and retain the best and brightest teachers.

But the board directed officials to pause a proposed 1% increase to base wages and freeze part of a salary schedule that rewards staff the longer they work in the district.

Those raises could eventually be incorporated back into the district’s budget approved in the fall, depending on how the state budget shakes out.

Mirilli said she thinks Gov. Tony Evers will prioritize education in his budget given that he is a former educator. She was optimistic that the raises could be added back in, but said the board needs to be cautious because there’s so much uncertainty.

“This is not our final decision around this,” Mirilli said. “This is a placeholder based on what we know currently.”

Board members Carusi and Nicki Vander Meulen both voted against the preliminary budget. Carusi said she thinks the district’s financial situation “won’t be as dire” as predicted. Vander Meulen said she could not support taking away any money from teachers, even on a preliminary basis.

Recent Madison School District tax & spending history:

1. 4K-12 enrollment: -1.6% (decrease) from 2014-15 to projected 2020-21

2. Total district staffing FTE: -2.9% (decrease) from 2014-15 to proposed 2020-21

3. Total expenditures (excluding construction fund): +17.0% (increase) from 2014-15 to proposed 2020-21

4. Total expenditures per pupil: +19.0% (increase) from 2014-15 to proposed 2020-21

5. CPI change: +10.0% (increase) from January 2014 to January 2020

6. Bond rating (Moody’s): two downgrades (from Aaa to Aa2) from 2014 to 2020.

Teaching Reading Is Rocket Science

Louisa Moats:

The most fundamental responsibility of schools is teaching students to read. Because reading affects all other academic achievement and is associated with social, emotional, economic, and physical health, it has been the most researched aspect of human cognition. By the year 2000, after decades of multidisciplinary research, the scientific community had achieved broad consensus regarding these questions: How do children learn to read? What causes reading difficulties? What are the essential components of effective reading instruction and why is each important? How can we prevent or reduce reading difficulties? Two decades later, hundreds of additional studies have refined and consolidated what we know about bolstering reading achievement, especially for students at risk.

Scientists use increasingly sophisticated technology that can picture the brain’s activation patterns or measure split-second reactions to speech or print. New statistical methods can document the complicated interactions of many factors as students develop reading skills. Fine-grained analyses illuminate the nature of individual differences and individual responses to instruction. These advanced investigative techniques have confirmed and extended the bedrock findings about reading and effective teaching of reading that were known 20 years ago. Evidence to guide our practices is stronger than it has ever been.

Unfortunately, much of this research is not yet included in teacher preparation programs, widely used curricula, or professional development, so it should come as no surprise that typical classroom practices often deviate substantially from what is recommended by our most credible sources. As a result, reading achievement is not as strong as it should be for most students, and the consequences are particularly dire for students from the least advantaged families and communities.

2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results

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

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration

High School Athletes Experiencing Increased Anxiety, Depression During Pandemic, Study Shows

Megan Hart:

Public health experts should carefully consider the long-term effects of extended school closures as the coronavirus pandemic continues, according to a researcher at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.

Dr. Timothy McGuine led a team who surveyed more than 3,200 young athletes across the state in May, about three months after schools were closed to slow the spread of COVID-19. McGuine said they focused on athletes because they had control data from before the pandemic for comparison.

The survey was conducted online and took about seven minutes to complete. The athletes who responded came from 71 different Wisconsin counties and played a variety of sports.

Reports of moderate to severe depressionwere up by more than 20 percent among those who took the survey in May. According to researchers, this means 66,000 young athletes across the state could be at risk for depression.

Meanwhile, 65 percent of recent survey respondents reported feeling a level of anxiety that’s typically treated by medical intervention, McGuine said.

At the same time, physical activity was down 50 percent among those who took the survey in May. Exercise is considered a powerful intervention against anxiety and depression, he said.

Howard Fuller: On education, race and racism, and how we move forward as a country

Annysa Johnson:

Howard Fuller announced this month that he is retiring from Marquette University, where he is a distinguished professor of education and founder and director of its Institute for the Transformation of Learning.

At 79, Fuller has served in many roles in his lifetime: civil rights activist, educator and civil servant. He is a former superintendent of Milwaukee Public Schools and best known in recent decades as a national advocate for school choice, which provides taxpayer-funded vouchers, typically to low-income families.

He is founder of Dr. Howard Fuller Collegiate Academy, a local charter high school, which beganinitially as a private religious school in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program.He is a controversial figure for many public school advocates who believe school choice bleeds needed dollars from those schools.

In addition to retiring from Marquette, Fuller has resigned all of his board appointments, except for that of the school.

Fuller sat down with Milwaukee Journal Sentinel education reporter Annysa Johnson for a lengthy and wide-ranging discussion. These are excerpts:

Question: When you first announced your retirement, I could sense a weariness in your voice. It was clear you were struggling with where we are in this country right now. What can you say about education in the context of this moment?

Fuller: One of the things that became absolutely clear when the pandemic hit was what we already knew, and that was the inequities in education in this country. What the pandemic did was show which schools were already into the 21st century and which were holding on tightly to the 20th century, still functioning with an industrial-age paradigm. When the pandemic broke, the people who were tied lock, stock and barrel to the industrial-age paradigm, were lost. They had no idea what to do. Because everything was centered onyou gottacome to a building, the teacher is the center of learning, etc.

