Simple sabotage

Erik Bernhardsson

CIA produced a fantastic book during the peak of World War 2 called Simple Sabotage. It laid out various ways for infiltrators to ruin productivity of a company. Some of the advice is timeless, for instance the section about “General interference with Organizations and Production”:

  1. Insist on doing everything through “channels”. Never permit short-cuts to be taken in order to expedite decisions.
  2. Make “speeches”. Talk as frequently as possible and at lengths. Illustrate your “points” by long anecdotes and accounts of personal experience. Never hesitate to make a few “patriotic” comments.
  3. When possible, refer all matters to committees for “further study and consideration”. Attempt to make committees as large as possible — never less than five.
  4. Bring up irrelevant issues as frequently as possible.
  5. Haggle over precise wordings of communications, minutes, resolutions.
  6. Refer back to matters decided upon at the last meeting and attempt to re-open the question of the advisability of that decision.
  7. Advicate “caution”. Be “reasonable” and urge your fellow conferees to be “reasonable” and avoid haste which might result in embarrassments or difficulties later on.
  8. Be worried about the propriety of any decision — raise the question of whether such action as is contemplated lies within the jurisdiction of the group or whether it might conflict with the policy of some higher echelon.

I guess I’ve always been fascinated with how well this has stood the test of time? I even got this particular section framed and hung up at our office:


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 

Scores of actresses turn down roles in play critical of JK Rowling’s gender views

Craig Simpson:

A play that criticises JK Rowling’s views on gender is struggling to cast women with 90 actresses so far rejecting parts.

The stage production, which is set to debut at the Edinburgh Fringe, has already caused outrage over a working title which labelled the gender-critical Harry Potter author a c—-.

The production is yet to cast any of the female roles, including that of Rowling herself.

The part of Harry Potter film star Emma Watson has also been repeatedly turned down, and around 90 actresses have refused to take part in the project amid concerns over its critique of Rowling.

The author has become a figure of hate online among some activists, and received death threats after publicly sharing concerns about the encroachment of transgender campaigning on women’s rights.

Actors have been found for male leads, who will portray Harry Potter cast members Rupert Grint and Daniel Radcliffe.

Some schools dole out funds for students who can trace their lineage to specific individuals—or just happen to have the same name; good news for Zolps and Scarpinatos

Melissa Korn:

Descendants of major donors or graduates have long enjoyed an edge in admissions at many colleges. But legacy preference reaches even further at some schools, with money available for people who can trace their lineage directly to specific individuals, or who just happen to have the same last name.

Loyola University Chicago offers scholarships to Catholic students with the last name Zolp. A University of California scholarship gives preference to graduate students from Colombia and direct descendants from the family of the benefactor, Miguel Velez. Among more than a half-dozen “ancestry-based scholarships,” as Harvard University labels them, is one for descendants of Thomas Dudley, who served as governor of the Massachusetts Bay colony in the 1600s.

If the donors want to claim charitable deductions on their taxes, university fundraisers say, they have to make clear that lineage is just a preference, not an outright requirement. That way, the money will still be used when no namesakes are selected, and donors steer clear of what the IRS calls “private benefit.”

The University of Maine currently has 38 scholarships with stated preferences for descendants of a particular individual or family.

Civics and taxpayer supported NPR “No Evidence for Those Claims” !

Shannon Bonds hourly news plug 15 June 2024 16:00ET: [short audio clip]

Academic group studying disinformation is facing an uncertain future after political attacks. A campaign by Republicans is targeting research. NPRs Shannon Bond reports the Stanford Internet Observatory studies how social media platforms are abused. Its investigated thorny issues including child exploitation and the spread of false and misleading information about voting and vaccines.

Now its top leaders are out and future funding is uncertain. The group is among a slew of researchers who have come under attack by conservatives who allege they’re colluding with the government and tech companies to censor political speech. There’s no evidence for those claims, but they fueled online harassment campaigns and conspiracy theories.

Stanford University says The work of the internet observatory will continue under new leadership. Shannon Bond, NPR News, this.

Another NPR publication.

I wonder how much research Ms. Bond conducted for this article?

Thomas Adamo, Josiah Joner:

Matt Taibbi’s two latest “Twitter Files” drops revealed that Stanford played a direct role in this gross violation of online free speech. Emails revealed that the Stanford Internet Observatory (SIO) actively collaborated with Twitter to suppress information they knew was factually true. Taibbi’s investigation revealed that Stanford’s Virality Project “recommends that multiple platforms take action even against ‘stories of true vaccine side effects’ and ‘true posts which could fuel hesitancy.’”

The project succeeded in getting big tech companies to take down about 35% of the content they flagged. They reviewed content en masse from almost every major social media company: Twitter, Google, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Medium, TikTok, and Pinterest were all monitored by SIO. The questionable censorship decisions by the group all seemed to go in one direction—shutting down the now-vindicated Dr. Scott Atlas and Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, while taking direct guidance from Anthony Fauci about the supposed falsehood of the lab leak theory.

Deep dive on the twitter files, here.

Ann Althouse:

So this “collapse” is occurring just before the Supreme Court case comes out. Odd.

What’s the answer to my original question, how much of a struggle was it for the experts in monitoring disinformation to handle attacks from conservatives? Were the attacks well grounded, or were the attacks disinformation?


I salute the name, “Stanford Internet Observatory.” I think of astronomy and the clean pursuit of star systems, with the telescope instead focused on something infinite and microscopic: the galaxies of the internet.

However, it was just a run-of-the-mill political op, small and grubby, gussied up to sound fancy.

School starts fundraiser for family of 9-year-old Jonael Zambrano-Cardona, who was fatally shot while playing in his bedroom in Milwaukee

Drake Bentley

Greater Holy Temple Christian Academy started a fundraiser for the family of 9-year-old Jonael Zambrano-Cardona, who was shot and killed in Milwaukee by a stray bullet while playing in his room following a barrage of gunfire outside his home.

Jonael just finished third grade at his school that same day. “He had a bright future ahead of him,” wrote Edward DeShazer, executive director of the academy, on the GoFundMe page.

“We want to rally around his family in their time of need and help them with whatever costs that are to come,” he said.

Milwaukee police said the shooting took place just after midnight Thursday in a condominium complex on the 9000 block of North Swan Road. Jonael would later die at a hospital. Attempts to reach his family have been unsuccessful.

Jonael’s cousin, Maynor Antunez, started a separate GoFundMe page for the family to help cover funeral expenses.

“I just wanted to point out that the idea of substituting tariffs for taxes does have much historical support”


For most of American history, tariffs dominated taxes as a source of federal government revenue:

This was also the time when the US rose to become a manufacturing powerhouse. And as you can see from the graph, the income tax (and the Federal Reserve and much of the federal government as we know it) really only dates back to the 1910-1930s period. For most of US history the economy was set up in a completely different way.

The term for what the US used to be is “mercantilist”. The founders thought of the US as like a giant merchant that needed to make more money than it spent.

As such, their rationale for tariffs was simple. A tariff is an incentive to build rather than buy. In theory, it encourages domestic manufacturing and is a tax on foreigners rather than citizens. We don’t need to buy foreign goods; we have goods at home!

This is distinct from the last few decades of free trade. The idea was: you’re good at making apples and I’m good at making oranges, so why not just specialize and trade? Comparative advantage proves it’s a win/win!

This is a good argument until you make military robots and I make pieces of paper, which is the relationship between China and the US now. At that point it’s no longer a win/win. With your military robots you can perhaps take my paper — and my oranges. And there is no need to trade.


“America’s assassination attempt on Huawei is backfiring”

“By using available federal databases, the [Selective Service] agency will be able to register all of the individuals required and thus help ensure that any future military draft is fair and equitable.”

Mario Nawful:

The House passed a measure automatically registering men aged 18 to 26 for selective service as part of the FY25 National Defense Authorization Act.

Previously, male U.S. citizens aged 18 to 25 had to manually register for Selective Service.

The new proposal does not alter the existing requirements for immigrants, who must register within 30 days of arrival unless they are on valid visas.

This new measure uses federal databases for automatic registration, streamlining the process and reducing legal issues for non-compliance.

“repackage failure as democratic progress”

Riva-Melissa Tez:

Las Vegas is not selling you a fake morality. You can care or not, and no one will judge you. I grew tired of California’s virtue signaling, the self-flagellation and the demands that we apologize for our own success. We are taught to tone down our splendor, to be ashamed of our successes, to live in mediocrity as a symbol of equality with our neighbors. The billionaires are fasting in their minimalist houses, worried about the potential resentment of their employees and customers. We’re all self-censoring, nervous that the wrong word, phrase or pronoun will destroy our careers and livelihood.

The psychological weight of this tip-toeing forces us to look for joy in little things: the yoga classes, the mindfulness podcasts, the $22 custom gluten-free, dairy-free salads. When I first ordered the giant fruit sherbet sundae at the Peppermill, a 24-hour neon-lit Las Vegas diner, I felt relieved of California’s judgement. A huge mold of pink frozen sherbet dripped out of a supersize pineapple, like a soft volcanic ooze. The splendor was mine for only $13.

The elites in Silicon Valley are ashamed of their elitism. In their false apologies, they promote narratives that intend to show how much they care for the rest of society. This messaging, the worst form of pity, only belittles their neighbors. The irony is lost on them. For not once did they feel a moment of true greatness, the power to shape the world around them, more than picking the color of their new Tesla. The people who rose to the top of Las Vegas recognized the power in enjoying it all, for that skill was what allowed them to package it to the rest of society. Give me the surrealist grandiose dreams of Las Vegas over San Francisco any day. I’ll take a gondola from the Venetian and meet you outside of Cheesecake Factory.

Civics: notes on “opposition research”

Mark Judge

It’s good that the justices are speaking out. But conservatives need to understand that there is nothing to all the media stories concocting ethics complaints about the justices —they are simply being targeted by coordinated “oppo research” campaigns.

Oppo or “opposition research” is used in politics to destroy political enemies. Genuine ethical questions usually involve things like bribes and the abuse of power. Opposition researchers, on the other hand, find people you dated when you were 16 years old and get them to say nasty things about you. They then try and use those things to stir up controversy. They feed it to the media then try and personally destroy the targeted person to get them to step down from public life.

It baffles me that by now conservatives are still fooled by this tactic. They assume that where there is smoke, there must be fire—when the left makes the smoke up out of thin air.

I have been warning about the left’s plan to do this to the conservatives on the Court for more than five years. I first brought it up in 2018 while talking to an old friend over lunch in Georgetown. I had been oppo researched, almost to death, to prevent Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, a high school friend of mine, from taking his seat on the Court. I told my friend that even though Brett made it, the oppo was just getting started. She laughed in my face. (She did not laugh when she read my account of the Kavanaugh hit in my book The Devil’s Triangle.)

Since then, I have spent hours, days, weeks, and months trying to warn the political right. They are going to go after the friends and family of the justices. They are going to dig up all kinds of nonsense. They are going to secretly record them.


I often ask, when reading articles, how the writer chose and expanded on the topic, particularly when they have no expertise in said area. Seeding and fertilizing is common.



“Like most legacy newspapers, we have an editorial voice and it happens to be center-left, and we have a robust nonpartisan opinion section that includes views of conservatives on a number of local issues,” he said. “Our commentary is pro-democracy, pro-transparency, and clearly labeled as opinion. Like legacy newspapers, our opinion section is completely separate from our news reporting.”


Also, Wisconsin Watch.

