All posts by Jim Zellmer

Madison West High School Security Threat

Chris Rickert:

Madison police have arrested a child in connection with a social media threat made last week against West High School.

The Snapchat message posted early last week said the school would be targeted on Monday.

“My revenge has come,” the message said. “West High School, I despise your students and culture and on May 17 I will seek revenge. You can cancel school or add security that date, but that won’t stop me. I’ll simply Do it on another day … unannounced.”

Related: Catholic schools will sue Dane County Madison Public Health to open as scheduled

Notes and links on Dane County Madison Public Health. (> 140 employees).

Molly Beck and Madeline Heim:

which pushed Dane County this week not to calculate its percentage of positive tests — a data point the public uses to determine how intense infection is in an area.   

While positive test results are being processed and their number reported quickly, negative test results are taking days in some cases to be analyzed before they are reported to the state. 

Channel3000:

The department said it was between eight and 10 days behind in updating that metric on the dashboard, and as a result it appeared to show a higher positive percentage of tests and a lower number of total tests per day.

The department said this delay is due to the fact data analysts must input each of the hundreds of tests per day manually, and in order to continue accurate and timely contact tracing efforts, they prioritized inputting positive tests.

“Positive tests are always immediately verified and processed, and delays in processing negative tests in our data system does not affect notification of test results,” the department said in a news release. “The only effect this backlog has had is on our percent positivity rate and daily test counts.”

Staff have not verified the approximately 17,000 tests, which includes steps such as matching test results to patients to avoid duplicating numbers and verifying the person who was tested resides in Dane County.

All 77 false-positive COVID-19 tests come back negative upon reruns.

Madison private school raises $70,000 for lawsuit against public health order. – WKOW-TV. Commentary.

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Assembly against private school forced closure.

Wisconsin Catholic schools will challenge local COVID-19 closing order. More.

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.

Jack Ma’s school for business elites drops ‘university’ from its name

Yujie Xue:

An elite business school created by Jack Ma, the founder of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding, has quietly dropped all online references to “university” in a sign that the sought-after school may be adopting a lower profile.
The official Weibo account of Hupan University, which suspended new student recruitment after Alibaba-controlled Ant Group abruptly called off a mega initial public offering in Shanghai and Hong Kong last November, changed its name to the Hupan Entrepreneurship Research Centre.
The official Hupan website was also updated with the new name, while its official account on WeChat, the social media platform run by Tencent Holdings, was changed from Hupan University to simply Hupan on Monday.
Meanwhile, a video clip of a worker erasing the Chinese characters for “university” on a stone at the Hupan campus went viral across Chinese social media platforms on Monday. Hupan means Lakeside in Chinese, a reference to its location near the West Lake in the Zhejiang provincial capital of Hangzhou, where Alibaba is based.

Civics: Unused Shots Pile Up as Mistrust Mars Hong Kong Vaccinations

Iain Marlow and Felix Tam:

What makes the dynamic harder to resolve in Hong Kong is a deeper well of mistrust stemming from unprecedented street protests in 2019 as well as a subsequent crackdown by Beijing and local authorities that has eroded key political freedoms.

With political distrust permeating through every sphere of Hong Kong life, some see a refusal to heed government calls to take the vaccine as a form of resistance — particularly as Covid-19 restrictions and the national security law means forms of dissent have mostly been snuffed out.

“I won’t take the vaccine, because my friends and I just don’t want to follow any instructions or recommendations from the government,” said a 16-year-old student who gave her surname as Chau. “I don’t trust anything from them. We’ll do our best to resist and fight against the government in the way we still can.”

University of California drops SAT scores for admission

KTVU:

The University of California won’t consider SAT and ACT scores that are submitted with admission and scholarship applications under a settlement of a student lawsuit.

The agreement was announced Friday. The 10-campus system, which has more than 280,000 students statewide, decided not to continue fighting a judge’s injunction issued last fall that barred it from considering the scores for admission even when they were submitted voluntarily.

Poynette teacher placed on leave after viral video appears to show her condemning student

Noah Vernau:

A teacher in the Poynette School District has been placed on administrative leave following an incident at the high school Tuesday.

A video being shared on social media allegedly shows a Poynette teacher berating a student for failing to wear a mask, calling him a “jerk” and “dummy.” The district has not confirmed the video, which was shared by talk radio host Vicki McKenna, is related to the teacher being placed on leave.

McKenna said she got the video from TikTok and edited it to protect the student’s identity. She declined to say who had posted the video to TikTok and a search of the platform did not immediately turn up a related video.

Censorship, Surveillance and Profits: A Hard Bargain for Apple in China

Jack Nicas, Raymond Zhong and Daisuke Wakabayash:

Apple still appears to provide far more data to U.S. law enforcement. Over that same period, from 2013 through June 2020, Apple said it turned over the contents of iCloud accounts to U.S. authorities in 10,781 separate cases.

Apple recently began disclosing how often governments demand that it remove apps. In the two years ending June 2020, the most recent data available, Apple said it approved 91 percent of the Chinese government’s app-takedown requests, removing 1,217 apps.

In every other country combined over that period, Apple approved 40 percent of requests, removing 253 apps. Apple said that most of the apps it removed for the Chinese government were related to gambling or pornography or were operating without a government license, such as loan services and livestreaming apps.

Closed schools are an ‘American disgrace’

Ben Zeisloft:

A Johns Hopkins University medical professor said that closed schools are an “American disgrace.”

Dr. Marty Makary — a professor at Johns Hopkins University’s prestigious School of Medicine and a Fox News contributor — said during an interview with “Coffee With Closers” ripped public health officials’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

During the interview, Makary explained his thinking on herd immunity and his correct prediction that the United States would see a slowing of COVID-19 infections by April of 2021.

“What we’re seeing is a divergence in the data right now. You’re going to see two pandemics — one among at-risk people and the other is among young people who are healthy,” he said.

Facebook faces ‘devastating’ EU-to-US data transfer ban

Aljazeera:

Ireland’s data regulator can resume a probe that may trigger a ban on Facebook’s transatlantic data transfers, the High Court ruled on Friday, raising the prospect of a stoppage that the company warns would have a devastating impact on its business.

The case stems from European Union concerns that United States government surveillance may not respect the privacy rights of EU citizens when their personal data is sent to the US for commercial use.

The Republic of Ireland’s Data Protection Commission (DPC), Facebook’s lead regulator in the EU, launched an inquiry in August and issued a provisional order that the main mechanism Facebook uses to transfer EU user data to the US “cannot in practice be used”.

Facebook had challenged both the inquiry and the preliminary draft decision (PDD), saying they threatened “devastating” and “irreversible” consequences for its business, which relies on processing user data to serve targeted online ads.

The High Court rejected the challenge on Friday.

“I refuse all of the reliefs sought by FBI [Facebook Ireland] and dismiss the claims made by it in the proceedings,” Justice David Barniville said in a judgement that ran to nearly 200 pages.

“FBI has not established any basis for impugning the DPC decision or the PDD or the procedures for the inquiry adopted by the DPC,” the judgement said.

Many taxpayer supported K-12 school districts use Facebook / Instagram services, including Madison.

No Meaningful Differences in Male and Female Brains, Study Finds

Claire Suddath:

In a new study published in in the June edition of Neuroscience & Behavioral Reviews, Lise Eliot, a professor of neuroscience at Rosalind Franklin University, analyzed 30 years’ worth of brain research (mostly fMRIs and postmortem studies) and found no meaningful cognitive differences between men and women.

Men’s brains were on average about 11% larger than women’s—as were their hearts, lungs and other organs — because brain size is proportional to body size. But just as taller people aren’t any more intelligent than shorter people, neither, Eliot and her co-authors found, were men smarter than women. They weren’t better at math or worse at language processing, either.

In her paper, Eliot and her co-authors acknowledge that psychological studies have found gendered personality traits (male aggression, for example) but at the brain level those differences don’t seem to appear. It’s true that more men are diagnosed with autism and women with Alzheimer’s, Eliot points out, but those differences may be attributed to factors other than brain makeup. When Hans Asperger first defined what he called “autistic psychopathy,” in 1944, for example, he focused only on boys, effectively limiting diagnostic criteria for decades to come.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Most and Least Affordable Places to Buy a Home

Priceonomics:

The Coronavirus pandemic has upended the real estate market so far in unexpected and varied ways. Record low mortgage interest rates combined with people spending most of their time at home has caused a boom in home buying many housing markets despite widespread unemployment.

Not only that, but people are moving and considering new locations. Office closures mean that many people are working from home and some employers have suggested this may be a permanent trend. All these trends are conspiring together to cause people to consider moving to new places across America.

Along with Priceonomics customer RefiGuide.org, we decided to perform an analysis for people looking to buy a home based on affordability. If you are tired of living in a place where homeownership is out of reach because of high prices compared to incomes, where else should you consider living?

We found that the most affordable housing markets in America were uniformly located in the South and Midwest. The most affordable place we looked at in America was Youngstown, Ohio where the median household income in one year is more than the typical purchase price of a home. On the other hand, almost all the least affordable places to buy a home were in California. Of all the markets we examined, Newport Beach was the least affordable market in the country.

The War on Critical Race Theory

David Theo Goldberg:

It is true that anti-racism today has been turned into something of an industry. But “diversity training,” “racial equity,” “systemic” and “institutional” racism, and indeed “anti-racism” itself are not the inventions of CRT; all but diversity training predate it. Like “diversity” over the past decade and “multiculturalism” before that, critical race theory is being made the bag now carrying the load long critical of racism. The foolishness sometimes said and done in its name—including some genuinely wince-worthy—is being used as a sledgehammer to bash any effort to discuss and remedy racial injustice. Attempts to turn these into a manual, largely by those looking to advance personal, professional, or pecuniary standing, are doomed to ridicule, which in turn unleashes the conservative caricatures.

Critics such as Thomas Sowell, taking CRT reductively to claim that racism alone disadvantages Black people, counter that education is a major enabling factor in Black advancement. On the face of it nothing objectionable there. But in blaming Black people for lesser educational attainment, they pay no attention to deep, structurally produced inequities in public school funding. They ignore historical lack of access translating into cross-generational disadvantage. They sideline racially disproportionate class differences enabling a greater proportion of wealthier white students to receive after school tutoring and not have to work to put themselves through college. The conceptual narrowing of “racism” in the British Race Report—limiting it to the beliefs of individuals—engages in the same sleight of hand.

“How Often Do You Think People Make False Accusations” Related to Sexual Misconduct, Discrimination, or Retaliation?

Eugene Volokh:

I take the same view, of course, of exams for students: I think they can legitimately ask a student to report what the material taught in class indicates, but shouldn’t test students on what they really believe about controversial matters. That may at times be a vague line (though it can be made clearer with clearly worded questions or statements on the exam material), and at times it might be a hard line for courts to enforce, even in public universities that are bound by First Amendment limits on compelled speech. But it’s an important line that universities, whether public universities or private universities that are committed to academic freedom, need to respect.

In this case, the faculty member wrote to the president, provost, dean, Faculty Senate chair, faculty academic freedom committee chair, and the director of the equal opportunity/affirmative action office:

Today I attempted to complete the educational module, Preventing Sexual Misconduct, Discrimination and Retaliation. The most recent email I received on this training states that “This module is a priority for the University and is a required work expectation for all employees. More importantly, completing this module is the right thing to do.”

On this last sentence, I disagree. In fact, I cannot in good conscience complete it, nor should any faculty member at this university, since doing so violates academic freedom.

In particular, in order to continue the training, at multiple points I am required to give the one and only “correct” answer to a question. If such questions were only to see if the trainee understood university policy, a legitimate aim of the university, I would have no problem. But they are not limited to this goal. Instead, the training aims to make the user agree to statements about the world in general which the university has no right to require of faculty.

I Have a Lot to Say About Signal’s Cellebrite Hack

Riana Pfefferkorn

You may have seen a story in the news recently about vulnerabilities discovered in the digital forensics tool made by Israeli firm Cellebrite. Cellebrite’s software extracts data from mobile devices and generates a report about the extraction. It’s popular with law enforcement agencies as a tool for gathering digital evidence from smartphones in their custody. 

In April, the team behind the popular end-to-end encrypted (E2EE) chat app Signal published a blog post detailing how they had obtained a Cellebrite device, analyzed the software, and found vulnerabilities that would allow for arbitrary code execution by a device that’s being scanned with a Cellebrite tool. 

As coverage of the blog post pointed out, the vulnerability draws into question whether Cellebrite’s tools are reliable in criminal prosecutions after all. While Cellebrite has since taken steps to mitigate the vulnerability, there’s already been a motion for a new trial filed in at least one criminal case on the basis of Signal’s blog post. 