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

2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results

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

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration

Academic Censorship in STEM Fields

Jordan Peterson:

The first story emerges at Brock University, in combination with the scientific journal Angewandte Chemie—the former an educational institution of moderate reputability; the latter a prestigious place of scientific publication among chemists. It is no easy matter to find a permanent tenured faculty position at such a university, or to publish research findings or literature reviews/summaries in a peer-reviewed scientific journal. The process generally requires several years and multiple resubmissions and rounds of editing by a minimum of three colleagues per submission with expertise in the field as well as approval by the editor. Angewandte has a rejection rate of 80%—and it should be noted that that rejection rate only takes into account papers that the submitting researcher felt were of sufficient quality to be considered by a journal of high standards. Dr. Tomas Hudlicky of Brock submitted an essay memorializing and updating a piece written thirty years ago, which has been widely recognized as powerfully influencing the direction of the chemistry subfield in question (organic synthesis).

Now, the first thing that must be understood about Dr. Hudlicky is that he holds a prestigious Canada Research Chair, a position funded by part of a large federal initiative devoting approximately 300 million dollars per year in the attempt to attract to Canada (or to encourage to stay in Canada) researchers who are of particular promise, as evidenced most fundamentally by their research productivity. That promise or productivity, in turn, can be measured with reasonable accuracy with metrics such as number of peer-reviewed articles in relevant scientific journals (more than 400 in Hudlicky’s case), by noting how many times such articles are cited by other authors over the years subsequent to publication (Hudlicky: 13300) and, finally, by a metric known as the h-index, which provides a measure of how many publications have received a variable minimum number of citations (and which therefore combines in a single number some information about publications per se and some about citations). A researcher with an h-index of 10 has published 10 papers with 10 or more citations; a researcher with an h-index of 57 (Hudlicky’s score) has published 57 papers with 57 or more citations. Hudlicky’s research productivity is admirable and rare. The mere fact that he was hired as a Canada Research Chair meant that his department, as well as the federal governmental agency tasked with funding the attraction or retention of extreme talent, both determined in the relatively recent past that he was a fish well worth landing. Something about this needs to be clarified: the universities that hire those researchers competent enough to be competitive in a Canada Research Chair competition are not doing them a favor by offering them a position; rather, it is an honor for the university (and the students, both undergraduate and graduate, that attend the institution) to be chosen by the researcher in question. No serious academic disputes this, although some may quibble about the precise metrics used for identification of the serious talent. This is particularly true of an institution such as Brock, which is an university of reasonable but not exceptional quality, and which genuinely needs highly productive faculty members to help it ratchet itself up the very competitive academic ladder.

Hudlicky’s paper in Angewandte Chemie was peer-reviewed positively, judged as desirable by the relevant editorial staff, and published. This meant that it managed the difficult job of passing through the eye of a needle, and entering the kingdom of heaven, at least as far as research chemists might be concerned. But some of Dr. Hudlicky’s surmises with regard to the discipline of organic synthesis raised the ire of a Twitter mob (https://twitter.com/fxcoudert/status/1268920299833233416?s=20). This is not a difficult feat, in my opinion, as Twitter seems to exist primarily for the purpose of generating mobs—composed primarily of individuals who are hungry for the opportunity to taste blood and bask in the joys of reasonably risk-free reputation destruction, revenge and self-righteousness. Furthermore, as far as Twitter mobs go, those who complained about the Angewandte Chemie publication were not particularly numerous. No matter: once the complaints emerged, the editor of the journal in charge of Dr. Hudlicky’s work—one Dr. Neville Compton—removed the paper from the journal’s website, and offered an abject apology for daring to have published it in the first place. Furthermore, he reported the “suspension” of two of the journal’s editors (indicating precisely how much trust those individuals should have placed initially in his judgement) and cast aspersions on Hudlicky’s ethics, stating that his essay did not properly reflect fairness, trustworthiness and social awareness, while implying that the now-pilloried author and his peer reviewers and editors were discriminatory, unjust and inequitable in practice. It should be noted, by the way, that the position of editor for a scientific journal is general one filled by volunteers, who donate their time for the greater good of the scientific enterprise, rather than for any monetary gain. So Compton fired generous volunteers to ensure that his good name would not be irredeemably sullied by any association with the now-demonized professor Hudlicky and his ne’er-do-well compatriots (none of whom likely knew each other except in passing).

Bashing Administrators While The University Burns

Gabriele Paquette:

Furstenberg joins a venerable tradition of scholars, stretching from Thorstein Veblen to his colleague Benjamin Ginsberg, who decry the misplaced priorities of universities and those who lead them. Infected by the mentality of the marketplace, these custodians of tradition contend, universities have abandoned their lofty (and laudable) mission as creators and repositories of knowledge. They have been reduced to mere finishing schools for the offspring of the One Percent. Their endowments serve as tax shelters for latter-day captains of industry whose philanthropic priorities conflict with, and eventually supersede, long-cherished academic values.

The elegiac tone of Furstenberg’s essay is justified. The following are incontrovertible: the adjunctification of the professoriate; the proliferation of deans; the defunding of public universities; the depreciation of the humanities; the sharp rise in managerial salaries; the comparative stagnation of faculty and staff compensation; the conflation of a university’s reputation with the fortunes of its athletic teams; and the asset-stripping that sometimes accompanies university partnerships with private enterprise.

