All posts by Jim Zellmer

Waunakee (former Madison PTO President) Mom on our Disastrous Reading Results

“Waunakee, they’re getting 65% proficiency. That’s great for Wisconsin. That’s great. Want to keep to doing great. And so we like really, we’re going to move there (from Madison).

How are we going to tutor all the kids we’ve missed in Wisconsin?”

Machine generated transcript.

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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

Donna Hejtmanek Wisconsin AB446 Testimony

“1993: Wisconsin Students #3 in the Nation in Reading

2019: #27

If Mississippi can do it, we can do it”.

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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

Standoff over face mask results in lockdown at LHS

Greg Johnson & Eve Newman:

Laramie High School was locked down for about 90 minutes Thursday morning during a showdown of wills between school administration and a 16-year-old junior who was arrested and removed from the school in handcuffs.

Grace Smith returned to LHS on Thursday morning after serving two consecutive two-day suspensions for not complying with Albany County School District #1’s mask mandate, which says anyone inside a district building must have his or her face covered. The rule, brought on by an upsurge in COVID-19 cases, was put in place last month and will be reviewed by the school board next week, ahead of a scheduled Oct. 15 sunset.

Ethnic studies becomes graduation requirement for California students

Joe Hong:

After a years-long battle reignited in recent months by controversies over misunderstandings of critical race theory, California students will soon be required to take ethnic studies to graduate high school.

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed AB 101 into law on Friday afternoon, requiring California high school students to take ethnic studies to graduate, starting with the class of 2030. Educators and recent studies attest to the benefits of students learning the histories and cultures of marginalized communities, but a few parents still worry the requirement could create more tensions between students.

“The inclusion of ethnic studies in the high school curriculum is long overdue,” said Assemblymember Jose Medina, a Democrat from Riverside who authored AB 101. “Students cannot have a full understanding of the history of our state and nation without the inclusion of the contributions and struggles of Native Americans, African Americans, Latinos, and Asian Americans.”

Last year, Newsom vetoed a similar bill, also authored by Medina, citing the need for revision in the model curriculum.

In Defense of Sandra Stotsky

Richard Phelps:

In a review essay appearing in the Fall 2019 issue of AQ, James Shuls criticized author Sandra Stotsky for suggesting in her 2018 book Changing the Course of Failure that the federal government should take control of the education of low-achieving students by establishing something resembling boarding schools. “That’s a dangerous belief,” Shuls wrote, “it would be a short step for someone on the fringe to take from Stotsky’s idea of a voluntary boarding school to the mandatory internment of low achieving children.” In a response to Shuls in the same issue, Stotsky explained that her recommendation was one of several that addressed a fact that educators have failed to adequately address: “massive adolescent underachievement is a social problem, one that has not been solved by our educational institutions in over fifty years.” Below, Richard Phelps offers a defense of Stotsky’s body of work followed by a reply from Shuls.

Sandra Stotsky can claim experience that the vast majority of pundits, policy advisors, and advocates who directly influence our country’s education policy cannot: she helped design and operate a large-scale program—combining reforms of curriculum, professional development, and student assessment—that consistently raised educational achievement for all students. She put in the long hours working out the details, reaching consensus, making adjustments, and managing systemwide solutions that worked. Her patient work was integral to the Massachusetts “education miracle” of the 1990s and early 2000s, the envy of forty-nine states. Few individuals involved in education reform in the United States have affected as much positive change.

Stotsky, a co-author with me and Mark McQuillan on a 2015 study for the Pioneer Institute for Public Policy Research, also deserves respect for her independence of thought and word. In a U.S. education policy world full of grifters, enablers, and sellouts, organized largely into cliques, Sandra Stotsky shines through. Like so many of the policy analysts aligned with either of the major political parties, she could have taken the money and become a prominent player in the Gates Foundation’s regressive Common Core World. Unlike so many others, however, she has chosen to keep her own counsel, navigated by a steady compass of core principles and evidence.

Not conforming, however, appears to have made her some enemies. In an astonishingly slanted review of the first of her two recent books (Academic Questions, Fall 2019, 412–421), James V. Shuls accused her of writing what she did not and characterized its entirety based on his misreading of just one of her several suggested “possible long-term solutions.”

Briefly, in response to Shuls’s perverted perspective, in Changing the Course of Failure:

America is the place that ‘invented freedom’

Joanne Jacobs:

Raised in Berkeley — she remembers when free speech was a left-wing thing — Caitlin Flanagan though of America as “this all-powerful, invulnerable, monolithic thing,” she tells Yascha Mounk in a Persuasion conversation.
After 9/11 happened, she remembered that a real estate company had put foot-high plastic American flags on everyone’s lawn for Fourth of July. She found them in the garage and put them in her front yard.

I remember . . . for the only time in my entire life feeling like I’m an American, and I love this country, and I stand for this country. . . . (It was) the only time in my life that I ever thought that this is a good place. Growing up the way I did, all I’d ever thought about was things like the School of the Americas teaching torture in Latin and Central America — all these terrible, terrible things America has done.

People say the history of American taught in school celebrates the triumphs and ignores the evils, says Flanagan. But Berkeley schools didn’t just teach history, “warts and all.” It was all warts. Students learned “that we were just an imperialist, colonialist country.”

Parents and the education establishment

“An emphasis on adult employment”.

“An emphasis on adult employment.”

This Drop Came So Quickly’: Shrinking Schools Add to Hong Kong Exodus

Vivian Wang:

Long before the school year began, Chim Hon Ming, a primary school principal in Hong Kong, knew this year’s student body would be smaller. The city’s birthrate had already been falling, and families were increasingly frustrated by Hong Kong’s strict pandemic restrictions and the political turmoil.

Even he was not prepared for the extent of the exodus. When school started last month in his district of western Hong Kong Island, the first-grade classes were about 10 percent smaller than the previous year’s — a decrease of more than 100 students.

“This drop came so quickly,” Mr. Chim said.

As Hong Kong has been battered by two years of upheaval, between the pandemic and a sweeping political crackdown from Beijing, many of the consequences have been immediately visible. Businesses have shuttered, politicians have been arrested, tourists have disappeared. One major change is just coming into focus: some residents’ determination that the city is no longer where they want to raise their children.

Last year, Hong Kong experienced a population drop of 1.2 percent, its biggest since the government began keeping records in the 1960s. From July 2020, when China imposed a national security law, through the following July, more than 89,000 people left the city of 7.5 million, according to provisional government data.

Ideology and Law Schools

George Leaf:

Law schools in the U.S. used to be run by no-nonsense individuals who, whatever their personal politics, thought that their institutions existed to teach students about the law, not to engage in advocacy or speculation.

That began to change in the 1980s, as some younger law professors started to push into previously forbidden terrain, introducing blatantly ideological material, and getting away with it. As law professor Charles Rounds put it in this 2010 Martin Center article, the legal curriculum started to fill up with courses that were “bad sociology, not law.”

At Columbia, president Lee Bollinger (a former law dean), saidthat introducing Critical Race Theory was “urgent and necessary.” And Professor Gillian Lester, referring to the Columbia Law faculty, stated, “Their scholarship, teaching and advocacy have illuminated the pervasive effects of structural racism in our society and the law.”

But is teaching CRT anything to brag about, in law school or any other educational institution? Many think not. For instance, professors Richard Vedder and Amy Wax, writing for Independent Institute, state, “the most pernicious aspect of CRT instruction is not its content, but the one-sided, dogmatic intolerance of any alternative points of view.”

Vedder and Wax continue,

The CRT approved story is that white racism is pervasive and accounts for all racial disparities. What is not taught—what students are not even allowed to hear—is the contrary position that persistent racial inequalities are oftentimes rooted in cultural differences and behavioral tendencies that are not traceable to slavery and cannot be solved by purging the vague category of ‘structural racism.’

To that point, I would add that it is also forbidden to argue that government policies are to blame for the poor average economic results experienced by blacks and some other groups. Law students “learning” CRT aren’t going to question the harmful effects of public education or licensing laws, for example, even if they were appropriate topics for legal study.

Attacked from within

atdt:

This article attempts to fundamentally rethink what constitutes community and society on the web, and what possibilities exist for their maintenance and reconstruction in the face of scale and malicious users. The recommendations reached, after analyzing the weaknesses of the web forums we all know and love, are:

User anonymity should be forced.
Barriers to participation should be as low as possible.
Moderation should not focus on users or on comments in isolation, but on the relational quality of comments.
Passive moderation filters can mitigate problems of scale.
Preservation of community must shift from being based on exclusion to being based on demonstrated constructive interaction.
Forums should discriminate between content types: original content, links, and personal content.
Story promotion and front page position should be driven by conversation, not voting.

“used surveys in early 2020 to assess how students felt in their math classes and what teachers thought about their own efforts to help students feel like they belong”

Scott Girard:

Key findings include that classroom and school belonging are distinct and that teachers with more confidence in their ability to teach math had a stronger sense of classroom belonging among their students. The research also found there was no systematic difference in math classroom belonging across racial/ethnic groups or by gender.

“I’m heartened to know that second finding, that teachers’ sense of their efficacy has an impact on kids,” said Madison Metropolitan School District executive director of research and innovation Beth Vaade. “That’s what we want, we want to know as educators that what we do in a classroom is going to be connected to what scholars feel.”

MEP, which is a partnership between the University of Wisconsin-Madison and MMSD, initially hoped to use observations and interviews with students and staff to complement the data from the surveys. But the COVID-19 pandemic prevented that extra step, something researcher and MEP co-director Eric Grodsky called “disappointing.”

Specifically, they explored that feeling in middle school math classrooms. Grodsky said that decision came partly because of the “stereotype threat” surrounding the subject, with the assumption that women and students of color are worse at math creating a psychological threat as soon as they enter a classroom. MMSD STEM director Patti Schaefer said math was an “appealing” subject for this type of research.

“We see math as I’m either a math person or I’m not, a very split way of seeing ourselves in math,” Schaefer said.

To measure belonging, researchers surveyed 1,887 students and 60 teachers at five MMSD middle schools.

Math curriculum/rigor and student performance are not new topics. A few links: Connected Math, Discovery Math, Math Task Force, 21% of University of Wisconsin System Freshman Require Remedial Math, UW-LaCrosse’s Remedial Math Courses and Math forum.

What impact do high school mathematics curricula have on college-level mathematics placement? (Traditional math curriculum students placed higher).

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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

“The State Does Not Own Your Children”

Paula Bolyard:

** I recall a former Madison Superintendent occasionally using these words “we have the children”. **

Moms and dads, you know what’s best for your own children. That’s long been my mantra, harkening back to my early blogger days when I fiercely defended a parent’s right to determine the course of his or her child’s education. Although I’m an unapologetic advocate for homeschooling, I recognize that it’s not the best option for every family. But regardless of my personal views, I trust you, as parents, to do what’s best for your own personal children. How you educate your children is none of my business, just like it’s none of my business whether you choose to breastfeed or bottle-feed or whether or not you believe in spanking. It’s not any of the government’s business, either. God gave your children to you, not to the state, and He’s tasked you, not the government, with the task of raising them.

I’m always disappointed when I hear parents ceding the education of their kids to teachers and school boards, believing that the schools know best. After all, many of you reason, teachers and administrators at your kids’ school have advanced degrees in education! Surely, they know better than you do what your kids need. Only trained professionals are qualified to decide what kids should be taught, right? And lest you think I’m exaggerating, this poll offers proof that many parents trust the schools more than they trust their own judgment:

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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

Training Urged New Jersey Teachers To Track Conversations With Parents, Students Regarding The COVID-19 Vaccine

Kendall Tietz:

A training provided by Made to Save, a vaccine “equity” nonprofit, the National Education Association (NEA) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) directed teachers to “follow up and track” conversations with parents and teachers regarding the COVID-19 vaccine, Fox News reported.