Taboos and Self-Censorship Among U.S. Psychology Professors

Cory J. Clark, Matias Fjeldmark, […], and Philip E. Tetlock+10:

We identify points of conflict and consensus regarding (a) controversial empirical claims and (b) normative preferences for how controversial scholarship—and scholars—should be treated. In 2021, we conducted qualitative interviews (n = 41) to generate a quantitative survey (N = 470) of U.S. psychology professors’ beliefs and values. Professors strongly disagreed on the truth status of 10 candidate taboo conclusions: For each conclusion, some professors reported 100% certainty in its veracity and others 100% certainty in its falsehood. Professors more confident in the truth of the taboo conclusions reported more self-censorship, a pattern that could bias perceived scientific consensus regarding the inaccuracy of controversial conclusions. Almost all professors worried about social sanctions if they were to express their own empirical beliefs. Tenured professors reported as much self-censorship and as much fear of consequences as untenured professors, including fear of getting fired.

Merrick Garland on Speech and Institutions

Writing in the Bezos Washington Post:

Unfounded attacks on the Justice Department must end

Last week, a California man was convicted of threatening to bomb an FBI field office where hundreds of agents and other employees work. In one of his threats to the FBI, the man wrote: “I can go on a mass murder spree. In fact, it would be very explainable by your actions.”

More: + Commentary:

DOJ officials “do not investigate people because of their last name, their political affiliation, the size of their bank account, where they come from or what they look like. We investigate and prosecute violations of federal law — nothing more, nothing less,” Garland wrote.


“We will not be intimidated by these attacks,” he said. “But it is absurd and dangerous that public servants, many of whom risk their lives every day, are being threatened for simply doing their jobs and adhering to the principles that have long guided the Justice Department’s work.”

The op-ed comes as House Republicans are moving toward holding Garland in contempt of Congress for defying a subpoena to hand over recordings from special counsel Robert Hur’s investigation into President Joe Biden’s handling of classified documents.

On the same day Garland similarly defended the DOJ before a House panel last week, Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) announced a “three-pronged” response to what Republicans have described as a “weaponized” justice system using investigations, legislation, and power of the purse.

Garland insisted in his op-ed the DOJ does not make political decisions in criminal investigations, a charge GOP critics have made in regard to the Trump cases and others, and warned “democracy cannot survive” without a justice system that guarantees equal treatment of all its citizens.

“Disagreements about politics are good for our democracy. They are normal,” Garland wrote. “But using conspiracy theories, falsehoods, violence and threats of violence to affect political outcomes is not normal.”

“The short-term political benefits of those tactics will never make up for the long-term cost to our country,” he added. “Continued unfounded attacks against the Justice Department’s employees are dangerous for people’s safety. They are dangerous for our democracy. This must stop.”

Katelynn Richardson:

Garland ignores the differences in the prosecution of Trump and Biden for similar behavior with classified documents.

For instance, Trump’s case involved an armed raid on Mar-a-Lago, while in Biden’s case his personal lawyers searched his papers.

The DOJ has spent over $23 million on the two investigations into former President Donald Trump, while spending only around $6.4 million on the probe into Biden’s handling of classified documents, according to numbers released in January.

The Biden DOJ also opposed efforts to limit its “settlement slush fund,” which enables it to direct funds toward left-wing nonprofits.

Jonathan Turley:

This week, Attorney General Merrick Garland took to the pages of the Washington Post to lash out at critics who are spreading what he considers “conspiracy theories crafted and spread for the purpose of undermining public trust in the judicial process itself.” His column, titled “Unfounded attacks on the Justice Department must end,” missed the point.

Caitlin Clark Won’t Be at the Olympics. For Basketball, It’s a Total Brick.

Jason Gay:

Leaving Clark off Team USA is a comical blunder of industrial self-sabotage—but also not that surprising. Let’s start with the unsurprising part. Team USA women’s basketball is a formidable juggernaut. Since Atlanta 1996, they have won the gold medal at seven straight Summer Games, and they will be heavy favorites again in France. This is a program with a legacy and a system—and though they have snubbed stars before (Candace Parker, Nneka Ogwumike) they’re not used to this sort of furious blowback from the public. They’re used to winning, and from a winning standpoint, it’s hard to argue: Team USA’s chances are going to be fine without Caitlin Clark. They are also going to be fine if they start a pinball machine at point guard.

But if Olympic basketball is also a business—and it is a business, like any element of the Olympics—then passing over a player who’s become a stadium-filling sensation is a strange and stubborn choice. Here was a low-risk opportunity to add a talented, already-on-the-roster-bubble rookie who would introduce a massive wave of new fans to the Olympic theater. These fans might not have followed prior U.S. teams, but so what? Clark’s inclusion would have lifted attention around the U.S. team in an extremely crowded Olympic calendar.

Think about it. Even if she seldom played a minute, Clark’s presence in Paris would have increased attention, coverage, eyeballs, merchandise, sponsorship opportunities…please stop when you think any of this is bad. By not including her, Team USA is fumbling an opportunity to ride a genuine grassroots phenomenon and raise the profile of its entire program. It’s daffy.

“Who’s responsible for our accountability problem?“

Tim Harford:

I realised I was facing what the writer Dan Davies has named an “accountability sink”, in which it was somehow nobody’s fault. In his recent book The Unaccountability Machine, Davies explains the basic logic of an accountability sink: decision-making power is removed from individuals you might want to shout at, and made instead by an algorithm or some distant committee both ignorant of and immune to your objections. 

Everyone I spoke to insisted that they were powerless to act. And if you cannot change a decision, you cannot be held accountable for it. That’s the accountability sink at work. 

“Computer says no” first became a comedy catchphrase 20 years ago, so although the accountability sink is a useful new term it describes an older problem. Just ask 440 luckless squirrels who in 1999 arrived at Schiphol airport in the Netherlands, en route from Beijing to Athens. Unfortunately, particularly for the squirrels, they had been shipped without the right paperwork.

What to do? It wasn’t legal to send them on to Athens. It wasn’t possible, apparently, to send them back to Beijing or to fix the paperwork. So the airport ground staff started up an industrial shredder normally used in poultry farms for killing male chicks and threw all 440 of the squirrels into it.

Milwaukee k-12 officials knew about state aid reductions before referendum vote

By: A.J. Bayatpour

State education officials said Friday administrators for Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) knew the district was facing a reduction in state aid as early as late March. 

Those adjustments from the Department of Public Instruction (DPI), now estimated to be somewhere between $35 million and $50 million, will make up for overpayments MPS previously received as a result of bad data it provided the state.

Chris Bucher, a DPI spokesperson, told CBS 58 Friday the state first became aware in late March MPS may have submitted incorrect data that led to the state giving more money than it should have.

On April 2, Milwaukee voters narrowly approved a $252 million referendum for the district. 

Friday’s release is the first public confirmation at least some officials at the highest levels of MPS knew they were facing a state aid reduction because of past mistakes, but voters were never informed of that before the April vote.

“The subject of an impact to aid first came up during a discussion in late March, although we cannot confirm an exact date,” Bucher said in an email. “Because of problems with MPS data, we have been working since then to drill down and put more clarity on this number.”

“enrollment has declined by nearly 67% over the past 10 years”


Oshkosh Chancellor Andrew Leavitt announced the university’s Fox Cities campus will close in June 2025 due to low enrollment — the sixth two-year campus in two years to either end in-person instruction or shut completely.

Leavitt confirmed the news Thursday after Outagamie County Exec Tom Nelson blasted him and UW President Jay Rothman for the decision this morning. 

“We reach this decision after spending a year analyzing UWO Fox Cities enrollment, the region’s and state’s changing demographics, student participation rates, the regional higher-education landscape, potential for new and unique academic offerings and economic trends in the competitive Fox Valley marketplace,” Leavitt said. “In the end, we made a difficult but responsible decision.” 

The decision comes as enrollment has declined by nearly 67% over the past 10 years, with a five-year average decline of nearly 19%. The campus had just 454 full-time equivalent students in the fall.

And with the number of high school graduates in the state expected to go down 13% over the next 10 years, a UW-Oshkosh analysis projected the possibility of fewer than 100 students at the Fox Cities campus by 2032.


Wisconsin abortion data.

Live births:

  • In 2022, there were 60,032 births, 2,054 of which were multiples (for example, twins, triplets, etc.).
  • The Wisconsin state birth rate continued to slowly decline over the past 20 years, dropping from 12.7 live births per 1,000 people in 2003 to 10.2 in 2022. This decline has been slower than the downward U.S. trend, narrowing the gap between the state and the national birth rate.

Stanford Shuts Down Censorship Operation

Michael Shellenberger:

The Stanford Internet Observatory, which led mass censorship efforts for the US government, has dismissed its leaders, Renée DiResta and Alex Stamos

Over the last 18 months, Public has extensively documented the mass censorship effort led by the Stanford Internet Observatory (SIO) for the United States government. Accounts vary, but either the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) asked SIO to lead the effort or SIO’s ostensible leader, Alex Stamos, proposed the idea.

The brains of the SIO operation was Renée DiResta, an ostensibly “former” CIA employee. Senate Democrats, the New York Times, and other news media close to the Intelligence Community (IC) heavily promoted DiResta starting in 2018, when she spread disinformation exaggerating the influence of Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 election. In 2020 and 2021, DiResta and SIO led a DHS effort that successfully pressured social media platforms to censor disfavored views of Covid and interfere in the 2020 elections.

“You shouldn’t expect to know how to read, do math, or make a life for yourself”

Luther Ray Abel:

once you’re auto-graduated from one of the area’s failed schools. But if you’re a Marquette-educated city planner who grew up in Whitefish Bay and now has a place, a goldendoodle, and a job in the Third Ward, Milwaukee is everything a man could ever want. Ride the white-collar novelty streetcar that cost tens of millions to build and bask in how good it is to be anywhere that isn’t steeped in crime-and-grift-maintained poverty.

It just so happens that those moaning about Trump’s assessment of Milwaukee are the latter. Everyone else is fighting for their lives.


If @MilwaukeeMPS accounting is this bad, can the initial figures it presented when it first pushed for the $252M referendum even be trusted? @WISN12News





Madison taxpayers have long supported far above average K – 12 spending. Per student spending ranges from $22,633 to $29,827 depending on the spending number used (!)

Enrollment notes.

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.

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

Milwaukee’s redistributed state taxpayer “aid” increase sets off a redistribution of $87.9 million, leaving 357 of the state’s 421 districts with less “aid”

Mark Lisheron:

It would then be up to people in those districts to make up for those losses through property tax increases.

“Racine Unified is aware of the potential loss of revenue,” Jeffrey Serak, chief financial officer for the district, told the Badger Institute. “Any loss of revenue digs our deficit a little deeper, resulting in more cost reductions across the district.”

And while its total state aid is much less than the bigger districts, the School District of Tomahawk stands to lose the largest percentage of aid because of the referendum, a drop from $1.8 million to $1.5 million, or 17.4%, according to the report.

Bill Andrekopoulos, a retired MPS superintendent who was an outspoken opponent of the referendum, said it was “beyond startling” to realize not only what a big impact it would have on education in the state, but that such important information is only now getting to the taxpaying and voting public.

“Guess what: All of these districts, whether small or large, are going to have to ask their local taxpayers for more in property taxes,” Andrekopoulos told the Badger Institute. “The more stuff like this gets out, the more people are going to see the need to make a change.”

Civics: Taxpaying Residents vs the Uniparty

Paul Fanlund:

That blowback has been the most pronounced and personally directed as on any topic in all those years of writing. I am cast as a selfish, out-of-touch elitist, even as a racist. Whatever I have written or done before, the critics see themselves as the true progressives, and malcontents like me deserve scorn.

My sin has been pushing back against zoning changes designed to take rights from residents, mostly longtime homeowners, and make it easier for developers to build more and larger apartment buildings on sites that heretofore would be less accessible to them.

Proponents of the zoning changes, including Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway and her allies on the Madison City Council, contend that changing zoning limits is imperative to accommodating population growth. And, in their view, so is bus rapid transit, whose fundamental disruption to automobile movement on major arteries is only now becoming fully understood.

