All posts by Jim Zellmer

Finds Fairfax “failed to provide” a free appropriate education to 1000s of kids

Asta Nomani:

“This is a victory for every parent,” said Oettinger. “In 2020, we knew that the actions that FCPS was taking were in noncompliance with IDEA. We are now vindicated, and every parents should contact FCPS to make sure that every child receives COMPENSATORY EDUCATION and other services that meet their needs.” 

The key words here are to ask for COMPENSATORY EDUCATION — for example, so many parents paid out of pocket and took on second jobs to pay for tutors and other services to meet educational needs that Fairfax County failed to provide. And so many parents couldn’t afford these extra services, and their children were left behind. 

“It’s criminal that so many children went without services and appropriate education,” said Tisler, at her dining table, as she learned the news. “The investigation must not stop with Fairfax County. Governor Glenn Youngkin should now reconsider the leadership that he inherited that allowed such an atrocity to occur under their watch. The full weight of his office must be used to hold accountable those responsible for this failure. 

The Department of Education concluded:

Civics: FTX’s Collapse Was a Crime, Not an Accident

David Morris:

It is now clear that what happened at the FTX crypto exchange and the hedge fund Alameda Research involved a variety of conscious and intentional fraud intended to steal money from both users and investors. That’s why a recent New York Times interview waswidely derided for seeming to frame FTX’s collapse as the result of mismanagement rather than malfeasance. A Wall Street Journal article bemoaned the loss of charitable donations from FTX, arguably propping up Bankman-Fried’s strategic philanthropic pose. Vox co-founder Matthew Yglesias, court chronicler of the neoliberal status quo, seemed to whitewash his own entanglements by crediting Bankman-Fried’s money with helping Democrats in the 2020 elections – sidestepping the likelihood that the money was effectively embezzled.

Perhaps most perniciously, many outlets have described what happened to FTX as a “bank run” or a “run on deposits,” while Bankman-Fried has repeatedly insisted the company was simply overleveraged and disorganized. Both of these attempts to frame the fallout obfuscate the core issue: the misuse of customer funds.

Banks can be hit by “bank runs” because they are explicitly in the business of lending customer funds out to generate returns. They can experience a short-term cash crunch if everyone withdraws at the same time, without there being any long-term problem.

But FTX and other crypto exchanges are not banks. They do not (or should not) do bank-style lending, so even a very acute surge of withdrawals should not create a liquidity strain. FTX had specifically promised customers it would never lend out or otherwise use the crypto they entrusted to the exchange.

CoinDesk’s Chief Insights Columnist David Z. Morris unpacks his latest opinion piece that argues Sam Bankman-Fried, former CEO of troubled crypto exchange FTX, is a fraud.

Challenges to union control of local school governance were often successful.

Wall Street Journal:

The parental revolt even spread to Minnesota despite opposition from teachers union. Denise Specht, the president of the teacher’s union Education Minnesota, claimed in September that its “political program has been successful between 80 and 90 percent of the time when our locals make endorsements in school board races and carry out an aggressive voter contact plan.” 

Yet 49 of 119 school board candidates endorsed by the Minnesota Parents Alliance won on Nov. 8. The alliance was formed in response to parental concern about learning loss and a desire to be more involved in children’s education. “The fact that our candidates did as well as they did” shows that “the parent movement really transcends politics,” says executive director Cristine Trooien.

November’s parental-rights outlier was Michigan. The state “had abortion on the ballot, and that turned out Democrats,” said Ryan Girdusky, the founder of the 1776 Project PAC, which opposes critical race theory in school curricula. Nationwide only 20 of the 53 school board and state superintendent candidates endorsed by the 1776 Project PAC won on Nov. 8, with the majority of their losses in Michigan. Yet in total this year 72 school-board candidates and one state superintendent candidate won among the 125 candidates the group endorsed. 

Ballotpedia has identified 1,800 school board races where the Covid response or teachings on race, sex and gender were campaign issues. By Nov. 28 it had identified 1,556 winners. Some 31% of the identified victors opposed woke curricula or the Covid response, with some 37% expressing mixed or unclear opinions.

The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic”

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Friday Afternoon Veto: Governor Evers Rejects AB446/SB454; an effort to address our long term, disastrous reading results

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

No When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?

Civics: Voting twice


The evidence presented at trial showed that a Walker County resident’s absentee ballot for the January 2021 runoff election was sent by mistake to an old address, a PO box in LaFayette, Ga. When the resident’s ballot never arrived but her husband’s did, the resident called the Elections Office in Walker County to inquire about her ballot. The Elections Office discovered that they had already accepted, but had not yet counted, an absentee ballot for the resident, and the ballot appeared to have the resident’s signature on the Oath of Elector section. The resident went to the Election Office to view the ballot with the signature on it and immediately noticed it was not her signature. The Elections Office immediately cancelled the forged ballot and had a new ballot sent to the resident’s current address.

The Case Against Public Sector Unions

By: John O. McGinnis, Max Schanzenbach:

Public employees unions have wielded huge influence to gain perquisites for themselves at the expense of the public. Early retirement, job tenure, high wages, and generous defined-benefit pension plans have gained increasing attention from commentators and voters, though many public sector perks are intentionally shrouded and confuse the public debate. What has received far less attention is the pernicious effect of public sector union privileges on the provision of public goods in the United States. Public sector unions have greatly distorted state spending priorities and made it more difficult for states to devise innovative public goods that would benefit their citizenry as whole. For example, prison guard unions have directly influenced penal policy, fighting reduced sentences or decriminalization of drugs. Teachers’ unions fight charter schools and merit pay. The strong organizational rights of these unions, protected or abetted by statute and regulations, enables their outsized influence on public policy.

But crisis is also opportunity. The dire straits of states offer the chance for entrepreneurial governors to abolish public employee union privileges, like the rights to strike, to collectively bargain, to seek binding arbitration, and to collect dues. Public employee unions are the great reactionary force in public life today, using their privileged position both to defend the rewards their members receive and to block innovation. As a result, this recession offers a political opening for both liberal and conservative governors.

For conservatives, taking on public employee unions provides a way to eliminate inefficient spending and create a polity of low taxes and lean government. For liberals, it provides a way to redirect spending to effective public goods, like better educational outputs, that public employee unions frustrate. If both liberal and conservative governors moved against public employee unions, the public would have the best of all possible worlds, a demonstration project pitting a low-tax, small-government jurisdictions against a higher-tax, high-value public goods jurisdictions. It would create a fair fight between the attractive options that conservatism and liberalism can offer. Union contracts, however, prevent most state governments from nimbly responding to changing circumstances. This ossification short-circuits the beneficial competition among jurisdictions created by our federal system, which works best when there are not entrenched impediments to government innovation.

Private versus public sector unions

Communities feel they’ve lost the ability to influence bloated school bureaucracies. Time to break them up.

Andy Smarick:

Some U.S. school districts have become so large and unwieldy that parents and taxpayers feel they have no ability to influence them. To restore local, democratic control, it’s time to break up those big districts. 

Public schooling was largely decentralized a century ago. A movement to standardize and professionalize K-12 education began in the Progressive Era. Consolidation may have accomplished some of its goals, but America’s largest districts today tend to be among the lowest-performing. For the most part, they are located in big cities and their ring suburbs. The nation’s three largest districts serve the nation’s three largest cities: New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago. Many large districts also spend vast sums per student: San Francisco and Atlanta spend more than $17,000 a pupil; Washington spends more than $22,000; Boston more than $25,000; and New York more than $28,000.

Civics: The Gray Lady Winked: How the New York Times’s Misreporting, Distortions and Fabrications Radically Alter History

Grassroots Journalist:

These are the stories that mattered most, including the Times’s disastrous coverage of the:

Second World War – Holocaust – Rise of the Soviet Union – Cuban Revolution – Vietnam War – Second Palestinian Intifada – Atomic Bombing of Japan – Iraq War – Founding of America

The result is an essential look at the tangled relationship between media, power and politics in a post-truth world told with novelistic flair to reveal a uniquely powerful institution’s tortured relationship with the truth.

Most importantly of all, The Gray Lady Winked presents a cautionary tale that shows what happens when the guardians of the truth abandon that sacred value in favor of self-interest and ideology—and what this means for our future as much as for our past.

Changes let high school athletes bank big endorsement bucks

Bernie Wilson:

Jada Williams was a social media star and a talented point guard when she moved with her mother from a Kansas City suburb to San Diego, looking to play basketball for a high school powerhouse and parlay her online prowess into endorsement deals.

She found it all in California, which has become the trendsetter among the 19 states that allow high school athletes to profit from their name, image and likeness without affecting their eligibility to play in college.

The 17-year-old Williams is now pulling in six figuresa year from six major endorsement deals. The senior at La Jolla Country Day School has signed to play at the University of Arizona.

“It’s definitely a big change for me, but it was good in every single direction,” Williams said during a break from her exhaustive practice routine, which she often documents with videos and photos posted online. It was the right decision for school and basketball, “and on top of that I was able to start capitalizing off NIL,” shorthand for name, image and likeness.

Views of children shifted from capable and responsible to the opposite.

Peter Gray:

I have previously written much about the decline, over decades, in children’s freedom to play and explore independently of adults and how that has contributed to well-documented declines in children’s mental health, creative thinking, and internal locus of control(e.g., herehere, and here). Recently I came across a book that documents brilliantly how adults’ attitudes about children’s competence, duties, and responsibilities have changed over the past hundred years. I wish I had discovered it earlier, as it was published 11 years ago and would have been a great reference for some of my writings over the past decade. 

The book, entitled Adult Supervision Required, is by Markella Rutherford, an associate professor of sociology at Wellesley College. It is based primarily on her systematic qualitative analysis of 565 articles and advice columns about childrearing that appeared in popular magazines—especially in Parents and Good Housekeeping—from the early 20th century on into the early 21st century. Here, under separate headings, are four of her main conclusions.

1. Children’s public autonomy declined greatly.

If you are considerably younger than I, you might be amazed to read articles for parents written prior to the 1970s, in which the prevailing assumption is that children, even young ones, will spend much of their time outdoors away from adults. Here are three examples from Rutherford’s book:

• An article in Parents, in 1956, expressed approval of a mother’s decision to acquiesce to her 5-year-old’s desire to walk to school by himself, about four blocks from home. The article made it clear that a child old enough for kindergarten is old enough find his or her own way to and from school and can be trusted to make that trip without an adult. The article implicitly judged the child’s desire for such independence to be healthy and normal, something the parent should encourage.