It is not my purpose to rebut Furstenberg’s critique or to rationalize the injurious slashing of benefits. Yet his essay suffers from a defect that undermines its forcefulness — a false nostalgia for a purportedly lost Golden Age of faculty-led university governance, insulated from and impervious to market forces. This notion is widely shared in contemporary academic culture. It is also harmful, stifling reform when universities can ill afford complacency.

If universities are to survive the present crisis (and, sadly, many will not), a collective drive for self-preservation must replace the internecine jostling between the faculty and administration. Averting a mass-extinction event will necessitate a radical restructuring of the university, which can only succeed with an unprecedented degree of collaboration.

China’s gaokao exam fraud: victims learn the worst after cheats steal their grades and university places

Alice Yan:

Gou Jing wondered whether something was amiss when she took China’s university entrance exam, or gaokao , in 1997 and got a surprisingly low mark.

A student from a peasant family in the town of Jiezhuang, in the eastern province of Shandong, Gou sat the test again the next year and – despite having been ranked fourth out of tens of thousands of students in a mock test not long before – she again did mysteriously poorly, and was sent to study at a tertiary technical college in Hubei, in central China.

It remained a mystery until 2003, when Gou’s former form teacher sent her a letter in which he admitted tampering with the marks and asked for Gou’s forgiveness, news portal ifeng.com reported on Wednesday.

Colleges Spend Millions to Prepare to Reopen Amid Coronavirus

Melissa Korn:

As colleges around the country map out plans to reopen their campuses in the fall, they have embarked on some unique and pricey shopping expeditions: sourcing miles of plexiglass, hundreds of thousands of face masks and, in the case of the University of Central Florida, trying to get in an order for 1,200 hand-sanitizer stations before neighboring theme parks could buy them all up.

Costs for protective gear, cleaning supplies and labor for employees to take students’ temperatures and conduct hourly wipe-downs of doorknobs are already running into the millions of dollars.

The added expenses come as many schools face severe budget crunches due to lower enrollment and tuition revenue, refunded housing fees from the spring and costs tied to shifting online. Even well-resourced schools are trying to fundraise to stock up on supplies.

Reopening college campuses is contingent on approval from local health officials, who in some states haven’t yet signed off on campus-based instruction. Still, many schools remain hopeful and are pushing ahead with planning, with some already bringing student-athletes back for voluntary workouts.

In high school, my friends and I were inseparable. We grew up in the same church with the same faith. How did we all drift so far apart?

Laura Turner:

The church at the corner of Algonquin and Barrington roads was so big that it was often mistaken for a community college. At Willow Creek, a mile-long driveway wound around a manmade lake where believers got baptized in the summer months, and in the spring it was littered with Canadian geese and their goslings. The parking lots were so big that I learned to drive there, on uninterrupted swaths of flat Midwestern bog. My family lived three miles away; my parents were both pastors there; my first job was there. My friends were there. For a time that still feels like something out of a Pat Conroy novel, I had a group of wonderful friends. We moved as one organism in those high school days, submerged as we were in the urgent, heady waters of teenage faith in the middle of the cresting wave of American evangelicalism. Bound to them by the kind of affection born of knowing someone when they were 16, I still count these people as dear to me. But the truth is it has been a decade since we were all together.

Surrounded by Government Failure, Why Do People Still Believe?

Veronique de Rugy:

New data confirm what we already knew; namely, that many people did not wait for the governments to lock down the economy to stay home and shelter in place. Such fear-based behavior contributed much to the economic collapse. That means that most consumers will be careful and watch out for their health and that of others without government decrees telling them to do so this time around too. But at least give consumers and businesses a chance to find what works for them once the economy is reopened.

I conclude with a report from the Washington Post. One is about Trump’s refusal to encourage people to wear masks. This, of course, comes on the tail of Dr. Fauci’s admission that he had intentionally misled the public about the usefulness of wearing masks so that they could be directed to health-care professionals.

And here is Fauci explaining how and why he lied: “He also acknowledged that masks were initially not recommended to the general public so that first responders wouldn’t feel the strain of a shortage of PPE. He explained that public health experts “were concerned the public health community, and many people were saying this, were concerned that it was at a time when personal protective equipment, including the N95 masks and the surgical masks, were in very short supply.” 

It’s interesting that Americans started wearing self-made masks long before this Fauci admission showing that maybe they were buying it. However, for the most part, Americans continue to trust Fauci. David Henderson, though, does not.

Seriously, reading the newspaper on a daily basis should make everyone question government’s intervention in our lives. But based on the support for both a populist protectionist Republican like Trump and his Democratic opponent for the presidency, Joe Biden, it doesn’t. So what are we to do?

I believe we should continue fighting the battle of ideas because when we are deep into the mess that both parties, and their underlying ideologies, are creating, some people will look for answers and for solutions outside the state. As Milton Friedman once said, “That, I believe, is our basic function: to develop alternatives to existing policies, to keep them alive and available until the politically impossible becomes the politically inevitable.” 

Woodrow Wilson and Americans’ Lack of Historical Literacy

Williamson Evers:

We need to hold him responsible for the fact that many Americans don’t know the timeline of world or American history and don’t know much about how constitutional government works in the United States: One hundred years ago, in 1916, the Wilson administration put the clout of the federal government behind a new curricular development – social studies.