The mayor, council, and outspoken advocates for that vision possess the bully pulpit these days, and woe unto skeptics like me … and Paul Soglin, the former longtime mayor.

I spoke with Soglin recently at a retirement party — Rhodes-Conway was there as well — and Soglin said he had drafted an essay framing the issue. I asked him to share it with me.


Madison taxpayers have long supported far above average K – 12 spending. Per student spending ranges from $22,633 to $29,827 depending on the spending number used (!) despite long term, disastrous reading results.


2018: Madison’s Property Tax Base Growth; $38B+ Federal Taxpayer EMR Subsidy

This topic reminds me of a long ago Madison School Board member who noted that the administrative state uses redistributed federal taxpayer (and borrowed) funds to circumvent local governance. The local BRT scheme was partially funded by federal taxpayers (and borrowing – note the US Debt position)…..

Study confirms the rotation of Earth’s inner core has slowed

Will Kwong:

University of Southern California scientists have proven that the Earth’s inner core is backtracking—slowing down—in relation to the planet’s surface, as shown in new research published in Nature.

Movement of the inner core has been debated by the scientific community for two decades, with some research indicating that the inner core rotates faster than the planet’s surface. The new USC study provides unambiguous evidence that the inner core began to decrease its speed around 2010, moving slower than the Earth’s surface.

“When I first saw the seismograms that hinted at this change, I was stumped,” said John Vidale, Dean’s Professor of Earth Sciences at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. “But when we found two dozen more observations signaling the same pattern, the result was inescapable. The inner core had slowed down for the first time in many decades. Other scientists have recently argued for similar and different models, but our latest study provides the most convincing resolution.”

Civics: “One suspect crossed the border using the CBP One app”

Austin Bay:

On June 11, the federal government announced Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents arrested eight illegal aliens from Tajikistan. Tajikistan is a predominantly Muslim Asian state bordering Afghanistan and a former Soviet Socialist Republic.

The feds believe the Tajik men have ties to the Islamist terrorist group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. ISIS has a presence in Afghanistan and probably a base.

ICE arrested the suspects in three urban areas: New York, Philadelphia and Los Angeles. According to two media reports, the men entered the U.S. via the U.S.-Mexico border. L.A. is near Mexico. Philly and New York? No.

New hearing ordered over more leaked writings from Covenant School shooter

Caleb Wethington and Stacey Cameron

The Tennessee Star is one of the parties who filed a suit wanting at least 20 journals, a suicide note, and a memoir written by the shooter released publicly.

If the newly leaked pages are authentic – this is the second time that part of the journal found by MNPD in the shooter’s car has been leaked. It comes after the judge in the case, I’Ashea Myles, warned against further leaks, threatening contempt of court for anyone who did it again.

However, Judge Myles was unaware of the supposed leak, until WSMV4 Investigates’ Stacey Cameron called the court asking for a reaction to the leak, wanting to know if she was considering holding the Star or anyone else in contempt.

Newly released records provide details in recently Police concluded disciplinary cases

Bill Lueders:

Like other such reports that the MPD’s office of Professional Standards and Internal Affairs has been producing on a quarterly basis since 2016 and archiving online, it was short on specifics. It simply listed the allegations and outcome of the four instances during this period in which officers were either disciplined or resigned after being accused of misconduct. The names of the officers were not included, even though three of the four have previously been named in news accounts.

In the remaining case, an officer “sent an inappropriate video to another member of MPD [and] did not follow proper procedures with handling an ECD and duty firearm.” (ECD stands for electronic control device, or what is commonly referred to as a Taser.) The officer was found to have violated department rules regarding the use of force, police weaponry and professional conduct. The action taken was listed as “resigned.”

On April 5, the day after the summary was released, Isthmus asked the MPD for its disciplinary records in these four instances. The request was part of a long-term effort to secure the prompt release of records regarding police discipline. 

Notes on UCLA medical school admission practices

Aaron Sibarium

The University of California, Los Angeles, medical school has gone to extraordinary lengths for over five years to shield its admissions practices from internal scrutiny, stonewalling data requests from concerned professors and refusing to assure admissions officials that they would not face retaliation for cooperating with an internal probe of the school’s admissions office, according to threesources with firsthand knowledge of the situation and documents obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

Since at least 2018, the school has refused to provide members of its faculty oversight board data on the relationship between admitted students’ academic credentials and their performance in medical school, two former members of that board said.

It has also slow-walked, since November of last year, its response to a public records request for similar data, pushing back the estimated date of availability four times over the course of six months, according to emails from UCLA’s public records office.

AI and mathematics

Terence Tao:

With formalization projects, what we’ve noticed is that you can collaborate with people who don’t understand the entire mathematics of the entire project, but they understand one tiny little piece. It’s like any modern device. No single person can build a computer on their own, mine all the metals and refine them, and then create the hardware and the software. We have all these specialists, and we have a big logistics supply chain, and eventually we can create a smartphone or whatever. Right now, in a mathematical collaboration, everyone has to know pretty much all the mathematics, and that is a stumbling block, as [Scholze] mentioned. But with these formalizations, it is possible to compartmentalize and contribute to a project only knowing a piece of it. I think also we should start formalizing textbooks. If a textbook is formalized, you can create these very interactive textbooks, where you could describe the proof of a result in a very high-level sense, assuming lots of knowledge. But if there are steps that you don’t understand, you can expand them and go into details—all the way down the axioms if you want to. No one does this right now for textbooks because it’s too much work. But if you’re already formalizing it, the computer can create these interactive textbooks for you. It will make it easier for a mathematician in one field to start contributing to another because you can precisely specify subtasks of a big task that don’t require understanding everything.


Gen Z Plumbers and Construction Workers Are Making #BlueCollar Cool

Te-Ping Chen:

Most of the time, when Lexis Czumak-Abreu is stripping cables in a ditch or troubleshooting a sparking outlet, the size of her fan base doesn’t mean too much to her.

But then she’ll be strolling through the airport in Las Vegas, and a stranger will call her name.

Some 2.2 million people on TikTok, Instagram and Facebook watch Czumak-Abreu do her work as an electrician in Cornwall, N.Y. Maybe you are one of them. Did you see her recently atop a bucket truck, adding utility outlets to power poles? Or fixing an electric panel in a water-damaged basement?

“You feel just like a normal person, until you actually get confronted by people and you’re like, oh, my goodness, this is real, people know who I am,” says Czumak-Abreu, the 27-year-old daughter and granddaughter of electricians. Since she began posting videos from her job in 2022, she’s gotten thousands of messages from viewers saying she sparked their interest in trade work.

Milwaukee k-12 district could be docked $35 million to $50 million in redistributed taxpayer $ due to errors, DPI estimates

Rory Linnane:

Milwaukee Public Schools could be docked between $35 million and $50 million in state aid for the next school year due to previous accounting errors by the district, according to initial estimates that the state Department of Public Instruction provided to the Journal Sentinel on Thursday afternoon.

An exact, reliable figure for the aid reduction remained elusive Thursday as state officials said they were still in a “review process” and the numbers could change.

The news came as Milwaukee School Board members prepared to vote on a budget for the next school year at a meeting Thursday night.

While some called for another delay on the board’s budget vote, now-retired MPS Chief Financial Officer Martha Kreitzman previously told board members they must approve a budget by the end of June, when the district’s fiscal year ends. School boards are allowed to make adjustments to their budgets later in the year, after DPI determines how much aid they will get.

Jilly Gokalgandhi, vice president of the board and chair of the board’s budget committee, said the board needed to get a budget plan in place, and would consider changes to that budget planafter DPI provides an update on the district’s state aid.

“This budget will change as DPI provides us with more information on what the real impact will look like for the district,” she said. “We know it’s a serious impact, and so as we get more information, we will share more information.”

Notes on Milwaukee K-12 Governance

Brian Fraley:

State Superintendent Jill Underly put out a written press statement today (Thursday) wherein she shared startling, detailed statistics regarding the historic failure of DPI and MPS to educate hundreds of thousands of Milwaukee Public School students over the last several decades. She included information regarding the district’s increased spending and the flow of state aid provided to MPS and how these monies did not get directed to classroom instruction and did not bring about corresponding gains in math, science and reading scores. Underly not only took responsibility for her and her department’s failure, she explained how Tony Evers has also been a part of the problem, dating back a quarter of a century to when he began to work at the Department of Public Instruction. She was critical of the bloat within MPS and expressed frustration that the district didn’t focus on educational basics and continued to fail to prepare a large percentage of its students to lead productive and successful lives after they leave MPS.

Yeah, right.

In actuality, Underly issued a one paragraph statement about MPS. It reads, in part:

“I am confident the MPS Board of School Directors will approve and implement the corrective action plan we sent them today.”

DPI and the governor are upset that the district hasn’t filed the proper financial paperwork with the proper bureaucrats, and that’s where they want to keep the focus. As soon as the MPS Board votes to accept the plan, they’ll get the millions in state aid DPI withheld earlier this month.

“The Milwaukee k-12 governance structure is designed to support adult needs over children’s”

William Andrekopoulos

Fortunately, I had a mostly strong and supportive board with the courage to pass those recommendations even when there were hostile reactions from the public. These included closing under-enrolled schools, changing school start times for transportation savings, moving to central kitchens, and negotiating benefit changes.

There is not enough space here to talk about the adult push back to such cost saving changes. While I was superintendent, the auditorium was never packed with people lobbying about student achievement, increasing early childhood education, or improving the graduation rate. That hasn’t changed. It is always about adult issues.

Unfortunately, over the last ten years, there has been tremendous MPS staff turnover and retirements, which has significantly impacted institutional knowledge and expertise – most notably in the financial and human resources departments.

This has added stress to the current governance structure. The district’s latest reporting problems to the Wisconsin Department of Public instruction are a good example. The Milwaukee Parental Choice Program formed in 1989 was supposed to improve MPS performance by creating competition. As a result, MPS developed some very good new school and program options.


“An emphasis on adult employment”

“Curious about his experience switching to education and what would happen next”

Alexander Russo:

A Black student who attended predominantly white schools in the Midwest, Hawkins is particularly interested in the issues of corporal punishment — which remains legal in many states — and disproportionate discipline against Black and brown students.

Despite the recent surge in attention, he calls for more coverage of inequalities in schools, which so often result in students of color being disciplined, suspended, or beaten.

“Some media organizations simply don’t care because their readers can’t relate to the experience,” says Hawkins. But it’s not just editors, he says. “Some of these realities touch people in so tender a place that they almost don’t want to report on it.”  

K-12 Administration Development Program

Abbey Machtig

A new collaboration between the UW-Madison School of Education and three Wisconsin school districts — Madison, Lake Mills and Middleton-Cross Plains — proposes a solution: Through the District Leadership Preparation Pipeline, a group of Wisconsin teachers will earn their master’s degree from UW-Madison for no cost. In return, they commit to working in their home school districts as a principal or assistant principal for at least two years.

Teachers get to further their education and increase their salaries, and districts get to expand their pool of qualified leaders.

“Pre Act 10, when teachers took credit for master classes, the compensation was there to pick yourself back up on the pay scale, so it made sense to go back for a master’s degree,” Olson said, referring to the 2011 law that effectively ended most public sector labor unions in Wisconsin. “But now, I think with teacher compensation not keeping pace with inflation, it has become increasingly difficult for teachers to go back to school for any type of master’s degree.”

Sasha Casper, one of the Middleton-Cross Plains teachers who is participating, said colleagues have frequently encouraged her to consider moving into leadership roles

Why married fathers matter

Brad Wilcox:

What is happening in our schools and colleges today is emblematic of what is happening in all too many domains of life, which is that, for more and more young adults, females are flourishing and males are floundering. Young women are outpacing young men in college, graduate school and many a workplace in cities across the United States. Meanwhile, young men are much more likely to be denizens of the basement or, even worse, prison or jail.