Is that motion likely to succeed? What will be the likely ramifications of Signal’s discovery in court cases? I think the impact on existing cases will be negligible, but that Signal has made an important point that may help push the mobile device forensics industry towards greater accountability for their often sloppy product security. Nevertheless, I have a raised eyebrow for Signal here too.

The teachers union chief finally says schools can open—next fall.

Wall Street Journal:

American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten on Thursday hopped onto the caboose that has already left the station. “There is no doubt: Schools must be open. In person. Five days a week,” the teachers’ union chief declared in a speech.

That’s nice of her to say now that nearly all school districts have announced plans to return to in-person learning five days a week next fall amid growing pressure from parents. Countless studies have shown that schools aren’t major causes of Covid spread, and younger children are unlikely to transmit the virus.

On the other hand, the learning losses from a year of virtual education have been significant, especially for lower-income children. School shutdowns and irregular schedules have also kept many mothers out of work.

Related: Catholic schools will sue Dane County Madison Public Health to open as scheduled

Notes and links on Dane County Madison Public Health. (> 140 employees).

Molly Beck and Madeline Heim:

which pushed Dane County this week not to calculate its percentage of positive tests — a data point the public uses to determine how intense infection is in an area.   

While positive test results are being processed and their number reported quickly, negative test results are taking days in some cases to be analyzed before they are reported to the state. 

Channel3000:

The department said it was between eight and 10 days behind in updating that metric on the dashboard, and as a result it appeared to show a higher positive percentage of tests and a lower number of total tests per day.

The department said this delay is due to the fact data analysts must input each of the hundreds of tests per day manually, and in order to continue accurate and timely contact tracing efforts, they prioritized inputting positive tests.

“Positive tests are always immediately verified and processed, and delays in processing negative tests in our data system does not affect notification of test results,” the department said in a news release. “The only effect this backlog has had is on our percent positivity rate and daily test counts.”

Staff have not verified the approximately 17,000 tests, which includes steps such as matching test results to patients to avoid duplicating numbers and verifying the person who was tested resides in Dane County.

All 77 false-positive COVID-19 tests come back negative upon reruns.

Madison private school raises $70,000 for lawsuit against public health order. – WKOW-TV. Commentary.

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Assembly against private school forced closure.

Wisconsin Catholic schools will challenge local COVID-19 closing order. More.

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.

Civics: Elections, Open Records and Special Interest Spending Commentary

Dan O’Donnell:

Recently released emails reveal that last May, Racine Mayor Cory Mason emailed his fellow Democrat mayors in Milwaukee, Madison, Green Bay, and Kenosha to set up a virtual meeting during which “the Elections Planning Grant will be discussed.”

That grant—from CTCL—was ultimately awarded to the five cities, which were dubbed “The Wisconsin Five.” In both Green Bay and Milwaukee, CTCL deployed a partner organization, the National Vote at Home Institute, to essentially take over the administration of the presidential election.

The National Vote at Home Institute’s Wisconsin director, Michael Spitzer-Rubenstein, was given unprecedented access to ballot data and even ballots themselves and so thoroughly (and almost certainly unlawfully) took over Green Bay’s election planning that the city’s municipal clerk quit in disgust.

In Milwaukee, he demanded a daily email from the director of the city’s election commission with detailed statistics on which ballots had been returned and which were still outstanding. He was so brazen that he even asked for access to the city’s absentee ballot database.

Civics: Ads Are Impersonating Government Websites in Google Results, Despite Ban

Jeremy Merrill:

Reed had inadvertently stumbled into a cottage industry of sites that charge high premiums for what are otherwise free or inexpensive government services. It’s an industry that continues to use Google’s ad section, despite blatantly violating Google’s stated policies, and in some cases, the law. 

Google’s ad policy states, “Promotions for assistance with applying or paying for official services that are directly available via a government or government delegated provider” aren’t allowed. Yet The Markup found a swath of examples of ads that appear to do just that.  

Google has “removed all of these ads for violating our policies,” Google spokesperson Christa Muldoon said, after The Markup provided the company with the ads. “We prohibit ads that mislead users by implying an affiliation with a government agency.” 

Muldoon didn’t respond to a question about why the ads were able to violate Google’s policy.

Along with the site that fooled Reed, Tax Filing Forms also operates irs.gov-taxnumber.com—a URL that contains “irs.gov” but isn’t affiliated with the IRS. The Markup found ads for that site on Google in search results for “how to get ein.” Tax Filing Forms’ websites share the subdued design of government websites—enough that Reed didn’t pick up on what happened until her banker raised a red flag over a multiday wait time. (The IRS provides EINs right away.)

University of South Carolina president resigns after plagiarism incident in commencement speech

Nick Anderson:

The president of the University of South Carolina resigned Wednesday following revelations of a recent plagiarism incident in which he delivered a commencement address that included a significant passage from another person’s speech without attribution.Support our journalism. Subscribe today.

Bob Caslen said in a statement that his resignation would take effect Thursday. “Trust is the most important ingredient of effective leadership, and when it is lost, it is nearly impossible to lead,” Caslen said. “I believe that is the case right now between the University of South Carolina and its president.”

Caslen, a retired Army general, was named president of the state flagship school in 2019. He had previously been superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

The pandemic stress-tested the way the world produces evidence — and revealed all the flaws.

Helen Pearson:

It wasn’t long into the pandemic before Simon Carley realized we had an evidence problem. It was early 2020, and COVID-19 infections were starting to lap at the shores of the United Kingdom, where Carley is an emergency-medicine doctor at hospitals in Manchester. Carley is also a specialist in evidence-based medicine — the transformative idea that physicians should decide how to treat people by referring to rigorous evidence, such as clinical trials.

As cases of COVID-19 climbed in February, Carley thought that clinicians were suddenly abandoning evidence and reaching for drugs just because they sounded biologically plausible. Early studies Carley saw being published often lacked control groups or enrolled too few people to draw firm conclusions. “We were starting to treat patients with these drugs initially just on what seemed like a good idea,” he says. He understood the desire to do whatever is possible for someone gravely ill, but he also knew how dangerous it is to assume a drug works when so many promising treatments prove to be ineffective — or even harmful — in trials. “The COVID-19 pandemic has arguably been one of the greatest challenges to evidence-based medicine since the term was coined in the last century,” Carley and his colleagues wrote of the problems they were seeing1.

Other medical experts echo these concerns. With the pandemic now deep into its second year, it’s clear the crisis has exposed major weaknesses in the production and use of research-based evidence — failures that have inevitably cost lives. Researchers have registered more than 2,900 clinical trials related to COVID-19, but the majority are too small or poorly designed to be of much use (see ‘Small samples’). Organizations worldwide have scrambled to synthesize the available evidence on drugs, masks and other key issues, but can’t keep up with the outpouring of new research, and often repeat others’ work. There’s been “research waste at an unprecedented scale”, says Huseyin Naci, who studies health policy at the London School of Economics.

Rural schools resumed in-person classes faster than urban schools

UPI:

More than twice as many rural school districts than urban districts in the United States had returned to in-person learning by February after shutting buildings during the pandemic, a report published Tuesday by the RAND Corp. found.

Some 42% of rural school districts offered fully in-person instruction by the end of that month, compared with only 17% of urban districts, the data showed.

Conversely, 29% of urban districts offered fully remote instruction at that time, compared with 10% of rural districts and 18% of suburban districts, the researchers said.

Why Do Americans Stink at Math?

Elizabeth Green:

When Akihiko Takahashi was a junior in college in 1978, he was like most of the other students at his university in suburban Tokyo. He had a vague sense of wanting to accomplish something but no clue what that something should be. But that spring he met a man who would become his mentor, and this relationship set the course of his entire career.

Takeshi Matsuyama was an elementary-school teacher, but like a small number of instructors in Japan, he taught not just young children but also college students who wanted to become teachers. At the university-affiliated elementary school where Matsuyama taught, he turned his classroom into a kind of laboratory, concocting and trying out new teaching ideas. When Takahashi met him, Matsuyama was in the middle of his boldest experiment yet — revolutionizing the way students learned math by radically changing the way teachers taught it.

Instead of having students memorize and then practice endless lists of equations — which Takahashi remembered from his own days in school — Matsuyama taught his college students to encourage passionate discussions among children so they would come to uncover math’s procedures, properties and proofs for themselves. One day, for example, the young students would derive the formula for finding the area of a rectangle; the next, they would use what they learned to do the same for parallelograms. Taught this new way, math itself seemed transformed. It was not dull misery but challenging, stimulating and even fun.

2006: Math Forum audio video

Discovery Math

Connected Math

Civics: Can the Party in Power Systematically Win a Majority in Close Legislative Elections? Evidence from U.S. State Assemblies

Dahyeon Jeong & Ajay Shenoy:

We study whether ruling parties can systematically win a slender majority of seats in close legislative elections, a phenomenon called “precise control.” We test for discontinuities in two outcomes that, in the absence of precise control, should be smooth at the 50% cutoff: the probability density of the share of seats won, and the identity of the party that previously held a majority. We find robust evidence of precise control, but only in high-stakes state elections that determine which party controls Congressional redistricting. Its absence in other elections suggests precise control is a strategic option used at the ruling party’s discretion. It shifts its strategy in high-stakes elections from seat maximization to majority-seeking, winning fewer seats but raising the chance it retains its majority. These tactics are disproportionately effective for the party defending a majority. It is 4 times more likely to win than to lose a close election.

Civics: Maryland State’s Attorney Mosby stopped non-violent prosecutions for the coronavirus, but then violent crime dropped 20 percent.

Tom Jackman:

Something happened in Baltimore last year. The coronavirus pandemic hit, and State’s Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby announced that the city would no longer prosecute drug possession, prostitution, trespassing and other minor charges, to keep people out of jail and limit the spread of the deadly virus.

And then crime went down in Baltimore. A lot. While violent crime and homicides skyrocketed in most other big American cities last year, violent crime in Baltimore dropped 20 percent from last March to this month, property crime decreased 36 percent, and there were 13 fewer homicides compared with the previous year. This happened while 39 percent fewer people entered the city’s criminal justice system in the one-year period, and 20 percent fewer people landed in jail after Mosby’s office dismissed more than 1,400 pending cases and tossed out more than 1,400 warrants for nonviolent crimes.

So on Friday, Mosby made her temporary steps permanent. She announced Baltimore City will continue to decline prosecution of all drug possession, prostitution, minor traffic and misdemeanor cases, and will partner with a local behavioral health service to aggressively reach out to drug users, sex workers and people in psychiatric crisis to direct them into treatment rather than the back of a patrol car.

Mosby said her policy decision is unrelated to a federal investigation of her and her husband’s personal and campaign finances. The initial changes in prosecution policy occurred a year ago, and their success caused her to make them permanent, she said.

The Missing Semester of Your CS Education

mit.edu

Classes teach you all about advanced topics within CS, from operating systems to machine learning, but there’s one critical subject that’s rarely covered, and is instead left to students to figure out on their own: proficiency with their tools. We’ll teach you how to master the command-line, use a powerful text editor, use fancy features of version control systems, and much more!

Students spend hundreds of hours using these tools over the course of their education (and thousands over their career), so it makes sense to make the experience as fluid and frictionless as possible. Mastering these tools not only enables you to spend less time on figuring out how to bend your tools to your will, but it also lets you solve problems that would previously seem impossibly complex.

China’s ageing population is the least of concerns for young people who can barely afford to make ends meet, much less have children

He Huifeng:

China’s young people are not surprised that their homeland has one of the world’s lowest fertility rates. In fact, most seem to empathise with the growing reluctance to have kids in China.


Many believe that there is a general consensus among China’s millennials and Generation Z that having children will impose a strong financial burden under the country’s current public welfare conditions, and that having fewer or no children is necessary to maintain one’s quality of life.


“Honestly, I don’t want to have a relationship, I don’t want to get married, and I don’t want to have children,” said Zhang Jie, a 31-year-old salesman with a small private trading company in Guangzhou who recently broke up with his girlfriend after four years. “For the working class, it is simply becoming more and more unaffordable to raise a child in urban cities.”

The Art of Mathematics in Chalk

Clara Moskowitz:

Even when it is inscrutable, math is beautiful. Photographer Jessica Wynne set out to capture this appeal when she began photographing mathematicians’ chalkboards around the world in 2018. “I’ve always been interested in entering into worlds outside my realm of knowledge,” Wynne says. Without comprehending what the math on the chalkboards represented, she was able to appreciate it on a purely aesthetic level. “It’s a similar feeling as when I’m looking at an abstract painting. But it added more interest that beyond the surface there’s great meaning and great depth, and they’re trying to reveal universal truth.”

Wynne was first drawn into the world of math when she befriended two mathematicians who vacationed near where she spent summers on Cape Cod. As she learned about their research, she found many parallels between the process of math and the process of art. “I was really surprised to witness how they work and how creative what they do is,” she says.