In this project, the Wilson administration worked with a prominent figure from the world of philanthropy, Thomas Jesse Jones. A well-known progressive educator, Jones, who was white, had spent time teaching and developing the curriculum at the Hampton Institute, a vocationally oriented, historically black college in Virginia. While at Hampton, Jones created the social-studies curriculum.

Jones was responsible for popularizing the term “social studies” for this new conglomeration of subject matter. In fact, Jones headed the panel that wrote an influential 1916 federal report on social studies, a report that set the course for the new field and is widely acknowledged as still influential to this day.

Because Jones was a federal education official at the time, the social-studies report — although created by a non-federal group, the Committee on Social Studies — was issued as a bulletin of the U.S. Bureau of Education. In the report, the federal education agency generously offered to act as a center for disseminating information on textbooks that took the new “social studies” approach.

#share#“Social studies” is a cross-disciplinary K–12 curriculum of history, civics, geography, and related subjects — but, crucially, the curriculum is focused not on chronology or governmental structure and processes; the report proposed that social-studies teachers should focus on “concrete problems” that are “of vital importance to society.”

Warning—Apple Suddenly Catches TikTok Secretly Spying On Millions Of iPhone Users

Ask Doffman:

Worryingly, one of the apps caught snooping by security researchers Talal Haj Bakry and Tommy Mysk was China’s TikTok. Given other security concerns raised about the app, as well as broader worries given its Chinese origins, this became a headline issue. At the time, TikTok owner Bytedance told me the problem related to the use of an outdated Google advertising SDK that was being replaced.

How to Get a Big Break on the Cost of College: Just Ask

Josh Mitchell:

The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated a yearslong shift in bargaining power away from colleges and toward families, which are quite prepared to treat tuition as they would a car’s price: something to haggle over.

When a college accepted Frances Marcel’s second child several years ago, she pleaded for a discount. It wouldn’t budge, she said, so she dipped deeper into her savings.

After her third child Ian was accepted by his top three choices for this fall, she urged him to write them in early March asking that they go lower. In April, each offered him further discounts. One offered about 41% off.

Ms. Marcel, of Rockland, Mass., told Ian to appeal again to the other two. “Mom, that sounds too aggressive,” Ian told her. She answered: “Really, you have nothing to lose.” Ian, 18, emailed appeals to the two schools and waited.

Such negotiating is part of what has become a technological arms race. Many colleges customize tuition-and-aid offers to extract the maximum from each prospect without driving the student to a rival campus. An industry of enrollment-management consultants uses computer algorithms to advise administrators on each prospect’s “price sensitivity.”

School closures force parents to choose between family and work

Emma Jacobs:

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The economy is open! From July 4, schoolchildren can spend all day in pub beer gardens, go to the cinema and shop in Primark. What most of them can’t do is go to school. That puts many parents in an impossible situation of choosing between work or family.

It’s not just the UK. In the US, food writer, Deb Perelman, tweeted: “I wish someone would just say the quiet part loud: In the Covid economy, you’re only allowed a kid OR a job.”

School closures will expand inequality among children. So too among parents. In the UK, the Institute for Fiscal Studies found that “mothers are more likely to have quit or lost their job, or to have been furloughed, since the start of the lockdown”.

The pandemic has illuminated stark differences between working parents. Those with live-in nannies, or partnered with a stay-at-home parent are freer to work than single parents. So too were those with older children versus parents of infants.

The nonsense of the shared experience of working parents was brought home to one friend. Sitting between a three year-old and five-year-old, she video-called her manager who empathised with the problems of sharing a workspace with kids. The camera panned out to reveal two willowy undergraduate daughters surrounded by textbooks. They were not in it together after all.

Then there are the differences between fee-paying and state schools. While the government has declared schools will be fully open in September, one mother of two, who is struggling to keep her business afloat, reports her state school told her January is more realistic for full-time schooling. “I feel physically sick,” she says. “It’s impossible, I am quietly incandescent.”

Civics: A Twitter Mob Takes Down an Administrator at Michigan State

Jillian Kay Melchior:

‘We are scientists, seeking truth,” Michigan State University physicist Stephen Hsu wrote in a 2018 blog post. “We are not slaves to ideological conformity.” That might have been too optimistic. Last week MSU’s president, Samuel L. Stanley Jr., yielded to a pressure campaign, based in part on that post, and asked Mr. Hsu to resign as senior vice president for research and innovation.

The trouble began June 10, when MSU’s Graduate Employees Union composed a lengthy Twitter thread denouncing Mr. Hsu as, among other things, “a vocal scientific racist and eugenicist.” The union claimed Mr. Hsu believes “in innate biological differences between human populations, especially regarding intelligence.”

Mr. Hsu says these accusations “were made in bad faith.” Take that 2018 blog post, which responded to New York Times articles that, in his words, linked “genetic science to racism and white supremacy.” In it, he wrote: “All good people abhor racism. I believe that each person should be treated as an individual, independent of ancestry or ethnic background. . . . However, this ethical position is not predicated on the absence of average differences between groups. I believe that basic human rights and human dignity derive from our shared humanity, not from uniformity in ability or genetic makeup.” Mr. Hsu doesn’t work in this field but rejects the idea that scientists should categorically exclude the possibility of average genetic differences among groups.