They were told to log their conversations into the Democrat campaign app, “Reach” and incentivized with gift cards to be active users. Campaign operative Jake DeGroot devised Reach, which New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez utilized in her 2018 campaign, Fox News reported.

“Having the audacity to back this type of presentation shows that the NJEA, NEA, AFT, and any other organization involved clearly does not regard educators as professionals or critical thinkers,” Mess told Fox News. “We literally teach our students to be able to look at information critically before making a decision.”

The Politicization of Education Research and the AERA

Richard Phelps:

A story line in one of my favorite television shows—a courtroom drama—concerns a rogue judge caught tipping the proverbial scale of justice toward his own personal biases. At his disciplinary hearing, the presiding judge says to him matter-of-factly, “You’re not supposed to care who wins, remember?”

As it is supposed to be with judges in the U.S. court system, so it is supposed to be with academic research faculty. As Bertrand Russell implored, objective scientific inquiry requires that investigators not be diverted by what they wish to believe, or think would have beneficial social effects if it were believed. If not genuinely disinterested, objective scientists should at least conduct their research such that unfavored outcomes are possible. Otherwise, outcomes are predetermined, and the activity is not research, but advocacy. If research is performed for the sake of advocacy, that fact should be made transparent.

To the casual observer, the name of the century-old American Educational Research Association (AERA)—a professional organization largely comprising education school professors—might sound like any academic society, such as the American Historical Association or the Association for Psychological Science. Indeed, that juxtaposition fools many who naïvely assume the AERA to be a comprehensive resource for objective expertise.

In its early days, a century ago, the AERA hosted objective research in the teaching and learning of subject matter knowledge and skills. That was before the creation of graduate schools of education, back when most education researchers were either psychology professors or state or local agency program evaluators, and teachers were trained in apprenticeship-like programs at “normal schools.” AERA’s current mission statement hints at this legacy.

Literacy and numeracy targeted as foundation for later success in low-income countries

Andrew Jack:

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At her primary school in Ndiebel, western Senegal, Marietou Diagne has seen a sharp improvement in her young pupils’ grasp of the basics of reading since she adopted a new approach to teaching two years ago.

Children in the first three grades now study in Wolof, their mother tongue, before switching to French, the country’s main language of instruction. Based on these stronger foundations, the aim is to improve the children’s learning and progression through the education system.

“I’ve seen real advances,” says Diagne. “The children are much more at ease and grasp the essentials very quickly. They take books home and their family can help them read. I’ve even had a couple of parents say the younger children are better at reading than their older brothers and sisters.”

Showing up to dress down school boards over their dereliction of duty isn’t a crime. It’s good parenting and good citizenship.

Maud Maron:

I am a mother of four, a criminal defense attorney and a lifelong liberal who is deeply concerned about the direction of New York City’s public schools. I’ve been outspoken about my views, along with an untold number of frustrated parents. For that, the FBI is considering using the PATRIOT Act against me. 

Let me explain: late last month, the National School Boards Association, an umbrella organization representing thousands of local elected school board officials, sent a letter addressed to President Biden. It warned that “America’s public schools and its education leaders are under an immediate threat.” But not just any threat: “the classification of these heinous actions could be the equivalent to a form of domestic terrorism and hate crimes.” The letter implored the White House to enlist the support of Homeland Security, the FBI and the Department of Justice to investigate the threat — adding that the alleged crimes fall under the purview of the “PATRIOT Act in regards to domestic terrorism.”

I read the letter with grave concern, as would any American who cares about our public schools and the safety of teachers and students. What was the nature of this threat? And would my own children be at risk?

As it turns out, the threat is me. The threat is parents showing up to dress down school boards over their dereliction of duty. That is what the NSBA considers a crime.

I urge you to read the letter in full. You will see that it contains 24 footnotes. The worst of the so-called crimes include prank calls; a single individual in Ohio yelling a “Nazi salute in protest of masking requirements”; another individual in Washington State whose disorderly conduct prompted the board to call a recess; “spreading misinformation” online, and disorderly conduct arrests. In New York, where I live, disorderly conduct is not even a criminal offense. 

And yet within days of the NSBA letter, the top law enforcement official in the country, Attorney General Merrick Garland, publicly responded to the letter with a memorandum to the director of the FBI. Garland agreed with the NSBA that “there has been a disturbing spike in harassment, intimidation, and threats of violence” against board members — without providing any evidence. He further announced specialized training for board members to “aid in the investigation and prosecution of these crimes” and, more worryingly, the creation of a task force composed of FBI and Justice Department representatives to “determine how federal enforcement tools can be used to prosecute these crimes.” The FBI’s clear message to parents is that the NSBA is on the right track.

Commentary.

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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

Loudoun County Schools Tried To Conceal Sexual Assault Against Daughter In Bathroom, Father Says

Luke Rosiak:

On June 22, Scott Smith was arrested at a Loudoun County, Virginia school board meeting, a meeting that was ultimately deemed an “unlawful assembly” after many attendees vocally opposed a policy on transgender students.

What people did not know is that, weeks prior, on May 28, Smith says, a boy, allegedly wearing a skirt, entered a girls’ bathroom at nearby Stone Bridge High School, where he sexually assaulted Smith’s ninth-grade daughter. 

Juvenile records are sealed, but Scott’s attorney, Elizabeth Lancaster told The Daily Wire that a boy was charged with two counts of forcible sodomy, one count of anal sodomy, and one count of forcible fellatio, related to an incident that day at that school.

“One district issued exemptions to 14 percent of its school employees”

Mike Antonucci:

The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington posted a story that should be a model for news outlets everywhere. Headlined, “Mandate won’t keep unvaccinated teachers out of classrooms,” it not only provides details of what the state and local vaccine mandates entail, but also gives the vaccination counts of every school district in the area.

While most school employees are complying with the mandate, the Edmonds school district notified parents that 13 teachers, 25 aides, 26 bus drivers and five custodians had still not been vaccinated or granted an exemption. Teachers with exemptions can either teach online or, if they return to the classrrom, must wear a KN95 mask and face shield and get tested once a week.

Vaccination rates, particularly among teachers, are high, but the Herald notes the “robust” number of exemptions granted. One district issued exemptions to 14 percent of its school employees.

School board meetings show only that freedom is messy

Selma Zito:

When Carson used a media platform in discussions about school district issues, as he did last year when the children in the Pittsburgh Public Schools went for months without in-person education, he said he had to be “profoundly cautious” in expressing his views.

School board meetings have been around forever, and they have always had the potential to become raucous. I remember attending them with my mother as a teenager, then as a mother myself when my children were young. I also had to attend a few as a reporter for the local newspaper I worked for at the time. Emotions often ran high, as they should when children’s welfare is involved. Good parents never lose sight that the people who educate their children spend more day time with them in a classroom setting than parents themselves do. Emotions also ran high when new buildings were proposed, which always eventually meant higher taxes. 

I have often told young reporters that if they want to see firsthand the most important political process in the U.S. system, turn off cable news, get off the iPhone, turn their eyes away from Washington, and cover a local school board meeting.

No one should accept threats or physical violence at a school board meeting or anywhere else. But such conduct is fortunately rare. The problem today is, can we trust our government to distinguish between the actual threat of violence and the passionate expression of viewpoints by parents?

Civics: “It’s that a tiny handful of oligarchs (and political class influencers) are dictating what is knowable, or what views are valid.”

Joel Kotkin:

Attempts to shape or control thought by the tech giants are proceeding with astonishing speed. Staffers at Google, Facebook and Twitter increasingly “curate” the content on their sites. Often this means eliminating conservative views, according to former employees; companies increasingly use algorithms intended to screen out “hate groups.” But as reporting has shown, the e-programmers put in charge of this work often have trouble distinguishing between “hate groups” and those who might simply express dissenting if legitimate supported views.

If once we thought the IT revolution would foster a more democratic era in communications, what happened was the opposite: The media became more concentrated, with just a few companies controlling all the information pipelines.The steady erosion in anti-trust enforcement under both parties has left firms like Facebook and Google with almost unlimited power to acquire or crush competitors and ideological opponents. And these firms are near-absolute monopolies; they hold market shares that exceed eighty percent in key markets like search, social media, and book sales, as well as phone and PC operating systems.

City orders educators to find the thousands of students ‘missing’ from schools

Susan Edelman:

City educators are scrambling to find what some officials fear are 150,000 or more kids who have not yet set foot in school — and others who don’t show up on a given day.

“Reach out to every absent student every day,” the Department of Education instructed principals last week in a memo obtained by The Post.

Schools were told to follow up daily with each missing kid until they nail down the reason why he or she has not shown up — whether for one day or not at all.

“Outreach to families may include phone calls, text messages, postcards, and where possible, home visits,” the memo says.

In another urgent missive, principals told staffers that all schools with more than 20 percent of students absent will get weekly visits from DOE higher-ups — a dreaded occurrence. “We cannot continue in this direction,” one administrator warned.

The Plague of the Poor: A dangerous COVID-era authoritarianism targets the most vulnerable—and threatens the foundation of democratic society

Alex Gutentag:

Proponents of vaccine mandates and passports claim that such policies will get us “back to normal.” But the increasingly unequal world that these requirements are actually building is anything but normal. It is a world in which the most basic forms of participation in society are contingent on submitting to an often unwanted medical procedure for which there is no long-term data. It is a world in which fundamental human freedoms—starting with the freedom to ask questions and to choose what substances go into one’s body—are now being suspended and mocked by politicians, judges, and journalists whose jobs are ostensibly to safeguard those freedoms.

As the $1.3 trillion pharmaceutical industry increasingly captures the media, elected officials, and scientific institutions, the public health establishment that many people trusted to protect their well-being has become a tool of profit and control. If we fail to resist this establishment now, the harms caused by a medicalized “show your papers” regime will far exceed the threat posed by the virus itself.

Proposed Changes in the Child Tax Credit

Greg Mankiw:

new paper by Kevin Corinth, Bruce Meyer, Matthew Stadnicki, and Derek Wu finds the following (emphasis added). 

The proposed change under the American Families Plan (AFP) to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) Child Tax Credit (CTC) would increase maximum benefit amounts to $3,000 or $3,600 per child (up from $2,000 per child) and make the full credit available to all low and middle-income families regardless of earnings or income. We estimate the anti-poverty, targeting, and labor supply effects of the expansion by linking survey data with administrative tax and government program data which form part of the Comprehensive Income Dataset (CID). Initially ignoring any behavioral responses, we estimate that the expansion of the CTC would reduce child poverty by 34% and deep child poverty by 39%. The expansion of the CTC would have a larger anti-poverty effect on children than any existing government program, though at a higher cost per child raised above the poverty line than any other means-tested program. Relatedly, the CTC expansion would allocate a smaller share of its total dollars to families at the bottom of the income distribution—as well as families with the lowest levels of long-term income, education, or health—than any existing means-tested program with the exception of housing assistance. We then simulate anti-poverty effects accounting for labor supply responses. By replacing the TCJA CTC (which contained substantial work incentives akin to the EITC) with a universal basic income-type benefit, the CTC expansion reduces the return to working at all by at least $2,000 per child for most workers with children. Relying on elasticity estimates consistent with mainstream simulation models and the academic literature, we estimate that this change in policy would lead 1.5 million workers (constituting 2.6% of all working parents) to exit the labor force. The decline in employment and the consequent earnings loss would mean that child poverty would only fall by 22% and deep child poverty would not fall at all with the CTC expansion.