What accounts for this male malaise? Education scholars Andrew Bacher-Hicks, Stephen Billings and David Deming point to the effect that strict schools can have in elevating the odds that boys end up in prison — especially Black and Hispanic boys. Reeves points to the ways that schools hold boys back by offering them insufficient opportunities for recess and attention from male teachers, among other things. And psychologist Jonathan Haidt, in his new book “The Anxious Generation,” points to the negative effects of Big Tech — especially gaming and pornography — in robbing boys and young men of their ambition and countless opportunities to engage the real world.

But one word generally goes unmentioned in contemporary discussions of our male malaise: “marriage.”

Notes on Finland achievement

Timothy Walker

Since I first moved to Finland in 2013, I have witnessed an ever-deepening societal problem that has devastated student learning. Childhood has become dominated by digital devices. This is a global trend, but it disproportionately affects Finnish children.

Finland’s teenagers, formerly the world’s highest achievers, still perform above average on the Program for International Student Assessment, or PISA, but they turned in their lowest-ever average scores in math, science and reading in the latest study, and those numbers have been going down for years.

In December, the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture described the predicament as “extremely disconcerting.”

As a U.S. teacher and parent living in Finland, I understand the concern. American schools can learn valuable lessons from Finnish education, both positive and negative.

In 2016, despite research showing that students who used computers more often at school performed much worse on reading and math PISA tests, the Finnish government announced it would spend millions of euros on ramping up digital learning.

Civics: notes on Capitalism

Alex Tabarrok:

Jerry Z. Muller
, author of the classic The Mind and the Market: Capitalism in Western Thought, is my favorite intellectual historian. Evidently I am not alone as the Journal of Applied Corporate Finance has brought together Five Essays by Muller, these are:

  • The Neglected Moral Benefits of the Market
  • Capitalism and Inequality
  • Capitalism and Nationalism
  • The Threat of Democracy to Capitalism
  • Capitalism and the Jews Revisited

All are excellent and to the point. Here is one bit from The Neglected Benefits of the Market (no indent);

Adam Smith famously wrote that

An exploration of what we can learn from medieval Oxford about teaching in the age of AI


The year is 1450. You are among 10% of men (not to even mention women) who are literate in Britain. You are among the upper class – Clergy, Dukes and other local royalty – perhaps an early merchant.

You enroll at Oxford. After a year of studying you visit home. There, I ask you two questions:

What are you learning?
Why are you learning?
The ‘Why’ and ‘What’ of Pre-Industrial Education
The modern education philosophy has been dominant– with some marginal changes– for over a century (more on that later). But in the 15th century, the what and why of education were radically different.

In our studies of history we often focus on the religious aspect of medieval and pre-industrial education. And while this is a valid distinction, in some ways it misses the point for this article. The specific doctrinal importance of Catholicism or Protestantism as taught at Oxford is not as important as understanding the goal of this teaching.

Civics: welcome to the third world

Matt Taibbi

Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan said a person suspected of funding al-Qaeda and caught in the Philippines could be considered “part of the battlefield” and subject to indefinite detention without trial, which sounded a lot like Bushian legal theory. Similarly, when new Attorney General Eric Holder was asked if he agreed that a person who “commits to going to war against America” should “be held off the battlefield as long as they’re dangerous,” Holder answered: “I do.”

These answers contained the seeds of the now well-developed theory of borderless existential warfare that drives the belief that any and all means must be employed to stop “enemies of democracy.” We just didn’t notice at the time, because the Obama administration was so expert in applying a new cosmetic face to Cheney’s revolution. Instead of Dubya boasting about smoking trrsts out of their holes, Obama re-cast decisions to institutionalizetools like the “Kill List” as somber exercises of “hard choices.” This was how easy it was to con fans of Obama, like — me. I was one of millions of Americans who thought it meant something that the new president was at least frowning and affecting reluctance about the War on Terror in public appearances, as opposed to Bush’s Slim Pickens-style “Bring it on!” cowboy routine.

Obama also smartly moved away from Bush’s Manichean rambling about good and evil and began emphasizing technocratic terms like “necessity” and “legality” when describing what was now his War on Terror. When his Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta made public comments about drone assassination in 2013, he talked about satisfying “the legal requirements to ensure that we were doing this carefully,” a statement people took seriously, even though the administration essentially invented most of the “legal requirements” surrounding its policies. Holder, for instance, had by then come up with a novel hack of the 5th Amendment guarantee of due process rights, saying “‘due process’ and ‘judicial process’ are not one and the same,” and “the Constitution guarantees due process, not judicial process.” In other words, “due process” according to the nation’s top law enforcement official could now be satisfied without the target’s participation, via secret deliberations within the Executive branch about who may and may not be assassinated.


I would never have had a clue about any of this, except the Twitter Files forced people like Michael Shellenberger, Lee Fang, Paul Thacker and me to search for origins of the weird authoritarian concepts found in the documents. We were repeatedly led to that period between roughly 2010 and 2017, when politicians convinced themselves terrorism was old news and “great power competition” was the new thing. Former Time magazine editor Rick Stengel, the first head of the new counter-messaging agency Barack Obama created by Executive Order in 2016, the Global Engagement Center, was convinced it was all connected, man. This is from Stengel’s bookInformation Wars:

Civics: A new study suggests political considerations may influence the enforcement of federal environmental law.

Jonathan Adler:

There are many reasons why administrative regulation may be preferable to nuisance law for dealing with environmental pollution. Among other things, regulations may provide clearer standards of what sorts of conduct is or is not permitted and may provide clearer incentives for firms to reduce polluting behavior. One potential downside, however, is that administrative regulation may be more subject to political influence.

If regulatory agencies are responsible to elected officials, we might expect this to affect their enforcement efforts. In particular, if we assume that polluting firms are a politically important constituency, we might expect enforcement efforts to be less stringent in closely contested (i.e. “battleground”) jurisdictions. A new paper, “The Selective Enforcement of Government Regulations: Battleground States, State Regulators, and the Environmental Protection Agency” by Huseyin Gulen and Brett W. Myers, recently published in the Journal of Law & Economics, suggests just such an effect.

Civics: Katherine Maher, Wikipedia’s Woke Warrior

Helen of Destroy:

While the Berliner affair at NPR may have been the general public’s first exposure to its new CEO Katherine Maher, her hire earlier this year was the culmination of decades of grooming by the ruling class political establishment, which raised her on the warm fuzzy feelings of American Exceptionalism via a who’s-who of western “civil society” – from the UN and the World Bank through the US State Department’s one-step-removed tentacles of plausible deniability pulling the levers of the Arab Spring to the helm of Wikipedia, one of the most powerful propaganda tools on the planet.

Maher’s intimacy with the Empire’s consent factories has long been a matter of public record: she is a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader, a fellow of neoliberal-neocon think tank the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab, and only just recently stepped down from her membership on the US State Department’s Foreign Affairs Policy Board, presumably due to the flaming conflict of interest such a role might pose with her NPR appointment. After an internship with the Council on Foreign Relations, she worked for the World Bank, the National Democratic Institute, and UNICEF, using her linguistic skills (she majored in Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies at New York University following a year in the American University in Cairo’s Arabic Language Intensive Program specializing in “colloquial Egyptian Arabic”) to carry out Washington’s directives in the Middle East in such a way that the locals thus targeted felt like the changes taking place were organic and coming from their peers.

Like NPR, Wikipedia – specifically the Wikimedia Foundation, which owns the “people’s encyclopedia” and whose co-founder Jimmy Wales has been credibly accused of using it as his personal slush fund – has weaponized its nonprofit status to deflect criticism, avoiding much of the distrust which has (justly) accumulated toward Big Tech among populations it ruthlessly exploits because it does not directly monetize their use of its service. However, the Foundation’s largest donors handsomely bankroll its operations to the tune of over $100 million annually, despite server costs that amount to a rounding error next to its annual revenue. Like NPR, which boasts of its funding by “Viewers Like You,” Wikipedia and its parent foundation are constantly begging their audience for donations, claiming to be funded by these small-dollar amounts despite massive corporations having dominated their finances for decades. 

“Such bans are up to school officials, not judges, court rules”

Zachary Stieber

A U.S. appeals court on June 9 upheld a ban preventing a Massachusetts middle school student from wearing a shirt reading “There are only two genders.”

Another prohibition by school administrators, this time blocking the same student from wearing the shirt with “only two” covered by tape, on which was written “censored,” is also allowed under court precedent, according to the ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit.

“The question here is not whether the t-shirts should have been barred. The question is who should decide whether to bar them—educators or federal judges. Based on Tinker, the cases applying it, and the specific record here, we cannot say that in this instance the Constitution assigns the sensitive (and potentially consequential) judgment about what would make ‘an environment conducive to learning’ at NMS to us rather than to the educators closest to the scene,” U.S. Circuit Judge David Barron wrote for a unanimous panel of the court.

An Alabama School Runs on Faith, Family and Fatherhood

Nicole Ault:

How can a school succeed in a place where failure has become the norm? The public schools in Alabama’s capital reported more than 8,000 disciplinary incidents last year, up from fewer then 5,600 in 2018. It’s a different scene at Valiant Cross Academy, a private school for boys that holds its students to high standards of behavior—and tries to make up for the discipline they may be missing at home. That doesn’t mean “fuzzy feelings,” says Anthony Brock, who founded Valiant Cross with his brother Fred in 2015. “It’s sometimes correction, you know, just like our father would do.”

Valiant Cross strives to create a family atmosphere for its roughly 200 students in grades 6 through 12. Adults monitor uniforms, haircuts and order in the hallways. On a recent visit I see students sweeping and taking out the trash. “You really have to be a family member with these young people,” Mr. Brock says. “We pride ourselves in being a discipline school.”

Mr. Brock, 47, grew up in Montgomery. While attending Alabama State University, he realized he had it better than many of his peers because he came from a “solid household” with two parents. After working in neighboring Autauga County public schools for 13 years, Mr. Brock returned to his hometown “to fill in the gaps for as many kids as possible.”

K-12 Tax & $pending climate: Milwaukee financial issues

Dairyland Sentinel

The problems with MPS reporting their financial data go back far longer than anyone has previously reported. 

Yesterday we ran a perspectives piece that included this nugget of information regarding the connections between MPS and Milwaukee City Government


Oh and the data that DPI says MPS has failed to properly submit since September? The District is supposed to send that to the City of Milwaukee first. Did they? Have they ever done this?

Does Hess know this? Has she asked the City Clerk if such a report is on file? Has any mainstream reporter?

Milwaukee School Board Recall Effort Underway

Members of Milwaukee Communities

In light of recent revelations concerning MPS’ gross financial mismanagement, irresponsible and unresponsive leadership, and inadequate governance by the elected MPS School Board Directors, the members of Milwaukee communities are taking decisive action and will be holding a press conference tomorrow, Wednesday, June 12th, at 5:30 PM, at Milwaukee City Hall located at 200 East Wells Street, to announce their efforts to initiate recall efforts against select elected MPS School Board of Directors.“As representatives of communities throughout the City of Milwaukee, we feel deceived, bamboozled, misled, and most importantly, robbed of quality elected leaders who are committed to leading with truth, transparency, accountability, equity, and equality. This sentiment stems from the recent yet longstanding history of MPS’ gross mismanagement of taxpayers’ investments and the ongoing failures of our public school system. We’ve sent countless letters to the Office of Board Governance attempting to reach our elected Board Members. We’ve provided written and verbal testimonies to share our concerns and ask difficult questions. We’ve attended districtwide events and have even filed ethics and criminal complaints to local authorities, sharing evidence of unethical and criminal activities. Yet and still, we continue to be disregarded, ignored and dismissed, lied to and deceived, ostracized and silenced. We’ve followed policies and procedures time and time again, and every time, they’ve been met with no urgency, attention, or concern shown by the MPS School Board. Our children deserve better, and we, as taxpayers, parents, professionals, and voters, deserve better. With no return on our investment and the attack on our community, our fight has officially shifted, and we are now committed to replacing the current Board with a new one. One who will work with us, listen to us, lead with integrity, accountability and transparency, and do the necessary work to improve our public schools and communities.”