In a 2011 post, Mr. Hsu argued that standardized tests are predictive of the quality of graduate-school candidates. The post mentioned nothing about race, but the union imputed to him a belief “that lack of Black & Hispanic representation in higher ed reflects lower ability, despite evidence these tests negatively impact diversity.”

The union also faulted him for having “directed funding to research downplaying racism in bias in police shootings.” The MSU professor who conducted that work, psychologist Joe Cesario, tells me that “we had no idea what the data was going to be, what the outcome was going to be, before we did this study.” Mr. Cesario has collected evidence from a simulator and from real-world interactions between police and citizens. He concluded that “the nature of the interaction really matters the most, and officers were not more likely to be ready to shoot upon encountering a black versus white citizen.”

The Pandemic Has Reawakened the School Choice Movement

Libby Sobic:

“This pandemic has reawakened this movement of school choice,” said Calvin Lee of American Federation for Children at a roundtable discussion on school choice in Waukesha, Wisconsin this week. While COVID-19 has not been easy for many families as they have tried to balance work and educating their children at home, it has offered many parents a window into their child’s learning that they never would have had. If nothing else positive comes of this change of lifestyle during the pandemic, parents exercising school choice will be a remarkable silver lining—but there is a lot of work to do before choice is available to all students across America. 

The roundtable was hosted by Vice President Mike Pence, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway as well as Wisconsin parents, school leaders and school choice advocates. Building off of Lee’s comments, Pence said, “every parent became an educator, in part, and had to make choices in the way they use their own time and the way they became engaged… I’m really struck by your comment that maybe this challenging time through which we’ve passed has reinvigorated that principle in parents.”  

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

2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results

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

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration

Opinion: Yale Must Change Its Name

Sean O’Brien:

“Nothing is known about the boy on the right, who has just finished pouring Madeira (a sweet, fortified wine) into the glasses on the table… the silver collar and padlock around his neck indicate that he is enslaved.”

So begins the curator’s comment for a portrait of Elihu Yale, one of three paintings in Yale University’s collection that depicts a slave attending to Elihu the slavemaster.

Slavery is as inseparable from Elihu as these paintings depict. Such a namesake is a liability for Yale the institution. By that I mean a billion-dollar brand, one of the most prestigious universities in the world, an affiliated college in Singapore, and a huge healthcare network. This “open secret” is a ticking timebomb. It is about to go off.

#CancelYale trended this past week on social media, having started as a trolling of liberal elites by conservative influencers.

One example: “For an institution that prides itself on its so called progressivism, why has Yale not yet distanced itself from its namesake – a notorious slave trader?!”

To Yale’s chagrin, they have a point. It must be difficult to take a cold, hard look in the mirror when your face is covered in blood.

As has been well documented, America’s leading universities profited from slavery and have deep roots in colonialism. Dozens of schools have acknowledged their roots in racism and slavery, long before the current wave of Black Lives Matter protests.

Lurching Toward Fall, Disaster on the Horizon

John Warner:

For those who are hopeful that we can safely bring students back to campus in the fall, I present the evidence of what is happening with the students who are currently back on campus: one-third of the Clemson football team has tested positive for the coronavirus.  

A single night at a single bar in East Lansing, Mich., populated by college students has triggered an outbreak of at least 30 new cases 100 miles away.

Wait, I first drafted that last sentence on Saturday. I’m reading the draft on Sunday and we’re now up to at least 85 cases from this single incident.

I understand the desire to return to some semblance of normalcy. I understand the need for institutions to collect tuition and fees for room and board in order to stay solvent, but the thinking I see from many leaders around on-campus, in-person instruction seems downright magical to me.

In my view, the chief enemy of learning is “disruption.” Some element of disruption is inevitable during any semester, particularly at the individual student level. I cannot remember a semester where I did not have at least one student partially or wholly derailed by a personal issue or illness (like mono). 

Why Facts Don’t Matter to People

Barry Brownstein:

It’s good news all around. But you turn on the television and get a different message. People worry about sending their children to school this fall. Some display authoritarian views as they excuse politicians for destructive errors merely because they showed “strong leadership.”

If you’re wondering why so many people don’t see the world the way you do, engage them in conversation. You will find they are as well-intentioned as you are, but they are looking in a different direction. Beneath their opinions and fears, beliefs are shaping how they see the world.

Because of different beliefs, your villains may be their heroes. They may look at the world of effects while you are looking at causes. They’re hoping a better leader comes to power, while you’re considering how the presidency became so powerful and destructive.

Until their beliefs change, they will never consider how politicians and experts with too much power turned a pandemic into a catastrophe. As Einstein put it, “Whether you can observe a thing or not depends on the theory which you use. It is theory which decides what can be observed.”

Spied on. Fired. Publicly shamed. China’s crackdown on professors reminds many of Mao era

Alice Su:

The professor was under surveillance. Cameras taped her every lecture. She couldn’t publish or give talks outside the university. She knew she had to be careful when she taught on one of China’s most sensitive and dangerous topics: the Cultural Revolution.

To preempt accusations of straying beyond academia, all discussion was based on archives, books and articles. Classes were kept small; heavy reading lists filtered out potential student-informants. She made seating charts with photos, making sure no stranger could wander in unnoticed.