A view of Columbus Day: Celebrating the Wrong Italian

James Bennett:

The interesting thing to me was the complete absence of anything representing the United States. This was not a coincidence. Columbus, and the holiday celebrating his landing in the New World, are seen throughout the Spanish-speaking world as having to do primarily with the extension of Spanish-speaking, Catholic civilization to the New World and the creation, through a conflicted encounter, of a new culture. It is, to coin a phrase, the creation of the Hispanosphere that is commemorated. 

Traditionally, the role played by the United States in this narrative is not one of a joint participant, but rather an antagonist. In the narrative of Hispanosphere nationalists, Latin America is Shakespeare’s Ariel, the graceful and sensitive artistic spirit. The United States, or “Gringolandia” as it is sometimes called, is Caliban, the powerful but ugly monster that dominates tragic Ariel. 

Columbus Day in the United States carries an entirely different set of connotations. During the 19th century, Columbus was reinvented by Washington Irving and his successors as a sort of Yankee visionary entrepreneur before his time. His specific roots in time, space, and culture as a Genoese in the service of Spanish monarchs was downplayed; what was celebrated was his seeming prescience and capacity for self-reinvention. 

In fact Columbus did have some such characteristics; entrepreneurism is often a leap into the unknown, and he was neither the first nor the last to set out to seek one thing and discover another, nor to venture on the basis of mistaken calculations and assumptions. There was, it is true, a certain Enron-like quality to his mileage calculations. 

Subsequently, this useful narrative was seized upon and expanded by Catholic immigrant communities eager to demonstrate that Catholicism was not inconsistent with being American. Italian immigrant groups found Columbus a particularly appealing figure; here was an Italian Catholic already elevated to heroic status by the Americans they sought to join. Columbus Day became established as an American holiday, but for reasons and with symbolism quite different from those for which it is celebrated in Latin America.. 

Now, of course, Columbus Day is under attack as a holiday in the United States by the forces of political correctness. This is primarily an effect of the Calvinist Puritan roots of American progressivism. Just as Calvinists believed in the centrality of the depravity of man, with the exception of a miniscule contingent of the Elect of God, their secularized descendants believe in the depravity and cursedness of Western civilization, with their own enlightened selves in the role of the Elect. 

I do not particularly sympathize with the demonization of Columbus Day by the politically correct, although I do not think the injustices suffered by our Siberian-American fellow immigrants should be glossed over. However, I think Columbus Day should be reconsidered as a U.S. holiday for a different reason. I am fundamentally in agreement with the Hispanosphere nationalists on one point: Columbus’s voyage was very specifically the initiation of the contact between Spain and Spanish America. Neither the settlement of Brazil nor of English-speaking North America were direct consequences of Columbus’s voyages, and would probably have happened had Columbus never returned with the news of his landing.

Estimating the returns to schooling

David Card:

Card is best known amongst intellectuals for his minimum wage work, but he also has been central in estimating the returns to higher education, using superior methods.  In particular, he has induced many economists to downgrade the import of the signaling model of education.  Here is one excerpt from his Econometrica paper, appropriately entitled “Estimating the Return to Schooling: Progress on Some Persistent Econometric Problems:

A review of studies that have used compulsory schooling laws, differences in the accessibility of schools, and similar features as instrumental variables for completed education, reveals that the resulting estimates of the return to schooling are typically as
big or bigger than the corresponding ordinary least squares estimates. One interpretation of this finding is that marginal returns to education among the low-education subgroups typically affected by supply-side innovations tend to be relatively high, reflecting their high marginal costs of schooling, rather than low ability that limits their return to education.

Peer Review, a Tarnished “Gold Standard”

Richard Phelps:

I recently submitted a manuscript to an education journal, a review essay of another scholar’s work. It opened with a compliment of the author’s “highly-praised and influential work.” To that statement, one reviewer of my manuscript asserted that I used “emotionally loaded language of incredulity, dismissiveness, and hyperbole.”

More “tone policing” comments riddled the review, suggesting that even when my words might sound benign or complimentary, what I really meant was malevolent. There were several examples of another curious critique type as well: Raw declarations that my claims could not possibly be true, without any effort having been made to follow my footnotes to the evidence.

Few of my manuscript submissions to education journals have been reviewed substantively. For those familiar with Paul Graham’s hierarchy of disagreement, the reviews tend to lack a refutation of the central point, refutation in general, or counterargument. Instead, most consist of responding to (perceived) tone or being ad hominem (even anonymously) attacks.

I consider it likely that this reviewer knew that I had written the manuscript. And that may have motivated the decision to volunteer. If I read the editor’s reviewer numbering system correctly, three others had agreed to review but then failed to follow through. Who knows how many were originally asked?

As it is, the traditional peer review system relies on unpaid volunteers from a small population of very busy people to perform an intensive and time-consuming task. Two types of scholars feel most compelled to review papers: Those intrinsically motivated (not necessarily for noble reasons) such as the aforementioned reviewer, and those who “have to,” such as graduate students and not-yet-tenured professors.

Teacher resigns from Winterville Charter Academy after “racially insensitive lesson”

WITN TV:

A charter school in the east is under fire for a racially charged school lesson that resulted in a teacher’s resignation and alleged bullying by other students.

WITN began investigating what happened at the school after receiving calls and social media questions about the lesson.

Winterville Charter Academy parents that WITN spoke with Wednesday described their children being singled out by the teacher in a lesson about the U.S. Constitution.

“She had them raise their hand during a constitutional lesson and reminded them that if it wasn’t for the Constitution, they would be her slaves. Her field slaves,” said Kanisha Tillman, whose child was in the classroom.

Down the Memory Hole: Evidence on Educational Testing

Richard Phelps:

What happens to the research evidence in a scientific field when the professionals in that field do not like it?

Some naively believe, as I once did, that all scientific research is somehow accumulated and preserved. Some of it is, even if its preservation may be obscure. Many scholarly journal indexes, for example, date back to the early twentieth century, and their earliest journal contents can still be found in some dusty academic libraries or on microfiche. Other scientific research is not deliberately preserved, or even indexed, and can more easily be forsaken and forgotten.1

Research on educational testing, its uses and effects, should greatly interest the American public. A standardized test, when administered by objective third parties, is one of the few instruments available to measure what happens inside our schools, which is not controlled by those who run our schools. For several decades, most U.S. states have incorporated systemwide testing in their education programs. Then, starting in the early 2000s, the federal government intervened with system wide testing requirements in most states in seven grade levels. Those requirements continue today. To many, testing seems omnipresent in our public schools.

It is no secret, however, that education professors tend to be less enthusiastic than the general public about testing mandates or externally administered standardized tests.2 Nonetheless, by default our graduate schools of education, their libraries, and the scholarly journals they manage serve as the primary repositories of research on the uses and effects of educational testing.

In my “spare” time, I read research on the effect of testing on student learning. Over the years, I have reviewed thousands of studies and found several hundred that fit the requirements for a statistical meta-analysis, including hundreds of randomized controlled experiments—the “gold standard” in social science research—dating back to the 1910s. Among the many sources I found helpful were a 233-page Bibliography of Educational and Psychological Tests and Measurement from 1923 and a 1942 book by C. C. Ross, Measurement in Today’s Schools—a source that led me to many other sources.

The “scientific” study of school testing—that is, the statistical analysis of test use and its effects—dates back to the 1890s. In 1923, standardized educational tests were still relatively new, but had already proliferated widely. The Bibliography, conducted for the U.S. Department of Interior, lists several hundred different tests and cites several hundred more reports of their implementation.

Five foot tall Rhode Island mom is not intimidated by the DOJ or FBI.

Jim Polito:

Nicole Solas is fighting CRT indoctrination in schools while being a mom taxi and changing diapers. The Rhode Island mother is being sued by the state’s largest teacher’s union for asking questions about what’s being taught to her kids. Now the Department of Justice and FBI have accepted the premise that she could be a domestic terrorist because she is holding her local educators and administrators accountable. Click the podcast below to be inspired by this incredible woman.

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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

Following a Twitter outcry, a scientist was stopped from giving a lecture at MIT for reasons that had nothing to do with the lecture itself.

Yascha Mounk:

Dorian Abbot is a geophysicist at the University of Chicago. In recognition of his research on climate change, MIT invited him to deliver the John Carlson Lecture, which takes place every year at a large venue in the Boston area and is meant to “communicate exciting new results in climate science to the general public.”

Then the campaign to cancel Abbot’s lecture began. On Twitter, some students and professors called on the university to retract its invitation. And, sure enough, MIT buckled, becoming yet another major institution in American life to demonstrate that the commitment to free speech it trumpets on its website evaporates the moment some loud voices on social media call for a speaker’s head.

But there is more to this story than meets the eye. For although most outlets have covered Abbot’s disinvitation as but the latest example of an illiberal culture on campus, it is qualitatively different from other recent instances in which invitations have been rescinded—and suggests that the scope of censorship is continuing to morph and expand.

Is Abbot a climate-change denier? Or has he committed some terrible crime? No, he simply expressed his views about the way universities should admit students and hire faculty in the pages of a national magazine.

Back in August, Abbot and a colleague criticized affirmative action and other ways to give candidates for admission or employment a leg up on the basis of their ethnic or racial identity in Newsweek. In their place, Abbot advocated what he calls a Merit, Fairness, and Equality (MFE) framework in which applicants would be “treated as individuals and evaluated through a rigorous and unbiased process based on their merit and qualifications alone.” This, Abbot emphasized, would also entail “an end to legacy and athletic admission advantages, which significantly favor white applicants.”

A Research-Based Explanation of How Children Learn to Read Words

Stephen Parker:

Sight Words

Ehri distinguishes 4 ways to read words:
“The first three ways help us read unfamiliar words. The fourth way explains how we read words we have read before. One way is by decoding, also called phonological recoding. We can either sound out and blend graphemes into phonemes, or we can work with larger chunks of letters to blend syllabic units into recognizable words. Another way is by analogizing. This involves using words we already know to read new words – for example, using the known word, bottle, to read throttle. Another way is by prediction. This involves using context and letter clues to guess unfamiliar words. The fourth way of reading words is by memory or sight. This applies to words we have read before. We can just look at the words and our brain recognizes them.” [1] [boldface mine]

[Note: If you’re unfamiliar with the terms “decode,” “blend,” “segment,” “grapheme,” or “phoneme,” you can find easy-to-understand definitions here. Understanding these terms is a necessity for reading this blog.]

Since the first 3 strategies for reading (above) all involve conscious effort and time, using any of them will impede reading comprehension. Reading by sight, however, requires no conscious effort – all the brain’s resources can be directed toward comprehending the text.

“Given that there are multiple ways to read words, consider which way makes text reading most efficient. If readers know words by sight and can recognize them automatically as they read text, then word reading operates unconsciously. In contrast, each of the other ways of reading words requires conscious attention. If readers attempt to decode words, to analogize, or to predict words, their attention is shifted from the text to the word itself to identify it, and this disrupts comprehension, at least momentarily. It is clear that being able to read words automatically from memory is the most efficient, unobtrusive way to read words in text. Hence, building a sight vocabulary is essential for achieving text-reading skill.” [2]

If you’re a skilled reader, you’ll likely read every word in this blog effortlessly – by sight. A mere glimpse of each word will immediately link to that word’s pronunciation and meaning. The brain’s ability to do this is astonishing. How does it happen?