Kansas Supreme Court Justice Caleb Stegall resigns teaching position over free speech issues

Patrick Richardson:

Just over a month after an associate dean at the University of Kansas School of Law labeled a speechthat had yet to be given “hate speech,” Justice Caleb Stegall resigned from his teaching position at KU Law over the controversy.

On Oct. 19, the KU student chapter of the Federalist Society (FedSoc) invited Jordan Lorence, the senior counsel and director of strategic engagement at the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), to speak to KU Law students about the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause.

Associate Dean for Academic and Student Affairs Leah Terranova fired off an email to the entire staff and student body of the law school, decrying the talk as “hate speech” 90 minutes before the start of Lorence’s talk.

On November 25, Kansas Supreme Court Justice Caleb Stegall, who has been teaching appellate advocacy at KU Law as a member of the adjunct faculty, submitted a scathing, six-page resignation letter to Dean Stephen Mazza, head of the law school.

Stegall wrote that he had sensed “a dampening of the spirit of open inquiry I have so loved and benefited from at KU Law. A spirit that — going all the way back to my days as a law student — always existed within Green Hall. But events this fall have brought an unwelcome clarity to what before was only a vague and foreboding feeling. So I write to let you know that, as a result, I will not be renewing my teaching relationship with KU Law next fall.”

The Sentinel reached out to several members of the KU Law faculty, including Mazza, the communications department of the school of law, as well as members of the school’s Federalist Society chapter for comment, but as of publication, had received a response only from Mazza.

WILL holds Wisconsin DPI accountable for bureaucratic overreach, minimal barriers should be implemented for families to apply to school choice programs


The News: On behalf of School Choice Wisconsin Action, Inc. (SCWA), Catholic Memorial High School of Waukesha, Inc., and Roncalli Catholic Schools, Inc., the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) filed a lawsuit against the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) and Superintendent of Public Instruction, Jill Underly. The suit challenges several of DPI’s rules which were not promulgated in compliance with statutory rulemaking procedures, and which exceed the DPI’s authority as set forth in state law.

The lawsuit alleges that DPI implements and enforces an “application perfection” rule (also known as the perfection rule) for various school choice programs despite never promulgating the rule as required by state law. Instead, DPI uses informal bulletins to enact its chosen policies. This suit is filed in the Waukesha County Circuit Court.

The Quotes: WILL Associate Counsel, Cory Brewer, stated, “DPI is exceeding its authority under state law in how it administers the Parental Choice Program and must be held accountable. The program was designed to be an easy-to-use option for parents, and DPI’s unilateral implementation of additional requirements constitutes unlawful bureaucratic overreach.”  

Chair of School Choice Wisconsin Action, Inc., Jamie Luehring, said, “DPI’s unrealistic rules hurt not just schools, but parents. Applying to a Choice school should not be any harder for families than registering to send their kids to their local public schools.”

Catholic Memorial High School of Waukesha, Inc. President, Donna Bembenek, said, “Parents, not DPI, should be trusted to make the best educational choice for their child. Creating unnecessary red tape does not serve anyone or help parents access the best school for their child.”

Notes on politics and “the science of reading”

The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic”

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Friday Afternoon Veto: Governor Evers Rejects AB446/SB454; an effort to address our long term, disastrous reading results

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

No When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?

“The incoming House of Representatives should hold hearings on the destructive racialization of medical schools and medicine”

William Jacobson:

“We have analyzed CRT-related training in colleges and universities and elite private K-12. As bad as those institutions have become, things are much worse in medical schools because the stakes are so high. Patient care and people’s lives are at risk when doctors and medical providers view patients as proxies for racial or ethnic groups in sociological and political battles,” he continued. “Every person has the right to be treated equally as an individual, based on his or her medical condition, without societal racial politics influencing treatment. Yet increasingly we see the medical establishment, including the American Medical Association, demanding that medical students and physicians become race-focused activists.”

The subjects of mandatory training and coursework are worded and phrased differently at individual schools, but use terms including “anti-racism,” “cultural competency,” “equity,” “implicit bias,” “DEI – diversity, equity and inclusion” and critical race theory, according to

For example,… University of Missouri-Columbia School of Medicine pushes incoming students to participate in “the Common Read Program to learn more about racial biases in medicine,” according to the study. The University of Illinois College of Medicine has a “Medical School Curriculum” subcommittee which will “plan the summer anti-racism reading/discussion group for incoming students and plan roll out across all phases” and “focus on reviewing the current curriculum content in all phases to remove biases and inaccuracies, identify deficiencies/omission… and to continue to incorporate the social determinants of health into the materials being taught,” the study found.

Officer, wife struggling with infertility adopts infant dropped off at hospital

Chris Williams:

Bruce and Shelby Faltynski were a little hesitant to accept one of the many calls from Indiana’s Department of Child Services, seeking to see if the couple wanted to adopt another baby.

They weren’t sure why the department tried so hard to get in touch with them. Now they believe it was fate and God’s hand at work.

The government informed them that an infant girl was dropped off at a hospital’s Safe Haven baby box in Lake County, a suburb of Chicago. The baby boxes are named after the Indiana Safe Haven Law, which enables a person to anonymously give up an infant no more than 45 days old and without fear of arrest or prosecution.

Child Services thought the Mishawaka couple was the perfect match to adopt her.

The Child Tax Credit Is a Failed Experiment

Scott Hodge:

Since the child tax credit was enacted in 1997, it has become one of the largest federal income transfer programs. It is one of the leading reasons that more than 40% of all filers pay no income tax. The beleaguered Internal Revenue Service isn’t the right agency to play such a big role in addressing poverty.

The child tax credit made its debut in my February 1993 Heritage Foundation paper titled “Putting Families First: A Deficit Reduction and Tax Relief Strategy.” The strategy called for a cap on the growth of federal spending, which would not only reduce the deficit but also fund pro-growth and pro-family tax relief. The pro-growth elements were faster expensing for capital purchases and a reduction in the tax rate on capital gains. 

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The pro-family component was a $500-a-child tax credit. The tax code wasn’t sheltering as much income of families with children as it did during the 1950s, and the credit was a simple way of remedying that problem. A credit reduces a family’s tax bill dollar for dollar, while a deduction does so indirectly by reducing taxable income.

Civics: Asian American groups urge rejection of nominee for U.S. Attorney in Tennessee’s Eastern District

Jamie Satterfield:

Advocacy groups across the nation are calling on the Biden administration and the Senate Judiciary Committee to reject the nomination of Casey Arrowood for U.S. Attorney of the Eastern District of Tennessee.

The Biden administration in August nominated Arrowood for the top job at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Knoxville despite his role in the wrongful prosecution of University of Tennessee professor Dr. Anming Hu as part of former President Donald Trump’s “China Initiative.”

In an exclusive interview with the Tennessee Lookout earlier this month, Hu called the nomination “ridiculous” and shocking and has since penned a letter to President Joe Biden urging him to withdraw Arrowood’s name from consideration.

After the story was published, a slew of advocacy groups, including APA Justice, Asian American Scholar Forum, Tennessee Chinese American Alliance and United Chinese Americans, have teamed up with Hu to try to defeat Arrowood’s nomination.

“The nomination of Mr. Arrowood is an affront to the Asian American, immigrant and scientific communities,” the groups stated in a letter-writing campaign notice. “It opens a new wound when we still need to heal from the targeting and fallout before and during the ‘China Initiative.’”

Hu is an internationally-renown nanotechnology expert who was targeted by FBI Agent Kujtim Sadiku under the Trump administration’s “China Initiative,” which the former president touted as an effort to rid the U.S. of Chinese spies.

Law Schools Without LSATs

Wall Street Journal:

The flight from merit continues across America, and it’s spreading fast in the legal profession. An arm of the American Bar Association (ABA), which accredits law schools, voted on Nov. 18 to end the requirement that prospective law students take the Law School Admission Test. And here we thought torturing prospective lawyers was a widely accepted public good.

The LSAT has long been a target of diversity advocates who argue that the use of the test has limited minority enrollment in law schools because the test questions are allegedly biased in favor of white test takers. Detractors also object to the LSAT because affluent students often pay thousands of dollars to prepare for the test that is supposed to predict their first-year law school performance.

The ABA decision is best understood as an attempt to get ahead of a possible Supreme Court decision against the use of racial preferences in school admissions. By making the LSAT optional, schools will be able to admit the students they want without lowering the average LSAT score that is one measure of elite status. But the schools need the ABA to move first.

Put Students First

George Leef:

In short, colleges and universities do not put their students first. That is the point of a recent book by Paul LeBlanc, president of the University of Southern New Hampshire. In Students First: Equity, Access, and Opportunity in Higher Education, LeBlanc explains why our higher-education system so badly underperforms and why we need an educational “ecosystem” in its place.

Before going into the book, it’s important to note that Paul LeBlanc cannot be dismissed as a “right-wing” critic who’s eager to tear down higher education. Besides serving as president of SNHU, he was an advisor to Under Secretary of Education Ted Mitchell during the Obama administration and is a member of NACIQI, the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity. And the book (published by Harvard Education Press) is sprinkled with reminders that LeBlanc is a liberal in good standing.

Therefore, Students First might gain some traction. Our overwhelmingly progressive cadre of educational policymakers should recognize it as a sincere and well-supported case for change.

Here is LeBlanc’s argument in a nutshell: “Higher education as an industry is in many ways ill-suited to [the] new reality. It is too slow, too rigidly hierarchical and territorial, too hesitant to adopt new technologies and ways of doing things, too inefficient, and too focused on itself. We need a higher education ecosystemthrough which people will move in and out over the course of their careers and lives.”

Exactly what is wrong with higher education?

LeBlanc’s first big point is that it is structured around time rather than learning. College classes and degrees are built upon credit hours and semesters. That’s our tradition. The problem, LeBlanc understands, is that, for many students, those time constraints are a terrible obstacle. Many students have busy, complicated lives that make it difficult for them to fit classes in. The solution is to offer asynchronous learning opportunities.

There is no reason why colleges couldn’t liberate students from the arbitrary confines of credit hours and allow them to learn at their own pace.

RethinkING Need for College Degrees

Austen Hufford:

‘I’m not good at academics. It’s not for me,’ said Lucy Mathis, who discontinued her undergraduate studies to enter the workforce. The majority of its U.S. roles at IBM no longer require a four-year degree after the company conducted a review of hiring practices, IBM spokeswoman Ashley Bright said.