As Wynne began to travel to different universities to meet more mathematicians, she discovered how diverse their chalkboard styles are. “Some were very clean and neat and very carefully considered,” she recalls. “And some were just this explosion and chaos. The chalkboards almost felt like portraits of the person and depended on the personality of the mathematician.”

Governance and “the C Suite”

The Economist:

The job title may seem odd, but with a change of one letter in the title, think of me as a “champo”, championing the things our organisation cares about. I will be flying round the world to promote our focus on combating climate change. Along with the chief happiness officer, I will be trying to maintain employee morale. Expect to receive regular weekly surveys about your physical and mental health, and on whether you are able to get on with your work or feel bogged down by corporate bureaucracy. Remember, there is no “I” in team but there are three in chief impact officer. I will be using them to watch over you all.

Lawyer Tried to Keep Traumatized Students in School

James Hagerty:

While working for a Boston nonprofit in the early 1990s, she saw a surge of expulsions of students from schools enforcing a zero-tolerance policy for behavior seen as threatening the safety of classmates or teachers. Among her clients was a 15-year-old boy, neglected by his mother and abused by his father, who was banished from school and a regular in juvenile court. She took him to a psychologist, who offered a surprising diagnosis: post-traumatic stress disorder.

The experience spurred Ms. Cole to look for ways to help schools embrace traumatized students—afflicted by such things as neglect or domestic violence—rather than kicking them out. That would be more humane, she thought, and cheaper for society in the long run than endless cycles of prosecution and incarceration.

In 2004, she helped create the Trauma and Learning Policy Initiative, a collaboration between Massachusetts Advocates for Children and Harvard Law School. Her campaigning led to funding in Massachusetts and other states for programs that train educators to recognize the effects of trauma and help students find solace and support at school.

“Most fundamentally, the groups we studied believe that science is a process, and not an institution.”

Crystal Lee, Tanya Yang, Gabrielle Inchoco, Graham Jones and Arvind Satyanarayan:

Controversial understandings of the coronavirus pandemic have turned data visualizations into a battleground. Defying public health officials, coronavirus skeptics on US social media spent much of 2020 creating data visualizations showing that the government’s pandemic response was excessive and that the crisis was over. This paper investigates how pandemic visualizations circulated on social media, and shows that people who mistrust the scientific estab- lishment often deploy the same rhetorics of data-driven decision- making used by experts, but to advocate for radical policy changes. Using a quantitative analysis of how visualizations spread on Twit- ter and an ethnographic approach to analyzing conversations about COVID data on Facebook, we document an epistemological gap that leads pro- and anti-mask groups to draw drastically different inferences from similar data. Ultimately, we argue that the deploy- ment of COVID data visualizations reflect a deeper sociopolitical rift regarding the place of science in public life.

Parents describe Virginia’s Loudoun County as ‘ground zero’ in the fight against woke education

Alex Nester:

A black mother slammed critical race theory at a school board meeting in the nation’s richest county Tuesday, comparing the radical education standards to tactics used by Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan to demean black people.

“Critical race theory is not an honest dialogue, it is a tactic that was used by Hitler and the Ku Klux Klan on slavery very many years ago to dumb down my ancestors so we could not think for ourselves,” Shawntel Cooper said at the Loudoun County School Board meeting Tuesday night. “Critical race theory is racist, it is abusive, it discriminates against one’s color. … You can not tell me what is or is not racist.”

A source close to Cooper told the Washington Free Beacon that the mother doesn’t want to speak out nationally, citing fear of negative publicity. The Loudoun County School Board did not return a request for comment.

Parents of Loudoun County Public Schools students have rebelled against the district’s efforts to adopt radical curriculum standards. One parent group launched a recall campaign against six of the Loudoun County School Board members in March. Other groups have tracked the school board’s attempts to silence parents who oppose the district’s recently adopted “culturally responsive” curriculum framework.

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.

Civics: Microsoft’s LinkedIn Accused by Noted China Critic of Censorship

Ryan Gallagher:

Peter Humphrey, a British corporate investigator and former journalist who accesses LinkedIn from his home in Surrey, England, said he received notification from LinkedIn last month that comments he had published on the platform had been removed. The comments, seen by Bloomberg News, called the Chinese government a “repressive dictatorship” and criticized the country’s state media organizations as “propaganda mouthpieces.”

In late April, Humphrey said LinkedIn sent him several notifications that critical comments he posted about China’s government and state-controlled broadcaster China Global Television Network, or CGTN, had been removed, on the grounds that the comments constituted “bullying and harassment” or “spam and scams.” On April 26, Humphrey said he couldn’t access his LinkedIn profile.

When Humphrey tried to log in, he said he was met with a message stating his profile had been “restricted” due to “behavior that appears to violate our Terms of Service.”

After Bloomberg News contacted LinkedIn for comment last week, the company reinstated Humphrey’s account and restored some of his comments, including those listed above. Others were not. “Our team has reviewed the action, based on our appeals process, and found it was an error,” said Leonna Spilman, a spokeswoman for LinkedIn. Spilman declined to comment further regarding Humphrey’s account.

Cancelling Citations

Josh Blackman:

Last October, I wrote about a controversial Bluebook proposal: Any case that involves slavery would require a parenthetical disclaimer. For example “(enslaved party)” or “(enslaved person at issue).” So far, this change has not come to pass. But with the hard-left turn of law reviews, I doubt there is enough resistance to block this change. The upshot of this policy will be to simply cancel certain citations. Authors will not want to be seen as promoting slavery-based jurisprudence. So those cases will simply fall into desuetude.

This weaponization of footnotes will not be limited to slavery. Journals will continue to impose more control over scholarship to pursue inclusion. Professor Brian Leiter writes about a referee report from a philosophy journal. The “very first comment” criticized the author for not citing diverse authors.

Why Aren’t Text Message Interventions Designed to Boost College Success Working at Scale?

Ben Castleman:

I like to think of it as my Mark Zuckerberg moment: I was a graduate student and it was a sweltering summer evening in Cambridge. Text messages were slated to go out to recent high school graduates in Massachusetts and Texas. Knowing that thousands of phones would soon start chirping and vibrating with information about college, I refreshed my screen every 30 seconds, waiting to see engagement statistics on how students would respond. Within a few minutes there were dozens of new responses from students wanting to connect with an advisor to discuss their college plans.

We’re approaching the tenth anniversary of that first text-based advising campaign to reduce summer melt—when students have been accepted to and plan to attend college upon graduating high school, but do not start college in the fall. The now-ubiquity of businesses sending texts makes it hard to remember how innovative texting as a channel was; back in the early 2010s, text was primarily used for social and conversational communication. Maybe the occasional doctor’s office or airline would send a text reminder, but SMS was not broadly used as a channel by schools or colleges.

Those novel text nudges appeared successful. Results from a randomized controlled trial (RCT) that I conducted with Lindsay Page showed that students who received the texts reminding them of pre-enrollment tasks and connecting them with advisors enrolled in college at higher rates. We had the opportunity to replicate our summer melt work two summers later in additional cities and with engagement from the White House Social and Behavioral Sciences team and found similar impacts.

How to fight critical race theory

Christopher Rufo:

Critical race theory is fast becoming America’s new institutional orthodoxy. Yet most Americans have never heard of it—and of those who have, many don’t understand it. This must change. We need to know what it is so we can know how to fight it.

To explain critical race theory, it helps to begin with a brief history of Marxism. Originally, the Marxist Left built its political program on the theory of class conflict. Karl Marx believed that the primary characteristic of industrial societies was the imbalance of power between capitalists and workers. The solution to that imbalance, according to Marx, was revolution: the workers would eventually gain consciousness of their plight, seize the means of production, overthrow the capitalist class, and usher in a new socialist society.

During the twentieth century, a number of regimes underwent Marxist-style revolutions, and each ended in disaster. Socialist governments in the Soviet Union, China, Cambodia, Cuba, and elsewhere racked up a body count of nearly 100 million people. They are remembered for gulags, show trials, executions, and mass starvations. In practice, Marx’s ideas unleashed man’s darkest brutalities.

By the mid-1960s, Marxist intellectuals in the West had begun to acknowledge these failures. They recoiled at revelations of Soviet atrocities and came to realize that workers’ revolutions would never occur in Western Europe or the United States, which had large middle classes and rapidly improving standards of living. Americans in particular had never developed a sense of class consciousness or class division. Most Americans believed in the American dream—the idea that they could transcend their origins through education, hard work, and good citizenship.

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.

K-12 Tax & Spending CLimate: Mid Size US City Growth

Justin Baer:

The pandemic is accelerating growth in midsize cities, positioning them to lead the charge in the nation’s economic rebound.

Even before Covid-19, these rising stars—such as Greenville, Des Moines, Iowa, and Provo, Utah—had been quietly building out vibrant economies in the shadow of bigger metropolises. During the pandemic, they have drawn workers and businesses with large and affordable homes, ample access to outdoor space and less congestion.

They also have a mix of high-tech jobs and old-line industries, including manufacturing and finance, that turned out to be more resistant to the downturn. They came through the year with fewer job losses and service cuts, and made quicker recoveries.

“They offer a lot of things you can’t really get in the big city,” said Mark Vitner, senior economist with Wells Fargo & Co. “They’re more affordable, and it’s so much easier to live there. And all of these industries are poised to do very well.”

The pandemic-fueled flow of jobs and residents out of New York, San Francisco and other large coastal cities will subside and likely eventually reverse, economists say. But the economies in some of these smaller metro areas have staying power.

In Greenville, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 4.3% in March, well below the national rate of 6.0% that month, according to the Labor Department. The national unemployment rate rose to 6.1% in April.

The Pandemic Prompted Them to Return Home—Now They’re Staying

Nancy Keates:

Megan Riner was living alone in a tiny studio apartment in Portland, Ore., when the pandemic hit. Working the overnight shift at a television news station made it tough to find friends. After her job went virtual because of Covid, she rarely left her apartment, exacerbating her sense of isolation.

Ms. Riner, 25, decided to leave Portland in July and move back into her old bedroom at her mom’s house in her hometown of Indianapolis. It was a decision that shocked her: All she’d wanted after college was to leave Indianapolis and start an independent life.

More than nine months later, she works in digital media at a call center nearby. She just moved out of her mom’s house into her own apartment that’s less than a mile away, in a building where a good friend from grade school lives. She prefers to stay in Indianapolis rather than resume her old life in Portland sitting in that tiny studio, all alone.

“I feel so much better, just knowing I live near friends and a support system” she says.

‘Who’s racist?’ Lawyer mom takes on Maryland school district’s woke racism claims

James Varney:

An occasional interview series with Americans who are challenging the status quo.

Picking fights with lawyers and Green Berets can be a bit risky, and that is doubly true when one of them has extensive experience with totalitarian tactics.

Gordana Schifanelli is a lawyer married to a former Army special forces officer, and what’s more, she grew up in a Communist household in Belgrade, Yugoslavia. All of which makes for a powerful opponent in what has shaped up as a battle on Maryland’s Eastern Shore between forces of wokeness in Queen Anne’s County Public Schools and some concerned parents.

“It’s totalitarian, what they’re doing, so I know it,” she said. “I was in the middle of a NATO bombing and barely survived. Now you want to tell me I’m a racist? Whatever.”

The battle began in June, when Superintendent Andrea M. Kane sent a letter to parents filled with attaboys for environmental improvements in the schools and news about the coronavirus, which had forced them all to close. Sandwiched in between, however, was a lengthy screed about systemic racism, the righteousness of Black Lives Matter and the frightening news that the schools in that sleepy community were infested with racism.

While Ms. Kane, who is Black, voiced her concerns in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death. Mrs. Schifanelli was appalled on many levels. For starters, who might be responsible for this terrible environment?

“Who’s racist? Where is this racism in our schools? I’m sending my kids into some rampant, festering racist place?” she said. “I think Black parents would also want to know who is being racist at school.”

In addition, Mrs. Schifanelli objected to the lecture from a government worker who she believed should be focused on educating her children rather than broader social issues that her 11-year-old didn’t really understand.

Additional Commentary.

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.

Classroom Chaos in the Name of Racial Equity Is a Bad Lesson Plan

Jason Riley:

What should take priority in K-12 education, the physical safety of students or racial balance in school suspension rates? Barack Obama and Donald Trump had different answers to that question, and it probably won’t surprise you where President Biden comes down.

In 2012, the Education Department released a study showing that black students were more likely than their white peers to be suspended and expelled from school. This disparity was taken as evidence of racial bias, and two years later the department issued threatening “guidance” letters to school districts across the country. The letters essentially warned that schools would face federal civil-rights investigations if black suspension rates didn’t come down. Schools were pressured to discipline students, or not, based on race rather than behavior, and many administrators and teachers obliged.