A traditional view of how sight words are created holds that beginners memorize some type of association between a visual characteristic of the word (perhaps its overall shape) and its meaning. The pronunciation of the word is activated only after the meaning of the word has been retrieved. Ehri calls this notion “incorrect.”

College Scam Parents Found Guilty in Admissions Cheating Trial

Patricia Hurtado:

A former Wynn Resorts Ltd. executive and a private equity investor were found guilty in the first trial of parents accused of cheating to get their children into elite U.S. universities.

Gamal Abdelaziz, 64, was convicted of conspiracy by a Boston jury after prosecutors alleged he paid $300,000 in bribes to get his daughter into the University of Southern California as a purported basketball player. John B. Wilson, 62, was also convicted of conspiracy after prosecutors alleged he paid more than $1.2 million in bribes to get his son into the University of Southern California and his twin daughters into Stanford and Harvard as star athletes. Both men face years in prison.

School quality in cities commentary

Tyler Cowen:

On your podcast recently you asked Ed Glaeser for his political economy model to explain why schools in cities are so bad. I think it may just be schools in American cities that are bad rather than schools in cities in general, and the political economy reason why is probably local control over schools.

I am familiar with the situation in England, where outcomes are better in large cities. English children on free school meals (usually because their parents are on welfare) have substantially better exam results and are a lot more likely to go to university in large cities than in the rest of the country, while children not on free school meals do about as well as in large cities or slightly better.

That said, schools in large English cities were bad 20-30 years ago – in 2001 educational outcomes in inner London were the worst in England – and the improvement coincided with major policy change. Starting in 1990, school governance reforms in England have nearly eliminated the powers of local authorities over schools. Most schools are now ‘academies’ entirely independent from local authorities, and local authorities have very little discretion in how they manage schools theoretically under their control. On the other hand, in the US local government makes more of the decisions on education than in any other OECD country: 72% of decisions in the US are local, compared to the OECD average of 3%.

Civics: Lawfare, Citizen Activism and taxpayer funded schools

Bradley Thompson:

Garland’s letter is a moral, political, and constitutional abomination. To say there are serious problems with the Attorney General’s Orwellian letter would be an understatement. The letter asserts, for instance, that “there has been a disturbing spike in harassment, intimidation, and threats of violence against school administrators, board members, teachers, and staff.” It claims as fact a “rise in criminal conduct directed toward school personnel.” Neither the NSBA nor the Justice Department have provided any credible or meaningful evidence to support this unfounded claim, nor does Garland’s passive-aggressive letter specify what it classifies as “criminal conduct” or “domestic terrorism.” (Not surprisingly, Garland’s letter neglects to mention that some school board members and the teachers’ unions have been harassing and threatening parents for months. See herehereherehere, and here.) The simple fact of the matter is that virtually no violence has occurred at school board meetings this year.

In support of the NSBA request, Garland’s memorandum announced that he has directed the FBI and each U. S. Attorney to convene meetings immediately with “federal, state, local, Tribal, and territorial leaders in each federal judicial district” in order to “facilitate the discussion of strategies” for dealing with threats against school officials. The Department of Justice will also “open dedicated lines of communication for threat reporting, assessment, and response. In other words, the government will establish “snitch” lines against parents. If a school board member doesn’t like what they hear in a public meeting, they will be able to report (presumably anonymously) threats of harassment and intimidation.

But there’s more. In conjunction with Garland’s letter, the Department of Justice issued a press release in which it announced that the DOJ will be creating a task force “consisting of representatives from the department’s . . .

  • Criminal Division
  • National Security Division
  • Civil Rights Division
  • Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys
  • FBI
  • Community Relations Service
  • Office of Justice Programs

The purpose of this Star Chamber will be to “determine how federal enforcement tools can be used to prosecute these crimes.”

America’s security state has not been mobilized like this since 9-11. Recall, for instance, that the Justice Department’s National Security Division was created in 2005 to conduct “counterterrorism and counterespionage” operations against foreign enemies threatening the United States and its citizens, enemies such as Al-Qaeda and ISIS—ya know, the kind of individuals and organizations that commit mass murder as their day job.

The Biden Regime is now turning the full apparatus of America’s security state against ordinary American citizens who are challenging the hegemony of America’s Education-Industrial Complex. Dissenting parents who are unhappy with the substance and method by which their children are being taught are now to be designated and possibly prosecuted as domestic terrorists! To wit: the FBI and the National Security Division will now be in charge of monitoring school board meetings and parent organizations around the United States.

But we need to be crystal clear about who these alleged “terrorists” really are. Have you ever wondered what the new Merrick Garland version of a “domestic terrorist” looks and sounds like? You might start by taking a good look at your mother, your wife, your sister, or your daughter. 

Where will all this lead? Should we not treat “domestic terrorists” in the same way that we treat international terrorists? (Asking for a friend.) I’m told there are now a lot of empty bunks (with a view) at Guantanamo Bay. Should America’s domestic terrorists receive the full Khalid Sheikh Mohammed treatment? 

But even if it were true that there have been a few isolated threats of physical violence, how is this an issue for the FBI and the full apparatus of the National Security State rather than for local law enforcement? It’s not. This is massive power grab and a serious threat to the rights and liberties of millions of ordinary Americans.

Let’s not kid ourselves. We all know what this is and is not about. It’s NOT about alleged threats of violence against school board members. It’s about targeting political opponents, criminalizing dissent, and weaponizing the FBI and the National Security State against parents who are protesting peacefully and lawfully against indoctrination and censorship in America’s government schools. It’s about turning complaining parents into domestic terrorists for the crime of being parents. It’s about turning America’s mothers into the legal equivalent of Islamic jihadists. It’s about intimidating parents. It’s about using the coercive force of the State against our First Amendment rights to free speech, to assemble peaceably, and to “petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” It’s about silencing parental opposition to the Education Establishment. Make no mistake about it, that’s what this about.

Government pensions create moral collapse and slavery

Bookworm:

This is not going to be a post about the fact that government pension plans can support corrupt systems in other countries; e.g. by investing in electric vehicles, pension plans support the child slavery used in the Congo to collect cobalt for batteries. Instead, I want to talk about the way government pensions lead to a slave mentality and moral collapse in government workers.

Over the years, I’ve talked a lot about how corrupt the FBI is. Years ago, I wrote that FBI employees won’t risk their salaries by making a noise when they see corruption within the FBI because they’re way too dependent on their salaries. They have all the financial obligations that simultaneously raise up the quality of middle-class lifestyles while chaining the workers to a constant cash flow: mortgages, car payments, computers, washers/dryers, smartphones, private school fees, nice vacations, etc. People will put up with a lot of corruption in their organization, especially if they only “sort of” know about it in order to prevent the possibility of unemployment.

Government unions have also turned the Deep State into a Democrat institution. I’ve written about unions too because of their deeply corrupting influence. In private-sector unions, when management and the union representative sit down at the table to negotiate, they both have skin in the game because both are invested in the company’s financial well-being. If management gets too greedy, it either has difficulty retaining workers or they do a lousy job. If workers get too greedy, the company will go bankrupt or shift its factory to Mexico or China.

However, when it comes to government unions, the two people sitting at the table have no skin in the game, just greed. The money comes from taxpayers, who are only theoretically represented by the government negotiator at the table. In fact, the government negotiator, who is himself a unionized government employee, wants to give the unions as much taxpayer money as possible. The quid pro quo for that is that the unions will in turn take a portion of that money from workers and give it to the Democrat party. Eventually, not just the union but the workers themselves will see the Democrat party as the holy cash cow. They quickly lose sight of the taxpayers who make this all possible.

Colleges Learning Costly Woke Math in the Courtroom School of Hard Knocks

Steve Miller:

As they reel from revenue losses connected to the pandemic, many colleges and universities are racking up other costs not likely to turn up in their glossy brochures or as line items on staggering tuition bills: untold millions of dollars in legal fees and settlements for allegedly violating the rights of students, professors, and applicants on free speech, admissions and other matters as the schools pursue social justice causes.

Harvard University’s legal costs fighting a continuing 2017 challenge to its racial admissions practices have surpassed $25 million, the cap of its primary insurer, and it is now suing a secondary legal insurer, the Zurich American Insurance Company, over its refusal to pick up the tab going forward.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill had spent more than $16.8 million by the end of 2018, and its costs have only grown as it, like Harvard, continues defending admissions policies allegedly favoring blacks and Hispanics over whites and Asians.

Challenges to alleged free-speech violations, which have plagued universities for decades, continue to grow with a heightened grievance culture. 

The University of California San Diego in 2019 paid nearly $1 million after a four-year court fight over its move to defund student media because of a school newspaper piece satirizing “safe spaces.”

UW Madison Grows out of state enrollment

Kelly Meyerhofer:

With out-of-state students paying nearly four times what in-state students are charged, UW-Madison puts some of that money toward Bucky’s Tuition Promise, a full-tuition scholarship for in-state students whose families make less than $60,000 annually. The program, now in its fourth year, serves about one in every five Wisconsin freshman.

Growing out-of-state enrollment has also helped UW-Madison double its other institutional financial aid since 2015, said Matt Mayrl, Blank’s chief of staff. The money helps support Wisconsin students who may not be eligible for Bucky’s Tuition Promise but still in need of some financial assistance

Google, YouTube to prohibit ads and monetization on climate denial content

Sara Fischer:

Google and YouTube on Thursday announced a new policy that prohibits climate deniers from being able to monetize their content on its platforms via ads or creator payments. 

Why it matters: It’s one of the most aggressive measures any major tech platform has taken to combat climate change misinformation.

Details: Google advertisers and publishers, as well as YouTube creators, will be prohibited from making ad revenue off content that contradicts “well-established scientific consensus around the existence and causes of climate change,” the company’s ads team said in a statement.

Many taxpayer supported K-12 School Districts use Google services, including Madison.

Chicago had a long list of disengaged students. Did efforts to reel them in pay off?

Mila Koumpilova:

On the eve of the school year’s start, schools had reached out to roughly 90% of those students and connected with almost two-thirds of them, according to data obtained last month by Chalkbeat Chicago. But those outreach rates varied greatly across campuses, with some schools trying to contact only a small fraction of students. 

Some critics, such as the district’s principal group, say the effort has been too focused on hitting phone call targets, rather than going all out to reconnect with the toughest-to-reach students. Some said the program was at times plagued by poor coordination among the district, campuses and the community groups the district hired. 

District officials have pointed to early attendance numbers to declare the ongoing effort a success: A Day 1 attendance dip this fall was modest, given the early, pre-Labor Day start and the pandemic’s ongoing pressures. Enrollment data Chicago Public Schools has not yet disclosed would help paint a more complete picture; leaders have signalled the district saw another enrollment drop.

In any case, experts and educators stress the work of reengaging students will continue long after schools have gotten them through the doors.

“We haven’t all been in the building with children wall-to-wall for 18 months,” said Ellen Kennedy, the principal at Richards. “We have to figure out how to function together and do school again.”

The ACLU Decides ‘Woman’ Is a Bad Word

Nicole Ault:

The American Civil Liberties Union has apologized for excluding the word “woman” from a Ruth Bader Ginsburg quotation in a tweet posted Sept. 18: “The decision whether or not to bear a child is central to a [person’s] life, to [their] well-being and dignity,” as the organization rendered the statement. ACLU executive director Anthony Romero told the New York Times that in the future the group “won’t be altering people’s quotes.”

But it will surely find more palatable ways to hedge the word, because doing so has become a progressive point of order. House Democrats qualified the word “woman” in a September bill by saying the term reflects “the identity of the majority of people” who might seek an abortion: “This Act is intended to protect all people with the capacity for pregnancy—cisgender women, transgender men, non-binary individuals, those who identify with a different gender, and others.”