Delta eased its educational requirements for pilots at the start of this year, saying a four-year college degree was preferred but no longer required of job applicants.

Walmart Inc., the country’s largest private employer, said it values skills and knowledge gained through work experience and that 75% of its U.S. salaried store management started their careers in hourly jobs.

“We don’t require degrees for most of our jobs in the field and increasingly in the home office as well,” Kathleen McLaughlin, Walmart executive vice president, said at an online event this fall. The company’s goal is to shift the “focus from the way someone got their skills, which is the degree, to what skills do they have.”

A four-year college degree holder has more lifetime earnings than one without. The lifetime earnings of a worker with a high-school diploma is $1.6 million while that of a bachelor’s degree holder is $2.8 million, according to a 2021 report by the Center on Education and the Workforce at Georgetown University.

This Tiny West Texas HS Has Five Boys. Three of Them Made the State Cross-country Meet.

Jeff Miller:

Participation trophies are a good way to elicit eye rolls: Let’s not salute someone for merely showing up.

But no one has yet created an award that could properly honor what three cross-country runners from tiny Valentine School accomplished by completing the class 1A state meet held earlier this month at Old Settlers Park in Round Rock.

Junior Eduardo Cardenas-Ramirez finished 36th; his older brother, senior Erick Ramirez, placed 85th; and sophomore Robert Alvarado came in 102nd in a field of 146 top qualifiers from around the state. Why would that be worth recognizing? Because the three runners make up 60 percent of their school’s entire male enrollment, and the town of Valentine, located about 35 miles northwest of Marfa and 25 miles east of the Mexico border, is home to an estimated 73 total residents.

Early on the Thursday morning before the meet, Valentine’s cross-country contingent—McWilliams, assistant coach and social studies teacher Bianca Porras, and the four runners—boarded the school’s Suburban for the nearly five-hundred-mile ride to Round Rock. The trip would have normally taken about seven and a half hours, but Porras built in some educational stops along the way. They headed to San Antonio before going up Interstate 35, with visits to the Alamo, the River Walk, and, by spontaneous popular demand, the Buc-ee’s in New Braunfels.

“we would do well to be a little more scared of the AntiChrist and a little less scared of Armageddon” – Peter Thiel @ Stanford Academic Freedom Conference

“Antonym of diversity is university”.


Armageddon, (probably Hebrew: “Hill of Megiddo”), in the New Testament, place where the kings of the earth under demonic leadership will wage war on the forces of God at the end of history. Armageddon is mentioned in the Bible only once, in the Revelation to John, or the Apocalypse of St. John (16:16).


Antichrist, the polar opposite and ultimate enemy of Christ. According to Christian tradition, he will reign terribly in the period prior to the Last Judgment. The term Antichrist first appeared in the Letters of John (1 John 2:18, 2:22, and 4:3; 2 John 1:7), and the fully developed story of Antichrist’s life and reign is found in medieval texts. As applied to various individuals and institutions for nearly two millennia, Antichrist and precursor of Antichrist have been, and remain, terms of the most intense opprobrium.

1 Thessalonians 5:3:

3 While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.

Dane County Judge dismisses lawsuit challenging taxpayer supported Madison Schools gender identity policy; appeal planned

Ed Treleven:

Remington’s Nov. 23 decision does not directly address the merits of the policy but spends a great number of its 33 pages discussing what is considered legal standing, as expressed in recent state and federal court decisions.

Ignoring Doe’s lack of standing, Remington wrote, would be ignoring his own “limited and modest role in constitutional governance” and telling people he knows what’s best for them.

Remington wrote that while he doesn’t doubt her “genuine motive and keen interest in this case,” she is someone who was brought into the case to “invoke a court ruling upon” the matter. Many parents could believe, he wrote, that they or their children will be harmed by the policy, but they’re not part of the case.

“That is not to say that Jane Doe’s claims are not important — they just are equally important to every other member of the public who also disapproves of their local school board,” Remington wrote. “That our Constitution does not allow this court to take a side may leave the parties unsatisfied.”

Scott Girard:

The Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty has appealed the dismissal of its 2020 lawsuit over Madison Metropolitan School District gender identity guidance.

On Nov. 23, Dane County Circuit Court Judge Frank Remington dismissed the lawsuit, citing a lack of standing for the sole remaining petitioner, Jane Doe 4. The anonymous complainant is one of 14 original parties on the lawsuit — the rest have left amid two years of appeals and arguments over the process for the lawsuit.

“(Jane Doe 4) does not predict or anticipate she will be harmed, but she nevertheless seeks a declaratory judgment that a transgender student policy of the Madison Metropolitan School District violates her constitutional right to parent,” Remington wrote. “Because she presents no evidence that she predicts, anticipates, or will actually suffer any individual harm, Jane Doe has no standing and her Complaint must be dismissed.”

The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic”

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Friday Afternoon Veto: Governor Evers Rejects AB446/SB454; an effort to address our long term, disastrous reading results

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

No When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?

‘No action’ on fired taxpayer supported Madison Sennett principal’s appeal yet

Scott Girard:

The Madison School Board’s closed session meeting to discuss the appeal of fired principal Jeffrey Copeland Tuesday lasted just over 15 minutes without a decision.

“I can’t explain that,” board member Nicki Vander Meulen said, leaving around 5:16 p.m. and declining further comment. Other board members who left shortly after also declined to comment and said they could not share what happened.

District spokesperson Tim LeMonds wrote in a statement sent half an hour later that “no action was taken” during the meeting.

“The Board will be scheduling final action in the upcoming days,” LeMonds wrote. “This change was made to address a technical issue with the public notice in fairness to all parties involved.”

A group of about 10 Sennett staff stood outside the door at the beginning of the meeting, but most left about 10 minutes in as the board met behind the closed door, with one remaining to deliver the news to the others at the end of the meeting.

Because the meeting was held in closed session, as allowed under state law when a public body considers someone’s employment, board members are mostly barred from sharing information on what happened during the meeting.

Two board members — board president Ali Muldrow and vice president Maia Pearson — remained in the room with a small group of district leaders after the meeting, including general legal counsel Sherry Terrell-Webb and senior executive director of staff Richard McGregory. As a reporter stood outside the open door, another staff member closed it as the group continued to meet.

Olivia Herken:

The School Board was set to have the final say on whether Copeland would be reinstated after he was fired Sept. 26 for comments he accidentally left on a teaching applicant’s voicemail on Sept. 6 that the district has deemed bigoted.

The candidate, with whom Copeland had spoken on the phone, speaks English as a second language and holds a doctorate from a university in the Dominican Republic.

Thinking the phone call was over and unaware his comments were being recorded, Copeland remarked to Assistant Principal Matt Inda that he could barely understand the applicant on the phone, and then made comments about “just giving people damn jobs.”

In an email to the Wisconsin State Journal this week, Copeland said he was expressing concern about teacher qualifications amid widespread school staffing shortages and not specifically referencing the candidate.

The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic”

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Friday Afternoon Veto: Governor Evers Rejects AB446/SB454; an effort to address our long term, disastrous reading results

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

No When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?

This Wisconsin cheese company paid the mortgages of 28 Milwaukee Habitat homeowners for a year. Here’s the impact it had.

Alex Garner:

The Sargento gifts are a huge relief for Milwaukee Habitat homeowners and families who may be struggling as a result of rising inflation and costs, said Brian Sonderman, executive director of Milwaukee Habitat for Humanity.

“In a sense that ‘I don’t have that stress … I don’t have that burden,’” he said. “And no one expected it. No one. It was a complete surprise.”

People who earn low to moderate incomes, particularly those who earn between 30% to 60% of the average income in the Milwaukee area because they’re unable to secure mortgages from banks and credit unions, can become first-time homebuyers through Milwaukee Habitat’s homeownership program.

Sargento CEO Louie Gentine said the company wanted to do something special for Habitat homeowners, who show great pride in their homes and play critical roles in rebuilding their communities.

Though the company has its headquarters in Plymouth, the Gentine family behind Sargento has ties to Milwaukee. Gentine’s grandparents lived in the city until the mid-1930s, and his grandfather’s first venture into the cheese business was creating cheese boxes for friends and business associates in Milwaukee.

The global law firm fired me for defending the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision.

Robin Keller:

After the Supreme Court issued its Dobbs decision overturning Roe v. Wade in June, global law firm Hogan Lovells organized an online conference call for female employees. As a retired equity partner still actively serving clients, I was invited to participate in what was billed as a “safe space” for women at the firm to discuss the decision. It might have been a safe space for some, but it wasn’t safe for me.

Everyone else who spoke on the call was unanimous in her anger and outrage about Dobbs. I spoke up to offer a different view. I noted that many jurists and commentators believed Roe had been wrongly decided. I said that the court was right to remand the issue to the states. I added that I thought abortion-rights advocates had brought much of the pushback against Roe on themselves by pushing for extreme policies. I referred to numerous reports of disproportionately high rates of abortion in the black community, which some have called a form of genocide. I said I thought this was tragic.

The outrage was immediate. The next speaker called me a racist and demanded that I leave the meeting. Other participants said they “lost their ability to breathe” on hearing my comments. After more of the same, I hung up.

Someone made a formal complaint to the firm. Later that day, Hogan Lovells suspended my contracts, cut off my contact with clients, removed me from email and document systems, and emailed all U.S. personnel saying that a forum participant had made “anti-Black comments” and was suspended pending an investigation. The firm also released a statement to the legal website Above the Law bemoaning the devastating impact my views had on participants in the forum—most of whom were lawyers participating in a call convened expressly for the purpose of discussing a controversial legal and political topic. Someone leaked my name to the press.

Civics: Administrative Censorship – Public Health Edition

Alysia Finley:

Here, too, Dr. Fauci swiftly reversed his position. The initial call by Trump public-health officials for “15 days to slow the spread” in March 2020 stretched into two years as Dr. Fauci invoked one virus flare-up after another to argue for keeping public restrictions.

Some scientists in fall 2020 offered an alternative strategy of “focused protection” for the elderly and high-risk patients in a document called the Great Barrington Declaration. “Adopting measures to protect the vulnerable should be the central aim of public health responses to COVID-19,” it read. “Those who are not vulnerable should immediately be allowed to resume life as normal.”

Dr. Fauci worked with then-National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins to “take down” the declaration. “This proposal from the three fringe epidemiologists . . . seems to be getting a lot of attention—and even a co-signature from Nobel Prize winner Mike Leavitt at Stanford,” Dr. Collins wrote to Dr. Fauci in an email. “There needs to be a quick and devastating published take down of its premises,” he continued. The two subsequently did multiple media interviews denouncing the strategy in an effort to chill debate. “It’s nonsense,” Dr. Fauci told ABC.