In New York, Los Angeles and Chicago—the nation’s three largest school systems—reductions in suspensions and expulsions were followed by an uptick in bullying and other disruptive behavior. Students and teachers alike have reported feeling less safe. Fighting, gang activity and drug use have increased. A 2018 study of schools in Wisconsin found that “softer discipline policies, pushed by the Obama administration, are having a negative impact on student test scores.”

The sad irony is that black students, in whose name this was done, were the ones most hurt by racial quotas in school discipline. A 2017 federal survey of school safety by the National Center for Education Statistics found that 25% of black students nationwide reported being bullied, the highest percentage of any racial or ethnic group.

School Reopenings, Mobility, and COVID-19 Spread: Evidence from Texas

Charles J. Courtemanche, Anh H. Le, Aaron Yelowitz & Ron Zimmer:

This paper examines the effect of fall 2020 school reopenings in Texas on county-level COVID-19 cases and fatalities. Previous evidence suggests that schools can be reopened safely if community spread is low and public health guidelines are followed. However, in Texas, reopenings often occurred alongside high community spread and at near capacity, making it difficult to meet social distancing recommendations. Using event-study models and hand-collected instruction modality and start dates for all school districts, we find robust evidence that reopening Texas schools gradually but substantially accelerated the community spread of COVID-19. Results from our preferred specification imply that school reopenings led to at least 43,000 additional COVID-19 cases and 800 additional fatalities within the first two months. We then use SafeGraph mobility data to provide evidence that spillovers to adults’ behaviors contributed to these large effects. Median time spent outside the home on a typical weekday increased substantially in neighborhoods with large numbers of school-age children, suggesting a return to in-person work or increased outside-of-home leisure activities among parents.

Related: Catholic schools will sue Dane County Madison Public Health to open as scheduled

Notes and links on Dane County Madison Public Health. (> 140 employees).

Molly Beck and Madeline Heim:

which pushed Dane County this week not to calculate its percentage of positive tests — a data point the public uses to determine how intense infection is in an area.   

While positive test results are being processed and their number reported quickly, negative test results are taking days in some cases to be analyzed before they are reported to the state. 

Channel3000:

The department said it was between eight and 10 days behind in updating that metric on the dashboard, and as a result it appeared to show a higher positive percentage of tests and a lower number of total tests per day.

The department said this delay is due to the fact data analysts must input each of the hundreds of tests per day manually, and in order to continue accurate and timely contact tracing efforts, they prioritized inputting positive tests.

“Positive tests are always immediately verified and processed, and delays in processing negative tests in our data system does not affect notification of test results,” the department said in a news release. “The only effect this backlog has had is on our percent positivity rate and daily test counts.”

Staff have not verified the approximately 17,000 tests, which includes steps such as matching test results to patients to avoid duplicating numbers and verifying the person who was tested resides in Dane County.

All 77 false-positive COVID-19 tests come back negative upon reruns.

Madison private school raises $70,000 for lawsuit against public health order. – WKOW-TV. Commentary.

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Assembly against private school forced closure.

Wisconsin Catholic schools will challenge local COVID-19 closing order. More.

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.

Civics: Reporters Once Challenged the Spy State. Now, They’re Agents of It

Matt Taibbi:

What a difference a decade makes. 

Just over ten years ago, on July 25, 2010, Wikileaks released 75,000 secret U.S. military reports involving the war in AfghanistanThe New York Times, The Guardian, and Der Spiegel helped release the documents, which were devastating to America’s intelligence community and military, revealing systemic abuses that included civilian massacres and an assassination squad, TF 373, whose existence the United States kept “protected” even from its allies.

The Afghan War logs came out at the beginning of a historic stretch of true oppositional journalism, when outlets like Le Monde, El Pais, Der Spiegel, The Guardian, The New York Times, and others partnered with sites like Wikileaks. Official secrets were exposed on a scale not seen since the Church Committee hearings of the seventies, as reporters pored through 250,000 American diplomatic cables, secret files about every detainee at Guantanamo Bay, and hundreds of thousands of additional documents about everything from the Iraq war to coverups of environmental catastrophes, among other things helping trigger the “Arab Spring.” 

There was an attempt at a response — companies like Amazon, Master Card, Visa, and Paypal shut Wikileaks off, and the Pentagon flooded the site with a “denial of service” attack — but leaks continued. One person inspired by the revelations was former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, who came forward to unveil an illegal domestic surveillance program, a story that won an Oscar and a Pulitzer Prize for documentarian Laura Poitras and reporters Glenn Greenwald and Jeremy Scahill. By 2014, members of Congress in both parties were calling for the resignations of CIA chief John Brennan and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, both of whom had been caught lying to congress.

Civics: Facebook Used UN Speech Codes to Ban Trump

Daniel Greenfield:

In 2018, the Trump administration pulled out of the United Nations Human Rights Council. That same year the administration cut funding to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) which had repeatedly attacked America and the Trump administration.

The administration dismissed these attacks as impotent, but the UN’s human rights apparatus had more power over Americans, including President Trump, than most people realized.

Many Taxpayer supported K – 12 school districts use Facebook (Instagram) services, including Madison.

How Adult Children Affect Their Mother’s Happiness

Arthur Brooks:

You are … irritating and unbearable, and I consider it most difficult to live with you.” So wrote Johanna Schopenhauer in a 1807 letter to her 19-year-old son Arthur. “No one can tolerate being reproved by you, who also still show so many weaknesses yourself, least of all in your adverse manner, which in oracular tones, proclaims this is so and so, without ever supposing an objection. If you were less like you, you would only be ridiculous, but thus as you are, you are highly annoying.”

The two-century-old letter amazes not just for its mix of archaic diction and sick burns, but also because it violates some of humanity’s most basic assumptions about how mothers feel about their children. Motherhood is supposed to bring unparalleled happiness. The Bible, for example, is full of stories of women—Sarah, Hannah, Elizabeth—who go from sorrow to joy when God grants them an unexpected child.

In real life, the relationship between happiness and motherhood is more complicated. Raising small children is far from unmitigated bliss. Year after year, surveys that ask mothers what they most want for Mother’s Day find that their No. 1 answer is time alone. As children grow up, mothers’ mixed feelings seem to stick around. Research suggests that plenty of mothers, while perhaps not as up-front as Johanna, feel some resentment toward their adult progeny, especially when the relationship feels unequal. Thankfully, social science also offers clues to how adult children can patch things up and make their moms happier.

Civics: Federal vs State Governance

Wall Street Journal:

If Texas and California hadn’t joined the United States in the 19th century, he wrote, “it is entirely possible that their dispute would be the source of considerable international tension.” Yet the Constitution is designed to hold the states together despite their political differences by channeling conflict through the federal government. Instead California is trying to interfere directly in Texas policy.

“When they entered the Union, these two behemoths relinquished the full measure of sovereign power that they once possessed,” Justice Alito continued, “but they acquired the right to have their disputes with other States adjudicated by the Nation’s highest court.”

In its brief urging the Court not to adjudicate the dispute, California argued that it could be handled in lower courts, such as if Texas businesses harmed by California’s boycott filed suit. It pointed to precedent that the Supreme Court’s exclusive jurisdiction—known as “original” jurisdiction—over state suits against other states “will not be exerted in the absence of absolute necessity.”

We doubt all Justices who punted on this case are confident in the constitutionality of California’s economic bullying. Yet a sufficient number may believe that this is not yet a moment of “absolute necessity” that compels jurisdiction. The danger is that by failing to take a stand early, the Justices will make such a moment more politically fraught and more likely.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: It’s not a ‘labor shortage.’ It’s a great reassessment of work in America.

Heather Long:

From Wall Street to the White House, expectations were high for a hiring surge in April with potentially a million Americans returning to work. Instead, the world learned Friday that just 266,000 jobs were added, a massive disappointment that raises questions about whether the recovery is on track.

President Biden’s team has vowed that its massive stimulus package will recover all the remaining jobs lost during the pandemic in about a year, but that promise won’t be kept unless there’s a big pickup in hiring soon. There are still 8.2 million jobs left to recover. At the same time, business leaders and Republicans are complaining that there is a “worker shortage,” and they largely blame the more generous unemployment payments and stimulus checks for making people less likely to take low-paying fast food and retail jobs again. Democratic economists counter that companies could raise pay if they really wanted workers back quickly.

One way to make sense of this weak jobs report is to do what Wall Street did and shrug it off as an anomaly. Stocks still rose Friday as investors saw this as a blip. They think there is just a lag in hiring and more people will return to work as they get vaccinated. And they point out oddball months have occurred before, especially with some weird quirks in the Labor Department’s seasonal adjustments.

Madison schools have substantial tax & spending increase programs underway, despite long term disastrous reading results and declining enrollment.

The War on Merit, continued

Karol Markowicz:

The War on Merit in America’s schools is spreading — and threatening to take an ever-bigger toll on kids’ education.

Last week, California’s Department of Education rolled out a draft framework for teaching math to K-12 students. The framework contains 13 chapters, most focused on (no joke) achieving “equity” through mathematics instruction. It would no longer group kids by ability, teach algebra to eighth graders or calculus to high schoolers or refer to gifted children as “gifted.”

California isn’t the only place, of course, that has tried to dumb down school curricula in an effort to treat all kids the same in order to pretend there’s no differences between them.

Every year in New York City, thousands of parents register their kids for the Gifted & Talented test for admission into a G&T program or school. The test is necessary to see if kids will be able to handle the more challenging curriculum. 

Yet this year, the city’s Department of Education scrapped the test; kids apparently will be judged on less objective measures. And Chancellor Meisha Ross Porter similarly wants to ditch the admissions test for the city’s top high schools.

Look: Parents don’t have their kids apply for these programs because they are racist; they do it because they know the regular curriculum their kids get in regular city schools is weak. Math is usually a joke; reading and writing often even more so. A G&T program might mean their kid has to actually try to succeed, instead of just coasting through classes. Yet parents clamoring for more difficult work for their kids get called “racist.”

Not content with removing the G&T test, the DOE is now pushing to get rid of G&T programs themselves. Middle schools have already scrapped “screens,” such as test scores and grades, for admission this year in favor of lotteries. The city’s most competitive (and often best-performing) high schools constantly fear they’ll be forced to water down their standards.

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.

The Geography of COVID-19

Joel Kotkin and Wendell Cox:

The problem is not density per se but rather the severe overcrowding associated with poverty in high density areas. Overcrowded physical proximity often includes insufficiently ventilated spaces such as crowded public transit, elevators, and employment locations, especially high-rise buildings, which often have windows that cannot be opened. Overcrowded bars, restaurants, and other retail establishments are also a part of the problem. Professor Shlomo Angel head of the New York University Urban Expansion Project at the Marron Institute and the NYU Stern Urbanization Project and principal author of A Planet of Cities and the Atlas of Urban Expansion explains:

It is important to increase density literacy among politicians, professionals, and activists to make it clear that the density that contributed to the pandemic, overcrowded multigenerational housing, mass events, crowded transit cars, or crowded bars and restaurants, is not the kind of density we need to increase to make cities more affordable and to combat climate change. The densification we need involves making room in cities, adding floor space so that more people can occupy the same area without overcrowding.1

Mixed evidence on lockdowns

Overcrowding intensifies exposure density. Recognizing this, governments imposed lockdowns and social distancing measures intended to reduce crowding and viral transmission. But lockdowns can be effective in some situations and not in others. Social distancing and remote work can readily reduce the exposure density of overcrowded trains, workplaces, elevators, and retail establishments, especially in the densest urban cores. Restaurants and bars were forced to close, and as many employers switched to remote working, fatality rates dropped substantially.

But this approach has exacted a steep cost. In New York, San Francisco, Chicago, and Toronto, suburban rail ridership declined by between 75 and 90 percent compared to the previous year. There has been a precipitous decline in the economies of the central business districts (CBDs) of these metropolitan areas, which have suffered economically more than most of their smaller counterparts. City Journal has reported that, in 2020, “New York City lost 500,000 private-sector jobs. Its office buildings are only 15 percent occupied. Ninety percent of the city’s restaurants failed to pay their December 2020 rent, and 5,000 have shut down altogether. Employment in the city’s arts and entertainment sector has plummeted 66 percent. And, perhaps most alarming: 300,000 New Yorkers from high-income neighborhoods have filed change-of-address forms with the Postal Service.” Rents are now the lowest in a decade.

They moved for in-person school during the pandemic. Now they must decide: Stay or go?

Hannah Natanson:

In pursuit of in-person learning this year, Stephanie Koski of Oregon transferred legal guardianship of her 16-year-old son to his aunt — then sent the teen to live in Texas.

Lyra Elder uprooted her husband, son and daughter from their home outside Portland, Ore., and took them to a cabin in Homer, Alaska, population 5,992 and nicknamed “the end of the road.” And the Metta family traded the suburbs of Doylestown, Pa., for a three-bedroom apartment in the Italian city of Bari, on the Adriatic coast.