Despite such scrutiny, Sun Peidong felt lucky to be teaching in Shanghai’s prestigious Fudan University, the only school left in China offering truthful courses on the repressive Cultural Revolution of half a century ago. She loved watching her students question conventional narratives, find new ways of understanding their nation’s history and draw connections with their own families’ traumas.

Madison School Board to vote on Police Presence, layoffs and budget

Scott Girard:

If the vote goes as expected, the 2020-21 school year will be the first in more than two decades without a police officer stationed in each of the district’s comprehensive high schools.

Employee Handbook changes

Madison Teachers Inc. is organizing opposition to a set of proposed Employee Handbook changes that would change the rules around layoffs and surplus staff.

District administrators have asked the board to approve language that would eliminate seniority as the mechanism for layoffs and forced moves to other sites, instead using other to-be-determined standards evaluating performance. The changes would also allow for 30-day notice of layoffs instead of the annual May 15 layoff notices.

With the district considering a November operations referendum and the state still uncertain on its revenue losses from the pandemic, MMSD chief financial officer Kelly Ruppel told the board earlier this month she’s trying to create as much flexibility as possible for the months ahead.

That included an $8 million cut from last year already. Earlier this month board members agreed that cutting an additional $8.4 million to protect against the possibility of state cuts was a good idea. Doing so meant cutting the planned base wage increase for staff.

Ruppel said that means hitting pause on “any new spending, in order to maintain the most flexibility until we know more.” 

The other option she offered to board members was cutting up to 92 staff positions. If the referendum is on the ballot and approved or if state cuts don’t happen, the district could add wage increases back in mid-year. Hiring for eliminated positions would be a bigger challenge.

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

2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results

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

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration

2005: Gangs & School Violence audio / video.

Judge Branick writes letter to citizens explaining mask order

Judge Branick:

Eighty years ago, the greatest generation planted victory gardens, collected tin, rubber and steel, had food ration books and endured black outs, all to support the war effort. Their sacrifices were significantly more weighty than the inconvenience the present order requires. I want to thank a fellow county judge for reminding me of this. Today, a small minority is screaming that this is some kind of communist plot to overthrow the nation. When did it happen that we all became so focused on our rights and not our obligations to our fellow man and woman? Jesus said “Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends”. I’m not directing anyone to lay down their life. Galatians 6:2 says “Carry each other’s burdens and in this way you will fulfill the Law of Christ”. I love you, because that is what Christ teaches us to do.

I wear a mask not because I am afraid but because it is one way of showing that I care about my neighbors. There is a lot we don’t know about COVID-19 but all the evidence suggests that wearing a mask helps to prevent the spread of the virus. If wearing a mask prevents one person from dying, then isn’t it worth the minor inconvenience? If wearing a mask helps us get our country and economy back to normal, then isn’t it our patriotic duty to do so?” I received this in an email from an Orange County resident. It is a note he keeps in his pocket which he gives to people who make snide remarks about his wearing a mask in stores.

A Crisis of Competence: The Corrupting Effect of Political Activism in the University of California

John Ellis:

In recent years, study after study has found that a college education no longer does what it should do and once did.1 Whether these studies look directly at the capabilities of graduates, or instead at what employers find their capabilities to be, the result is the same: far too many college graduates have not learned to write effectively, they can not read and comprehend any reasonably complex book, they have not learned to reason, and their basic knowledge of the history and institutions of the society

in which they live is lamentably poor. “An astounding proportion of students are progressing through higher education today without measurable gains in general skills” is the anguished conclusion of a respected national study, entitled appropriately Academically Adrift.2 Further, students now spend on average little time studying outside the classroom, and the demands made of them by their faculty teachers have been correspondingly reduced.

Is it possible that the University of California is an exception to these national trends? Unfortunately, we can be certain that it is not. First, these national studies all include California, and none of them note any fundamental differences across states. Second, local studies of these issues always confirm the findings of the national studies. For example, the national finding that students now spend relatively little time studying outside the classroom has been confirmed by a study specific to UC that reached identical conclusions. A recent study of higher education in California concludes: “The California that many like to think of as a leader in higher education is average at best and trending in the wrong direction.”3

Public confidence in academia is dropping as the general public begins to understand that a college education is now much less likely to improve reading, writing, and reasoning skills, as well as general knowledge, than it used to. And this is happening just as the cost of a college education has been rising much faster than inflation. Students are being asked to pay considerably more and get considerably less. We are now seeing much increased concern with student debt and rising tuition costs. As this concern about cost joins with the growing concern about quality, the University must soon face a major crisis of public confidence.

The findings of these studies match all too well the specific complaints that are now commonly heard about the manifestations of a politicized higher education: that requirements for coursework in American history and institutions have been dropped, that writing courses often stress writing far less than tendentious political topics; that prescribed books are frequently no more than journalistic presentations of a simple political message instead of the more complex writings appropriate to an academic context; and that faculty teach what to think rather than how to think: that is, they demand correct attitudes and beliefs of students more than they require independent reading and thought.