Milwaukee pension scandal primer.


Achievement pressure promotes mental anguish at the so-called “best schools.”

Peter Gray:

Many parents strive mightily to get their children into high achieving high schools. A high achieving school (or HAS) is defined as one where students score high on standardized tests and a high percentage go on to selective colleges. Such striving occurs through various means. Some move to a wealthy suburban community and pay a premium on housing because the schools there are highly rated. Some pay high tuition to send their child to a high achieving private school. Some hire tutors to help their kids get test scores that will permit admission to an academically selective public school. All these cost money, so, to a considerable extent, the striving is concentrated among parents with higher-than-median wealth.

What these parents don’t know is that they may be setting their kids up for failure. Not academic failure but life failure. If parents knew the facts and behaved reasonably, they would deliberately avoid an HAS for their kids. They would move out of that high-achievement school district. They would use the money otherwise spent on tutoring or tuitions for more enjoyable family pursuits. Here I present some of those facts, as documented by many research studies, especially studies conducted over the past two decades by Suniya Luthar and her colleagues. [Sadly, Professor Luthar passed away in March 2023, at a too-young age.]

Milwaukee Public Schools documents sent to DPI indicate inexperienced, understaffed financial office

Corrinne Hess:

The embattled Milwaukee Public Schools submitted an updated draft Corrective Action Plan to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction Tuesday, detailing how the district will address overdue financial data and compliance issues. 

District leaders hope the plan will release nearly $16 million in state funds being withheld after MPS failed to produce audited financials. 

“We are committed to resolving the issues surrounding the delayed financial data submission,” Board President Marva Herndon said in a written statement. “In addition to submitting the Corrective Action Plan to DPI, we are actively analyzing the root causes behind this situation, and we pledge to keep our families, staff and the public informed as we progress.”

Civics: Is the New York Times bestseller list politically biased? Our investigation suggests it is

The Economists:

“The New York Times is pure propaganda,” tweeted Elon Musk, a tech mogul, in March. Mr Musk was responding not to the newspaper’s coverage of his companies or of Donald Trump, but rather to the newspaper’s latest bestseller list. “Troubled”, a book by Rob Henderson, a social critic, about the hypocrisy of America’s elite, had been excluded from the hardcover non-fiction list despite selling 3,765 copies in its first week. According to data from Circana Bookscan, a firm that claims to track 85% of print book sales in America, “Troubled” outperformed the books that ranked in the fourth and fifth slots that week. Many saw the omission as a sign of political bias.

Such criticism is not wholly new. The New York Times, which has kept a tally of bestsellers since 1931, came under fire in 1983, when William Peter Blatty, author of “The Exorcist”, sued the paper for omitting his book “Legion” from the fiction bestseller list. (His case was eventually dismissed.) And last year James Patterson, who has had nearly 290 New York Times bestsellers, complained that the paper was “cooking the books” when a non-fiction title of his did not make the cut. Like Coca-Cola, the New York Times guards its proprietary formula; exactly which retailers report sales, how they are weighted and which sales are screened out is shrouded in mystery.

Civics: Records Show FBI Provided Democrats with Information on Whistleblowers Who Testified at May 2023 Weaponization Hearing

Judicial Watch:

Judicial Watch announced today it received 54 pages of records from the Department of Justice in a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit which show the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Office of Congressional Affairs (OCA) provided a Democrat staffer with information on FBI whistleblowers who detailed the bureau’s targeting of political opponents and retaliation for their testifying at a May 18, 2023, hearing of the House Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government.

A May 23, 2023, email from Damon Marx, senior counsel in the office of New York Democrat Rep. Dan Goldman, shows that the FBI provided documents apparently pertaining to the whistleblowers that were “very helpful” to Goldman.

Civics: “Despite this mechanism being called a fee, it is really an unlawful tax”


There is nothing in Wisconsin state law which authorizes municipalities to charge a road use fee. Instead, roads are meant to be financed primarily through property taxes which have strict levy limits and uniformity requirements.  

The Town of Buchanan was one of the Wisconsin municipalities using a TUF to illegally get around their property tax limitations.  

In September 2021, WILL initiated legal action in Outagamie County Circuit Court, seeking a ruling that the Town of Buchanan’s transportation utility fee was unlawful and requesting an injunction to halt its imposition, enforcement, or collection. Judge Mark McGinnis of the Outagamie County Circuit Court ruled during a summary judgment hearing on June 6, 2022, that the transportation utility fee breached the state’s tax limits.  

Despite the Town’s appeal, the Wisconsin Supreme Court unanimously struck down the fee as an unlawful tax. 

This case has already made big waves as it was used by the Court of Appeals to overrule a TUF in the Village of Pewaukee and demonstrates how our work continuously defends taxpayers around the state.  

Notes on Columbia Teachers College Curriculum

Daniel Buck

The campus tantrum at Columbia University exposed for all to see the institution’s commitment to the fringe political philosophies of postcolonial theory and of DEI more broadly.

Perhaps lesser known to the general public is that Columbia’s education department — aptly named Teachers College — is the oldest and arguably most prestigious education school in the country. It is the Yale Law or Julliard of teacher-prep programs. The ideas that students imbibe there and the content that the school’s professors promulgate reflect the elite consensus in American education. Unfortunately, and perhaps unsurprisingly, a review of courses offered exposes an obsession with …



Notes on planned Madison tax & $pending increase 2024 Referendum(s)

Abbey Machtig:

Past spending decisions combined with current revenue estimates leave the district with an estimated $40 million shortfall, Assistant Superintendent of Financial Services Bob Soldner told the Wisconsin State Journal.

District could renovate, build new schools

The district appears to be leaning toward building several new schools with potential referendum dollars rather than renovating existing buildings.

Leadership says many aging school buildings require substantial aesthetic, electrical and mechanical changes the district can’t afford without a referendum. The money would also go toward making schools more energy efficient and accessible.

“Under revenue limits, you just don’t have any other options on the facilities,” Soldner said Monday. “If you have a need, you have to seek voter approval.”

District administration is recommending that Sennett Middle School and Cherokee Heights Middle School be replaced with new buildings. The same goes for several combined schools that share the same location: Shabazz City High and Sherman Middle; Black Hawk Middle and Gompers Elementary; Toki Middle and Orchard Ridge Elementary.

That new construction would cost an estimated $443 million.


“city would spend about $431.4 million but raise only about $409.4 million in revenue”:

Of the $26 million in new spending expected for next year, most of it — $14.5 million — will go toward staff salaries and benefits. Last year, the city raised pay by 3% for unionized employees like police and fire department staff. General city employees got a 6% raise.

Of the $14.5 million for staff, $2.97 million will cover rising health insurance costs alone.

On the revenue side, the $4 million in new cash the city will bring in next year comes from increasing the property tax levy to the extent allowed without a referendum, which would generate about $12.6 million. Another $6 million will come from interest earnings and $1 million from increased ambulance fees.

Those increases are offset by one-time funding the city used to balance its 2024 budget, which came from the city’s rainy day fund, federal stimulus support and tax incremental financing money.

As the city’s budget options come into sharper focus, it remains unclear how, if at all, the city will use $16 million added to the rainy day fund thanks to higher-than-expected income from the city’s investments.


Madison taxpayers have long supported far above average K – 12 spending. Per student spending ranges from $22,633 to $29,827 depending on the spending number used (!)

Enrollment notes.

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.

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

Parallels between reading and math

Anna Stokke:

Here’s a quote from founding father of whole language Ken Goodman, in an article written by @ehanford in 2019, when confronted with research evidence from cognitive science.
“In his view, three cueing is perfectly valid, drawn from a different kind of evidence than what scientists collect in their labs. “My science is different”

Here’s NCTM president Kevin Dykema in a debate with @HKorbey last week, where Holly makes an appeal to follow cognitive science research on math instruction and results gathered from RCTs.
“I would have to see the math education researchers saying we have to move to explicit instruction. And for all the research that they’re all conducting to show that. And as soon as all the math education researchers are saying, start with explicit instruction, then I’m good.”

A look at Massachusetts Schools

James Vaznis

More than 225,000 students across Massachusetts attend segregated public schools, mostly with low graduation rates and standardized test scores, because state education leaders for decades have failed to comply with laws requiring them to foster integration, according to a new report by a state oversight committee.

Some of the state’s most marginalized students have been most severely affected by the state’s lack of action: 65 percent of the students in the substandard segregated schools are Latino and a quarter are Black, according to the report, “Racial Segregation in Massachusetts Schools”by the Racial Imbalance Advisory Council. Often the students are attending inferior schools within short distances of higher-performing schools.

Don’t say that expanding the administration is the solution. It is a big part of the problem.

Arnold Kling

Fundamentally, there are too many people on a college campus who don’t belong there.

When I was an adjunct at George Mason, most of my students could not write or do math. Reading their essays or grading their exams was painful. I wanted to forward them to the admissions department and ask, “What are you doing?” It was the rare student who could actually think at a level that justified being in a college-level course.1

This country is sending way too many young people to college. Instead, they should be going to training programs to become allied health professionals, or electricians, or solar panel installers, or something.

There are also many faculty members who do not belong on college campus. Obviously, you have the grievance studies departments. But if you were to dial back the number of students in the humanities and social sciences to a number that is actually qualified to study those subjects, you would have to cut the majority of faculty positions.

There are way too many administrators on campus. It is not just the DEI bureaucrats who could be jettisoned. Many of the administrators are there to coddle the students who should not have been admitted in the first place. Tighten up the admissions standards and you can get by with fewer administrators.

an important life lesson is understanding death

By: A.J. Bayatpour

For more than 600 Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) students, a very different kind of lesson is part of their schedule.

The district offers grief counseling services to students who’ve recently lost a loved one. The program’s director, Christopher Gerou, bluntly describes it as “death education.”

Gerou explains at just about any school, the curriculum is largely what you’d expect. He believes the value of his work is teaching a universal lesson that, for some students, is even more important.

“We learn about art, we learn about history, we learn about social sciences,” Gerou said. “We learn about everything, but we also have to learn about death. Death is something that we all have to go through.”

I was denied tenure — how do I cope?

Nikki Forrester:

I’m a developmental biologist who secured a tenure-track position at a university in the southern United States. I spent eight years building my laboratory, training graduate students, applying for grants and publishing papers. At the end of the eight years, when I went up for tenure, I felt confident. My research was in a good place, two of my students had graduated and gone on to excellent positions and I had several notable publications. My department recommended me for tenure, and my colleagues told me that I had nothing to worry about. Then, despite my strong record, I was denied tenure at the university level.

When my department chair told me the decision, I was shocked. I had never considered what I would do if this happened. My chair and other department members are convinced that I should appeal, because personal relationships might have influenced the decision — but I’m not sure what to do. I feel like I did the best I could, and it wasn’t good enough. Do I accept the decision and walk away? Do I fight it? Do I ever get to know why I was denied tenure? — Sincerely, a bereft biologist

“If both measures pass, that means the average tax bill for Madison residents could increase by $2,030 by 2028”

Abbey Machtig:

The estimated tax impact for residents is as follows:

Operational referendum: 2024-25 — $316.72 increase; 2025-26 — $315.49 increase; 2026-27 — $209.1 increase; 2027-28 — $208.28 increase; total: $1,049.58 increase in property tax bill over the next four years.

Facilities referendum: 2025-26 — $327.47 increase; 2026-27 — $328.83 increase; 2027-28 — $326.20 increase; total — $980.50 increase in property tax bills by 2028.