Related: Catholic schools will sue Dane County Madison Public Health to open as scheduled

Notes and links on Dane County Madison Public Health. (> 140 employees).

Molly Beck and Madeline Heim:

which pushed Dane County this week not to calculate its percentage of positive tests — a data point the public uses to determine how intense infection is in an area.   

While positive test results are being processed and their number reported quickly, negative test results are taking days in some cases to be analyzed before they are reported to the state. 

Channel3000:

The department said it was between eight and 10 days behind in updating that metric on the dashboard, and as a result it appeared to show a higher positive percentage of tests and a lower number of total tests per day.

The department said this delay is due to the fact data analysts must input each of the hundreds of tests per day manually, and in order to continue accurate and timely contact tracing efforts, they prioritized inputting positive tests.

“Positive tests are always immediately verified and processed, and delays in processing negative tests in our data system does not affect notification of test results,” the department said in a news release. “The only effect this backlog has had is on our percent positivity rate and daily test counts.”

Staff have not verified the approximately 17,000 tests, which includes steps such as matching test results to patients to avoid duplicating numbers and verifying the person who was tested resides in Dane County.

All 77 false-positive COVID-19 tests come back negative upon reruns.

Madison private school raises $70,000 for lawsuit against public health order. – WKOW-TV. Commentary.

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Assembly against private school forced closure.

Wisconsin Catholic schools will challenge local COVID-19 closing order. More.

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.

Gaming Statistics

David Leonhardt:

In truth, the share of transmission that has occurred outdoors seems to be below 1 percent and may be below 0.1 percent, multiple epidemiologists told me. The rare outdoor transmission that has happened almost all seems to have involved crowded places or close conversation.

Saying that less than 10 percent of Covid transmission occurs outdoors is akin to saying that sharks attack fewer than 20,000 swimmers a year. (The actual worldwide number is around 150.) It’s both true and deceiving.

Related: Catholic schools will sue Dane County Madison Public Health to open as scheduled

Notes and links on Dane County Madison Public Health. (> 140 employees).

Molly Beck and Madeline Heim:

which pushed Dane County this week not to calculate its percentage of positive tests — a data point the public uses to determine how intense infection is in an area.   

While positive test results are being processed and their number reported quickly, negative test results are taking days in some cases to be analyzed before they are reported to the state. 

Channel3000:

The department said it was between eight and 10 days behind in updating that metric on the dashboard, and as a result it appeared to show a higher positive percentage of tests and a lower number of total tests per day.

The department said this delay is due to the fact data analysts must input each of the hundreds of tests per day manually, and in order to continue accurate and timely contact tracing efforts, they prioritized inputting positive tests.

“Positive tests are always immediately verified and processed, and delays in processing negative tests in our data system does not affect notification of test results,” the department said in a news release. “The only effect this backlog has had is on our percent positivity rate and daily test counts.”

Staff have not verified the approximately 17,000 tests, which includes steps such as matching test results to patients to avoid duplicating numbers and verifying the person who was tested resides in Dane County.

All 77 false-positive COVID-19 tests come back negative upon reruns.

Madison private school raises $70,000 for lawsuit against public health order. – WKOW-TV. Commentary.

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Assembly against private school forced closure.

Wisconsin Catholic schools will challenge local COVID-19 closing order. More.

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.

Woke Curricular Concerns

Sohrab Ahmari:


’I’m terrified of the woke radicals at my kids’ school”: Rarely a week goes by when I don’t hear some variation on this gripe from fellow parents in New York City. Invariably, they lower their voices, lest prying ears catch them objecting to the official ideology.

These are solidly liberal Manhattanites, mind you. They just don’t want their children being told they carry the ­unwashable stain of racial sin. And they’d ­really rather have their kids master real knowledge, instead of ­being taught to meditate endlessly on their own race, gender and sexuality. 

As the only “out” conservative they know, I’m often the only person these parents can pour out their ­anguish to. And I’m wearying of the job.

I worry just as much about the rise of the woke. Yet I’ve come to view the ambient liberalism these New Yorkers take for granted as a big part of the problem. It doesn’t suffice to overcome wokeness, because it forms people to be selfish and self-maximizing, to avoid deep commitments of any kind.

Doctor says there’s no legitimate medical reason to mask children

Patrick Richardson:

One Kansas City-area mom had to fight tooth and nail to get a mask exemption for her children, despite having paperwork showing disturbing changes in their vital signs after just one minute of putting on a mask. USD 229 Blue Valley officials rejected the results on a technicality, but a doctor says the results should have been a red flag that prompted the district to take action.

Julie Myrick, who has both a 10-year-old and a 7-year-old in Blue Valley elementary schools, originally went to the Blue Valley Board of Education asking for mask exemptions for her children, one of whom has asthma and the other struggles with focal epilepsy.

Her 10-year-old was complaining of headaches daily, and her 7-year-old was having daily meltdowns due to fatigue and irritability.

“My initial grievance hearing under SB40 was a request for accommodations to be made for my children who were having difficulty learning due to prolonged mask use and the symptoms they were experiencing with mask usem,” she said in an email. “The hearing officer recommended my request be granted but the BOE did not respond to my individual request but simply voted 7-0 to maintain the current mask policy.”

Myrick said both her children were having adverse reactions to the masks — to include severe headaches daily — but the district was unpersuaded. She was able to secure “unofficial” mask breaks for her children, but that required them — per the district — to go to the nurse’s office, taking them out of class.

Civics: The FBI Seized Heirlooms, Coins, and Cash From Hundreds of Safe Deposit Boxes in Beverly Hills, Despite Knowing ‘Some’ Belonged to ‘Honest Citizens’

Eric Boehm:

The FBI and federal prosecutors have “no authority to continue holding the possessions of some 800 bystanders who are not alleged to have been involved in whatever USPV may have done wrong,” Benjamin Gluck, a California attorney who is representing several of the people caught up in the FBI’s raid of U.S. Private Vaults, tells Reason.

Legal efforts to force the FBI to return the items seized during the March 22 raid have so far been unsuccessful, but at least five lawsuits are pending in federal court.

A federal grand jury indicted U.S. Private Vaults (USPV) on counts of conspiracy to distribute drugs, launder money, and avoid mandatory deposit reporting requirements.

In legal filings, federal prosecutors have admitted that “some” of the company’s customers were “honest citizens,” but contend that “the majority of the box-holders are criminals who used USPV’s anonymity to hide their ill-gotten wealth.”

This small Wisconsin town raised money so all its high school seniors can get a college scholarship

Samantha West:

So, in 2001, Klopke started sending letters to people in the community he thought would be interested in starting a fund, and holding meetings.

Before Klopke and the group even started asking for donations, he remembered, a farmer who lived just north of town handed him $100 or $200 out of the blue, simply telling him to “use this to get the fund going.”

Twenty years later, after Gresham residents like that farmer contributed as little as $5 here or $10 there, the community has raised $1 million for the Gresham Scholarship Fund to help the youngest residents of the small town pay for higher education.

Over time, the scholarship amount awarded has grown, too. When the scholarship was started, awards amounted to $400 per qualifying student. Now, students get $3,250.

Newell Haffner, superintendent of the Gresham School District, said the fund has made a “big impact” in what he called an “economically depressed” area.

SB 5044, 5227, 5228, to require mandatory staff attendance at Critical Race Training in Washington’s K-12 public schools, colleges, universities, and medical schools

Liv Finne:

  1. Lawmakers are considering three bills to impose Critical Race Training on Washington’s public education institutions.
  2. Much of the Critical Race Training curriculum required by these bills is untrue, false, and destructive.
  3. Critical Race Trainings require people to publicly profess their racial and sexual identities, and then be labeled as either “oppressors” or “oppressed.”
  4. According to Critical Race Training, all white heterosexual men are “oppressors” and certain minority groups are “oppressed.”
  5. These bills violate Washington’s Civil Rights Act, the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Washington State and U.S. Constitution.
  6. The bills violate workers’ First Amendment rights by compelling speech or by suppressing their legitimate views and opinions.
  7. Critical Race Training undermines the friendship and trust that make a caring and tolerant society possible and would make the problem of racism worse.

The Class of 2020 Feels Cheated on Graduation

Alina Dizik:

For four years, Maggie Lake imagined descending the majestic hill in the middle of her college campus with her classmates on commencement weekend. But she may need to wait a few more years. Colgate University’s 2020 in-person graduation has been rescheduled twice, this time to 2022.

The administration says they already held a virtual ceremony last May and delaying an in-person one allows alumni, including Ms. Lake, and their families to participate safely. But grads say the special moment is gone—and it feels odd to take time off work to attend your commencement. “We’re past the point of really caring,” says Ms. Lake, 22, an investment banking analyst in Chicago. “It’s kind of just done.”

Funding higher education now means subsidizing the political activists who have hijacked it.

John Ellis:

An advanced society functions by creating a series of institutions, telling them what it wants them to do, and funding them to do it. Institutions like the police, fire departments, courts and schools do the jobs society creates them to do. But one American institution—higher education—has decided to repurpose itself. It has set aside the job given to it by society and substituted a different one.

Higher education had a cluster of related purposes in society. Everyone benefited from the new knowledge it developed and the well-informed, thoughtful citizenry it produced. Individual students benefited from the preparation they received for careers in a developed economy. Yet these days, academia has decided that its primary purpose is the promotion of a radical political ideology, to which it gives the sunny label “social justice.”

That’s an enormous detour from the institutional mission granted to higher education by society—and a problem of grave consequence. For the purpose that academia has now given itself happens to be the only one that the founding documents of virtually all colleges and universities take care to forbid pre-emptively. The framers of those documents understood that using the campuses to promote political ideologies would destroy their institutions, because ideologies would always be rigid enough to prevent the exploration of new ideas and the free exercise of thought. They knew that the two purposes—academic and political—aren’t simply different, but polar opposites. They can’t coexist because the one erases the other.

BPCAE suing school committee for new exam school admissions

To keep the merit-based entrance to Boston Exam Schools, a group of Boston parents established BPCAE, a non-profit organization (NPO) in November 2020. BPCAE is a platform for all to maintain academic excellence in Boston Exam Schools. We also focus on enhancing the K-6 grade education foundation for exam schools.

Lawsuit by parents lost in district court, now on appeal. Attorney: “The goal of the Zip Code Quota Plan was to reduce the opportunity for Asian and White students to attend the Exam Schools, by limiting competition for 80 percent of the seats…. The Boston School Committee achieved — indeed, surpassed — its goal. We continue to believe that such racial gerrymandering violates the constitutional right to equal protection.”

Boston parent coalition for academic excellence:

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.

Commentary on privatizating taxpayer funded governance

Mary Jacob:

So far, their community remains online, in “the cloud.” But they expect to enlist around 2,000 willing participants (about the size of a small college town) to pack up and move to their yet-to-be-built city. No word yet on where the concept will touch down — but the two hope to land somewhere in the Mediterranean. 

Currently, Brown and Callinan are looking to partner with a country in the region who wants to attract a slice of Silicon Valley and is “down to forge a partnership with them,” Brown told YouTuber Justin Murphy in an interview.

“Whereby they contribute land, perhaps for equity in the project and the terms will obviously be negotiated,” Brown explained. “We are not trying to be a total sovereign nation or something like that. We want to partner with a government and build something really cool that works with us and works for them and is mutually beneficial,” he said, adding that they want a government that will stop blocking people with “dumb regulations.”  

With the backing of angel investor Peter Thiel, who has already invested nearly $9 million in Pronomos Capital— a venture capital that focuses solely on startups like Bluebook Cities — the company is expected to soon morph the online community into a private city reality.

Related: Catholic schools will sue Dane County Madison Public Health to open as scheduled

Notes and links on Dane County Madison Public Health. (> 140 employees).

Molly Beck and Madeline Heim:

which pushed Dane County this week not to calculate its percentage of positive tests — a data point the public uses to determine how intense infection is in an area.   

While positive test results are being processed and their number reported quickly, negative test results are taking days in some cases to be analyzed before they are reported to the state. 

Channel3000:

The department said it was between eight and 10 days behind in updating that metric on the dashboard, and as a result it appeared to show a higher positive percentage of tests and a lower number of total tests per day.

The department said this delay is due to the fact data analysts must input each of the hundreds of tests per day manually, and in order to continue accurate and timely contact tracing efforts, they prioritized inputting positive tests.

“Positive tests are always immediately verified and processed, and delays in processing negative tests in our data system does not affect notification of test results,” the department said in a news release. “The only effect this backlog has had is on our percent positivity rate and daily test counts.”

Staff have not verified the approximately 17,000 tests, which includes steps such as matching test results to patients to avoid duplicating numbers and verifying the person who was tested resides in Dane County.

All 77 false-positive COVID-19 tests come back negative upon reruns.

Madison private school raises $70,000 for lawsuit against public health order. – WKOW-TV. Commentary.