Even University Presidents Lose Their Minds When Their Teens Apply to College

Melissa Korn:

Though many university administrators earn high salaries, they still often submit aid forms so their children can be considered for merit scholarships, or if they have multiple children in school simultaneously.

University of Utah President Taylor Randall filled out the Fafsa for his four children, though in one case his daughter only reminded him about the deadline at the last minute—when he was traveling.

“It’s 11:30 at night. I’m like, ‘Oh my gosh, I haven’t done this in a few years!’” Dr. Randall recalls. “I’m in a hotel room trying to get someone to grab my tax returns.”

As vice president for enrollment management at Bentley University in Massachusetts, Carolina Figueroa would grow concerned when parents went overboard with prep. She saw little need for hiring private college counselors, or signing children up for multiple SAT test dates.

Then, guiding her teen EJ toward college, she observed the frenzy among her own peers. “It was hard not to get caught up in it,” she recalls. She wondered: “Am I making a mistake?”

Ms. Figueroa did give in to temptation when it came to deploying her baloney detector. Some colleges “mentioned nonexistent rankings to make themselves sound more prestigious,” she says. “I would find myself on the phone fact-checking claims.”

Yale Law School’s Revolt Of The Elites

New Republic:

But there was something strange about the spectacle of Dean Gerken denouncing as “profoundly flawed” a rankings system that identifies Yale itself as the #1 law school in the country—an evaluation with which, one would assume, she wholeheartedly agrees. The other quitters share rarefied air as well: All are in the U.S. News top 14[except for UCLA and UC-Irvine].

While the boycott was framed as a bold, egalitarian blow on behalf of legal education writ large, the practical effect of responding to Dean Gerken’s criticism would be an increase in the already lofty standing of Yale and its elite compatriots. That’s what happens when the nation’s top universities reject a rankings system that was essentially reverse-engineered to replicate a status hierarchy that the schools themselves created, and continue to embrace. …

In critiquing U.S. News, Dean Gerken expressed particular ire about a provision that rates law schools based on the percentage of graduates who get jobs that require a Juris Doctor degree. Her concern is understandable. One of the odd things about Yale’s unassailable position as law school #1 is that it is famously uninterested in training people to become practicing attorneys. …

As legal commentator (and Yale Law grad) David Lat notes, some people have attributed more nefarious motives to Dean Gerken, claiming that the boycott is an attempt to preemptively delegitimize the rankings before Yale loses its decades-long chokehold on the top spot in the face of various controversies, dinner party–related and otherwise. That could be true. But even taken at face value, the boycott seems like an attempt to promote Yale Law’s rare advantages and peculiarities under the guise of taking some sort of bold step on behalf of legal education as a whole. …


A Peek Inside the FBI’s Unprecedented January 6 Geofence Dragnet

Mark Harris:

The FBI’s biggest-ever investigation included the biggest-ever haul of phones from controversial geofence warrants, court records show. A filing in the case of one of the January 6 suspects, David Rhine, shows that Google initially identified 5,723 devices as being in or near the US Capitol during the riot. Only around 900 people have so far been charged with offenses relating to the siege.

The filing suggests that dozens of phones that were in airplane mode during the riot, or otherwise out of cell service, were caught up in the trawl. Nor could users erase their digital trails later. In fact, 37 people who attempted to delete their location data following the attacks were singled out by the FBI for greater scrutiny.

Geofence search warrants are intended to locate anyone in a given area using digital services. Because Google’s Location History system is both powerful and widely used, the company is served about 10,000 geofence warrants in the US each year. Location History leverages GPS, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth signals to pinpoint a phone within a few yards. Although the final location is still subject to some uncertainty, it is usually much more precise than triangulating signals from cell towers. Location History is turned off by default, but around a third of Google users switch it on, enabling services like real-time traffic prediction. 

The geofence warrants served on Google shortly after the riot remained sealed. But lawyers for Rhine, a Washington man accused of various federal crimes on January 6, recently filed a motion to suppress the geofence evidence. The motion, which details the warrant’s process and scale, was first reported by the Empty Wheel blog

In a statement, a Google spokesperson defended the company’s handling of geofence warrants.

“We have a rigorous process for geofence warrants that is designed to protect the privacy of our users while supporting the important work of law enforcement,” the company said. “When Google receives legal demands, we examine them closely for legal validity and constitutional concerns, including overbreadth, consistent with developing case law. If a request asks for too much information, we work to narrow it. We routinely push back on overbroad demands, including overbroad geofence demands, and in some cases, we object to producing any information at all.”

Bloated College Administration Is Making Education Unaffordable

Harvey Silvergate:

With the first semester of the new academic year upon us, many students and parents are asking: How did college tuition skyrocket to the point where many middle-class families must mortgage (or re-mortgage) their homes, or prematurely raid their retirement funds, to send even a single child to a typical four-year college, whether public or private?

Most college professors are fairly well paid, to be sure. And buildings and grounds can be costly to maintain. But none of this fully explains why tuition and fees have been increasing well beyond the rate of inflation. At Harvard University, the 2022–2023 cost of attendance for non-commuting students (which includes tuition, room, board, and fees) is estimated at $76,763. At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the corresponding figure is $79,850. At Boston University: $82,760. Even at the University of Massachusetts at Boston, a public institution, it’s $34,834 for in-state students and $55,296 for out-of-state students.

Dominican teachers threatened by DOE staffers to keep quiet over steep living costs — or face deportation

Georgia Worrell and Susan Edelman

Bilingual educators brought from the Dominican Republic to work for the city Department of Education were ordered by a middle school teacher to shut up about the steep cost of the rooms they were forced to rent — or be exiled from the program, they told The Post.

The Dominican recruits said Rosse Mary Savery, a teacher at MS 80 in the Bronx under Principal Emmanuel Polanco, warned them not to tell a soul about having to fork over a monthly $1,350 to $1,450 each for a single room in apartments where they share a kitchen and bathroom with colleagues.

Edgar Dworsky has become the go-to expert on “shrinkflation,” when products or packaging are manipulated so people get less for their money.

Clare Toeniskoetter:

Lately, Mr. Dworsky has had his work cut out for him. With inflation at a 40-year high, business owners have been increasingly shrinkflating their products in an attempt to hide price increases.

Companies are doing it out of necessity, said Krishnakumar Davey, president of consumer product goods at IRI, a market research company. “Manufacturers are facing huge costs,” he said, referring to the price of raw ingredients, labor and shipping. “They’re trying to figure out how to balance that.”

Mr. Dworsky works seven days a week from his modest, three-bedroom condo in Somerville, where he lives alone. But for him, thrift is more than a job, it’s a lifestyle. He made less than $7,000 last year, mostly from donations and ad revenue. He gets by on Social Security, his state pension and savings.

He’s quick with one-line zingers about his own frugality: I preach what I practice. Splurge isn’t a word in my vocabulary. People go duck hunting or deer hunting. I’m bargain hunting!

These Children Are Making Millions on YouTube

RT Watson:

The more success the kids have found, the swankier the toys and outings have become. In one video, Vlad and Niki snub mom and the Range Rover she bedecked in fluffy pink boas for a ride in dad’s hot red Ferrari. In another video from this year, the “Kids Diana Show” hits the road, staying in a resort in Maldives where the kids and parents hop aboard a yellow submarine.

Videos feature lots of “oohs,” “aahs,” applause and minimal dialogue—which makes it easy to redub the YouTube posts, which are mostly in English, into other languages including Arabic, Spanish or Indonesian.

“Kids feel that Vlad and Niki are their friends,” says their mother, Victoria Vashketov, of her children, who are 9 and 7 years old, respectively.

Toy makers pay the young celebrities to play with their products. Rates can range anywhere from $75,000 to more than $300,000, according to a person familiar with such deals.

The YouTubers also have exclusive lines of playthings branded with their names and likenesses. There’s a caped Vlad action figure and palm-sized figurines of Diana’s entire family, which can be purchased at big U.S. retailers like Walmart and Target as well as in countries including Sweden and Mongolia, according to the channels’ representatives.

Ongoing Taxpayer supported K-12 lockdown student learning loss: “but since they were easy on us….”

Kelly Meyerhofer:

For Maciejewski, a sophomore studying exercise physiology and pre-physical therapy at Concordia University Wisconsin, the adjustment to college after a year and a half of leniency in high school was harsh. Just days into her freshman year on the Mequon campus, she was already overwhelmed. So she headed to the school’s Academic Resource Center.

“I walk in, and I’m freaking out,” she said. “I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what to ask. I just need help. … Without COVID, I would have felt a little more prepared for college. But since they were so easy on us senior year, I felt unprepared.”

The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic”

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Friday Afternoon Veto: Governor Evers Rejects AB446/SB454; an effort to address our long term, disastrous reading results

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

No When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?

Former Madison Sennett principal: ‘I was ousted, demoralized and set out to perish’

Olivia Herken:

The principal of Sennett Middle School who was fired over comments that were construed by the Madison School District as bigoted toward a specific job candidate said he was expressing general concern about teacher qualifications in an era of staffing shortages.

“This incident is clearly subjective rhetoric with no factualization,” Jeffrey Copeland told the Wisconsin State Journal in an email this week. “To indicate that I would be racist towards anyone. Racism is a learned behavior that I have not been taught and would not be interested in learning.”

Copeland was fired on Sept. 26, just days into the school year, after he was recorded making disparaging comments about a teaching candidate who held a degree from the Dominican Republic and was not a native English speaker.

During the recording, Copeland made comments about “just giving people damn jobs” and said he could barely understand the applicant during their phone conversation.

The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic”

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Friday Afternoon Veto: Governor Evers Rejects AB446/SB454; an effort to address our long term, disastrous reading results

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

No When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?

Simpson Street Free Press turns 30

Dave Zweifel:

I’ve found the perfect tonic to lift my spirits when I become depressed over this nonsensical and often dysfunctional world. I arrange a visit with the young people who are the brains and brawn behind the Simpson Street Free Press, and then my hope for the future is restored.

Ben Reddersen, one of the youth paper’s veteran staff members, arranged a meeting with several of the nonprofit’s senior staffers to relay some exciting news. The Free Press, which serves as an afterschool academic program for scores of middle- and high-schoolers, and even some elementary kids, is about to celebrate its 30th anniversary.