Since 2000, the district has put 10 referendum questions on the ballot. Eight have passed, giving the district extra money to balance its operating budget and for renovations and construction. In 2020, voters passed a $33 million operating referendum, which pays the bills to keep the district running, and a $317 million capital referendum to fund renovations to five of the district’s high schools and to build the new Southside Elementary School.


Madison taxpayers have long supported far above average K – 12 spending. Per student spending ranges from $22,633 to $29,827 depending on the spending number used (!)

Enrollment notes.


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.

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

Math wars podcast

The Disagreement

Today’s disagreement is about the “math wars.”
The “math wars” is a debate happening in K-12 education about the best way to teach math. Broadly speaking, there are two camps that have conflicting pedagogical approaches:

Explicit instruction focuses on procedural fluency, guided practice, and repetition.
Inquiry-based instruction focuses on conceptual understanding, open-ended problems, and productive struggle.

This is an incredibly high-stakes debate — especially if you have children or loved ones that are currently receiving K-12 math instruction. To explore its contours, we’ve brought on two math education experts



Math Forum audio/video.

Notes on Covid lockdown policies

Alex Tabarrok:

m not a Fauci hater but I think this criticism of Facui from epidemiologist and oncologist Vinay Prasad hits the mark:

Lockdown was specifically advocated for by Anthony Fauci (‘15 days to stop the spread’/ ‘hunker down’/ ‘shelter in place’), and Fauci would go on to make hundreds of other specific policy recommendations. Although he initially rejected it, by April 2020, he recommended community cloth masking to slow the coronavirus (an intervention for which we now have randomized data showing it doesn’t work).

Fauci opposed Ron DeSantis in numerous TV interviews in spring 2020 when DeSantis reopened schools. He called school reopening reckless— though it was widely embraced in western Europe at the time, and now clearly the correct policy choice.

Fauci supported vaccine mandates and border closure. He repeated the false statement that 6ft of social distancing had an empirical basis. Many in the media and medicine think criticizing him is unfair— he did the best he could with what he knew at the time—but it is fair to criticize a scientist who presented his views as facts when they were at best speculation. And, moreover, there is one criticism that no one can deny:

Although he was director of the NIAID, and although he controlled a 5 billion dollar infectious disease research budget, he chose to launch, fund and conduct precisely ZERO randomized trials of non-pharmacologic interventions.

Civics: Notes on California one party rule


Democrats ruthlessly censor internet speech, just like Communists. Democrats use the state as a battering ram against tech companies, just like Communists. Democrats tax citizens and hand the resulting funds to Party affiliates, just like Communists. Democrats encourage loyalists to move to contested territories to strengthen political control, just like Communists. Democrats funded gain-of function research, just like Communists. And most ominously, Democrats are now persecuting their political opponents on trumped up charges — just like Communists[5-16].

Civics: DIE and legislation

Dan Lennington:

Dei is on the ropes. Or at least it seems so from recent headlines. Universities across America have grudgingly removed race as a factor in college admissions, with some statewideuniversitysystems swearing off “diversity, equity, and inclusion” altogether. In corporate America, many corporations have softened or at least adjusted their DEI policies, while institutional investors now face significant legal liability for investing based on race. And the Biden administration continues its miserable losing streak in court, most recently being ordered to open the Minority Business Development Agency to all Americans regardless of race.

Censorship at Columbia Law Review

David Bernstein:

Law reviews are typically sleepy, student-edited journals that publish turgid scholarship. The articles may be read by specialists, and they are often read by no one beyond the author and editors. But Columbia University law school’s law review has received a rare burst of public attention this week.

According to various media outlets, the law review’s board of directors, composed of faculty and alumni, tried to censor an article critical of Israel. Except that’s not what happened at all. The true story involves a faction of the law review secretly breaking all procedural rules and customs to publish a piece of ideologically driven claptrap.

The claptrap in question is an article by graduate student Rabea Eghbariah, “Toward Nakba as a Legal Concept.” To say that the article is of poor quality not worthy of an elite law review like Columbia’s, considered one of the three or four most prestigious legal journals in the United States, would be an understatement. The article reads as if one asked ChatGPT to disguise a lengthy, biased, inaccurate propaganda piece as legitimate scholarship, making it a dull read and throwing in hundreds of footnotes to dubious sources.

Many left-leaning, middle-class Americans speak of kids as though they are impositions, or means to an end.

Jay Caspian Kang

A new book by Anastasia Berg and Rachel Wiseman, “What Are Children For?,” is an engaging, literary investigation into why so many highly educated, financially comfortable women in the United States are ambivalent about having children, and how we should actually think about that decision. (I recently interviewed the authors on a podcast that I co-host.) To understand the reasoning of their contemporaries, Berg and Wiseman distributed surveys and conducted interviews with “dozens of Zoomers, millennials, and Gen Xers.” More than ninety per cent of their respondents had a college degree, they note, and nearly seventy per cent had a graduate degree. This focus on the middle and upper middle class might feel limiting, especially for a book with such an ambitious title, but the public conversation about the relative morality of having children has been shaped, to a great degree, by this demographic.

Within this larger discourse, Berg and Wiseman see a landscape of beleaguered people who have leaned a bit too far into their political and cultural beliefs, trading in the joys of life for an overly determinative belief that children will suffer inescapable misery. The thought of having children, in these mostly progressive circles, is often weighed against rising existential risk, whether stemming from climate change, the emergence of the far right, or even artificial intelligence. This, the authors point out, is a weird way to talk about kids. And they envision a near future in which that conversation becomes further polarized, with the anti-abortion right on one side and an increasingly anti-natalist left on the other. This outcome, they think, would be disastrous. “Simply put,” Wiseman writes, in the book’s introduction, “the question of whether or not to have a family is too important to allow it to be a casualty of the culture war.”

Civics: The Silent Insurrection

Haley McLean:

I Alone Can Fix It highlights how Milley, as the joint session approached and more than 140 House Republicans were pledged to contest the election results, shared his anxiety with “senior leaders” in Congress who sought his “comfort” amid fears of “attempted coups.” The New Yorker’s August 2022 report further reveals Milley’s communications with key Democrats, specifically Pelosi and Schumer.

Additionally, the New Yorker report describes Milley’s continued outreach to “Democrats close to Biden,” which included “regular” interactions with Susan Rice, former Obama national security advisor. Known for her role in helping to orchestrate the Trump-Russia collusion hoax, Rice’s expertise in activities aimed at undermining the former president raises this question: What was it about her that made Milley want to seek her guidance in the days leading up to January 6? 

The report also references Robert Gates, former Secretary of Defense during both the Obama and Bush administrations, as another key figure in Milley’s circle of confidants. Gates reportedly advised Milley to remain in the Pentagon as long as possible, citing President Trump’s “increasingly erratic and dangerous behavior.” I Alone Can Fix It also depicts Gates as a mentor to Milley, urging him not to resign during the final months of the Trump administration. He’s quoted advising Milley, “Don’t quit. Steel your back. It’s not going to be easy, but you’re the right guy in the right place and at the right time.”

Doctors Protecting Children


As physicians, together with nurses, psychotherapists and behavioral health clinicians, other health professionals, scientists, researchers, and public health and policy professionals, we have serious concerns about the physical and mental health effects of the current protocols promoted for the care of children and adolescents in the United States who express discomfort with their biological sex.

Researchers plan to retract landmark Alzheimer’s paper containing doctored images

Charles Piller:

Authors of a landmark Alzheimer’s disease research paper published in Naturenormal in 2006 have agreed to retract the study in response to allegations of image manipulation. University of Minnesota (UMN) Twin Cities neuroscientist Karen Ashe, the paper’s senior author, acknowledged in a post on the journal discussion site PubPeer that the paper contains doctored images. The study has been cited nearly 2500 times, and would be the most cited paper ever to be retracted, according to Retraction Watch data.

“Although I had no knowledge of any image manipulations in the published paper until it was brought to my attention two years ago,” Ashe wrote on PubPeer, “it is clear that several of the figures in Lesné et al. (2006) have been manipulated … for which I as the senior and corresponding author take ultimate responsibility.”

After initially arguing the paper’s problems could be addressed with a correction, Ashe said in another post last week that all of the authors had agreed to a retraction—with the exception of its first author, UMN neuro-
scientist Sylvain Lesné, a protégé of Ashe’s who was the focus of a 2022 investigation by Sciencenormal. A Naturenormal spokesperson would not comment on the journal’s plans.

“It’s unfortunate that it has taken
2 years to make the decision to retract,” says Donna Wilcock, an Indiana University neuroscientist and editor of the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementianormal. “The evidence of manipulation was overwhelming.”

Some Singapore students decide against going to elite US colleges over campus protests

Vihanya Rakshika

Singaporean student Sunaina M. was offered a place to read economics at Dartmouth College, an Ivy League university in the American state of New Hampshire.

But the 19-year-old is turning down the offer because of pro-Palestinian protests that have broken out across US campuses in recent months. Instead of heading to the US this fall, she will attend the University of Cambridge in Britain in October.

Ms Sunaina’s parents were concerned for her safety after hearing that the US authorities had arrested students and used brute force to break up protests sparked by the war in Gaza between Israel and Palestinian militant group Hamas.

Civics: E.U. Censorship Laws Mostly Suppress Legal Speech

JD Tuccille:

In a new report, Preventing “Torrents of Hate” or Stifling Free Expression Online?, The Future of Free Speech, a think tank based at Vanderbilt University, points out that online regulation changed in 2017 with Germany’s adoption of the Network Enforcement Act (NetzDG), “which aimed to combat illegal online content such as defamation, incitement, and religious insults.” That law inspired lawmakers around the world, as well as similar E.U.-wide legislation in 2022 in the Digital Services Act (DSA). “The underlying assumptions surrounding the passage of the DSA included fears that the Internet and social media platforms would become overrun with hate and illegal content,” notes the report.

But “hate” and other forms of unacceptable content are often in the eyes of the beholder. And the power to punish platforms for allowing forbidden speech encourages suppressing content.

The DSA “gives way too much power to government agencies to flag and remove potentially illegal content and to uncover data about anonymous speakers,” cautioned the Electronic Frontier Foundation in 2022.

The Cultural Roots of Our Demographic Ennui

Patrick Brown:

At times, it may feel like we’re living in P. D. James’s The Children of Men, but the Right Honorable Baroness might have gotten one thing wrong. Her story of a global epidemic of infertility finds the world caught in paroxysms of terrorism, xenophobia, and violent authoritarianism. But the soundtrack of a world without a future may turn out to be less the explosion of a pipe bomb in downtown London than the cool hiss of a suicide pod.

The rest of this century will feature every major nation seeking to manage population decline—a recipe for aversion to wasting precious warm bodies on the field of battle. Revolution and violence have a certain appeal to the young and dispossessed, but an older society with money in the bank has more to lose. Aging comfortably, rather than exerting power, will be the order of the day. And the back half of the twenty-first century may resemble less a rage against the dying of the light than an emotionless flip of the switch.

Many of the familiar, worrying demographic trends—shrinking birth rates, decliningmarriage, disaffiliation from religion, rising numbers of the elderly with fewer hands to care for them—are a result not of economic dislocation, but of affluence. More of our material needs are met, and surpassed, by the power of global commerce and the undeniable consumer benefits of modern-day capitalism. But this prosperity means we have fewer needs to be filled by the Tocquevillian institutions of civil society, the solace of religion, or the meaning of parenthood. The result? Decadence.

This poses new challenges for the approaches and institutions of the Right, broadly speaking. For millennia, the task for many religious leaders and institutions was to provide succor to those eking out a living from the soil, keeping their eyes fixed on heaven and the promise of eternal rest after toiling in this vale of tears. Now, the biggest task in front of them is figuring out how to speak compellingly about values beyond what the market can appraise.