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Assembly against private school forced closure.

Wisconsin Catholic schools will challenge local COVID-19 closing order. More.

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.

Commentary on K-12 Choice Economics

Will Flanders:

It’s seemingly become a bi-annual tradition this time of year for school choice opponents to decry the “growing cost of vouchers” around budget time in Wisconsin. Among the latest attempts is a piece by Ruth Coniff for the Wisconsin Examiner. While this piece gets some facts right about how the program is funded, the overall narrative on the cost to property taxpayers misses some key facts, seemingly in an effort to paint the programs in a negative light. Here, I highlight some of the important issues with the piece.

Funding Students Who Leave the System. Among most voucher opponents, the notion that we should no longer fund schools for students who leave the system seems entirely lost. If a student moves out of one school district to another, we don’t hear complaints from unions about a loss of revenue resulting from the move of that student. Yet, for some reason, private school choice is regularly discussed in that manner, describing choice students as a “revenue loss” to the school district. This is no more logical than arguing that Pick ‘n Save should continue to collect money from me if I decide I’d rather shop at Meijer this week.

Placing the Blame for Tax Increases in the Wrong Place. Coniff seems to see raising property taxes for lost revenue to the voucher program as a necessity. She claims that districts face a Hobson’s choice between cutting programs or raising taxes. In reality, districts regularly have to make adjustments for changing enrollments, particularly in Wisconsin where most districts see continuing declines. If districts choose to raise taxes when a student leaves for choice, they actually end up with more money for each student remaining in public schools. This is because the same amount of revenue is now divided between fewer students.

S.F. seniors might go back to school for only one day before term ends. Parents are furious

Jill Tucker:

When the teachers union over the weekend announced the “exciting news” that San Francisco’s high school seniors will get a chance to go back to classrooms starting Friday, they left out details about the plan, including that students might only be back for just one day.

In addition, the class of 2021 won’t get any in-person instruction while they’re at one of two school sites. Instead, they have “in-person supervision.”

In what some are calling a blatant money grab, the deal between the district and teachers union will bring seniors back “for at least one day before the end of the school year,” so the city’s public schools can qualify for $12 million in state reopening funds.

The last-minute plan for seniors was yet another disappointment for San Francisco families, health officials, political leaders and mental health experts who have argued for the reopening of district schools for months, only to face multiple delays, even as many private school students have been back since the fall. The teachers union, which acknowledged the academic and emotional harm to many students from remote learning, argued it wasn’t safe to return until educators were vaccinated and even then resisted a fuller reopening.

Despite teachers getting priority for vaccinations, the union agreed only to allow a small group of vulnerable middle and high school students to return even as other districts — such as Berkeley and Oakland — brought a larger share of older students back.

Related: Catholic schools will sue Dane County Madison Public Health to open as scheduled

Notes and links on Dane County Madison Public Health. (> 140 employees).

Molly Beck and Madeline Heim:

which pushed Dane County this week not to calculate its percentage of positive tests — a data point the public uses to determine how intense infection is in an area.   

While positive test results are being processed and their number reported quickly, negative test results are taking days in some cases to be analyzed before they are reported to the state. 

Channel3000:

The department said it was between eight and 10 days behind in updating that metric on the dashboard, and as a result it appeared to show a higher positive percentage of tests and a lower number of total tests per day.

The department said this delay is due to the fact data analysts must input each of the hundreds of tests per day manually, and in order to continue accurate and timely contact tracing efforts, they prioritized inputting positive tests.

“Positive tests are always immediately verified and processed, and delays in processing negative tests in our data system does not affect notification of test results,” the department said in a news release. “The only effect this backlog has had is on our percent positivity rate and daily test counts.”

Staff have not verified the approximately 17,000 tests, which includes steps such as matching test results to patients to avoid duplicating numbers and verifying the person who was tested resides in Dane County.

All 77 false-positive COVID-19 tests come back negative upon reruns.

Madison private school raises $70,000 for lawsuit against public health order. – WKOW-TV. Commentary.

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Assembly against private school forced closure.

Wisconsin Catholic schools will challenge local COVID-19 closing order. More.

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.

The Long-Term Effects of Universal Preschool in Boston

seii.MIT.edu

We use admis­sions lot­ter­ies to esti­mate the effects of large-scale pub­lic preschool in Boston on col­lege-going, col­lege prepa­ra­tion, stan­dard­ized test scores, and behav­ioral out­comes. Preschool enroll­ment boosts col­lege atten­dance, as well as SAT test-tak­ing and high school grad­u­a­tion. Preschool also decreas­es sev­er­al dis­ci­pli­nary mea­sures includ­ing juve­nile incar­cer­a­tion, but has no detectable impact on state achieve­ment test scores. An analy­sis of sub­groups shows that effects on col­lege enroll­ment, SAT-tak­ing, and dis­ci­pli­nary out­comes are larg­er for boys than for girls. Our find­ings illus­trate pos­si­bil­i­ties for large-scale mod­ern, pub­lic preschool and high­light the impor­tance of mea­sur­ing long-term and non-test score out­comes in eval­u­at­ing the effec­tive­ness of edu­ca­tion programs

Commentary on Madison Teacher Compensation Agreements

Scott Girard:

“Last fall … MTI brought to our attention the perception MMSD was in breach of our contract because the 2019-2020 contracts given to staff listed salaries the Board had not yet officially voted to accept,” LeMonds wrote. “It was later determined MMSD administration did not have the authority to include expected salary increases in staff contracts prior to the Board approving the budget through an official vote, as was previous practice.”

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.

Why Have College Completion Rates Increased? An Analysis of Rising Grades

Jeffrey Denning:

College completion rates declined from the 1970s to the 1990s. We document that this trend has reversed–since the 1990s, college completion rates have increased. We investigate the reasons for the increase in college graduation rates. Collectively, student characteristics, institutional resources, and institution attended do not explain much of the change. However, we show that grade inflation can explain much of the change in graduation rates. We show that GPA is a strong predictor of graduation rates and that GPAs have been rising since the 1990s. We also find that in national survey data and rich administrative data from 9 large public universities increases in college GPAs cannot be explained by student demographics, preparation, and school factors. Further, we find that at a public liberal arts college, grades have increased over time conditional on final exam performance.

Civics: Secret Court Reveals: FBI Hunted for Domestic Terrorists Without a Warrant

Spencer Ackerman:

Former President Donald Trump is one step closer to testifying in a New York lawsuit filed by a group of protesters who claim his bodyguards assaulted them in 2015.

As The Daily Beast previously reported, the activists had gathered outside Trump Tower to protest the Republican candidate’s derogatory comments on Mexican immigrants. On that September day, soon after the demonstrators assembled on Fifth Avenue outside the skyscraper, several members of Trump’s security team allegedly “violently attacked” them and destroyed their protest banners before a crowd that included reporters.

While president, Trump had tried to quash a subpoena that would force him to testify at the civil trial in the Bronx and sit for a videotaped deposition beforehand. In 2019, his lawyers appealed a judge’s order denying his request.

On Tuesday, the state’s Appellate Division dismissed Trump’s appeal as moot.

“This appeal concerning the proper standard for determining whether a sitting President may be compelled to give videotaped trial testimony about unofficial acts in a civil action against him or her is moot given that the rights of parties will not be directly affected by our determination,” the court said in its ruling, “and that there will not be an immediate consequence of the judgment.”

Benjamin N. Dictor, an attorney for the protesters, said: “We are pleased with the Appellate Division’s decision and look forward to presenting Mr. Trump’s testimony at trial, as would be expected from any adverse party in litigation.”

First-ever report shows half of Wisconsin schools secluded or restrained students last year — some more than 100 times

Samantha West:

Experts say educators should only physically restrain or isolate a student as a last resort, when there’s no other way to stop their dangerous behavior, but a new annual state report shows half of Wisconsin schools used those measures at least once last year.

Some schools reported hundreds of incidents of seclusion and restraint; others none. Those with the most incidents tended to be elementary schools that serve a large amount of students with disabilities — but many schools fit that description, yet report rarely or never using the practices.

Officials in districts where schools reported the highest number incidents told USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin they try their best not to use seclusion and restraint, but it’s necessary sometimes as they work toward finding a long-term solution to outbursts. And, they say, it doesn’t help that many kids’ mental health needs aren’t being met because of a shortage of services inside and outside of school.

Catholic Schools Are Losing Students at Record Rates, and Hundreds Are Closing

Ian Lovett:

Catholic schools across the country are struggling to keep the doors open, after a pandemic year that left many families unable to pay tuition and the church without extra funds to cover the difference.

At least 209 of the country’s nearly 6,000 Catholic schools have closed over the past year, according to the National Catholic Educational Association. More closures are expected this summer, and some schools have taken to GoFundMe in an effort to stay open.

Nationwide, Catholic school enrollment fell 6.4% at the start of this school year, the largest single-year decline since the NCEA began tracking such data in the 1970s.

Urban dioceses have been hit especially hard: Enrollment in schools run by the Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles was down 12% at the start of this school year. In the Archdiocese of New York, enrollment was down 11%.

Taxpayer supported Wisconsin K-12 Analytics, including enrollment changes

Steve Sharp:

The Wisconsin Policy Forum is reporting that Wisconsin’s K-12 school enrollment is down by more than 25,000 students for the 2020-21 school year, one of many far-reaching impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic that may warrant a response from state and local policymakers.

The information is contained in the findings of a new interactive data tool from the Wisconsin Policy Forum.

According to the forum’s data, Watertown went from 3,889 in 2011-12 to 3,296 in 2020-21. In the same period, Fort Atkinson’s district went from 3,000 students enrolled to 2,652; Hustisford from 420 to 364; Dodgeland from 818 to 744; Jefferson from 1,932 to 1,806; Johnson Creek from 653 to 567, Waterloo from 871 to 768 and Janesville 10,325 to 9,574. Lake Mills defied the trend and went from 1,432 to 1,586.

This latest edition of the tool is the third since its 2019 debut. It is located at https://wispolicyforum.org/research/school-datatool/. It was updated with the most recent available data, which goes through the 2019-20 school year in some categories and through 2020-21 in others.

Related: Catholic schools will sue Dane County Madison Public Health to open as scheduled

Notes and links on Dane County Madison Public Health. (> 140 employees).

Molly Beck and Madeline Heim:

which pushed Dane County this week not to calculate its percentage of positive tests — a data point the public uses to determine how intense infection is in an area.   

While positive test results are being processed and their number reported quickly, negative test results are taking days in some cases to be analyzed before they are reported to the state. 

Channel3000:

The department said it was between eight and 10 days behind in updating that metric on the dashboard, and as a result it appeared to show a higher positive percentage of tests and a lower number of total tests per day.

The department said this delay is due to the fact data analysts must input each of the hundreds of tests per day manually, and in order to continue accurate and timely contact tracing efforts, they prioritized inputting positive tests.

“Positive tests are always immediately verified and processed, and delays in processing negative tests in our data system does not affect notification of test results,” the department said in a news release. “The only effect this backlog has had is on our percent positivity rate and daily test counts.”

Staff have not verified the approximately 17,000 tests, which includes steps such as matching test results to patients to avoid duplicating numbers and verifying the person who was tested resides in Dane County.

All 77 false-positive COVID-19 tests come back negative upon reruns.

Madison private school raises $70,000 for lawsuit against public health order. – WKOW-TV. Commentary.

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Assembly against private school forced closure.

Wisconsin Catholic schools will challenge local COVID-19 closing order. More.

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.

“But it is the height of hypocrisy for Miller to attack the relatively straightforward agreements required in some charters while ignoring that far stricter rules exist at some schools under MPS’s purview.”

Will Flanders and Libby Sobic:

As is typical of those who oppose school choice, Miller’s piece is full of misconceptions and outright falsehoods that distract from the important goal of ensuring that more kids have access to high quality schools.   Below, we highlight three of the biggest problems with his piece.

Admissions Requirements: “In fact, once a student is selected, families must agree to a strict contract that cannot be legally required at any public school. It requires that parents support enforcement of a strict uniform and behavior code, check off homework nightly, attend parent conferences and spend a certain number of hours in the school. Those terms prevent many low-income families from participating.”

Miller claims that the parental agreement that students at some charter schools must agree to constitutes an admissions requirement.  However, this could not be further from the truth. Many charter schools recognize that parental involvement is key to student success, and strive to make that happen. This vision is shared by the parents of students who choose to attend these schools, and the requirements are far from onerous. What is not mentioned by Miller is that many of the best public schools in MPS—such as Golda Meir or many of the Montessori schools—have strict admissions guidelines that truly close the door on many students.  Indeed, what Miller calls the “beauty and necessity” of public schools in being open to all students is not met by these schools.