The highly acclaimed youth program was founded in 1992 in the old Simpson Street neighborhood by local volunteer Jim Kramer and a group of parents to improve opportunities for children. They organized a group of mostly kids of color to spend several hours after school reading and researching, writing and rewriting stories about what they learned and then publishing them in a quarterly newspaper.

Illegal Numbers


To understand this blog post, you need to know two things.

  1. There exists a class of numbers which are illegal in some jurisdictions. For example, a number may be copyrighted content, a decryption key, or other text considered illegal.
  2. There exists a class of algorithms which will take any arbitrary data and produce a fixed length text from it. This process is known as “hashing“. These algorithms are deterministic – that is, entering the same data will always produce the same hash.

Let’s take the MD5 hashing algorithm. Feed it any data and it will produce hash with a fixed length of 128 bits. Using an 8 bit alphabet, that’s 16 human-readable characters.

Suppose you live in a country with Lèse-majesté– laws which make it treasonous to insult or threaten the monarch.

There exists a seemingly innocent piece of data – an image, an MP3, a text file – which when fed to MD5 produces these 128 bits:

New Book Identifies 26 Lines of Code that Changed the World

David Cassel:

While noting that the computer revolution coincided with the black civil rights revolution, McIlwain points out that this ultimately led to a flawed crime-data algorithm that “laid the cornerstone” for what would become today’s surveillance infrastructure.

And there’s also a larger problem, McIlwain adds in his chapter on the Police Beat Algorithm (which was also published online). “Belief in the objective and infallible nature, and in the predictive power of data, continues to run rampant among technology purveyors, law enforcement personnel, public officials and policy influencers.”

Higher Ed’s Prestige Paralysis

Brian Rosenberg:

The recent announcement by the law schools at Yaleand Harvard that they would “no longer participate” in the rankings offered up annually by U.S. News and World Report is, I suppose, worthy of at least polite applause. Berkeley Law followed soon after, then Columbia, Georgetown, and Stanford. As of today, 10 of the top 15 law schools have said they will stop taking part. Apparently crises of conscience are contagious. U.S. News rankings could charitably be called ridiculous and less charitably, pernicious, so any step to loosen their hold on the marketplace should be considered a good thing.

China’s “White Paper” Revolution

Peter Stubley:

China has tried to stamp out public protests after students and angry residents rebelled against President Xi’s zero-Covid policy in the largest demonstration of unrest since the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989.

Student demonstrators flooded the grounds of two universities in Beijing while crowds in Shanghai chanted “down with the Chinese Communist Party” and openly demanded Xi’s removal.

The authorities have now imposed tight security measures to suppress any further shows of dissent.

Civics: The Media’s Deranged Hysteria Over Elon Musk’s Promised Restoration of Free Speech

Glenn Greenwald

In unison, these media outlets decreed that not only would greater free speech on Twitter usher in the usual parade of horribles they trot out when demanding censorship — disinformation, hate speech, attacks on the “marginalized,” etc. etc. — but this time they severely escalated their rhetorical hysteria by claiming that Musk would literally cause mass murder by permitting a broader range of political opinion to be aired. The Washington Post‘s Taylor Lorenz even warned of supernatural demons that would be unleashed by these new free speech policies, as she talked to a handful of obviously neurotic pro-censorship “experts” and then wrote about these thinly disguised therapy sessions with those neurotics under this headline: “‘Opening the gates of hell’: Musk says he will revive banned accounts.”

But the self-evident absurdity of this laughable meltdown and the ease of mocking it should not obscure that there are lurking within these episodes some genuinely insidious and serious dangers. These preposterous media employees are just the sideshow. But what they are doing, unwittingly or otherwise, is laying the groundwork for far less frivolous and more serious people to use the attacks on Musk to further fortify the regime of censorship they have been constructing: the limitlessly demonizing language heaped on him, the success they have already had in driving away many if not most corporate advertisers from Twitter, the threats to once again abuse the monopoly power of Google and Apple to destroy Twitter or at least cripple it if Musk does not comply with their censorship orders (as they succeeded in doing last year to the free speech site Parler when it became the most-downloaded app in the country and refused to censor on demand).

Statistical process control after W. Edwards Deming


Deming tried to get his ideas adopted in America, but he fell largely on deaf ears with American industrialists. That isn’t terribly surprising, you need to understand the times, especially shortly after World War II: Americans were the rulers of the world. Europe was in ruins, sometimes even still smoking. China wasn’t the high-tech supplier it is today, but a poor agrarian country. BRIC wasn’t even invented as an acronym, and nobody talked about the “tiger states”.

Why indeed should America change its ways? The future looked bright.

Not only lay Europe in ruins, Japan did, too, maybe even more so. America was occupying Japan, and the story goes that General MacArthur exploded with frustration when his phone call to another island of Japan repeatedly broke off. So he wanted to re-build Japan, at least some infrastructure.

Well, that’s probably not exactly what happened, the story is apocryphal after all, and many other people were in favor of helping rebuild Japan. But the important thing is: America decided to help rebuild Japan. And so many experts from all kinds of fields embarked and came to Japan.

Sir Patrick Vallance among scientists behind paper that stifled debate into the origins of the virus

Sarah Knapton and Ashley Rindsberg

Top scientists including Sir Patrick Vallance were warned that Covid-19 could have evolved in laboratory animals, but collaborated in a paper which shut down the lab leak theory, it has emerged.

The paper, “The proximal origin of SARS-CoV-2,” published in Nature Medicine in March 2020, argued that a natural spillover event caused the pandemic, and was hugely instrumental in stifling debate into the origins of the virus.

But newly released emails from early 2020 show that in the weeks before publication the authors held lengthy discussions with experts, including Sir Patrick and Sir Jeremy Farrar, the head of the Wellcome Trust.

In those discussions, experts were advised that the unusual features seen in Covid-19 could have evolved in animals in a lab, as well as in the wild.

They were also warned that the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) had been carrying out research on bat-coronaviruses at worrying levels of biosecurity.

Yet by the time the paper was published, all reference to biosecurity problems in Wuhan had been removed, and the authors argued that lab evolution of the virus was unlikely.

Civics: special interest funded viral activity: Capitol Hill edition

Joseph Simonsen

Senate and House staff received emails from a researcher at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies starting in July asking them to confirm their “racial and ethnic identity” as part of an alleged data collection effort. In at least two cases, senior congressional staffers who declined to provide their races were told by the researcher that the organization’s current data indicated they “may identify as white” and asked the staffers to update if the information was incorrect.

Information collected by the group will be used in its annual report that lobbies for “structural changes on Capitol Hill that would allow for more people of color to be hired in senior positions,” a previous report from the group states. That report is made possible in part by millions of dollars in donations to the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies from Apple, Google, Meta, Pfizer, the Soros-backed Open Society Foundation, among dozens of other large corporations and nonprofits.

The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies’ survey is part of a broader trend by left-wing organizations to pressure workplaces and governments to increase affirmative action policies. Often couched in promoting “diversity, equity, and inclusion,” those policies have received criticism for coming at the expense of competence and offering advantages based on race instead of merit. The Free Beacon previously reported on DEI initiatives gaining prominence in medical schools, the Department of Homeland Security, and tech companies such as Google and IBM.

One of the congressional staffers contacted said she was offended by the inquiry. The racial identification of her office’s team, she said, has no relation to its quality of work.

Notes on Math Education

Hacker News:

I came across this article by V.I. Arnold : which is rather old. But some of the points mentioned in the article can be related to problems in the classroom today also.

People have an idea that being abstract and talking in abstract terms creates some sort of elitism. But it hampers understanding and excitement at the nascent stages. Abstraction is required to tackle complexity. But that is not the all and be all of the domain.

It can be taught like other natural sciences starting with real life examples and building up. It is much more clearly written in the article.

I would very much love to hear about books or courses that teach mathematics in the way mentioned in the article.

Civics: Litigation on power of the purse, Congress and administrative giveaways

Andrew Chung:

The administration also is contesting a Nov. 10 ruling by a federal judge in Texas who found the program unlawful. The administration stopped taking applications for student debt relief after that decision.

In a policy benefiting millions of Americans, Biden announced in August that the U.S. government would forgive up to $10,000 in student loan debt for borrowers making less than $125,000 a year, or $250,000 for married couples. Students who received Pell Grants to benefit lower-income college students will have up to $20,000 of their debt canceled.

The policy fulfilled a promise that the Democratic president made during the 2020 presidential campaign to help debt-saddled former college students. The Congressional Budget Office in September calculated that the debt forgiveness would cost the governmentabout $400 billion.

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

Matthew Ladner:

Emily Hanford’s podcast Sold a Story tells the disturbing tale of how schools have come to embrace patently absurd and ineffective methods for literacy instruction. I could summarize one such method, known as “three-cueing,” in one sentence: Teach children how to guess the meaning of a sentence rather than how to read it.

(You can listen to all six episodes of Sold a Story here.)

Despite the implausibility of this strategy – as well as multiple decades of neurological research confirming just how destructive these techniques are – it has a cult-like following among many public-school teachers. As EdWeek reported in 2020:

In 2019, anEdWeek Research Center survey found that 75 percent of K-2 and elementary special education teachers use the method to teach students how to read, and 65 percent of college of education professors teach it.

Episode 4 of Sold a Story, titled “The Superstar,” focuses on Lacey Robinson, an African-American girl in Dayton, Ohio, in the 1970s whose mother insisted she be retained in first grade so she could learn to read. Lacey’s second first-grade teacher taught her to decode words and then Lacey taught her grandmother to read. Inspired, Lacey years later became a teacher with a mission to teach children, especially Black children, how to read.

Lacey Robinson began her career at a Georgia public elementary school where her superiors quashed her efforts to establish a reading program. She moved to a suburban school, hoping to learn what children were offered there, so she could bring it back to inner-city schools.

Along the way, Robinson attended graduate school at Columbia Teacher College and went to work for Lucy Calkins, a leader in three-cueing training. Hanford includes videos in “The Superstar” of teachers fawning over Calkins that are obsequious enough to make 12-year-old Taylor Swift superfans blush.

Robinson found Calkins’ three-cueing system prevalent in suburban schools. got her suburban teaching job and found that Calkins three-cueing was prevalent. But she discovered that her affluent students’ ability to decode words was made possible because they had tutors.

The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic”

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Friday Afternoon Veto: Governor Evers Rejects AB446/SB454; an effort to address our long term, disastrous reading results

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

No When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?

