All posts by Jim Zellmer

THE CORRUPT BARGAIN: How Unions Use Collective Bargaining to Impose Their Political Agenda on Schools

Paul Zimmerman:

Public school union bosses across the country are using an anti-democratic process of negotiating collective bargaining agreements to embed their progressive goals in school policies. In woke-filled back rooms, these unions and their supportive allies in the school districts agree to impose curricula on schools to indoctrinate students in leftist ideas, replace traditional disciplinary measures with policies that focus on “understanding” and “reconciliation,” segregate teachers for special benefits based on the color of their skin, and treat students differently based on race to ensure “equity.” Citizens concerned about the students in their community should scour their school district’s labor contracts for these requirements. Teachers who believe in the universal rights proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence and protected by the Constitution and who value their professional autonomy should reconsider their membership in any union that has negotiated this type of provision in their collective bargaining agreements.

Civics: The FBI Identified a Tor User

Bruce Schneier:

There are lots of ways to de-anonymize Tor users. Someone at the NSA gave a presentation on this ten years ago. (I wrote about it for the Guardian in 2013, an essay that reads so dated in light of what we’ve learned since then.) It’s unlikely that the FBI uses the same sorts of broad surveillance techniques that the NSA does, but it’s certainly possible that the NSA did the surveillance and passed the information to the FBI.

Science Skepticism Has Grown. Who’s to Blame?

Rick Hess:

I’ve just released the 13th iteration of the annual RHSU Edu-Scholar rankings, an exercise designed to recognize those who are bringing research, scholarship, and scientific expertise into the public square. In doing so, I’ve sought to honor serious researchers who leave the comfort of the ivory tower to share their particular expertise. The challenge: some scholars who are only too eager to use their credentials and platform to clothe personal agendas in the garb of “science.”

This year, that tension loomed especially large. Indeed, the pandemic-era tendency to wield science as a partisan cudgel (think of all those pointedly progressive “We believe science is real” rainbow yard signs) has harmed public debate, education decisionmaking, and science itself.

In 2021, Gallup reported that 64 percent of U.S. adults said they had “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in science. That’s down 6 points from the last time Gallup asked that question, in 1975. Especially notable were the profound partisan shifts over time. In 1975, two-thirds of Democrats said they had confidence in science; by 2021, that had climbed to 79 percent. Meanwhile, trust fell among independents (from 73 percent to 65 percent) and plunged among Republicans (from 72 percent to 45 percent).

“In the survey, respondents highlighted that there were too many fights and and too much bullying, and unsafe environments throughout schools, all without much accountability”

Olivia Herken:

This week the school district contended with more violent incidents. On Tuesday, a 14-year-old was stabbed in the chest in a park after an incident at a middle school parking lot earlier in the day, and on Wednesday, police were called to East High for a fight between students.

Some survey respondents called for the removal of students who were disruptive in classes. Others want to bring back school resource officers, who were removed from schools in 2020. Additional cameras, security and metal detectors in buildings also were recommended.

One large theme from the survey results was a stronger emphasis on mental health for both students and staff. Specifically, respondents said there needs to be more support staff, training, dialogue and resources for those who are struggling.

In terms of nutrition, those who responded said there needed to be higher quality meals and lower prices, as well as provisions on hand for students who face food hardships when they aren’t at school.

2011: a majority of the taxpayer funded Madison School Board aborts the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB Charter School in a 5-2 vote.

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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

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

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

These Gorgeous Photos Capture Life Inside a Drop of Seawater

Photographs by Angel Fitor Text by Jennie Rothenberg Gritz

In every drop of water is a hidden world. Scuba divers can’t see it through their masks; neither can snorkelers swimming among the coral reefs. To really enter this world, you need to look through a magnifying lens. There you’ll see a vast array of vanishingly small plankton, including crustaceans known as copepods. They come in some 13,000 known species, from glimmering-blue sea sapphires to noodle-shaped cod worms. Some roam freely, while others cling to plants or animals. One copepod species can swim into the womb of a gestating shark and attach itself to her calf.

Civics: “Revolt Of The Public” author Martin Gurri on why the Woke hate Musk

Martin Gurri:

The name of our Substack publication, Public came from the 2018 book, Revolt of the Public by a former CIA media analyst named Martin Gurri. It is perhaps the best book ever written about the impact of the Internet on social and political life. If you haven’t already, we encourage you to watch Leighton’s video about Martin’s great book and read our interview with him in which he strongly denounces the FBI behavior that we revealed in our researchinto the Twitter Files. We are honored to publish his important essay about the Twitter Files, and why they matter, here. — Michael 

by Martin GurriOnly yesterday, Elon Musk was a hero to progressives. He had made the electric car sexy and organized a migration to Mars to save humanity from the coming ecological apocalypse. Musk voted for Barack Obama twice and for Biden once. When he offered to purchase Twitter on April 14 of last year, he clearly believed he was reconnecting progressivism to its liberal roots. “For Twitter to deserve public trust it must be politically neutral, which effectively means upsetting the far right and the far left equally,” he said. Famously, Musk characterized himself as “a free speech absolutist.” But elites took that for a declaration of war and changed their tightly synchronized minds about the man.Twitter in the hands of Musk was “dangerous to our democracy,” said Democratic senator Elizabeth Warren. “If Elon Musk successfully purchases Twitter, it could result in World War 3 and the destruction of our planet,” wrote David Leavitt. The White House expressed newfound concern about “the power of large social media platforms … over our everyday lives … tech platforms must be held accountable for the harm they cause.”Before Musk’s takeover, Twitter management had gone on record stating, “We do not shadow ban [i.e., secretly block users]. And we certainly don’t shadow ban based on political viewpoints or ideology.” Thanks to Twitter’s internal emails and messages released by Musk, we now know both claims were false. “Twitter employees build blacklists, prevent disfavored tweets from trending, and actively limit the visibility of entire accounts or even trending topics—all in secret, without informing users,” wrote journalist Bari Weiss. The targets were offenders against elite orthodoxy—a conservative activist, a right-wing talk show host, and a Covid-dissenting doctor, among others.