Notes on Higher Education Reform

Brandon Dutcher:

When accepting the Heritage Foundation’s 2024 Salvatori Prize on May 22, Chris Rufo remarked that state legislatures in red states such as Oklahoma need to start exercising oversight of their public universities.

He’s right. “There is an endemic rot of indoctrination, politicization, and intellectual intimidation,” Joel Gardner observed on this website in 2020, “that is eviscerating the historical purpose and nature of our institutions of higher learning.” This remains true today and not just in elite institutions. The rot is widespread even in public universities in Oklahoma, one of the reddest states in the nation.

Fortunately, with Republicans in possession of supermajority control of both houses of the legislature and holding all statewide elected offices, higher-ed reform is possible here, right?

The most effective reform would be for Oklahoma to reduce appropriations to higher education.Proposed Reforms 

The most effective reform, for starters, would be for Oklahoma’s political leaders to send a message to regents and college presidents by reducing appropriations to higher education. Unfortunately, Oklahoma’s legislative session ended on May 30, and higher education received a hefty funding boost.

Public choice theory provides a possible clue here: Soon-to-be-former lawmakers sometimes want “a cushy place to land.”

Notes on boyhood

Ruth Whippman

I have spent the last few years talking to boys as research for my new book, as well as raising my own three sons, and I have come to believe the conditions of modern boyhood amount to a perfect storm for loneliness. This is a new problem bumping up against an old one. All the old deficiencies and blind spots of male socialization are still in circulation — the same mass failure to teach boys relational skills and emotional intelligence, the same rigid masculinity norms and social prohibitions that push them away from intimacy and emotionality. But in screen-addicted, culture war-torn America, we have also added new ones.

The micro-generation that was just hitting puberty as the #MeToo movement exploded in 2017 is now of college (and voting) age. They have lived their whole adolescence not just in the digital era, with a glorious array of virtual options to avoid the angst of real-world socializing, but also in the shadow of a wider cultural reckoning around toxic masculinity.

More in censorship and the Columbia Law Review

Paul Caron:

The website of the Columbia Law Review, one of the United States’ most prestigious student-edited law journals, was taken offline Monday by its board of directors after its editors published an article that argues Palestinians are living under a “brutally sophisticated structure of oppression” by Israel that amounts to a crime against humanity.

As of Tuesday evening, visitors to the website of the 123-year-old journal saw only a blank page with the message “Website is under maintenance.”

The decision to suspend access to the website is the latest example of how American universities have sought to regulate expression that is highly critical of Israel amid concerns that it veers into antisemitism. That, in turn, has spurred complaints about censorship and academic freedom when it comes to Palestinian scholarship.

In a statement, the board of directors, which consists of faculty members and alumni, said it had decided to suspend the website on Monday after learning two days earlier that not all of the students on the Law Review had read the essay before publication.

The natural conclusion was that Microsoft was spying on its AI users, looking for harmful hackers at work.


Some pushed back at characterizing Microsoft’s actions as “spying.” Of course cloud service providers monitor what users are doing. And because we expect Microsoft to be doing something like this, it’s not fair to call it spying.

We see this argument as an example of our shifting collective expectations of privacy. To understand what’s happening, we can learn from an unlikely source: fish.

In the mid-20th century, scientists began noticing that the number of fish in the ocean—so vast as to underlie the phrase “There are plenty of fish in the sea”—had started declining rapidly due to overfishing. They had already seen a similar decline in whale populations, when the post-WWII whaling industry nearly drove many species extinct. In whaling and later in commercial fishing, new technology made it easier to find and catch marine creatures in ever greater numbers. Ecologists, specifically those working in fisheries management, began studying how and when certain fish populations had gone into serious decline.

Sex offenders and Teachers

Lawrence Person:

Both Texas Scorecard and The Texan have done good work highlighting a disturbing reality: Numerous public school teachers of all grade levels have been arrested for sex offenses, many involving children. 

I’ve been running several of these in LinkSwarms, but Texas Scorecard has featured a number over the last week: “Former Texas Teacher Gets 30 Years in Prison for Producing Child Porn.”

Notes on cellphones in schools

Ira Wells:

Over the past few years, the debate over how to manage cellphones in schools has offered a reprise of many of these arguments. Kids are going to use their devices anyway, so what’s the point of punishing them or tasking overworked teachers with policing usage? Do teachers have the right to confiscate students’ phones? And even if they are banned in classrooms, what’s to stop middle-school influencers from Snapping up a storm in the bathrooms or elsewhere on school grounds? 

In Ontario, the conversation around kids’ use of cellphones recently reached an inflection point. In March, the Toronto District School Board and three other counterparts launched lawsuits against social media companies (including the owners of Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok) for marketing intentionally addictive products to children and for “rewiring” the way children “think, act, behave and learn.” The boards allege that students’ compulsive social media use is causing “significant attention, focus and mental health concerns” and that the resulting behavioural dynamics have necessitated “massive shifts and resource demands.” Then, on April 28, education minister Stephen Lecce announced that, starting September 2024, the province was banning cellphones in elementary schools for the entire day and during class time for middle and high school students. (It was, Lecce said, “the toughest policy in Canada” on cellphones in schools.) The move follows Quebec’s efforts last December to ban cellphones from elementary and secondary classrooms.

Notes on downsizing Universities (!) of Wisconsin Campuses

Liam Beran:

The UW System hopes to downsize its remaining branch campuses amid declining student interest in associate degrees and ongoing enrollment struggles, according to an October briefing by UW System President Jay Rothman Isthmusobtained via records request. 

Five campuses have already been targeted for closure or a transition from in-person learning — UW-Platteville Richland will be completely vacated by July 1, while UW-Oshkosh Fond du Lac, UW-Milwaukee Washington County, UW-Green Bay Marinette and UW-Milwaukee Waukesha are all slated for closure or a transition to online-only classes. But the briefing, first sent to branch campus chancellors on Sept. 19, recommends that the UW System reduce the physical footprints of the remaining eight campuses and negotiate contractual exits where appropriate. 

The UW System comprises three levels of universities: two flagship research universities, UW-Madison and UW-Milwaukee, 11 comprehensive universities offering bachelor’s and graduate degrees and 13 branch campuses, offering associate and bachelor’s degrees. The branch campuses, though located elsewhere, are embedded in a nearby four-year university and operate under the jurisdiction of that university’s chancellor. 

The branch campuses are funded through a hybrid model: the counties hosting the campuses pay for the land and facilities, while the UW System covers operational costs. 

“Negotiate New Agreements with All Other Counties,” reads the title of one slide included in the briefing. “Will seek to reduce space allocations/footprints, repurpose facilities, negotiate exits where appropriate, and address any other concerns.” 

“to audit the effectiveness of teaching and instruction of our kids in classrooms across the district.” (!)

Molly Beck, Rory Linnane And Kelly Meyerhofer

The review proposed by Evers would be funded through federal dollars allocated for MPS but yet used or funding leftover from previously awarded contracts, according to the governor.

The audits would produce “a comprehensive review and evaluation of the district’s systems, processes, and procedures to identify areas for improvement,” and “a comprehensive review and analysis of instructional practices, methodologies, and policies, which may include, for example, reviews of school and classroom learning environments, professional development policies and practices, curriculum implementation, and leadership, among other areas.”

“Parents and families, taxpayers, and the greater community rightfully have questions, and each and everyone of those questions deserves honest and transparent answers,” Evers said. “For any meaningful conversation about possible solutions to happen, the first step is to fully identify the extent of the problems. The audits I’m proposing today must be done to drive those future conversations.”


DPI Superintendent Underly: “I support Eliminating the Foundations of Reading (FORT)” Teacher Test

Wisconsin’s low bar WKCE expedition. (DPI)

Legislation and Reading: The Wisconsin Experience 2004-

The New England Primer.


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.

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

“teachers at Burruss used to use a method called balanced literacy”

Juma Sei:

The easiest way to describe it is you kind of just let a kid figure things out by giving them context clues for the words they see, like pictures. But…

JOHNSON: Our reading data was terrible. We didn’t have the data to back up what we were doing.

SEI: So today, the teachers at Burruss use a method called structured literacy or the science of reading.

JOHNSON: Structured literacy is explicit instruction. Like, no, let’s teach them the code, teach them what the letters mean and how the letters represent sounds. And how the sounds come together to make words and, like, explicit instruction.

SEI: With national K-12 reading scores lower than they’ve been in decades, schools across the country are making the same transition to structured literacy. And those changes are being enshrined in legislation. Last year, 17 states passed new laws or implemented new policies encouraging schools to adopt the science of reading. That’s according to an analysis by Education Week. Georgia was one of those states.

RAMONA BROWN: Words are stored in memory through blank and blank.


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.

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

Eithan Haim blew the whistle on Texas Children’s Hospital’s illegal child sex-change program. Now he’s being prosecuted.

Christopher Rufo:

On the morning in June 2023 that Haim was to graduate from Texas Children Hospital’s residency program, federal agents knocked on his door. They had identified him as a potential “leaker,” presumably through forensic examination of the hospital’s computer systems. Shortly thereafter, Assistant U.S. Attorney Tina Ansari began threatening Haim with prosecution.

Now, Ansari has made good on those threats. Earlier this week, U.S. marshals appeared at Haim’s home and summoned him to court to face an indictment on four felony counts of violating HIPAA. His initial appearance is next Monday, where he will learn more about the charges against him.

According to one of Haim’s attorneys, Marcella Burke, he is anxious to get to trial to get his side of the story told; she is confident that this will result in the correct decision being made. (For my own part, I can confirm that nothing in the information provided to me identified any individual; all the documents were, in fact, carefully redacted.) Nonetheless, the prosecutor has pressed forward, hoping, at the least, to intimidate other medical professionals who would consider blowing the whistle on the barbarism of “transgender medicine.”

Despite the threat to his livelihood and freedom, Haim is undeterred. He plans to mount a vigorous defense in court and is soliciting public support.

Notes on Milwaukee’s k-12 Governance

Sen. John Jagler:

My office has obtained the “plan” MPS submitted to DPI to try to fix their financial reporting crisis. It’s pretty obvious why this wasn’t sufficient to stop DPI from withholding funds.
There’s no urgency on finding immediate solutions.

Is a world-famous misinformation expert spreading misinformation?

Stephanie Lee:

Joan Donovan, one of the world’s leading experts in misinformation, was dying to set the record straight. On a brisk November night, she told me a story about why she’d left Harvard University. It was captured, she claimed, by a corporation she had loudly criticized, one with far too much power over our democracy: Meta.

Donovan had been preparing for months to air this accusation in public, and I’d flown to Boston to interview her before the big day. At the moment, she had just heard through her lawyer that Harvard wanted to talk. “What are they going to offer me, $5 million?” she mused as we sat in a cafe. She wore a leather jacket over head-to-toe black, and a whistle dangled from her neck. “How am I going to feel about that money if I don’t tell the truth?”

“College participation rates in Wisconsin have decreased overall by 14% since 2019”

Kimberly Wethal

The percentage of UW system freshmen from Adams County, for example, dropped by 62.5% between fall 2003 and fall 2023, from 40 students to 15, while the county population — albeit aging — grew by 5%, according to U.S. Census data. The percentage coming from Richland and Wood counties plummeted by nearly 58% and 66%, respectively. In other rural counties, the college participation level has stagnated or dipped slightly.

Conversely, the representation from places like Madison, Eau Claire and the greater Milwaukee area on UW campuses is growing.

About half of Wisconsin has just a single technical college campus nearby or no higher education options within a person’s “commuting zone” — defined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as a cluster of counties that support one another’s economic activity — according to research by Nicholas Hillman, a UW-Madison professor in the School of Education and director of the Student Success Through Applied Research Lab.