“At NC State, in 2020-21, no less than $131 million more was spent on administrative (i.e., non-teaching) positions than on teaching ones”

Michael Behrent:

Meanwhile, the ratio of full-time faculty to students is falling, as are faculty wages.

The new ivory tower’s costs are only part of the problem. Unseemly administrative bloat also has a corrosive effect on the university’s mission. The focus on timely graduation rates, “student success,” and enrollment may be worthy goals in themselves. Yet the administrative vice-regencies dedicated to implementing these objectives have fostered an institutional culture that trivializes academic rigor and penalizes faculty who prioritize it. The American university thrived historically on the marrying of teaching and research—the idea that faculty should be not only competent in the classroom but accomplished practitioners of their field. But many of today’s administrators have little research experience and, rather than Ph.Ds. (the global benchmark of academic accomplishment), boast of esoteric degrees in their own administrative nooks and crannies (in fields like “strategic enrollment management” or “student affairs”). It is also not uncommon that administration rewards failure: Faculty who are mediocre teachers and indifferent scholars are offered career redemption when they are promoted to administrative positions. More than ever, faculty and administrators seem to inhabit different worlds.

Like any self-respecting subculture, administrators have their own lingo. Today’s administrative world oozes with invocations of “excellence.” There is relentless talk about marketing the university “brand” while employing mind-numbing mottos like “hubs of innovation” and “think and do.” During the pandemic, a staff report at UNC-Chapel Hill understandably characterized this insipid rhetoric as “toxic positivity.”

The university community faces an expanding bureaucratic framework that values visibility more than substance. The faculty faces an administration that is increasingly indifferent to the variety and nuance of their research and the substance of their teaching. There is more and more empty praise for faculty members in the form of prosaic honors and unimaginative “certificates of appreciation,” but less and less understanding of what faculty do and why. Even the focus on the intellectual development of students is being sacrificed to the vacuous goal of “student satisfaction.”

class.”In many respects, university administrators are academia’s answer to what has become known as the “professional managerial class,” or PMC. As Catherine Liu argues in a recent book, the PMC is comprised of educated professionals who embrace a moralizing progressive ideology while believing that it can be realized only in a top-down, hierarchical manner. The struggles of social movements and democratic processes leave them cold, as these contribute little to administrators’ hunger for professional recognition. Consistent with Liu’s description of the PMC, university administrators “labor in a world of floating signifiers, statistics, analytics, projections, predictions and identity performativity, virtue signaling, and affectual production.” Because they see universities as stages on which they are destined to display their own professional and moral superiority, they hold in low esteem the matters that preoccupy professors—sound pedagogy, academic rigor, publishing in one’s discipline, even reading books. While there is no denying that many professors are politically liberal, many still adhere to the principles of pluralism and recognizing the existence of multiple viewpoints on controversial issues. More than the faculty, the academic PMC is the source of the dogmatism that haunts contemporary academia.

No When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?

Measuring qualifications by merit

Robert Steinbuch:

Oh wait, I forgot–we’ve redefined “equity,” haven’t “we”? Now it means equal outcomes (quotas). Darn! I still haven’t memorized that little red DEI-to-English dictionary provided “free” during one of those toothpick-assisted eye-opening re-education gavages.

The outcomes of these racialized policies are terrible. I collect and study evidence of the effects of affirmative action in law schools. In one large Arkansas dataset, the first-time bar-exam failure rate for the largest minority group was double that of whites; 40 percent of the Black graduates failed on their first try.

That’s bad for the students who weren’t given refunds after being, uh, “helped” through holistic admissions. Thanks, no thanks. That’s bad for the community that has access to fewer practicing lawyers. And that’s bad for schools trying to entice college graduates to attend while showing weaker bar-passage rates.

Leftists complain about merit selection because they correctly observe that law-school graduates compete for jobs based in part on the stature of their schools. All else being equal, graduating from Harvard offers a leg up when compared to, say, Marquette.

But–and this is the critical step elided by race hucksters–all else isn’t equal. So when minorities are given massive placement advantages, as they often are, and they attend better-ranked schools, as they often do, they do worse on average.

Civics: “In three different incidents in Virginia, North Carolina and Oregon, no arrests have been made either, according to news reports”

Lucas Robinson:

After more than six months, Madison police have not made an arrest in an arson at the office of an anti-abortion group, leading its director to question whether the organization’s political stance has slowed the momentum of the investigation.

Wisconsin Family Action has had limited updates from Madison police since the arson in May, one of those the denial of a records request and another a phone call from a detective earlier this month, said Julaine Appling, the organization’s president.

Police also took DNA evidence from staff shortly after the attack, Appling said.

“All of this is beginning to look as if, well, because of your position, because you’re pro-life, we’re just not going to push as hard,” Appling said.

US Constitution: Equal Protection.

K-12 Governance – Wisconsin DPI; all about the Money…

Complete Interview.

The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic”

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Friday Afternoon Veto: Governor Evers Rejects AB446/SB454; an effort to address our long term, disastrous reading results

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

No When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?

“Why delay all the most exciting things in life?”

Claire Anderson:

Reynolds provided further advice in her comments to The College Fix on where to meet that lifetime partner.

“Do interesting activities,” Reynolds wrote to The Fix. “College campuses have interesting clubs and events that are hard to find or make time for later in life.”

She suggested activities such as “ballroom dancing classes, attend[ing] student debates [or] enter[ing] the trivia competition with a team.”

Reynolds told The Fix that whether you meet your spouse or not in those scenarios, “you will undoubtedly make interesting friends.” And she said those relationships may later on in life be an avenue for meeting a spouse.

The current debate over student loans is also part of the equation, Reynolds told The Fix.

She believes that partially the student loan crisis has been made worse by “the notion that you’ll have a decade in your career before settling down and welcoming children.”

Why the UK’s strictest headteacher supports private schools

Rory Sachs:

I first catch sight of Katharine Birbalsingh through a set of ornate gold railings on the window near the entrance of the Guardsman Hotel at St James’s Park.

She is dressed in a flowing blue frock with floral patterning and looks somewhat perplexed. She has only tentatively approached the front door so I frantically wave in her direction.

Birbalsingh is relaxed and jovial as we settle down in the Guardsman’s dining room. Socially speaking, she has ‘quite a boring life’, she says.

Her schedule as head of both a Wembley free school and the government’s Social Mobility Commission is usually marked by a sense of urgency, and not the laid-back rhythms of a Liquid Lunch with Spear’s.

But today is the penultimate day of the summer school term, so Birbalsingh has been able to sneak away from a school trip to the Natural History Museum.

‘I’m not sure I ever really switch off – I live and breathe this stuff,’ she says, leafing through the copy of the Spear’s Schools Index I’ve handed her.

Snow Extent in the Northern Hemisphere now Among the Highest in 56 years Increases the Likelihood of Cold Early Winter Forecast both in North America and Europe

Renato Colucci:

A larger-than-usual snow extent in the Northern Hemisphere at the end of the Autumn is surely a good start for the upcoming winter season. Nevertheless, several factors have to be taken into account. Snow extent is not enough to ensure a cold start of the winter season itself although it represents a useful piece of the puzzle if other events will lead to arctic outbreaks in Europe and North America.

We will keep you updated on this and much more, so make sure to bookmark our page. Also, if you have seen this article in the Google App (Discover) feed or social media, click the like button (♥) to see more of our forecasts and our latest articles on weather and nature in general.

“Under no circumstances can political or ideological activism be the primary purpose of a public university”

CSM Faculty:

We believe the Mission and Vision Statements trample on the fundamental role of the university: to facilitate the creation, curation, and dissemination of knowledge. To elaborate, we believe that the main goals of a university are to empower the pursuit of knowledge, to cultivate lifelong learning, to foster the exchange of ideas, to encourage critical thinking, to unequivocally support free inquiry, and to instill respect for a diversity of ideas and viewpoints.

Under no circumstances can political or ideological activism be the primary purpose of a public university. This is not to say students, faculty, and staff cannot be activists. Quite the contrary: individual people are the agents of social change, and as such they should be encouraged to organize and fight for a better society. Moreover, the public university can play an active role in educating students on pressing issues of social injustice as well as effective methods of activism. However, in this regard the role of the university is to empower people to take action themselves – not to coerce students, faculty, or institutional units to do so.

It is important to emphasize that the fundamental role of the public university can neither be political nor ideological activism. In part, this is due to the illegality of compelled speech in public institutions and our legally binding commitment to academic freedom as outlined in the so-called “red book” on academic personnel policy. Additionally, ideological activism cannot be a central goal of the university because at times it will conflict with education and research. The search for truth can never be subjugated to social or ideological beliefs.

A look at the long term effect of closed taxpayer funded schools

Anda Heyl:

School closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic affected learning to varying degrees in different countries. A new study sheds light on what this learning loss will mean for countries’ human capital in the decades to come.

Education is a human right and ensuring access to quality education for all is the fourth Sustainable Development Goal (SDG4) set by the United Nations General Assembly. While there is evidence that more children and youth worldwide have access to education, according to some indicators, the quality is in decline when looking at acquired skills such as literacy or numeracy.

Deeper research into the level of education and acquired skills is crucial to see how recent trends, such as school closures in the COVID-19 pandemic affect the workforce. A new study published in PLOS ONEprojected adult skills until 2050 while measuring the effect of pandemic school closures on these skills.

“Projecting human capital—in other words the economic value of a person’s experience and skills—gives us insight into the future status of societies, particularly the workforce, whose skills are essential for jobs contributing to economic growth and development outlooks,” explains Claudia Reiter, a researcher in the IIASA Social Cohesion, Health, and Wellbeing Research Group and a coauthor of the study. “It also influences people’s capacity to innovate in view of the many challenges to be faced in the future, such as climate change.”

The study uses the Skills in Literacy Adjusted Mean Years of Schooling (SLAMYS) indicator, which combines the lengths of schooling with a factor based on adult literacy test scores. The researchers applied the measure for the working age population in 45 countries and looked at five-year intervals until 2050 under various population scenarios, integrating COVID-19 school closures in the models.

Civics: taxpayer supported tule making and your retirement dollars

Jeffrey Carter:

The Biden Administration has now rewritten regulations governing investment to protect ESG fund managers from allegations of fraud. I will quote directly from the WSJ article I linked to and then translate it into plain English. Yes, gentle reader, it does make a difference now who is in power so cast your Senate vote accordingly in Georgia.

On Tuesday the Labor Department finalized a rule that empowers retirement plan sponsors to invest based on environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors and put your 401(k) to progressive political work.