This report is concerned with the corruption of the University of California by activist politics, a condition which, as we shall show, sharply lowers the quality of academic teaching, analysis, and research, and results in exactly the troubling deficiencies that are being found in the studies to which we have referred.4 We shall show that this is an inevitable consequence of any substantial influence of radical politics in academia, because its characteristic interests and modes of thought are the very antithesis of those that should prevail in academic life.

skills over degrees

Darlene Superville:

Ivanka Trump predicted the change in federal government hiring would create a more inclusive and talented workforce. She encouraged the private sector to follow the administration’s lead.

“We are modernizing federal hiring to find candidates with the relevant competencies and knowledge, rather than simply recruiting based on degree requirements,” she told The Associated Press in a statement. “We encourage employers everywhere to take a look at their hiring practices and think critically about how initiatives like these can help diversify and strengthen their workforce.”

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, the board’s other co-chair, said the need for skills training and apprenticeships is as great as it was before the coronavirus pandemic forced millions of people out of work, pushing the national unemployment rate above 13% in May.

Ex-CPS principal who tamed tough Fenger High explains why cops don’t belong in schools

Mark Brown:

A school principal will always need a good working relationship with the local district commander, but police are asked to intervene in too many situations, Dozier believes.

“We put too much on them,” she says. “It doesn’t necessarily warrant a police response.”

The problem with getting police involved is that it sucks students into a situation from which they might never recover.

“Once a kid touches the criminal justice system, it just steamrolls,” Dozier says.

It’s not enough for CPS to give a school the option of getting rid of its police officers if no resources are offered to take their place.

In Chicago’s resource-poor schools, it’s hardly a surprise that school communities would choose to hang on to what little they have, no matter how imperfect.

Dozier agrees with those who say the $33 million that CPS spends on its police contract should be reinvested in alternative resources.

“You have to give the schools what they need,” she says. “You can’t just take [police] out and say, ‘Good luck.’ ”

Maybe that can’t be accomplished by the beginning of this school year. But it ought to be the stated goal of the Chicago Public Schools.

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

2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results

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

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration

2005: Gangs & School Violence audio / video.

Civics: Why Did the Washington Post Get This Woman Fired?

Josh Barro & Olivia Nuzzi:

This is a mortifying tale about one woman’s cluelessness, but why did it end up in a major national newspaper? The Post’s editorial standards declare that “fairness includes relevance.” The non-recent, non-criminal bad acts of non-public figures are not ordinarily considered news, and before June 17, Schafer was a graphic designer with no public profile and no apparent power or ambitions to obtain it. What was the point of publishing this story — at considerable length, accompanied by original photography from an acclaimed staff photographer, on the front page of the paper’s “Style” section — besides causing Schafer to lose her job?

The Post said Schafer’s transgression was news because it happened in front of Toles and somewhere possibly in the vicinity of columnist Dana Milbank.

“Employees of the Washington Post, including a prominent host, were involved in this incident, which impelled us to tell the story ourselves thoroughly and accurately while allowing all involved to have their say,” said Kris Coratti, a spokesperson for the paper. “The piece conveys with nuance and sensitivity the complex, emotionally fraught circumstances that unfolded at the party attended by media figures only two years ago where an individual in blackface was not told promptly to leave. America’s grappling with racism has entered a phase in which people who once felt they should keep quiet are now raising their voices in public. The story is a microcosm of what the country is going through right now.”

It’s not unusual for publications to report on themselves, though ordinarily they do so because they are already in the news. Proactive reporting creates significant concerns about conflicts of interest: If the Post shapes the narrative of a new story about itself, it may do so in a way that is designed to protect the paper’s interests. When politicians do this, reporters cynically refer to it as “getting out ahead of the story” — the idea being that new information has more impact on public perception than a clarification or correction or addition to already public information.

Commentary on Two 2020 taxpayer supported Madison School District Superintendent Candidates

Scott Girard:

Madison School Board president Gloria Reyes said in the release the district is “very fortunate to have an impressive pool of highly qualified candidates participate in this process.”

“With a focus on how candidates aligned with the Leadership Profile, the Board was able to select two phenomenal finalists, both with deep roots in education and instruction, and today we are excited to introduce them to our community,” Reyes said.

MMSD had 26,842 students in the 2019-20 school year, with demographics of 41.7% white, 22.3% Hispanic, 17.8% Black, 8.5% Asian, 9.3% Two or more and less than 1% each of Pacific Isle and American Indian, according to state data.

In its earlier search, the district had three finalists. In addition to Gutierrez, Georgia education official Eric Thomas and College of Saint Rose professor Marguerite Vanden Wyngaard also visited the district for an interview and public Q and A. Consultant BWP and Associates conducted both searches.

Jane Belmore has served as the interim superintendent since last August, when Jennifer Cheatham left for a position at Harvard after six years in MMSD

Logan Wroge:

The finalists, Carol Kelley and Carlton Jenkins, will proceed with interviews next week.

Jenkins is in his fifth year as superintendent of the Robbinsdale School District in New Hope, Minnesota. He’s held educational leadership positions — including chief academic officer, principal, assistant principal and health teacher — in Michigan, Ohio, Beloit and Madison, and received his PhD from UW-Madison.

Kelley, an educator with 25 years of experience, is also in her fifth year as superintendent of Oak Park Elementary School District 97 in Illinois, the district said in an announcement. She also served for three years as superintendent of Branch Township School District in New Jersey and has a background as an elementary and middle school principal and a classroom teacher.