The list of entry requirements is extremely long. Students must submit their last two years of report card grades, two recommendations, and FOWARD exam scores to even be considered. We don’t necessarily oppose these measures—there can be value in gearing a learning environment to a certain type of student. But it is the height of hypocrisy for Miller to attack the relatively straightforward agreements required in some charters while ignoring that far stricter rules exist at some schools under MPS’s purview.

Meanwhile, 72 miles west, in Madison:

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.

Oregon legislators are poised to mandate teacher union say on class size. Portland’s experience suggests it could undermine push for equity

Hillary Borrud:

Oregon teachers unions could be on the cusp of winning a state mandate for school boards to negotiate class size limits.

A bill to institute the requirement is under consideration in the state House after passing the Senate.

Adding class size to the list of issues districts must bargain over with unions would increase teachers’ power, in part because it would be another item over which they could strike.

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.

Public Health Madison and Dane County reports that as of Thursday, it knows of no COVID-19-related deaths or hospitalizations linked to in-person learning in the county.

Chris Rickert:

The smaller number of F’s stands in contrast to the experience of almost all of the 15 other school districts completely or predominantly within Dane County. Fourteen districts saw more failing grades once instruction went online; only the McFarland district saw fewer failing grades in fall 2020 than in fall 2019.

Meanwhile, the percentage of students considered “chronically absent” — meaning they missed 16% or more of school days — in the Madison district increased from 21% to 27% of high schoolers from fall 2019 to fall 2020, and from 11% to 22% at the middle school level.

The increase came despite looser online school attendance standards under which students could be marked presentsimply by exchanging messages with “the homeroom teacher and any specials teacher they are scheduled to receive instruction from that day.” Madison is one of eight school districts in Wisconsin with state waivers from enforcing state attendance laws this school year. Three others are also in Dane County: Sun Prairie, Mount Horeb and Middleton-Cross Plains.

…..

Failing a class in high school also will not result in an F on a student’s report card this school year. Instead it’s an “NP,” for “no pass,” and while the student doesn’t receive credit for an NP course, the NP is not factored into the student’s GPA.

In August, the district also implementeda permanent grading change at the high schools that dictates no assignment gets a score of less than 50%, even ones that aren’t turned in. The idea is to avoid overly penalizing students who missed some assignments but proved through others that they understood the material.

Related: Catholic schools will sue Dane County Madison Public Health to open as scheduled

Notes and links on Dane County Madison Public Health. (> 140 employees).

Molly Beck and Madeline Heim:

which pushed Dane County this week not to calculate its percentage of positive tests — a data point the public uses to determine how intense infection is in an area.   

While positive test results are being processed and their number reported quickly, negative test results are taking days in some cases to be analyzed before they are reported to the state. 

Channel3000:

The department said it was between eight and 10 days behind in updating that metric on the dashboard, and as a result it appeared to show a higher positive percentage of tests and a lower number of total tests per day.

The department said this delay is due to the fact data analysts must input each of the hundreds of tests per day manually, and in order to continue accurate and timely contact tracing efforts, they prioritized inputting positive tests.

“Positive tests are always immediately verified and processed, and delays in processing negative tests in our data system does not affect notification of test results,” the department said in a news release. “The only effect this backlog has had is on our percent positivity rate and daily test counts.”

Staff have not verified the approximately 17,000 tests, which includes steps such as matching test results to patients to avoid duplicating numbers and verifying the person who was tested resides in Dane County.

All 77 false-positive COVID-19 tests come back negative upon reruns.

Madison private school raises $70,000 for lawsuit against public health order. – WKOW-TV. Commentary.

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Assembly against private school forced closure.

Wisconsin Catholic schools will challenge local COVID-19 closing order. More.

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.

Madison schools lower the goal posts, yet again.

Ontario teachers’ unions slam province for considering permanent online learning option

Miriam Katawazi:

Ontario teachers’ unions are sounding the alarm after the provincial government announced its holding consultations on whether or not to make online learning options a permanent choice for families once the pandemic ends.

Union leaders and parents voiced their concerns during a news conference on Wednesday, saying the plans will undermine Ontario’s publically funded education system and will harm students.

“Their plan to make online classes permanent means a student could go from Kindergarten to Grade 12 without ever setting foot inside a school,” Sam Hammond, president of the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO), told reporters.

“They’re planning to make virtual learning permanent while undermining Ontario’s publicly funded education system. It’s a plan that they’re busy working on behind closed doors during a global pandemic.”

According to a confidential presentation by the ministry of education first obtained by The Globe and Mail in March, the government is considering three forms of online school.

Untested Admissions: Examining Changes in Application Behaviors and Student Demographics Under Test-Optional Policies

Christopher Bennett:

This study examines a diverse set of nearly 100 private institutions that adopted test-optional undergraduate admissions policies between 2005–2006 and 2015–2016. Using comparative interrupted time series analysis and difference-in-differences with matching, I find that test-optional policies were associated with a 3% to 4% increase in Pell Grant recipients, a 10% to 12% increase in first-time students from underrepresented racial/ethnic backgrounds, and a 6% to 8% increase in first-time enrollment of women. Overall, I do not detect clear evidence of changes in application volume or yield rate. Subgroup analyses suggest that these patterns were generally similar for both the more selective and the less selective institutions examined. These findings provide evidence regarding the potential — and the limitations — of using test-optional policies to improve equity in admissions.

Texas Virtual Academy trains students to enter workforce right after high school

Jon Garaffa:

‘Formed to meet the increasing demand for unique educational options for students in Texas’

At one online Texas institution, high schoolers learn a high-paying trade, while college is optional.

Texas Virtual Academy at Hallsville offersa tuition-free online schooling program of Hallsville Independent School District and lets students statewide from grades 3 to 12 attend class wherever there is an internet connection.

Students can specialize in one of several career tracks, including health science, information technology, and business, marketing and finance.

They also have opportunities to earn industry-recognized certificates in their field, including Microsoft certifications. Academy high school students also can earn early college credits through a dual-enrollment program at the University of Texas of the Permian Basin.

Politics and the English Language

Orwell Foundation:

Most people who bother with the matter at all would admit that the English language is in a bad way, but it is generally assumed that we cannot by conscious action do anything about it. Our civilization is decadent and our language – so the argument runs – must inevitably share in the general collapse. It follows that any struggle against the abuse of language is a sentimental archaism, like preferring candles to electric light or hansom cabs to aeroplanes. Underneath this lies the half-conscious belief that language is a natural growth and not an instrument which we shape for our own purposes.

Now, it is clear that the decline of a language must ultimately have political and economic causes: it is not due simply to the bad influence of this or that individual writer. But an effect can become a cause, reinforcing the original cause and producing the same effect in an intensified form, and so on indefinitely. A man may take to drink because he feels himself to be a failure, and then fail all the more completely because he drinks. It is rather the same thing that is happening to the English language. It becomes ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts. The point is that the process is reversible. Modern English, especially written English, is full of bad habits which spread by imitation and which can be avoided if one is willing to take the necessary trouble. If one gets rid of these habits one can think more clearly, and to think clearly is a necessary first step toward political regeneration: so that the fight against bad English is not frivolous and is not the exclusive concern of professional writers. I will come back to this presently, and I hope that by that time the meaning of what I have said here will have become clearer. Meanwhile, here are five specimens of the English language as it is now habitually written.

A reckoning Looms on our Massive Taxpayer Backed Student Loan Bubble

Josh Mitchell:

The federal budget assumes the government will recover 96 cents of every dollar borrowers default on. That sounded high to Mr. Courtney because in the private sector 20 cents would be more appropriate for defaulted consumer loans that aren’t backed by an asset.

He asked Education Department budget officials how they calculated that number. They told him that when borrowers default, the government often puts them into new loans. These pay off the old loans, and this is considered a recovery, even though in many cases the borrowers haven’t repaid anything and default on the new loans as well.

In reality, the government is likely to recover just 51% to 63% of defaulted amounts, according to Mr. Courtney’s forecast in a 144-page report of his findings, which was reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

“If you accounted this way in the private sector, you wouldn’t be in business anymore,” Mrs. DeVos said in a December interview. “You’d probably be behind bars.”

What Problems are Young People Facing? A discussion

Lucy Warwick-Ching:

Cramped housing

I absolutely cannot relate to mid career professionals being glad to be at home in their leafy three bedroom houses with gardens, when I have to have mid afternoon calls with the sound of my flatmates frying fish for lunch in the background. — A 20-year-old female reader living in London

The burden of student loans

Student loans feel like a unique problem for our generation. I can’t think of a similarity in the past when youth had such large financial burdens that can’t be discharged in most cases. Not that cancellation is necessarily the right choice. I knew what I signed up for, but what was the alternative, work in a coffee shop while the rest of my generation bettered themselves?

Mortgages and car payments just aren’t comparable to the $100k in loans I’ve been forced to deal with since I was 22. The rest seems similar. We have climate change and equality, my parents generations had communist totalitarian governments, nuclear war and . . . equality. — Matt, who works in Chicago, US

Mismatched ideas

The older generation has never understood that while our pay has increased it has been wiped out by extortionate rise in property prices. The older generation also thinks young people only enjoy spending money on experiences rather than saving money, which is not true. — A 30-year-old engineer living in the UK

Living with uncertainty

Older generations don’t feel the uncertainty we younger generation live with. Now it is more common for us to have more temporary jobs, for example, the gig economy. This uncertainty makes planning for future harder and makes taking risks impossible. — Ahmed, a lecturer living in Egypt

Scrap stamp duty on housing

The government needs to sort out house prices and stop inflating them. It should also scrap stamp duty and introduce annual property taxes instead. — A 25-year-old investment banker living in London

MPS closes five schools and 51 classrooms due to COVID in first weeks of in-person learning

Rory Linnane:

Just over two weeks into a transition back to in-person learning, Milwaukee Public Schools has shut down five full schools and an additional 51 classrooms due to COVID cases. The district has 152 schools.

Under MPS’ plan, classroom closures are triggered by a single positive test, prompting all students in that class to transition to virtual learning for two weeks. Three positive tests in a school trigger a full school closure.

The MPS COVID dashboard showed five school closures as of Friday afternoon:

Academy of Accelerated Learning
Eighty-First Street School
Garland Elementary School
Manitoba School
Milwaukee German Immersion School

The dashboard showed 51 classroom closures at 22 additional schools. MPS spokesperson Earl Arms said some schools may have multiple classroom closures from the same single case if, for example, a student or staff member tested positive after spending time in multiple classrooms.

Civics: 96% of US users opt out of app tracking in iOS 14.5, analytics find

Samuel Axon:

Based on the data from those one million apps, Flurry Analytics says US users agree to be tracked only four percent of the time. The global number is significantly higher at 12 percent, but that’s still below some advertising companies’ estimates.

The data from Flurry Analytics shows users rejecting tracking at much higher rates than were predicted by surveys that were conducted before iOS 14.5 went live. One of those surveys found that just shy of 40 percent, not 4 percent, would opt in to tracking when prompted.

‘I seek a kind person’: the Guardian ad that saved my Jewish father from the Nazis

Julian Borger:

Richard Nelsson, the Guardian’s information manager and archivist, emailed me a picture of the ad in January. Its existence had been the subject of family myth, but I had never seen it before. Its emotive impact took me by surprise – three lines of anguish, from parents willing to give up their only child in the hope he would be safe. The Nazi annexation of Austria, the Anschluss, had taken place five months before my father’s ad was placed, while the Nuremberg race laws had been imposed in May, stripping Jews of basic rights. Groups of Nazi Sturmabteilung, the brownshirted SA, had free rein in Vienna to beat and humiliate Jews.

My father was identified as a Jew by his classmates and at one point was grabbed by an SA gang, who locked him inside the local synagogue. My grandfather Leo, who owned a radio and musical instrument shop, was summoned to Gestapo headquarters to register. He was ordered, like other Viennese Jews, to get down on his hands and knees and wash the pavement, in front of jeering crowds.

Two weeks and the “madness of experts”

Jerry Stratton:

There’s an old saying about people who say one thing, and act like they believe the opposite. They obviously don’t believe their own words. They might be lying, but they might also merely believe that only other people ought to follow the rules they make.

They might even believe that everyone, including themselves, should follow the rules—but only in the abstract. Everyone else is always abstract, but they easily come up with specific reasons why they, themselves, should be exempt in this particular case. They have Reasons for not following their own rules, while not recognizing that everyone else will also have Reasons.

This blindness is not uncommon among people in general; the problem with government administrators and government experts is that they actually get to make rules that only other people have to follow. Government “experts” are still trying to bring back the 55 mph speed limit, and repeal the 85th percentile rule1, despite all of the hard evidence about how many lives were lost the last time we tried that. Of course, when they’re on the road, they’ll have good Reasons for exceeding those limits, just like they did the last time around.