The Labor Department casts its rule as a mere clarification of the 1974 Employee Retirement Income Security Act (Erisa), which requires that retirement plan sponsors act “solely in the interest” of participants and beneficiaries. A Trump Labor rule barred retirement managers from considering factors that weren’t material to financial performance and risk.

Judges at the Center of Yale Law Clerkship Boycott Will Speak at Yale Next Week

Aaron Sibarium:

Two of the federal judges boycotting Yale Law School over its poor record on free speech will speak at the university next week about their decision not to hire clerks from the Ivy League law school, according to promotional materials for the event reviewed by the Washington Free Beacon.

The event, hosted by the William F. Buckley program and set for Nov. 30, will feature Fifth Circuit judge James Ho and Eleventh Circuit judge Elizabeth Branch, who over the past two months announced that they would no longer hire clerks from the school. The Buckley program is independent of the university, and the law school is not sponsoring the event.

Yale Law School dean Heather Gerken has also invited Ho and Branch to speak at the law school in January, a move widely seen as damage control. That event still appears to be in the works, though the law school did not respond to a request for comment.

Next week’s panel comes after a dozen federal judges in addition to Ho and Branch told the Free Beacon they would no longer hire clerks from Yale Law, citing the law school administration’s response to several campus uproars, including its now-infamous intimidation of Trent Colbert, a second-year law student who used the term “traphouse” in an email. They also pointed to administrators’ failure to discipline students who disrupted a bipartisan panel on civil liberties and caused so much chaos the police were called.

Civics: Young voter trends

Dan Hart:

Still, the fact that less younger Americans are identifying as progressive does not necessarily mean that they are identifying as conservative. Research by Morning Consult reveals that more voters are identifying as moderate. “[A]n increase in the share of Americans who identify as moderate, or who are uncertain about where exactly they stand on the ideological spectrum, reveals a growing and electorally decisive center that is discontented with either side’s extremes,” the group emphasized.

Matt Carpenter, the director of FRC Action, detailed his observations of the voting patterns of the younger generations to The Washington Stand.

“Young voters have historically been a key piece of the liberal voting base,” he told TWS. “They tend to be less motivated by issues such as school quality, mortgage rates, and income taxes, for example; and more concerned with things like justice and fairness. The former directly affects a family’s standard of living, while the latter affects how an individual feels about the society they are living in. As a result, younger voters, who most likely don’t have families of their own or own property, tend to vote for Democrats, whose pitch to voters often hinges on themes of justice and fairness.”

Carpenter went on to observe that millennial voters typically have different concerns than their younger counterparts.

The population of college-age Americans is about to crash. It will change higher education forever.

Kevin Carey:

In four years, the number of students graduating from high schools across the country will begin a sudden and precipitous decline, due to a rolling demographic aftershock of the Great Recession. Traumatized by uncertainty and unemployment, people decided to stop having kids during that period. But even as we climbed out of the recession, the birth rate kept dropping, and we are now starting to see the consequences on campuses everywhere. Classes will shrink, year after year, for most of the next two decades. People in the higher education industry call it “the enrollment cliff.”

Among the small number of elite colleges and research universities — think the Princetons and the Penn States — the cliff will be no big deal. These institutions have their pick of applicants and can easily keep classes full.

For everyone else, the consequences could be dire. In some places, the crisis has already begun. College enrollment began slowly receding after the millennial enrollment wave peaked in 2010, particularly in regions that were already experiencing below-average birth rates while simultaneously losing population to out-migration. Starved of students and the tuition revenue they bring, small private colleges in New England have begun to blink off the map. Regional public universities like Ship are enduring painful layoffs and consolidation.

The Right to Read Film


Over 66% of children in the U.S. are not proficient readers.

79% of low-income students, 82% of Black students, and 77% of Hispanic students are not on track for reading by fourth grade.

Children not reading by third grade are 4x less likely to graduate high school.

Studies estimate that low-literacy levels among U.S. adults could be costing the economy $2.2 trillion a year.

Children who begin behind in their academics typically remain behind.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Economic growth and tax base

Ben Sixsmith:

Britain has had minimal economic growth for years. Poland has long been enjoying some of the highest economic growth in Europe. It even emerged from the pandemic better off than other European nations with, as Paweł Bukowski and Wojtek Paczos wrote for the LSE, “a relatively lax approach to economic lockdown and a bit of sheer luck”.

Institutions often seem to work better as well. I can generally visit a GP on the day I call. Britons often have to wait for more than a week. Maternal mortality is higher in the UK — and infant mortality is about the same, despite Britain being much richer overall. Actually, Polish life expectancy as whole is just a touch shorter than British life expectancy, despite the nation having a lot more smokers.

Polish kids have ranked higher on the PISA education rankings than British kids — ranking, indeed, the third highest in Europe in science and maths, and the fourth in reading comprehension. Poland is a more peaceful place than Britain, with murder and rape generally being rarer (granted, statistics in the latter case are famously difficult to trust). Terrorism, for reasons I leave to the reader, has been almost non-existent in Polish society.

Tax Filing Websites Have Been Sending Users’ Financial Information to Facebook

Simon Fondrie-Teitler, Angie Waller, and Colin Lecher

Major tax filing services such as H&R Block, TaxAct, and TaxSlayer have been quietly transmitting sensitive financial information to Facebook when Americans file their taxes online, The Markup has learned. 

The data, sent through widely used code called the Meta Pixel, includes not only information like names and email addresses but often even more detailed information, including data on users’ income, filing status, refund amounts, and dependents’ college scholarship amounts. 

The information sent to Facebook can be used by the company to power its advertising algorithms and is gathered regardless of whether the person using the tax filing service has an account on Facebook or other platforms operated by its owner, Meta.

Britain’s Undergraduates are Worryingly Innumerate

The Economist:

Shaking things up could involve more than academics. Pupils who do the International Baccalaureate (ib) must not only pass exams but also complete some kind of community service. For many of the ib’s boosters, this is a big part of its appeal. Some argue that a “British Baccalaureate” should mix subjects from academic and vocational paths, which at present are kept far apart. Whatever happens, it will probably give no one complete satisfaction. 7

Taxpayer supported Madison School District’s open records non responses

Scott Girard:

In May, Wisconsin Transparency Project president and founder Tom Kamenick wrote in an email to the Cap Times that he has “received more complaints about MMSD than any other government agency.”

“I’m frequently seeing lengthy delays, exorbitant fees, and downright illegal denials from the district,” Kamenick wrote. “The district seems to make transparency and accountability a very low priority, and I’m not surprised to see them sued twice in quick succession.”

State statutes outline the requirements for public entities regarding open records. In a 2019 compliance guide, the state’s Office of Open Government called part of the statute on open records “one of the strongest declarations of policy found in the Wisconsin statutes.”

“[I]t is declared to be the public policy of this state that all persons are entitled to the greatest possible information regarding the affairs of government and the official acts of those officers and employees who represent them,” the statute states.

The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic”

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Friday Afternoon Veto: Governor Evers Rejects AB446/SB454; an effort to address our long term, disastrous reading results

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

No When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?

China just announced a new social credit law. Here’s what it means.

Zeyi Yang:

It’s easier to talk about what China’s social credit system isn’t than what it is. Ever since 2014, when China announced a six-year plan to build a system to reward actions that build trust in society and penalize the opposite, it has been one of the most misunderstood things about China in Western discourse. Now, with new documents released in mid-November, there’s an opportunity to correct the record.

For most people outside China, the words “social credit system” conjure up an instant image: a Black Mirror–esque web of technologies that automatically score all Chinese citizens according to what they did right and wrong. But the reality is, that terrifying system doesn’t exist, and the central government doesn’t seem to have much appetite to build it, either. 

Instead, the system that the central government has been slowly working on is a mix of attempts to regulate the financial credit industry, enable government agencies to share data with each other, and promote state-sanctioned moral values—however vague that last goal in particular sounds. There’s no evidence yet that this system has been abused for widespread social control (though it remains possible that it could be wielded to restrict individual rights). 

While local governments have been much more ambitious with their innovative regulations, causing more controversies and public pushback, the countrywide social credit system will still take a long time to materialize. And China is now closer than ever to defining what that system will look like. On November 14, several top government agencies collectively released a draft law on the Establishment of the Social Credit System, the first attempt to systematically codify past experiments on social credit and, theoretically, guide future implementation. 

Yet the draft law still left observers with more questions than answers.

Yet because school has been the dominant metaphor for learning, children who are not yet in school have often been considered little more than empty vessels waiting to be filled.

Alex Blasdel:

During the past two centuries, educators, psychologists, toy companies and parents like us have acted, implicitly or otherwise, as if the purpose of play is to optimise children for adulthood. The dominant model for how to do that has been the schoolhouse, with its reading, ’riting, and ’rithmetic. The more book learning we could doll up as play, and then cram into our children, the better. Then, with the rise of neuroscience in the second half of the 20th century, toys were increasingly marketed and purchased for the purpose of building better brains in order to build more competitive and successful grownups – to make Homo sapiens that were a little more sapient.

The pressure to do that has been felt most intensely with the youngest kids, aged five and under, and in recent decades the market has bestowed upon us such brands as Baby Einstein, Baby Genius and Fat Brain (tagline: “Toys that Matter to Their Gray Matter”). By 2020, the broad category of educational toys was making nearly $65bn (£55bn) worldwide, a figure that is forecast to double within the decade. Toys that teach – from the Speak & Spell and the See ’n Say to an entire phylum of learn-to-code robots – now pervade many young lives. “This generation of parents is asking toys to provide an end product, and that end product is prosperity,” Richard Gottlieb, an influential toy industry consultant, told me. “They want toys to get their children into Harvard.”

Gratitude: Reflections on What We Owe to Our Country.

William Buckley:

I have always thought Anatole France’s story of the juggler to be one of enduring moral resonance. This is the arresting and affecting tale of the young monk who aspires to express his devotion to the Virgin Mary, having dejectedly reviewed, during his first week as a postulant at the monastery alongside Our Lady of Sorrows, the prodigies and gifts of his fellow monks. Oh, some sang like nightingales, others played their musical instruments as virtuosi, still others rhapsodized with the tongues of poets. But all that this young novice had learned in the way of special skills before entering the monastery was to entertain modestly as a juggler. And so, in the dead of night, driven by the mandate to serve, walking furtively lest he be seen and mocked by his brothers, he makes his ardent way to the altar with his sackful of wooden mallets and balls, and does his act for Our Lady.