In these challenging times, our local businesses need your support. Find out how to get food, goods, services and more from those remaining open.

Kelley holds a doctorate of education from the University of Pennsylvania, the district said.

In addition to the next round of interviews, Jenkins and Kelley will participate in online engagement sessions with district staff and students during a “Virtual Day in the District.” The sessions will include an opportunity to ask questions of the candidates and provide feedback.

Notes and links on the 2020 Superintendent pageant, round 2.

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

2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results

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

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration

2005: Gangs & School Violence audio / video.

An experiment suggested by a Ph.D. student may rewrite chemistry textbooks

Lance Ignon:

Ryan McMullen had never heard of the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences when he started casting about for a graduate chemistry program. But on the recommendation of one of his professors, he sent an email to the College’s Professor of Chemistry Stephen Bradforth proposing an experiment to tease out what makes a metal really a metal.

The proposal would not only turn into his Ph.D. thesis but a major scientific breakthrough.

McMullen’s proposal was not an easy sell. The experiment would be expensive and possibly dangerous.

The academics McMullen contacted at other U.S. research universities told him they had funding for their own research, but not for his. But Bradforth had a different response.

“He said, ‘I don’t have funding for your idea but if you come over here we can write a funding proposal together,'” said McMullen, who at the time was finishing up his undergraduate studies at the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom.

Bradforth not only helped McMullen secure funding, prioritizing it for National Science Foundation support over continuing other projects, but he also cobbled together an international team of scientists and arranged his sabbatical to oversee and participate in the main experiments. He also became McMullen’s Ph.D. adviser.

Homeschooled: Laura Deming, Scientist & Founder of The Longevity Fund

Laura Deming:

I grew up homeschooled in NZ with a hilariously small amount of context for what the real world was like. In retrospect, it was totally ideal. I had two strong memes deeply implanted in my cranium early in life – I love science and it’s my job to do something really important and I can do it, too. I have no clue who I’d be without those memes, and I’m also not sure that the latter was actually true! My dad just always told me that I was exceptional and could work out a way whatever I wanted to do in the world and I believed him. I still do, in a funny way, despite about a decade of evidence to the contrary and realizing how actually hard it is to make drugs for complex diseases. It’s extraordinarily sad how many otherwise brilliant kids might not do things they could because they don’t have a similarly supportive environment — I’m really excited for things like Daniel Gross’s Pioneer for that reason.

Street-Fighting Mathematics The Art of Educated Guessing and Opportunistic Problem Solving

Sanjoy Mahajan:

Summary

An antidote to mathematical rigor mortis, teaching how to guess answers without needing a proof or an exact calculation.

In problem solving, as in street fighting, rules are for fools: do whatever works—don’t just stand there! Yet we often fear an unjustified leap even though it may land us on a correct result. Traditional mathematics teaching is largely about solving exactly stated problems exactly, yet life often hands us partly defined problems needing only moderately accurate solutions. This engaging book is an antidote to the rigor mortis brought on by too much mathematical rigor, teaching us how to guess answers without needing a proof or an exact calculation.

In Street-Fighting Mathematics, Sanjoy Mahajan builds, sharpens, and demonstrates tools for educated guessing and down-and-dirty, opportunistic problem solving across diverse fields of knowledge—from mathematics to management. Mahajan describes six tools: dimensional analysis, easy cases, lumping, picture proofs, successive approximation, and reasoning by analogy. Illustrating each tool with numerous examples, he carefully separates the tool—the general principle—from the particular application so that the reader can most easily grasp the tool itself to use on problems of particular interest. Street-Fighting Mathematics grew out of a short course taught by the author at MIT for students ranging from first-year undergraduates to graduate students ready for careers in physics, mathematics, management, electrical engineering, computer science, and biology. They benefited from an approach that avoided rigor and taught them how to use mathematics to solve real problems.

Induced Learning Disabilities

The Right Geek:

Critical Theory teaches its adherents how not to understand texts, art, or speech like neurotypical human beings. Under the influence of its doctrines, people lose their God-given ability to discern key non-linguistic features of communication and consequently become learning disabled.

As I’ve observed in other posts, words and symbols take on meaning from the context in which they’re deployed. As I wrote around this time last year:

“Words are not completely comprehensible on their own; they also take on additional – or sometimes even new – significance from the gestalt in which they sit — much like tofu soaks up the flavors of the other ingredients in an Asian dish.

“Take a sentence like ‘I love my mother.’ This sentence is composed of four utterly prosaic words — yet do we really know what it means? Don’t we need to hear the inflection with which it was said? Don’t we need to see the speaker’s body language? Don’t we need to know why/where/when/etc. it was said? If this sentence appears in a poem lauding the beauty of Mother Earth, ‘mother’ likely does not mean our female parent. If this sentence is uttered with a particular stress after a long sigh, most of us effortlessly intuit that it’s meant to be ironic.”

All of this richness gets lost, however, once the social justice bully gets to work. Suppose, for example, you decide to write a protagonist who starts off with a few unconsciously bigoted notions but eventually learns to cast such mistaken ideas aside. Sounds like great fodder for a redemption arc, no? Nope, sorry: if you attempt to publish this seemingly innocuous, morally upright story, some motivated busybody on Goodreads is going to tear you apart. Why? Because critical social justice impedes one’s ability to comprehend how character development works.