Linux Foundation Starts Landmark Open Source Agtech Project, AgStack

Investable Universe:

Linux Foundation noted in its official AgStack announcement on Wednesday that 33 percent of all food produced is wasted, while nine percent of the people in the world are hungry or undernourished. These societal drivers are compounded with legacy technology systems that are too slow and inefficient and can’t work across the growing and more complex agricultural supply chain. AgStack will use collaboration and open source software to build a 21st century digital infrastructure that it says will be a catalyst for innovation on new applications, efficiencies and scale.

Wokeness and Adoption

Naomi Schaefer Riley:

In a startling new report, Bethany Christian Services, one of the largest adoption agencies in the country, announced that allowing white families to adopt Black children from the foster care system “can cause a lot of harm to children of color.” As a result, the agency favors “overhauling” the Multi-Ethnic Placement Act, which bars racial discrimination in placing a child into an adoptive family. As part of its “long journey toward becoming an anti-racist organization,” Bethany’s leaders now believe a child’s race should be considered “as part of the best interest determination for child placement.”

How the agency arrived at this backward view—that determining the most welcoming, stable and potentially permanent home for a child should involve matching their skin color with that of the adults involved—is worth understanding both because it bodes ill for the tens of thousands of children of all races who need permanent homes and because it demonstrates just how quickly our understanding of discrimination has shifted in recent years.

In 2017, the ACLU filed a lawsuit against Michigan’s Department of Health and Human Services on behalf of two same-sex couples, claiming that by contracting with religious agencies like Bethany that don’t place children with gay couples, the state was engaged in discrimination. While Bethany was only responsible for placing 12 percent of the state’s foster children and there were many other agencies in the state that did serve gay couples and no evidence that any gay couples were unable to adopt in Michigan, the ACLU lawyers maintained that allowing agencies to be exempt from the state’s nondiscrimination rules because of their religious beliefs could be the difference “between a child finding a permanent loving home or staying in the system.” (The Supreme Court will be deciding a similar case this month involving the city of Philadelphia and Catholic Charities.)

Commentary on Critical Race Theory

Dana Loesch:

In total, CCAP mentions “equity” 135 times and focuses on behavioral conditioning, not education. Agreeing to CCAP would mean accepting the view that our republic is irrevocably flawed and that the absence of racism is impossible—and that opportunity and resources must be allocated to reflect this disparity. This is what critical race theorists mean by “equity.” Whereas “equality” treats everyone the same regardless the circumstance, “equity” treats everyone differently because of the circumstance.

Southlake parents recognized this danger masquerading as education and clearly articulated their objections based on the publicized facts of the plan.

Comment.

In L.A. and San Francisco, Schools Are Open but Classrooms Are Near-Empty

Alejandro Lazo and Ian Lovett:

When Siniya Longino arrived for her first day of in-person eighth grade in San Francisco last week, there was only one other student in the classroom. Everyone else was remote, as were all of her teachers. Siniya logs into Zoom on her laptop from her desk to see them.

“I personally would have preferred to stay at home,” Siniya said. “I just feel like there’s no point.”

In San Francisco and Los Angeles, tens of thousands of middle- and high-school students returned to classrooms last week for what some parents are calling “Zoom in a Room.” The unusual model, in which students sit at desks with laptops learning remotely while an adult supervises them, is the latest twist in the slow reopening of public schools here in the nation’s most populous state.

Although it currently has the lowest per capita Covid-19 rate of any state, California has the highest percentage of school districts still entirely virtual, at nearly 13%, according to the American Enterprise Institute’s Return to Learn tracker. The nationwide rate is 4%.

One large California school district, Santa Ana, isn’t opening at all this school year. And while many students across the nation are using computers at least some of the time, the “Zoom in a Room” format in L.A. and San Francisco isn’t common, according to education researchers.

How College Became a Ruthless Competition Divorced From Learning

Daniel Markovits:

“It is a truth universally acknowledged,” Jane Austen begins Pride and Prejudice, “that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” In early-19th-century society—an aristocratic world of inherited wealth—marriage occupied center stage. A good spouse was an all-purpose resource: essential for moving up in the world, as for Austen’s heroine, Elizabeth Bennet, or for sustaining a dynasty, as for the object of her affections, Mr. Darcy.

School and work were not a path to wealth and status—certainly not for women, nor even for men. Elites were indifferent to education and disdained work. The landed gentry in Pride and Prejudice look down on Elizabeth’s working uncle, no matter that he gets his income from “a very respectable line of trade.” The economic facts on the ground supported their antipathy. The highest-paying jobs tended to be in government. But even at the end of the century, an elite English civil servant made just 17.8 times the median wage, and his American counterpart just 7.8 times. Mr. Darcy’s £10,000 a year from inherited capital was more than 300 times the median wage.

Report recommends Madison terminate district employees who OK’d East High hidden cameras

Elizabeth Beyer:

Upon further investigation, it was discovered there was evidence a camera may have been installed in the smoke detector with the approval of district staff in September 2019 in an effort to document “an employee discipline issue related to work rule violations,” according to a statement released by the district.

The district hired a third-party investigator, MWH Law Group LLP, upon conclusion of the Madison Police Department investigation into the incident in February. Madison Police determined no crime had been committed. LeMonds said the district will not be releasing the full third-party investigative report, citing attorney-client privilege. 

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.

Civics: Journalism Is Riddled With Bias, Errors, Narrative Setting and Pack Reporting

Tim Murtaugh:

Barely a day passes anymore without one or more major corporate news outlets exposing their liberal bias, sometimes by how they frame stories, sometimes by the massive errors they commit, and sometimes by the mistakes they make in groups. In recent weeks there have been a series of glaring examples in which members of the mainstream press have not exactly covered themselves in journalistic glory, and they extend a pattern in journalism that is disturbing.

In the Dallas suburb of Southlake this week, local elections made national news largely because of controversial left-wing attempts to impose critical race theory on public school students. While sounding benign on its face, critical race theory in schools is actually the indoctrination of children with the notion that people are either oppressed or oppressors, depending on the color of their skin.

After the election results were in, NBC News tweeted that the “opponents of anti-racism education” were the winners, adopting the language of the program’s proponents and making those who oppose it seem, well, proracism.

NBC favorably referred to critical race theory as a “school diversity plan” rejected by voters in the “wealthy Dallas-Fort Worth suburb,” making sure that readers understood that not only were these people pro-racism, they were also rich, thereby doubling their sins.

60% of School Apps are Sending Student Data to Potentially High-risk Third Parties Without Knowledge or Consent

Me2B Alliance:

What you need to know:

  • 60% of school apps were sending student data to a variety of third parties, including advertising platforms like Google and Facebook
  • On average, there were more than 10 third-party data channels per app
  • Public-school apps are more likely to send student data to third parties than private-school apps (67% public vs. 57% of private school apps)
  • 18% of public-school apps included very high-risk third parties – i.e., third parties that further share data with possibly hundreds or thousands of networked entities
  • Android apps are much more likely than iOS apps to be sending data to third parties, and are much more likely to be sending to high or very high-risk third parties

Me2B Alliance, a non-profit industry group focused on respectful technology, today published a research report to drive awareness to the data sharing practices of education apps associated with schools and school districts. According to the research findings, 60% of school apps were sending student data to a variety of third parties, including advertising platforms like Google and Facebook.

Monkey Human Embryos

Robert Lee Hotz:

Imagine pigs with human hearts or mice whose brains have a spark of human intelligence. Scientists are cultivating a flock of such experimental creations, called chimeras, by injecting potent human cells into mice, rats, pigs and cows. They hope the new combinations might one day be used to grow human organs for transplants, study human illnesses or to test new drugs.

In the latest advance, researchers in the U.S. and China announced earlier this month that they made embryos that combined human and monkey cells for the first time. So far, these human-monkey chimeras (pronounced ky-meer-uhs) are no more than bundles of budding cells in a lab dish, but the implications are far-reaching, ethics experts say. The use of primates so closely related to humans raises concerns about unintended consequences, animal welfare and the moral status of hybrid embryos, even if the scientific value of the work may be quite high.

“There were lots of breakthroughs in this experiment,” says bioethicist Nita Farahany of Duke University. “A remarkable step has been taken scientifically that raises urgent issues of public concern. We need to figure out what the right pathway forward is to help guide responsible progress.”

Commentary on K-12 curriculum and outcomes

Will Flanders and Jessica Holmberg:

For every example like this that generates media coverage, there are probably 10 more that don’t. It is critical that parents are aware of what is being taught in their child’s schools. Children may not always know when they are being indoctrinated, and it can be extremely difficult for parents to discover what is being taught.

For example, WILL conducted an open records investigation into the 10 largest districts in the state asking for any teaching materials which include specified “woke” terms. Unfortunately, we found receiving the relevant information to be a tedious, time-consuming, and costly task. For instance, during a Zoom call with two representatives from Racine School District to discuss the records request, we were told by one representative that she did not “believe teachers would fulfill this request,” that the request would take “thousands of hours of work,” and would have a large location fee associated. In the same call we were also told the district wasn’t teaching any of the requested terms anyway—even sending us the district controversial teachings policy—and that the request included too many teachers to manageably fulfill (17 teachers.) One can only imagine how defeated and unsure a parent would feel after such a call.

Later, after consulting with an attorney at WILL, we informed the district we would pay any associated fees; however, we would not modify the request by reducing the number of teachers as the request fell within the parameters of the law. Within 10 business days, the school district fulfilled the request without payment, including all 17 teachers and included teaching materials that directly contradicted their claim about not teaching any of the requested terms. And although the request was eventually completed it took a lot of time and effort on our end and even required the use of an attorney, something which cannot be expected of any parent.

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.

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

Universities and free speech (!)

Academic Freedom Alliance:

The Academic Freedom Alliance (AFA), founded in March by more than 200 faculty across the U.S., announced today the successful conclusion of two cases in which it intervened on behalf of professors facing threats of termination over constitutionally protected speech. Yesterday, the University of San Diego declined to take disciplinary action against Professor Tom Smith over his criticisms of China. Earlier this week, the University of Rhode Island dropped its proceedings against Professor Donna Hughes over her comments about gender and sexuality.

“We can think of no better way to celebrate the two-month anniversary of the AFA’s founding than to have our first two cases resolved successfully,” said Keith Whittington, chair of the AFA’s Academic Committee. “These investigations should never have been launched to begin with, but we are pleased that Professors Smith and Hughes can now move on with their scholarship. These victories seemed unlikely just days ago, and they provide powerful proof of concept for the solidarity and legal defense provided by the AFA.”

The birthrate in the United States has fallen by about 19 percent since its recent peak in 2007

Sabrina Tavernise:

How the declining birthrate could profoundly shape the nation’s future.

michael barbaro
From The New York Times, I’m Michael Barbaro. This is The Daily.

[music]
A few days ago, the U.S. government revealed that the country’s population is growing at the slowest rate in nearly a century. Today, Astead Herndon spoke with our colleague Sabrina Tavernise about why that is and just how profoundly it could shape America’s future.

It’s Tuesday, May 4.

astead herndon
So Sabrina, when the U.S. government finished counting the American people this time in the census, it found that the American population was growing really slowly. That was a bit surprising to me personally. What’s going on here?

sabrina tavernise
So this is a very interesting and relatively new thing for the United States. We have this extremely slow population increase, which is different for the United States. The United States usually grows really quickly. What we saw with the census data was the second-slowest decade for population growth in American history. That is since 1790, when the United States government started taking the census. So that’s really surprising. We had known that there was some slowdown for some time, but this census data really tells us this is really the new normal in the United States.

astead herndon
So population is growing at a slower rate. How do we explain this?

Abortion notes, links and data. Choose life.

Milwaukee’s taxpayer supported K-12 schools resist charters

Will Flanders:

Recently, Milwaukee College Prep (MCP) charter schools and Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) failed to make an agreement for continued authorization. This ends a ten year relationship between MCP and MPS, and once again highlights the horrific environment for public charters in the city of Milwaukee due largely to the power of teachers unions.

The four MCP schools that are authorized by MPS are some of the highest-performing in the city. The table below shows proficiency in English/Language Arts between MPS and each of the schools on the most recent round of the Forward Exam. MPS proficiency overall remains woeful. Less than 20% of students districtwide were found to be proficient on the exam. In contrast, proficiency rates in MCP charters are far higher–more than double the MPS proficiency rates in all but one case.

Economic freedom reform: Does culture matter?

Nicholas Moellman & Danko Tarabar:

We analyse the role of culture in economic freedom reform and dispersion in an unbalanced panel of up to 80 countries, and in dyadic models with up to 3,003 unique country pairs. We find that a sense of individualism strengthens the effectiveness of democracy in promoting economic freedom within countries over 1950-2015, and that institutional distance between countries increases in their cultural distance, suggesting an important role of culture in determining long-run institutional equilibria. Our results are robust to a large variety of socio-economic controls, measures of institutions and measures of bilateral geographic, economic and demographic distances.