This account of the struggle to express gratitude is unsurpassed in devotional literature. The apparent grotesquerie — honoring the mother of the Saviour of the universe, the vessel of salvation, with muscular gyrations designed to capture the momentary interest of six-year-olds — is inexpressibly beautiful in the mind’s eye. The act of propitiation; gratitude reified.

How to acknowledge one’s devotion, one’s patrimony, one’s heritage? Why, one juggles before the altar of God, if that is what one knows how to do. That Americans growing into citizenhood should be induced to acknowledge this patrimony and to demonstrate their gratitude, for it is the thesis of this exercise. By asking them to make sacrifices we are reminding them that they owe a debt, even as the juggler felt a debt to Our Lady. And reminding them that requital of a debt is the purest form of acknowledging that debt. The mind tends to turn to the alms-giver as one experiences the alms he has to give us. We are familiar with the debt an exonerated defendant feels toward the judicial system on which he suddenly found himself relying. The man truly hungry looks with a different eye on the person who feeds him. It is entirely possible to live out an entire life without experiencing the civic protections which can become so contingently vital to us at vital moments. Even if we never need the help of the courts, or of the policeman, or of the Bill of Rights, that they are there for us in the event of need distinguishes our society from others. To alert us to their presence, however dormant in our own lives, tends to ensure their survival. And tends also to encourage a citizenry alert to the privileges the individual might one day need. This enjoyment, this answering of needs, can make us proud of our country — and put us in its debt. In this essay on the theme of Gratitude, I postulate that we do owe something. To whom? The dead being beyond our reach, our debt can only be expressed to one another; but our gratitude is also a form of obeisance — yes, to the dead. The points I raise will disturb some “conservative” presumptions as also some commonly thought of as “liberal.” I have, in any event, the obligation to explore the social meaning of duty. Those who respond to religious guidelines will not be surprised, for example, by the Christian call to reinspect Divine commandments: “Verily I say unto you, inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” Although religious faith is not required to prompt attention to the nature of the injunction, the intensity of the concern of some Americans is sometimes best understood by the use of religious metaphors. Emile Durkheim wrote engrossingly on the question when he spoke of the “relation of a devoted child to his parents, of an ardent patriot to his fatherland, [of a] cosmopolitan to mankind, of a worker to his class, of a nobleman conscious of his rank to the aristocracy, of the vanquished to his conqueror, of the good soldier to his army.” “All these relations,” Durkheim concluded, “with their infinitely manifold contents can, indeed do, have a general tenor as far as their psychic aspect is concerned — which must be called a religious key.”

Hero worship and our disastrous reading results


As discussion of Emily Hanford’s new podcast builds,teachers are questioning stories we were sold by people we trusted. For some teachers, this is the first time they’ve doubted instructional materials that are ubiquitous in elementary and reading intervention classrooms. When we question the tenets of Balanced Literacy, teachers can unearth a trove of information. But how to make sense of it all?

As researchers Stanovich and Stanovich explain:

The current problem is how to sift through the avalanche of misguided and uninformed advice to find genuine knowledge. Our problem is not information; we have tons of information. What we need are quality control mechanisms.”

A lack of “quality control” has allowed disproven methods to take root in our classrooms and, if we don’t rethink our approach to finding answers, history may repeat itself. Dr. Emily Solari recently wrote:

Statistical Illiteracy and Governance

David Randall:

No rigorous and fair-minded researcher with any understanding of statistics, experimental design, or the irreproducibility crisis would take this study seriously. Indeed, the fact that it passed peer review is yet more evidence that peer review now functions to credential and accelerate groupthink rather than to deter it.

Such shoddy research is far too common in the sciences and social sciences. This is a grave enough problem in its own right, but it has more serious consequences for America as a whole. We have delegated policymaking authority to professionals who claim expertise in wide swathes of administrative policy, judicial decisionmaking, and legislation. Those experts who claim the mantle of “Science” are foremost among these would-be professional experts. Such men and women far too frequently subordinate the search for truth to the search to impose a preferred policy. Their shoddy research methods are part and parcel of their desire to forward a political agenda—although it should be emphasized that even researchers without a political agenda now use statistical and experimental methods guaranteed to produce a mass of false results.

Shoddy research dovetails astonishingly well with radical polemic.

Governance and PR influence COVID era sausage making: medical court activity

Zachary Steiber:

“If the government is going to label ivermectin a horse medicine or a horse dewormer and promulgate the idea that it is only for animals, then the natural correlation is that doctors who prescribe it are horse doctors or quack doctors, which has played out,” he said. “That is enough of a harm to get into court” or have the motion to dismiss rejected, he said.

Ivermectin is used on animals in addition to humans. The FDA used a picture of a horse in its Twitter posts and on one of its pages.

“The government engaged in a singularly effective campaign here to malign a common drug that has been used for a very long time and has been dispensed in billions of doses. It’s one of the most famously safe drugs in the history of human medicine. And when people did exactly what the FDA said to ‘Stop it. Stop it with the ivermectin,’ I don’t understand how that would not be traceable back to the FDA,” Kelson said.

U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Brown, a Trump appointee overseeing the case, said he was most concerned about the social media statements because they didn’t include any qualifiers.

Belfer argued the statements were aimed at consumers and that the Twitter posts linked to one of the pages, which does include the qualifier.

“So it was predictable that if you include the link to the article, people will click on the link and will see the full article, which includes that disclaimer that if your doctor writes you a prescription, you should fill it exactly as prescribed,” he said.

“The plaintiffs, by their own admission, have continued to prescribe ivermectin. So they always had the authority. It may be that patients were not able to fill prescriptions, but the doctors themselves always had the authority.”

Brown said he appreciated the briefing from the parties and that he would rule “as quickly as we can for ya’ll.” As of Nov. 19, he hadn’t issued a ruling.

Dollars, rankings and Yale Law School

Bill Henderson:

Yale Law School’s $1.2 billion share of the Yale University endowment provides approximately $63 million in operating funds, which translates into $106,000 per student, though this amount appears to be headed up due to the 40.2% increase in Yale’s endowment in 2021. See “Yale endowment earns 40.2% investment return in fiscal 2021,” Yale News, Oct 14, 2021; Evan Gorelick, “Yale’s endowment, explained,” Yale Daily News, Oct 22, 2022 (discussing Yale endowment’s 5.25% target payout and policy of smoothing returns over multiple years).

To be clear, these are the funds available before Yale Law collects its first dollar of tuition.  Nonetheless, as the top-ranked law school in the US News rankings for more than 30 years, Yale has a superabundance of highly credentialed students who would be willing to pay or borrow the current cost of attendance. For the 2021-22 admission cycle, Yale admitted only 5.6% of applicants; of those admitted, 81% enrolled, making Yale the most selective and elite law school in the nation. See YLS, “Statistical Profile of the Class of 2025.”

Among elite law schools, Yale clearly has the strongest balance sheet.  Its closest competitors are Stanford Law ($76,000 in endowment funding per student) and Harvard ($56,000), which typically rank #2 or #3 in any given year. Among the rest of the T-14, endowment funding generates approximately $20,000 per student, with a high of $33,000 and a low of $4,000, albeit these figures, similar to Yale, may go up due to improved endowment performances, as pandemic-related fiscal and monetary policies tended to make the rich richer. (See Methodological Notebelow for how these figures are calculated.)

The big news, of course, is that Yale recently announced its withdrawal from the US News rankings, at least as an active participant. See Ines Chomnalez, “Yale Law School withdraws from ‘perverse’ U.S. News rankings,” Yale Daily News, Nov 16, 2022.  This decision, and its likely second-order effects for other law schools, are nearly impossible to accurately grasp without also understanding (1) the technical intricacies of how the US News rankings work, as this creates the underlying incentive structure; and (2) the significant risk that Yale was running by continuing to play the US News game, making it a poor data point for generalizing to other law schools.

This special off-publication post covers both topics.

Teacher union$ and $chool Board Governance: Californian edition

Mine Antonucci:

The California Teachers Association spent heavily on school board races in the state, distributing $1.8 million to 125 local affiliates, which were required by union policy to add almost $1 million more to the total.

That investment seems to have mostly paid off. California election results take weeks to finalize, but union-backed candidates are leading in 35 of the 52 races in which the state union spent the most money.

The biggest winner was Rocio Rivas, running for a seat on the Los Angeles Unified School District board. The union contributed more than $330,000 on her behalf.

The union supported Shana Hazan and Cody Petterson with $145,000, and they won seats on the San Diego Unified board.

The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic”

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Friday Afternoon Veto: Governor Evers Rejects AB446/SB454; an effort to address our long term, disastrous reading results

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

No When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?

Civics: reforming the administrative state, DIE…

An MR reader request:

You are appointed to the 24 DeSantis cabinet with the task of “fixing the administrative state”. Republicans have a very large Congressional majority. What do you try to do?

2. DIE must die: As a bureaucrat, the main difference I notice between a D and R President is how hard HR initiatives are pushed and how much HR expands. Under D administrations, we spend far more time in meetings and seminars pushing the latest woke fad. Not only does it seem to waste time, but it also puts up barriers between the various groupings of people.

Civics: Politics and the English Language in CBC’s Investigative Journalism

Terry Newman:

George Orwell’s “Politics and the English Language” explains how language – and therefore meaning – can quickly degrade if an author is writing for political reasons.

Orwell points out two ways this degradation happens: staleness of imagery and lack of precision. He gives three possible explanations for this degradation; the writer may have a meaning in mind that they cannot express for whatever reason, or the writer accidentally says something other than what they mean, or the writer could be indifferent or unconcerned about whether their words mean anything or not.

While all three reasons can be attributed to a lack of skill on the part of the writer, the last appears to be the most critical flaw. After all, if a writer does not care whether or not what they are saying actually means anything in reality, or, worse, they are intentionally obscuring reality by failing to explain a situation fully with concrete imagery or by using a word abstractly, without precision, for political purposes, we must then view this as a purposeful attempt to obscure concrete reality. The result is ugly. 

Ugly political writing uses words in a dishonest way as a shorthand to deceive, rather than elaborate, and to signify that some target, some particular person or group of people, is undesirable. 

Ugly political writing seems to be everywhere today, but I am going to focus on a recent CBC piece, “Scores of anti-trans candidates running in Ontario school board elections,” to illustrate how political writing is, as Orwell pointed out, abstract, in that it fails to communicate concrete images to further its arguments, and imprecise, in that it relies on the vagueness of terms in an attempt to prove the political point of the author.