The Justice Department made a similar note about “any individuals who become pregnant” in a brief filed against the Texas abortion law. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says Covid vaccines are safe for “pregnant people.” The White House budget’s neutered term for mothers: “birthing people.”

Such squeamishness about calling women “women” is notable from self-professed feminists. But tension between old-fashioned feminism and new gender ideology has been brimming for a while.

Civics: Corporate Media Practices

Peng Her Wisconsin Assembly Bill 446 Testimony

mp3 audio: PDF Transcript (Machine generated).

Related: Some legislators attempt to address our long term, 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.

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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

De Blasio to Phase Out N.Y.C. Gifted and Talented Program

Eliza Shapiro:

Mayor Bill de Blasio said Friday he planned to overhaul New York City’s gifted and talented education system, a sea change for the nation’s largest public school system that may amount to the mayor’s most significant act in the waning months of his tenure.

The mayor’s action attempts to address what the city has known for decades: Its highly selective gifted and talented program has led to a racially segregated learning environment for thousands of elementary school students citywide. The program will no longer exist for incoming kindergarten students next fall, and within a few years, it will be eliminated completely, the mayor said.

Students who are currently enrolled in gifted classes will become the final cohort in the existing system, which will be replaced by a program that offers accelerated learning to all students in the later years of elementary school.

But Mr. de Blasio, who is term limited, will leave City Hall at the end of December. His almost-certain successor, Eric Adams, will choose what parts of the plan he wants to implement — or whether to put it in place at all.

“Eric will assess the plan and reserves his right to implement policies based on the needs of students and parents, should he become mayor,” said Evan Thies, a spokesman for Mr. Adams. “Clearly the Department of Education must improve outcomes for children from lower-income areas.”

Barring any major reversal, the gradual elimination of the existing program will remove a major component of what many consider to be the city’s two-tiered education system, in which one relatively small, largely white and Asian American group of students gain access to the highest-performing schools, while many Black and Latino children remain in schools that are struggling.

Gifted and talented programs are in high demand, largely because they help propel students into selective middle and high schools, effectively putting children on a parallel track from their general education peers. Many parents, including Black and Latino parents, have sought out gifted classes as an alternative to the city’s struggling district schools, and have come to rely on them as a way to set their children up for future success.

Related: English 10 and they’re all rich white kids and they’ll do just fine, NOT!

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Mortgage Payments Are Getting More and More Unaffordable (property tax growth, as well)

Orla McAffrey:

House prices are rising at a record pace but incomes aren’t keeping up, which is making home ownership less and less affordable.

The median American household would need 32.1% of its income to cover mortgage payments on a median-priced home, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. That is the most since November 2008, when the same outlays would eat up 34.2% of income.

Supercharged home prices in markets across the country are canceling out the impact of modestly higher incomes and historically low interest rates, two factors that typically make owning a home more affordable. Prices rose at a record pace for the fourth consecutive month in July, driven by a shortage of houses for sale. Higher prices require buyers to take out larger loans, essentially signing them up to make larger mortgage payments each month for years.

Locally, Madison’s K-12 taxpayers have long supported far above average tax & spending, despite long term, disastrous reading results.

Americans’ Trust in Media Dips to Second Lowest on Record

Megan Brennan:

  • Americans’ trust in the media to report the news fully, accurately and fairly has edged down four percentage points since last year to 36%, making this year’s reading the second lowest in Gallup’s trend.

In all, 7% of U.S. adults say they have “a great deal” and 29% “a fair amount” of trust and confidence in newspapers, television and radio news reporting — which, combined, is four points above the 32% record low in 2016, amid the divisive presidential election campaign between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. In addition, 29% of the public currently registers “not very much” trust and 34% have “none at all.”

Are gun ownership rates and regulations associated with firearm incidents in American schools? A forty-year analysis (1980–2019)

Daniel Hamlin:

This study examines the relationship between state gun ownership rates and school firearm incidents (n = 1275) and injured/killed victims (n = 2026) of these incidents over a forty-year period (1980–2019). It also investigates whether child access prevention, minimum age requirements for gun purchases, and mandatory gun safety training laws are associated with fewer school firearm incidents and injured/killed victims.

Methods

Data were linked together from the School Shootings Database, State Firearm Law Database, the National Center for Education Statistics, and the US Census Bureau. State fixed effects and interrupted time series analyses were performed.

Results

State gun ownership rates declined between 1980 and 2019 while school firearm incidents generally ranged between 20 and 40 incidents before skyrocketing to 102 incidents in 2018 and 110 incidents in 2019. Findings were mixed on the relationship between state gun ownership rates and school firearm incidents and injured/killed victims. Additionally, child access prevention, minimum age requirements for gun purchases, and mandatory gun safety training laws exhibited weak and inconsistent relationships with school firearm incidents.

a State-by-State Breakdown of How Often Schools Call the Cops

Mike Antonucci:

The Center for Public Integrity has produced a lot of work about the issue of police in schools. This latest effort adds a new perspective. While focused on the misdeeds of cops in classroom settings, it also shines a light on those schools, districts and states that call in the police a disproportionate number of times.

This chart shows state rankings by the number of times students were referred to law enforcement. Nationally, the average is 4.5 students for every 1,000. But some states go way beyond that, and political leanings do not seem to be a factor.

School officials in Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire and Wisconsin all called the cops on students at a rate at least double the national average. At the other end of the scale, some states with very large school districts, such as Massachusetts; Washington, D.C.; New York; and Ohio, called the police far less often.

In virtually every state, Black students and those with disabilities were referred to law enforcement at rates higher than those for all students.

While incidents of police violence and improper arrests of students made headlines, districts were also making questionable decisions in funding school police. The American Civil Liberties Union got involved in Vermont when it discovered that at least two school systems were using Medicaid reimbursement funds to pay for school cops. The money is supposed to be used to “facilitate early identification of and intervention with children with disabilities.”

The Des Moines, Iowa, school district canceled its contract with the city police but admitted school officials were also responsible for mishandling the use of security personnel.

Police calls, Madison Schools: 1996-2006.

Priced Out of Public Schools: District Lines, Housing Access, and Inequitable Educational Options

Bellwether Education:

Public schools are designed to provide every student with an equal opportunity to achieve the American dream. In reality, that ideal is removed from the lives of millions of K-12 schoolchildren. Geographic school district boundaries and the rental housing market limit options for students with the highest needs while benefiting more affluent families in far too many communities across the country.

Priced Out of Public Schools: District Lines, Housing Access, and Inequitable Educational Options*, a new report by Bellwether Education Partners, examines the relationships among rental housing access, per-pupil funding, and school district boundaries in the 200 largest metropolitan areas in the U.S. by exploring three core questions:

  • How much access do low-income families have to housing in each district?
  • What is the relationship between the accessibility of rental housing in school districts and per-pupil funding?
  • How do school district boundaries affect low-income families’ access to public schooling options within their broader communities?

The combination of two factors — how district boundaries are drawn and where accessible housing is located — often have the effect of clustering lower-income families into some districts and separating more affluent families into others. This is a housing crisis and an education crisis that contributes to an inequitable gap that averages $6,355 in district funding per pupil and affects 12.8 million students across the country. Unless policymakers begin addressing all of the interrelated problems, millions of families will continue to find themselves priced out of their preferred public school systems. 

Abolish Legacy Admissions Now

Ronald Daniels:

In the late 1990s, I served as dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of Toronto. As Canada’s most selective law school, the competition for admission was fierce. Applicants were always in search of anything they could do to secure an advantage in the application process. In my position as dean, it was not uncommon for alumni whose children were applying to the school to approach me and inquire what kind of admissions bump those children would receive by virtue of being a legacy. The answer I gave was always the same: none whatsoever.

State & Local Governments With the Most Debt Per Capita

commodity.com

According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, total state and local government debt was $3.17 trillion in 2019 or about $9,700 per person. State governments use debt to finance education, infrastructure and to cover budget gaps, among other things. State and local government debt can fluctuate due to spending habits or changes in income from taxes and other sources, such as during recessions. In the 1940s and 1950s, state and local government debt was much lower than today. Federal, state, and local governments grew substantially during the 20th century. Spending, revenue, and debt increased as the population grew, and the government invested more in infrastructure, education, and social programs. Leading up to the Great Recession that began at the end of 2007, total state and local government debt increased sharply. It has been falling since 2010 but increased between 2019 and 2020. In the wake of the pandemic, the coming years will likely see a continuation of this trend. States with rising debt may raise taxes or cut spending to help bring their budgets under control.

Read more at: https://commodity.com/blog/us-local-debt/

Critical race theory distracts from academic underachievement

Bob Woodson and Ian Rowe:

With a new school year underway, parents, teachers, and children anxiously return to classrooms amidst an ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

But this year, school board members, teachers, academics, politicians, and parents continue to argue over critical race theory and how to enact its version of equity.

Last week, the U.S. Conference of Mayors adopted a resolution to support the teaching of critical race theory in public K–12 schools. The resolution initially listed among its sponsors liberal mayors like Chicago’s Lori Lightfoot, Portland’s Ted Wheeler, and Louisville’s Greg Fischer.

Over the summer, Oregon governor Kate Brown suspended a requirement for students to demonstrate reading, writing, and math proficiency in order to receive a high school diploma, in a supposed effort to build “equity.” The governor’s office said the new standards for graduation would aid the state’s “Black, Latino, Latinx, Indigenous, Asian, Pacific Islander, Tribal, and students of color.”

These efforts by politicians to push critical race theory distracts from a real analysis of educational achievement in their states and cities. The real issue in American education is a failure to enable the majority of students—regardless of race—to achieve academic excellence or even, in many cases, basic skills.

Critical race theory distracts from academic underachievement

Bob Woodson and Ian Rowe:

With a new school year underway, parents, teachers, and children anxiously return to classrooms amidst an ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

But this year, school board members, teachers, academics, politicians, and parents continue to argue over critical race theory and how to enact its version of equity.

Last week, the U.S. Conference of Mayors adopted a resolution to support the teaching of critical race theory in public K–12 schools. The resolution initially listed among its sponsors liberal mayors like Chicago’s Lori Lightfoot, Portland’s Ted Wheeler, and Louisville’s Greg Fischer.

Over the summer, Oregon governor Kate Brown suspended a requirement for students to demonstrate reading, writing, and math proficiency in order to receive a high school diploma, in a supposed effort to build “equity.” The governor’s office said the new standards for graduation would aid the state’s “Black, Latino, Latinx, Indigenous, Asian, Pacific Islander, Tribal, and students of color.”

These efforts by politicians to push critical race theory distracts from a real analysis of educational achievement in their states and cities. The real issue in American education is a failure to enable the majority of students—regardless of race—to achieve academic excellence or even, in many cases, basic skills.

Civics: The Experts Somehow Overlooked Authoritarians on the Left

Sally Satel:

An ambitious new study on the subject by the Emory University researcher Thomas H. Costello and five colleagues should settle the question. It proposes a rigorous new measure of antidemocratic attitudes on the left. And, by drawing on a survey of 7,258 adults, Costello’s team firmly establishes that such attitudes exist on both sides of the American electorate. (One co-author on the paper, I should note, was Costello’s adviser, the late Scott Lilienfeld—with whom I wrote a 2013 book and numerous articles.) Intriguingly, the researchers found some common traits between left-wing and right-wing authoritarians, including a “preference for social uniformity, prejudice towards different others, willingness to wield group authority to coerce behavior, cognitive rigidity, aggression and punitiveness towards perceived enemies, outsized concern for hierarchy, and moral absolutism.”