Civics: FBI memo on Covenant Killer, Cited Destruction Precedent

Tom Pappert:

The Tennessee Star has obtained the FBI memo sent to the Metro Nashville Police Department (MNPD) on May 11, 2023 from a source familiar with the Covenant killer investigation.

The letterhead and heading used for the memo indicate it originated at the FBI’s Critical Incident Response Group in Quantico, Virginia. The opening paragraphs reveal it was sent by the FBI’s Behavioral Threat Assessment Center (BTAC), the home of the FBI’s Behavorial Analysis Unit (BAU-1). The memo was not signed.

The memo does not specifically mention Audrey Elizabeth Hale, who fatally shot three 9-year-old students and three faculty members in the devastating March 27, 2023 attack at the Covenant School in Nashville.

It was, however, sent two days after Star News Digital Media, Inc., which owns The Tennessee Star, and the company’s CEO, Michael Patrick Leahy, filed a lawsuit against the FBI in federal court to compel the release of Hale’s written documents, including those sometimes called a manifesto, and one day after Star News Digital Media, Inc. and Leahy filed a lawsuit against Metro Nashville Davidson County Government in state court for the same purpose.

The FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit has been involved in the MNPD’s investigation into the Covenant killings since the very first day, sources familiar with the investigation have told The Star. MNPD Public Affairs Director Don Aaron confirmed the FBI’s involvement in the investigation to The Star when asked about the FBI memo on Tuesday, though he did not specify the date at which that involvement began.

“As has been publicly acknowledged, the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit has assisted in this Homicide investigation,” Aaron told The Star.



21 State AGs Urge ABA To Remove Race-Based Criteria From Law School Accreditation

By Paul Caron

According to the letter’s signatories, the Supreme Court’s 2023 decision in Students for Fair Admissions Inc. v. President & Fellows of Harvard College (SFFA) “changed the constitutional landscape when it comes to the consideration of race in higher education,” which, the letter asserts, “requires significant adjustments to your current Standards and Rules of Procedure for Approval of Law Schools.”

Along with Tennessee, attorneys general from Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and Virginia signed the letter.

The letter highlighted concerns with ABA Standard 206, which governs diversity and inclusion within law schools, saying the current standard “seemingly asks law schools to defy the Court’s clear directive” and “all but compels law schools to consider race in both the admissions and employment contexts.”

“notably the leeway to employ ineffective practices”

Douglas Carnine:

To fill this void, our 84 volunteer experts are creating guidance for decisionmakers in the form of evidence-based resources. These are being vetted, curated and organized based on scientific research and on data from high-performing schools, districts and states that consistently produce strong results, especially for marginalized populations. These resources, focused on academic achievement and social-emotional well-being, could become the basis for specific education policies, programs, and practices. They will be accessible on our website, distributed through collaborating partner organizations and promulgated through convenings with education agencies.

Just as the maritime safety standards improved safety and saved lives, the EAC is committed to constraining the use of non-evidence-based programs that cause waste and even harm. For example, Reading Recovery, an  intervention targeted to lowest-achieving first graders, has been used with 2.4 million students at an estimated cost of $10,271 per child, which has resulted in total expenditures of $2.5 billion. But, as noted in the Hechinger Report, “Reading Recovery students subsequently fell behind and by fourth grade were far worse readers than similar students who hadn’t had the tutoring, according to a [December 2022] follow-up study. The tutoring seemed to harm them.”

 Even the much-touted reading initiative that moved Mississippi from the lowest-performing state on fourth-grade NAEP reading scores to 21st in the nation, may have serious flaws. EAC co-founder Kelly Butler, CEO of Mississippi’s Barksdale Reading Institute, worries that not all components of the state’s education system are being held to the same level of accountability, which can undermine sustainability.



Notes on politics and virtual schools

Ty Babinski:

As president of the Wisconsin Coalition of Virtual School Families, I am committed to working with any lawmaker, from any party and region of the state, who will champion the causes of our students. But you have to earn my support. 

Similarly, you’ll have to earn the support of all of our members, and the other voters you court as well.

Our coalition members will be asking you your positions on four issues. Do your homework. Be prepared.

1. Allow remote test taking of state standardized tests.
States across the country are realizing the foolishness of prohibiting the remote proctoring of standardized tests. Online charter schools and their students shouldn’t be forced to travel great distances at great expense to take the Forward Exam and other standardized tests.

2. Let the kids play.
Students who attend virtual charter schools should have the same opportunities as homeschooled students to participate in the extracurricular activities of their “home” districts. Our tax dollars help finance these facilities, our kids deserve access.
Students at private schools have access to these services. But only online public charter school students are now expressly prohibited from participating in sports and other clubs offered by the “local or home” district. 

Litigation on race based financial aid

Campus Reform:

A group of University of Oklahoma students initiated a class action lawsuit against the school on May 15, claiming the institution granted financial aid improperly based on students’ race. 

“[R]acial preferences continue to exist at the University of Oklahoma. Rather than determining who to admit based on their race, the University of Oklahoma determines how much financial aid it gives to students based on their race. That is unlawful,” the lawsuit, which was shared online by Fox News, states. 

If English was written like Chinese


The English spelling system is such a pain, we’d might as well switch to hanzi— Chinese characters. How should we go about it?

Japanese style

One way would be to use hanzi directly, asthe Japanese do. For instance, we’d write “work” as , and “ruler” as . Chinese and Japanese borrowings could be written using the original hanzi, e.g. “gung-ho” would be , and “tycoon” as . 

You can already see that this is going to be tricky. We’ve just given  two readings, for instance– /wrk/ and /gûng/– and  two as well– /rulr/ and /kun/. 

Proper names will be a problem as well. Again, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean names already have hanzi forms– e.g.  for the name of the bodaciously cute singer Faye Wong— but for English names we’d have no better recourse than to spell things out using the nearest Chinese syllables. For instance, Winston Churchill would be represented by hanzi that would be transliterated Wensuteng Chuerqilu.

Eliminating DIE hiring statements

Mike Damiano

Less than five years ago, Harvard University’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences followed a trend that was then sweeping across American higher education. It instituted a requirement that professors who wished to work at Harvard submit an essay explaining how they would advance “diversity, inclusion, and belonging” in their work.

On Monday, the university’s largest division announced it had reversed course, eliminating the requirement after receiving “feedback from numerous faculty members” who were concerned about the mandatory statements.

A seemingly routine part of academic hiring, diversity statements have become the focus of intense scrutiny as universities grapple with the question of whether well-intentioned efforts to diversify the elite ranks of American institutions have sometimes collided with other core values of academia.

Condemning the “Wisconsin DPI’s Ridiculous Attempt to Disguise Lackluster Student Achievement”


The News: The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) strongly condemns the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) for changing the terminology regarding student performance as well as once again considering changing the cut points for proficiency on the state’s Forward Exam. This represents a blatant effort to conceal lackluster academic performance for Wisconsin students. WILL believes these changes will cloud parent’s ability to best understand their child’s academic performance and allow schools to avoid accountability for their failures.  

The Quotes: WILL Research Director Will Flanders urges, “Instead of focusing on declining academic achievement in Wisconsin, the Department of Public Instruction is working to hide the problem. Unfortunately, changing standards for political correctness and to avoid accountability will hurt students today, tomorrow, and long into the future. DPI should prioritize addressing more pressing issues, such as implementing reading reforms which will raise student outcomes and helping to resolve the mess in Milwaukee Public Schools.”  

The Changes from DPI:  DPI announced they would be changing the terminology of student performance categories to as follows:  

  • “Below Basic” will now change to “Developing.”
  • “Basic” will now change to “Approaching.”
  • “Proficient” will now change to “Meeting.”
  • “Advanced” will remain the same.  

These labels are not designed to spare the feelings of the students who are not performing as expected, as DPI has alluded. Rather, they intend to prevent families from recognizing the ineptitude of the schools that fail to help students reach the standards required for the workforce or college. 


DPI Superintendent Underly: “I support Eliminating the Foundations of Reading (FORT)” Teacher Test

Wisconsin’s low bar WKCE expedition. (DPI)

Legislation and Reading: The Wisconsin Experience 2004-

The New England Primer.

Notes on UW-Madison School of Education Literacy skills

Quinton Klabon:

Dean Haddix will oversee science of reading rollout at UW-Madison. Her literacy research focused elsewhere, but the group of which she was president wrote a nuanced defense of balanced literacy and called out UW’s Mark Seidenberg. How does she feel?


DPI Superintendent Underly: “I support Eliminating the Foundations of Reading (FORT)” Teacher Test

Wisconsin’s low bar WKCE expedition. (DPI)

Legislation and Reading: The Wisconsin Experience 2004-

The New England Primer.

Wisconsin taxpayer funded “DPI pretends our NAEP scores aren’t gross”

Quinton Klabon:

Good news! DPI fixed Milwaukee Public Schools!

No, I don’t mean MPS’ finance crisis.

The Forward Exam categories were OFFENSIVE.
YUCKY: Below Basic, Basic, Proficient, Advanced
HAPPY: Developing, Approaching, Meeting, Advanced

So, 68% of Black students are Developing. ✨

Will Flanders

Changing terms for student performance on the Forward Exam will only serve to cloud parent’s ability to know how their child is doing in school. It’s great if a child in the lowest category is developing skills, but those skills may never actually develop in a failing school.

The use of politically correct terms for students that aren’t meeting expectations can be seen as little more than an attempt to mask failure. DPI should spend less time worrying about what to call levels of proficiency and more time fixing schools that aren’t meeting them.

Libby Sobic

Why is the @WisconsinDPI doing this? Changing the cut scores (again) only makes it harder to see trends over time on student proficiency. AND don’t forget all of this

Lucas Vebber:

DPI is organizing a meeting next week “to establish cut scores for the Wisconsin Forward Exam in English Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics.”

Attendees are required to “sign a Security and Non-Disclosure Agreement” — is this meeting open to the public? How is this funded

DPI Superintendent Underly: “I support Eliminating the Foundations of Reading (FORT)” Teacher Test

Wisconsin’s low bar WKCE expedition. (DPI)

Legislation and Reading: The Wisconsin Experience 2004-

The New England Primer.

‘They are in over their heads’: Some leaders, stakeholders want to see changes in Milwaukee k-12 referendum after financial mess

By: Jenna Wells 

“Talk to the people who are paying for the referendum,” Spiker said.

He also wants to see a 25% reduction in their $252 million referendum.

Meanwhile, the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce is calling for a full suspension.

“The Milwaukee Public School Board needs to immediately announce that they are not moving forward with this referendum,” said Dale Kooyenga, president of MMAC. “The referendum gives them the ability to raise property taxes, it doesn’t require them to raise property taxes.”

Kooyenga said he believes the MPS board’s financial mishandlings eroded the trust of taxpayers.

“The first step when you actually go to pass a budget is to know what your starting point is. They don’t even know what their starting point is,” he said.


Notes on changing Milwaukee k-12 Governance.


Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers vetoed legislationthat would break up the taxpayer funded Milwaukee school district into four smaller districts. Mulligans are worth a look.

On today’s arrests at the Stanford president’s office

Kaushikee Nayudu, Emma Talley and Jessica Zhu

Two members of The Daily were arrested early this morning in connection with an attempted pro-Palestine occupation of the president and provost’s office in Main Quad. One was present to report on the protest for The Daily and was detained in violation of his First Amendment and Fourth Amendment rights. We are appalled at this threat to the freedom of the press. 

The second Daily member who was arrested was there in her personal capacity, not to report for The Daily. 

Protesters entered the building at 5:30 a.m. and barricaded themselves inside, blocking doors and windows. The Daily’s reporter remained inside, with a press pass and wearing Stanford Daily attire, to cover the protest and potential arrests. He remained in communication with another reporter, who was outside the building, and with editors in The Daily’s newsroom.