Published last month in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, the Costello team’s paper is persuasive, to the point that you have to wonder: How could past researchers have overlooked left-wing authoritarianism for so long? “For 70 years, the lore in the social sciences has been that authoritarianism was to be found exclusively on the political right,” the Rutgers University social psychologist Lee Jussim, who wasn’t involved in the new study, told me in an email. In the 1950 book The Authoritarian Personality, an inquiry into the psychological makeup of people strongly drawn to autocratic rule and repressive politics, the German-born scholar Theodor W. Adorno and three other psychologists measured people along dimensions such as conformity to societal norms, rigid thinking, and sexual repression. And they concluded that “the authoritarian type of human”— the kind of person whose enthusiastic support allows someone like Hitler to exercise power—was found only among conservatives. In the mid-1990s, the influential Canadian psychologist Bob Altemeyer described left-wing authoritarianism as “the Loch Ness Monster of political psychology—an occasional shadow, but no monster. ” Subsequently, other psychologists reached the same conclusion.

The Facebook Whistleblower Is Heroic… And Terribly Wrong

Matt Stoller:

It was an immensely slick and effective public relations campaign, and devastating to the firm’s image. Haugen offered a lot of great information, and she was compelling, articulate, composed, and authoritative. She was impressive, even if you are somewhat skeptical of her motives. Along with these documents, she also offered some a good policy ideas, like making platforms responsible for the speech they amplify through algorithms (changing the law known as Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act), as well as creating rules to move social media away from an engagement-based business model. Haugen’s goal was, in part, to simplify Facebook as a platform, to make it human scale. 

But there is a huge problem with Haugen’s overall policy recommendations. And since she got a lot of attention, her ideas are getting attention as well.

Haugen is a trained designer of algorithms, and along with many naive Silicon Valley insiders turned critics, at heart does not see a danger with concentrated power. “I don’t hate Facebook,” she has said. “I love Facebook. I want to save it.” Her approach to social media is similar to what many left consumer oriented groups support, which is not to take apart a concentration of power, but to regulate it. It is, in many ways, a similar framework as Obamacare and the Dodd-Frank financial reform package, which, rather than making systemic changes to concentrated and bloated dysfunctional sectors, simply overlaid captured regulators on top of them.

In fact, Haugen’s proposal is also very similar to that of… Mark Zuckerberg. Both want to keep Facebook a dominant monopoly. Why? Both Haugen and Zuckerberg think the firm’s market power allows it to make a lot of money, and that money can be reinvested in safety systems and better site features. Haugen thinks that Facebook is a natural monopoly, as advertisers will only learn and finance one social media platform. Splitting off Facebook Blue from Instagram effectively would mean that all the ad revenue would go to Instagram. Facebook Blue, she suspects, would remain a dangerous social network, but would lack financial resources to mitigate problems. 

If the firm stays together, so goes Haugen’s story, then WhatsApp, Facebook Blue, and Instagram will all have plenty of resources to invest in safety. So what does she suggest with this dominant natural monopoly? Her recommendation is to place a separate data-specific regulatory overlay on top of Facebook and its subsidiaries to protect the public interest. This agency, according to Haugen, would allow people who are in between stints at social media firms to join the government and help make regulations on the sector. And here again she joins team Facebook, as Facebook’s Nick Clegg wrote an oped earlier this year recommending just such a regulator.

And:

Katie Harbath:

K-12 Lawfare, continued: Virginia Moms

Timothy Sandefur:

The Goldwater Institute filed a motion with a Virginia judge today to defend the rights of two moms in Fairfax County, Virginia, who are under attack by their local school district for exercising their freedom of speech. It’s just the latest example of a growing trend of school districts nationwide aggressively persecuting parents who are trying to promote the best interests of their children.

Fairfax County mother Debra Tisler took an interest in how her school district was spending its money, especially given that the county has been in national news about its legal troubles recently. So she filed a Freedom of Information Act request to find out how much the district was paying for its legal bills. The district turned over more than 1,000 pages of receipts from its law firm, and another Fairfax-area mother, Callie Oettinger, published some of them on her website, specialeducationaction.com, redacting and sharing select documents related to the superintendent, the school board, and investigations into Fairfax County Public Schools’ cyber hacking and its virtual learning launch debacles.

That’s when trouble started. When the school district realized it had handed over potentially embarrassing material, it demanded that Callie take the material down from her website, and when she refused, district officials sued her—notwithstanding the fact that the Constitution clearly protects her right to publish the information online.

“As a parent, I have a right to know what’s happening in my children’s school, and as a taxpayer, I have a right to know how money is being spent,” Callie said. “I created my site to help advocate for children with special education needs. This includes sharing and holding Fairfax County Public Schools accountable for its noncompliance. I will not let them silence my voice.”

The Entitlements of U.S. Decline

Wall Street Journal:

You have to admire the audacity of pitching higher taxes and more social welfare as the path to national revival, especially when the global evidence is the opposite. The result of Mr. Biden’s expanded entitlements is likely to be reduced incentives to work and invest, slower economic growth, lower living standards, and less fiscal space for essential public goods like national defense.

That’s the lesson from Europe’s cradle-to-grave welfare states, which Bernie Sanders explicitly pitches as models. Most have older populations than the U.S., but this alone doesn’t account for their lower labor participation rates and much higher structural unemployment. European jobless rates tend to be much higher than in the U.S., especially for the young. In 2019 labor participation was 62.6% in the U.S. versus 49.7% in Italy, 55% in France, 57.7% in Spain, 59.3% in Portugal and 61.3% in Germany.

Commentary on K-12 Curriculum

James Causey:

Who is responsible for teaching children about race and racism?

Is it the responsibility of parents? Schools? Society?

Actually, it’s all of the above.

I mostly learned about the evils of racism from my family. My parents and my grandparents passed on their experiences. They owned the Ebony Black Encyclopedia set, had books by famous Black authors, and shared their personal stories.

During summer break, I spent time with my grandparents in Gloster, Miss. and under the shade tree heard their stories about brushes with racism. Tales of shootings and beatings of Blacks by whites. The story of Emmitt Till, who was killed just three hours away from my grandparents’ farm. Run-ins with whites over the years that were too numerous to count.

Government Secretly Orders Google To Identify Anyone Who Searched A Sexual Assault Victim’s Name, Address And Telephone Number (Keyword Warrant)

Thomas Brewster:

In 2019, federal investigators in Wisconsin were hunting men they believed had participated in the trafficking and sexual abuse of a minor. She had gone missing that year but had emerged claiming to have been kidnapped and sexually assaulted, according to a search warrant reviewed by Forbes. In an attempt to chase down the perpetrators, investigators turned to Google, asking the tech giant to provide information on anyone who had searched for the victim’s name, two spellings of her mother’s name and her address over 16 days across the year. After being asked to provide all relevant Google accounts and IP addresses of those who made the searches, Google responded with data in mid-2020, though the court documents do not reveal how many users had their data sent to the government.

It’s a rare example of a so-called keyword warrant and, with the number of search terms included, the broadest on record. (See the update below for other, potentially even broader warrants.) Before this latest case, only two keyword warrants had been made public. One revealed in 2020 asked for anyone who had searched for the address of an arson victim who was a witness in the government’s racketeering case against singer R Kelly. Another, detailed in 2017, revealed that a Minnesota judge signed off on a warrant asking Google to provide information on anyone who searched a fraud victim’s name from within the city of Edina, where the crime took place.

While Google deals with thousands of such orders every year, the keyword warrant is one of the more contentious. In many cases, the government will already have a specific Google account that they want information on and have proof it’s linked to a crime. But search term orders are effectively fishing expeditions, hoping to ensnare possible suspects whose identities the government does not know. It’s not dissimilar to so-called geofence warrants, where investigators ask Google to provide information on anyone within the location of a crime scene at a given time.

Loudoun County Parent Group Celebrates Victory

Wendi Strauch Mahoney:

Loudoun County parents, a small but mighty group, celebrated victory yesterday. Together with a Virginia-based advocacy group, Fight for Schools, the parents are one step closer to recalling school board member Beth Barts. Loudoun County Circuit Court Judge Jeanette A. Irby ruled in their favor—three times—after months of showing up at school board meetings and working tirelessly to petition citizens to sign off in the first step toward Barts’ removal.

Lawfare and K-12 Governance (outcomes?)

Sundance:

Lisa Monaco was Barack Obama’s former homeland security advisor and former legal counsel in the White House.  Monaco was the tip of the spear in using political activism under the guise of ‘homeland security’ to target political opposition.  That type of political targeting is her specialty.  Lisa Monaco is now the Deputy Attorney General of the United States.

As a direct result of her skill-set in combination with her current position, it is almost a guarantee that Deputy AG Lisa Monaco authored the DOJ targeting memorandum that AG Merrick Garland signed and sent to the FBI. Again, weaponizing internal political targeting under the guise of homeland security concerns is what Monaco is specifically famous for doing. Today, Missouri Senator Josh Hawley confronted DAG Monaco about the targeting memo. WATCH her response:

WILL Warns UW-Madison: Mental Health Counselors Cannot Discriminate on Basis of Race

Wisconsin institute for law and liberty:

UPDATE: UW-Madison quietly updated their announcement, nearly a month after it went out, to suggest their mental health counselors will not serve students exclusively on the basis of race.

WILL Deputy Counsel, Dan Lennington, said, “While we don’t necessarily oppose counselors claiming certain expertise in issues facing students of color, we remain concerned that such “expertise” will consist of little more than stereotypes and worry about the disparate treatment that such stereotypical thinking might beget. We do read UW’s revised release to abandon the notion of making counseling resources exclusively available to students on the basis of race. Should this understanding be incorrect or should counseling services be provided in a discriminatory way, UW may be hearing from us.”

PUBLIC INSTITUTIONS CANNOT OFFER OR RESTRICT SERVICES BASED ON RACE

The News: The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) issued a letter to University of Wisconsin System President, Tommy Thompson, and University of Wisconsin- Madison, Rebecca Blank, warning the leaders that recently hired mental health counselors cannot be assigned to serve only non-white students. A recent announcement from UW-Madison said three new mental health counselors, hired in September, “will exclusively serve students of color.”

The Great Barrington Declaration One Year On

Phil Magness and Phillip W. Magness:

From October 2-4, 2020, the American Institute for Economic Research hosted a small conference for scientists to discuss the harms of the Covid-19 lockdowns, and maybe hint at a path back to normal life. Organized by Martin Kulldorff, Sunetra Gupta, and Jay Bhattacharya, the conference made a scientific case for shifting away from the heavy-handed lockdowns of the initial Spring 2020 outbreak. On their final day together in Great Barrington, the scientists wrote a short statement of principles, calling it the Great Barrington Declaration. This Declaration, their Declaration, touched a nerve well beyond the scientific community, and well beyond anything they or AIER could have expected. So here we are, a year later. Where do we stand?

The aim that our guests had in offering the Great Barrington Declaration was to spark scientific dialogue that had been missing from the lockdown discussions until that point. It was AIER’s goal to facilitate this dialogue. The Declaration was a success in bringing, for the first time since the pandemic started, an anti-lockdown voice to mainstream policy discussion. The signatories’ stance was generally in line with the pre-pandemic plans that many, if not most mainstream authorities, (the World Health Organization, the epidemiology center at Johns Hopkins University, and the Centers for Disease Control to name just three) held. People tend to forget what the pre-2020 conventional wisdom on pandemics even was.

As successful as we think the Great Barrington Declaration was, it failed in a number of respects as well. We did not, for example, anticipate the vilification the Declaration would receive from any number of people, ranging from the progressive left to self-described libertarians.

Immediately after the website launched, it was hit by a hoax signature campaign instigated on Twitter by pro-lockdown journalist Nafeez Ahmed. Most of the fake signatures were caught within hours and removed, but not before a hostile news media used them to manufacture a false story about their own self-created controversy over signatures from “Dr. Johnny Bananas” and similar easily-caught pseudonyms.

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

Notes and commentary from Scott Girard: 

“While Heinrich allowed schools to use their premises for child care and youth recreational activities, the government barred students from attending Mass, receiving Holy Communion at weekly Masses with their classmates and teachers, receiving the sacrament of Confession at school, participating in communal prayer with their peers, and going on retreats and service missions throughout the area.”

Additional commentary:

“Reasonable” should mean that the public health authorities followed their own internal guidelines for evaluating regulations. These include posting the scientific evidence leading to the regulation, receiving community input, and studying the effectiveness and sustainability of the regulation. In the case of Covid and the schools all this was ignored in Dane County. There was no evidence of transmission in children of school age at the start, the community’s wish to have the schools open was ignored and, over time, it was seen that surrounding counties kept their schools open without increasing Covid transmission – and this last point was completely ignored by Dane County. But the Supreme Court didn’t address the issue of irresponsible public health officials. Perhaps it cannot as Owen pointed out. Perhaps dereliction of duty must be addressed by criminal courts. Instead the Supreme Court answered a different question which might be put as follows: suppose a majority of children in a given community refused the regular vaccines – or refuse the covid vaccine – can the public health authorities close the school? The answer was no. This is significant because racism has been defined as a public health issue. Suppose a majority of parents refused to allow their children to attend a CRT seminar defined as immunization against racism and required for admittance to school. Could the public health authorities close that school. No. In the past certain religious tests have been required before attendance at universities was allowed and non-conforming universites have been closed. If racism is a public health issue the Test Acts may return as public health tests and if that happened we may be sure Dane County would adopt Test Regulations closing non-conforming public schools if it could. Then this Court decision, barring such Test Regulations, would seem far-sighted.

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

Molly Beck and Madeline Heim:

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

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

Channel3000:

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

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

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

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

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

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

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Yellen defends IRS rule requiring banks to report all transactions over $600

Callie Peterson:


“It’s just a few pieces of information about individual bank accounts, nothing at the transaction level that would violate privacy,” the secretary said. 

The collected information would ostensibly help the Treasury Department determine which high-income wealthy individuals may be concealing transactions and income, and “these would be helpful indicators of where it would make sense for auditing to occur,” she added

Conflict of interest mars Attorney General’s investigation of parents in school controversies

Hans Bader:

Left-wing teachers unions and the National School Boards Association say parents have threatened or harassed school officials over mask mandates, or for peddling critical race theory or transgender ideology. In response, Attorney General Merrick Garland says the Justice Department will investigate such “harassment, intimidation and threats.” Usually, the Department of Justice does not investigate threats, viewing them as matters to be addressed by local law enforcement, rather than the federal government. But suddenly, that has changed, for ideological reasons.

“True threats” are unprotected by the First Amendment. But harsh rhetoric can’t be punished as a “threat.” And calling something “harassment” doesn’t automatically strip it of protection under the First Amendment. As a federal appeals court noted in striking down a school’s overly broad “harassment” code that restricted speech critical of homosexuality or feminism, “there is no categorical ‘harassment exception’ to the First Amendment’s free speech clause.” (See Saxe v. State College Area School District (2001)).

Parents have certainly aimed angry diatribes at school officials and left-wing teachers in recent weeks. But those diatribes are generally speech protected by the First Amendment, and few of them are “true threats.”

Some angry messages from parents are likely to be viewed by progressive Justice Department civil-rights lawyers as “harassment” or “intimidation,” even if they constitute speech protected by the First Amendment. In the 1990s, civil-rights officials in the Clinton administration investigated citizens for “harassment” and “intimidation” merely because those citizens spoke out against housing projects for recovering substance abusers or other classes of people protected by the Fair Housing Act. These civil-rights investigations largely ceased after a federal appeals court ruled such investigations violated the First Amendment, in White v. Lee (2000). But in 2017, a judge allowed bloggers to be sued for intimidation for angry blog posts that allegedly created a “hostile housing environment” (oddly, the bloggers raised no First Amendment defense against being sued for their speech, and the court’s ruling didn’t discuss the First Amendment at all.).

K-12 Lawfare: Merrick Garland’s focus on school board meetings over violent crime diminishes the department

Washington free beacon:

Merrick Garland’s Department of Justice has discovered a new group that poses a pressing threat to the country’s safety and wellbeing.

Their potential crimes are heinous: Objecting to the propagation in our schools of critical race theory and anti-white racism.

How deep does this criminal behavior go? We can’t say. Announcing a “partnership among federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial law enforcement to address threats against school administrators, board members, teachers, and staff,” Garland offers no statistical evidence about the rising threat of infuriated parents. He makes no mention of any arrests. He doesn’t say whether a police department or state anywhere has asked for the federal government’s assistance in stopping “threats against public servants.”

Those are curious omissions, given that the FBI just last week released a trove of crime data detailing information about victims as well as the perpetrators and their motivations. It suggests the so-called threat is either an empty political concoction intended to mollify left-wing activists concerned that parents are wising up or, more troubling, that the Justice Department intends to conflate the protests of concerned parents with criminal behavior.

Joint Statement In Response to National School Board Association Accusation of Parents Engaging in ‘Domestic Terrorism’

Parents Defending Education:

Dear Ms. Garcia and Mr. Slaven,

On behalf of our 427,000 members, the undersigned organizations write in response to your September 29th letter to President Biden requesting “federal assistance to stop threats and acts of violence” against school board members, school officials, and teachers.

In that letter you requested that the federal government “investigate, intercept, and prevent the
current threats and acts of violence against our public school officials through existing statutes,
executive authority, interagency and intergovernmental task forces, and other extraordinary measures” and that the government leverage “the expertise and resources of the U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Secret Service, and its National Threat Assessment Center.”

NSBA cites a tiny number of minor incidents in order to insinuate that parents who are criticizing and protesting the decisions of school boards are engaging in, or may be engaging in, “domestic terrorism and hate crimes.” NSBA even invokes the PATRIOT Act. The association of legitimate protest with terrorism and violence reveals both your contempt for parents and your unwillingness to understand and hear the sincere cries of parents on behalf of their children. To equate parents with terrorists dishonors the thousands of victims of actual terrorism around the world. Have you no shame?

Rachael Bunyon:

‘I think criminalizing dissent is something that we should all be appalled with.’

Fox host Ben Domenech asked Paul what he would tell Americans who are concerned that ‘if they go to their local school board and say the wrong thing, that they’re going to end up up on some list that Merrick Garland goes after.’

The senator responded: ‘I would say be afraid. Be afraid of your government.’

Paul continued: ‘That’s a sad thing from someone in the government to say, but the thing is, is those lists already exist.

‘For example, people in northern Virginia that have gone to [protests], have been then sought out by the school council, by the members of the school board and retaliated [against] in a sort of legalistic way to try to put them on some sort of list and chill their speech by letting them know there’ll be a penalty for showing up and protesting.’

On Monday, Garland sent a memo saying the FBI and local law enforcement had been engaged to tackle the ‘disturbing trend’ of teachers being threatened or harassed.

Documenting “critical race training”

criticalrace.org:

CriticalRace.org is a resource for parents and students concerned about how Critical Race Theory, and implementation of Critical Race Training, impacts education. We have compiled the most comprehensive database to empower parents and students.

We have researched and documented Critical Race Training in close to 400 colleges and universities in the United States. The website explains Critical Race Theory itself and provides resources to learn more. Additionally, it allows users to look up the steps their school has taken to mandate Critical Race Training in different parts of the college experience, from changing academic codes of conduct to funding “equity” projects.

Not all of the colleges and universities in this database and map have Critical Race Training. This list allows you to check. For those who do have such Critical Race Training, there are varying degrees of such programming, some mandatory, some not.  For many schools, it’s a continuum of programming, such as “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion” and “implicit bias” training and programming, that does not easily fit into a Yes/No construct. We provide information from which you can assess the developments.

This is not a list of schools to avoid, it is a database to provide parents and students with information from which they can make informed decisions as to what is best.

The Biden Justice Department’s Lawless Threat against American Parents

Andrew McCarthy:

On Monday, Attorney General Merrick Garland issued a memorandum in which he wailed about the “disturbing spike in harassment, intimidation, and threats of violence against school administrators, board members, teachers, and staff.” Clearing his throat with an empty nod to the inconvenient fact that the Constitution protects “spirited debate,” Garland incorrectly — indeed, outrageously for someone of his experience as a Justice Department official and federal appellate judge — claimed that free-speech principles yield not only to “threats of violence” but also to “efforts to intimidate individuals based on their views” (at least, evidently, individuals not named Sinema or Manchin).

Garland knows this is dangerous nonsense. I personally know that he knows it. He was a high-ranking official in the Clinton Justice Department, which gave me a very hard time — though it ultimately relented — when I proposed charging a notorious terrorist with soliciting acts of violence and seditious conspiracy.

We had elaborate evidence, much of it in the form of recorded statements, showing that Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman believed himself to be in a forcible war against the United States, that his followers had carried out and plotted terrorist attacks, and that he had personally called for both bombings of American military installations and the murder of Egypt’s then-president.

Yet, with the Clinton administration under pressure from left-wing and Islamist groups aligned with the Democratic Party, I was darkly cautioned about the inviolable carapace of free expression and the imperative to avoid “chilling” speech by conflating criminal incitement with constitutionally protected rhetoric that expressed hatred for America — even rhetoric that bitterly attacked American officials and insisted that our governing system should be supplanted.

Garland well knows, as he and Clinton officials stressed to me nearly 30 years ago, that in the incitement context, the First Amendment protects speech unless it unambiguously calls for the use of force that the speaker clearly intends, under circumstances in which the likelihood of violence is real and imminent. Even actual “threats of violence” are not actionable unless they meet this high threshold.

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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

School Dissent: a federal crime?

Rod Dreher:

Violence — real or threatened — in school board meetings is unacceptable. But here’s the thing: why federalize this? Why isn’t local law enforcement capable of handling these cases? Why involve the Justice Department? One wonders if the Left is not trying to deploy the same strategy the FBI used against the KKK during the Civil Rights era against parents today who dissent from CRT and/or gender ideology taught to their kids, and vaccine policies. How many parents will be willing to show up at all at school board meetings to object if they fear that in so doing, they will become ensnared with the FBI?

Perhaps this is the point.

Civics: Canadian government’s proposed online harms legislation threatens our human rights

Ilan Kogan:

Oddly, the proposed legislation reads like a list of the most widely condemned policy ideas globally. Elsewhere, these ideas have been vigorously protested by human rights organizations and struck down as unconstitutional. No doubt, the federal government’s proposed legislation presents a serious threat to human rights in Canada.

The government’s intentions are noble. The purpose of the legislation is to reduce five types of harmful content online: child sexual exploitation content, terrorist content, content that incites violence, hate speech, and non-consensual sharing of intimate images.

Even though this content is already largely illegal, further reducing its proliferation is a worthy goal. Governments around the world, and particularly in Europe, have introduced legislation to combat these harms. The problem is not the government’s intention. The problem is the government’s solution.

Serious privacy issues

The legislation is simple. First, online platforms would be required to proactively monitor all user speech and evaluate its potential for harm. Online communication service providers would need to take “all reasonable measures,” including the use of automated systems, to identify harmful content and restrict its visibility.

Second, any individual would be able to flag content as harmful. The social media platform would then have 24 hours from initial flagging to evaluate whether the content was in fact harmful. Failure to remove harmful content within this period would trigger a stiff penalty: up to three per cent of the service provider’s gross global revenue or $10 million, whichever is higher. For Facebook, that would be a penalty of $2.6 billion per post.

Facebook Struggles to Quell Uproar Over Instagram’s Effect on Teens

Mike Isaac, Sheera Frenkel and Ryan Mac:

Facebook has been in an uproar over the past few weeks, which the meetings were held to quell. The tumult began after The Wall Street Journal published a series of articles last month that showed Facebook knew about the harms of its services, including teenage girls saying that Instagram made them feel worse about themselves. The articles were based on a trove of Facebook documents, which were leaked by an unidentified whistle-blower.

The revelations immediately set off a wave of criticism from regulators and lawmakers, many of whom moved swiftly to call the company to account. As scrutiny mounted, Facebook delayed the Instagram service for children. On Thursday, Antigone Davis, Facebook’s global head of safety, was questioned for more than two hours by lawmakers about the mental and emotional toll its services could take on kids.

Inside Facebook, top executives have been engulfed by the crisis, with the fallout spreading through parts of the company and disrupting its “Youth Group,” which oversees research and development for children’s products like Messenger Kids, according to interviews with a dozen current and former employees, who were not authorized to speak publicly.

To navigate the controversy, Mr. Zuckerberg and Ms. Sandberg have approved decisions on how to respond but have deliberately kept out of the public eye, said two people with knowledge of the meetings. The company has leaned on its “Strategic Response” teams, which include communications and public relations employees.

Elite University Endowment Returns Soar Over 50%

Wall Street Journal:

Large college endowments have notched their biggest investment gains in decades, thanks to portfolios boosted by huge venture-capital returns and soaring stock markets.

The University of Minnesota’s endowment gained 49.2% for the year ending June 30, while Brown University’s endowment notched a return of more than 50%, said people familiar with their returns, which aren’t yet public.

Meanwhile, Duke University over the weekend said its endowment had gained 55.9%. Washington University in St. Louis last week reported a 65% return, the school’s biggest gain ever, swelling the size of its managed endowment pool to $15.3 billion. The University of Virginia’s endowment reported a 49% gain. Universities’ returns may include portions of endowments, plus other long-term investments.

Education Secretary Cardona Misrepresents Wisconsin School Mask Study

Will Flanders:

Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona recently attempted to make the case for masking in schools by citing a number of different studies that purported to show their positive effects in a series of tweets. However, his use of one study out of Wisconsin shows either a willful misrepresentation of the data, or an ineptitude in interpreting research that should be concerning to families impacted by U.S. Department of Education policy.

The study in question looked at transmission rates of COVID-19 in rural Wood County, Wisconsin. They follow 17 schools in the county, all of which required masking, and provide a description of the transmission rates that were found. Cardona claimed that the study found a “37% lower incidence of COVID than the surrounding community,” and claimed that this was scientific evidence that masking of students was effective. But this study makes no such claim. The 37% number found in the study is merely a comparison of COVID transmission in the school with transmission in the surrounding community—there was no control group. A control group is vital to a comprehensive study because it allows the scientists to exclude outside factors.  There are plenty of other explanations for why transmission was lower in the school.  The preponderance of the evidence suggests that kids are less likely to transmit COVID-19 than adults. But whatever the truth, the study cited is not evidence one way or the other.

The misrepresentation on the part of Cardona was so great that the author of the study in question took to Twitter to correct the record:

“Secretary Cardona, I was the senior author of this study. Our study is not able to give any information about the role masks played in the observed low in-school transmission rates. We had no control group so don’t know if the rate would have been different without masks.”

The tweet remains up as of this writing, despite attempts by the author of the study and many others to correct the record, and the Secretary has not explained the reasoning behind his misrepresentation. There are problems with the other studies he cites as well. None of the other studies cited has a control group. Even worse, as pointed out by American Federation for Children Director of Research, Corey DeAngelis, the fourth study cited is purely a simulation—meaning that it is guaranteed to find an effect of masking if an assumption that it works is included in the model.

Top Trans Doctors Blow the Whistle on ‘Sloppy’ Care

Abigail Shrier:

For nearly a decade, the vanguard of the transgender-rights movement — doctors, activists, celebrities and transgender influencers — has defined the boundaries of the new orthodoxy surrounding transgender medical care: What’s true, what’s false, which questions can and cannot be asked.

They said it was perfectly safe to give children as young as nine puberty blockers and insisted that the effects of those blockers were “fully reversible.” They said that it was the job of medical professionals to help minors to transition. They said it was not their job to question the wisdom of transitioning, and that anyone who did — including parents — was probably transphobic. They said that any worries about a social contagion among teen girls was nonsense. And they never said anything about the distinct possibility that blocking puberty, coupled with cross-sex hormones, could inhibit a normal sex life.

Their allies in the media and Hollywood reported stories and created content that reaffirmed this orthodoxy. Anyone who dared disagree or depart from any of its core tenets, including young women who publicly detransitioned, were inevitably smeared as hateful and accused of harming children.

But that new orthodoxy has gone too far, according to two of the most prominent providers in the field of transgender medicine: Dr. Marci Bowers, a world-renowned vaginoplasty specialist who operated on reality-television star Jazz Jennings; and Erica Anderson, a clinical psychologist at the University of California San Francisco’s Child and Adolescent Gender Clinic.

Exposure, Experience, and Expertise: Why Personal Histories Matter in Economics

Ulrike Malmendier:

Personal experiences of economic outcomes, from global financial crises to individual-level job losses, can shape individual beliefs, risk attitudes, and choices for years to come. A growing literature on experience effects shows that individuals act as if past outcomes that they experienced were overly likely to occur again, even if they are fully informed about the actual likelihood. This reaction to past experiences is long-lasting though it decays over time as individuals accumulate new experiences. Modern brain science helps understand these processes. Evidence on neuroplasticity reveals that personal experiences and learning alter the strength of neural connections and fine-tune the brain structure to those past experiences (“use-dependent brain”). I show that experience effects help understand belief formation and decision-making in a wide area of economic applications, including inflation, home purchases, mortgage choices, and consumption expenditures. I argue that experience-based learning is broadly applicable to economic decision-making and discuss topics for future research in education, health, race, and gender economics.

Camera retracts story about 9/11 reflections of Boulder residents

John Vahlenkamp:

The Camera is retracting an article that appeared in its Sept. 11 edition, headlined “Reflections on finding peace.” The newspaper has concluded the article substantially misrepresented the stories of its primary subjects — Mark Pfundstein, John Maynard and Danna Hirsch.

The Camera has determined that multiple statements attributed to these sources, including purported direct quotations, were fabricated.

Those were:

Four direct quotations attributed to Mark Pfundstein: (1) that he suspended a phone call with colleagues on Sept. 11, 2001; (2) that he monitored White House orders during the crisis; and (3) that he escaped from the Pentagon and (4) personally witnessed rescues there. Pfundstein has refuted those quotations. The morning of Sept. 11, 2001, before the attack on the Pentagon, Pfundstein — who was working at the National Maritime Intelligence Center in Suitland, Md. — participated in a video teleconference with colleagues working in the Pentagon, some of whom he learned later that evening were killed in that attack. No one on his call the morning of 9/11 was at the World Trade Center.

A statement attributed to Pfundstein regarding phone calls he made immediately after planes struck the World Trade Center tower; and an inaccurate statement, wrongly attributed to Pfundstein, regarding President George W. Bush’s address to the nation that morning. Further, the story attributes to Pfundstein numerous references to exact times, which he says he did not bring up in interviews with the reporter.
Pfundstein’s current vocation. He lobbies Colorado’s congressional delegation for a less militarized foreign policy. He does not speak at universities.

Rigor: Canadian Marketing vs Wisconsin (Madison)?

“Most educated workforce in the world”

Are we (Wisconsin/Madison) in the game? I have my doubts.

Mulligans distract us.

Two recent scenes at LHR, London Heathrow airport. 80 million people transited the airport in 2018.

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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

“but somebody’s paying for it”

Addison Smith:

Another student pointed out that, “Some of the things [Biden] would be paying for does sound nice to have, but I mean… it’s hurting somebody. I mean, you might be giving all those things, but somebody’s paying for it”.

When one student suggested the bill should be passed, Smith told her that, if the debt were divided up among U.S. citizens, each citizen would owe more than $86,000. After hearing how debt falls on the taxpayer, she quickly changed her mind about the bill.

“Everything’s going to start rising in prices and stuff… you did change my mind”, she said.

Sun Prairie considers changing school board makeup to reflect attendance areas

Scott Girard:

A vote by Sun Prairie Area School District residents Monday could reshape the district’s future school board.

SPASD community members submitted a petition to change the board’s apportionment, which governs the eligibility of people to run for the board. Currently, the entire seven-member board is “at-large,” meaning candidates can live anywhere in the district and be eligible to run.

With SPASD adding a second high school next fall, however, some residents wanted to change that to ensure better geographic representatio

K-12 School crimes, Madison and the law

David Blaska:

Wisconsin law is clear. If violence breaks out in school, you call the police and you call them first thing.

Madison’s public schools violated state statue when it did not call in the police after an East high school sophomore was pummeled by two assailants as he sat at his desk. We’re not the only ones to notice. Retired UW Law School prof Ann of Althouse asked, “Why don’t schools call the police when crimes are committed in school?”

We answered her question at our blogge headlined “School discipline plan omits police, rewards analysis paralysis:” Madison WI schools have declared War on Police.

Again we post the flow chart of the school district’s critical response plan. A starving mouse would go dizzy in this bureaucratic maze. See if you can find where it says Call the Police. In fact, the first step reads: “Central Office Notified.”

Gangs and School Violence forum

Are you sure your kid can read? All too many US public schools won’t tell you the truth

Michael Benjamin:

We ask that question of any parent whose child attends a city Department of Education school and more broadly of families (especially urban ones) all across the nation. And not just elementary-school children, but even middle- and high-schoolers.

Because all too many public schools not only fail to teach basic skills; they promote students with decent grades without ever alerting families to how bad things really are. If there was a silver lining to the sick farce of remote learning this last year and a half, it was that it forced many parents to get more involved in their children’s education. And lots and lots of them woke up to the horrible truth.

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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

K-12 Mission vs Organization: starting over vs reform

Dominick Cummings:

Just as bureaucracies resist changes to their current direction as if governed by Newton’s First Law, so they are governed by Newton’s Third Law: the moreforce you exert to simplify and remove ludicrous proecess, the more demented the bureaucratic resistance becomes.

How demented?

In March 2020 I had meetings in the Cabinet room to strip insane processes out of the way. What did I discover one day? That PPE equipment would not arrive in the NHS for months because we had ordered it to be SHIPPED. Why? Because ‘the rules’ said that FLYING it was ‘not value for money’ and we always follow ‘the rules’ even when they kill people. So I told them to call the airlines and commandeer their planes (all grounded) and fly them to Asia and collect the PPE and fly back. And they asked for a letter from the PM’s office indemnifying them in the event of legal challenges and/or disciplinary action. And now much of Westminster is fighting NOT to remove the insane rules but to ensure that the insanity revealed by covid is NOT used as an excuse to remove them. And they have had much success, and got the High Court to agree that avoiding killing people is not a good enough reason to move quickly. And the lesson has been duly learned — even in a crisis killing tens of thousands, make sure you prioritise the insane rules if you want to keep your job.