Notes on human work in and around openai

Billy Perrigo:

ChatGPT was hailed as one of 2022’s most impressive technological innovations upon its release last November. The powerful artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot can generate text on almost any topic or theme, from a Shakespearean sonnet reimagined in the style of Megan Thee Stallion, to complex mathematical theorems described in language a 5 year old can understand. Within a week, it had more than a million users.

ChatGPT’s creator, OpenAI, is now reportedly in talks with investors to raise funds at a $29 billion valuation, including a potential $10 billion investment by Microsoft. That would make OpenAI, which was founded in San Francisco in 2015 with the aim of building superintelligent machines, one of the world’s most valuable AI companies.

But the success story is not one of Silicon Valley genius alone. In its quest to make ChatGPT less toxic, OpenAI used outsourced Kenyan laborers earning less than $2 per hour, a TIME investigation has found.

The work was vital for OpenAI. ChatGPT’s predecessor, GPT-3, had already shown an impressive ability to string sentences together. But it was a difficult sell, as the app was also prone to blurting out violent, sexist and racist remarks. This is because the AI had been trained on hundreds of billions of words scraped from the internet—a vast repository of human language. That huge training dataset was the reason for GPT-3’s impressive linguistic capabilities, but was also perhaps its biggest curse. Since parts of the internet are replete with toxicity and bias, there was no easy way of purging those sections of the training data. Even a team of hundreds of humans would have taken decades to trawl through the enormous dataset manually. It was only by building an additional AI-powered safety mechanism that OpenAI would be able to rein in that harm, producing a chatbot suitable for everyday use.

Reforming Higher Education

Ilya Shapiro:

Many Americans despair of reforming the culture of higher education. But a substantial majority of college students attend public institutions, and these schools are subject to state law. If legislators are determined to restore free speech and academic freedom, there’s a lot they can do. In cooperation with the Goldwater Institute, we’ve developed model state legislation based on four reform proposals:

• Abolish “diversity, equity and inclusion” bureaucracies. These offices work actively against norms of academic freedom and truth-seeking, advance primarily political aims, and fuel administrative bloat that raises costs and exacerbates student debt. Administrators at public institutions should maintain official neutrality on controversial political questions extraneous to the business of educating students. Leave compliance with federal and state civil-rights laws to the university counsel’s office.

• Forbid mandatory diversity training for students, faculty and staff. Even when DEI officials claim their training is “voluntary,” it’s often required for faculty who wish to perform basic extracurricular roles, such as serving on hiring committees. Typical diversity training includes unscientific claims about “microaggressions” and “implicit bias” and rejects the basic American principle that everyone should be treated equally. It indoctrinates an ideology of identity-based grievance, guilt and division.

• Curtail the use of “diversity statements” as a means of political coercion. These serve as litmus tests in employment processes to exclude applicants who don’t adhere to critical race theory and other radical beliefs. Although the Supreme Court has long held that requiring loyalty oaths in public education is unconstitutional—as are other forms of compelled speech—universities increasingly require that applicants state their belief in the importance of DEI, cite prior personal efforts to promote DEI and pledge to integrate DEI into their teaching. Applicants for many positions have been eliminated on the basis of diversity statements alone and many universities condition their hiring decisions on the applicant’s ideological conformity.

Biden Gives a Boost to Schoolyard Bullies

Jason Riley:

Learning losses experienced by students during the pandemic, and especially by low-income minorities, have been attributed to an excess of remote schooling that was driven by union demands more than sound science. A study released last week by the U.S. Education Department offers reason to believe that policies being advanced by the equity crowd may be contributing to the challenge of getting our youngsters back up to speed academically.

According to an annual survey of school leaders conducted by the federal Institute for Education Sciences, schools saw a 56% increase in “classroom disruptions from student misconduct” compared with a typical school year before the pandemic. There’s also been a 49% rise in “rowdiness outside of the classroom,” in places such as cafeterias or hallways. Actual “physical attacks or fights between students” are up by one-third, and threats of the same have increased 36%.

Lori Lightfoot receives ethics complaint from Parents Defending Education

Rachel Schilke:

Parents Defending Education have filed an ethicscomplaint against Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, calling emails sent encouraging students to volunteer for her reelection campaign as “political patronage.” 

Lightfoot confirmed on Thursday that a campaign staffer sent the emails to Chicago Public School teachers, stating that students would receive school credit in exchange for working 12 hours per week on the campaign. A later statement said the opportunity would provide children the chance to learn more about civic engagement and the mayor’s campaign. 

“We’re simply looking for enthusiastic, curious and hardworking young people eager to help Mayor Lightfoot win this spring,” the email read, according to photos of the email in the complaint.

Notes on growth in charter and voucher schools amidst decline in traditional “government” schools (who spend far more)

Olivia Herken:

Enrollment in Wisconsin’s traditional public schools has continued to decline since the start of the pandemic.

There isn’t a single answer as to where students are going and why. A nationwide declining birth rate and changing trends in where families live are big contributors.

But there’s clearly a growing appetite in Wisconsin for more alternative schooling, including charter schools and home-schooling.

Ten new independent charter schools have opened across the state since 2019, with 35 options now available. Other options that break the traditional mold have also sprouted, from a new forest school in La Fargeto an expanding campus at Madison’s private Hickory Hill Academy.

2011: a majority of the taxpayer funded Madison School Board aborts the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB Charter School in a 5-2 vote.

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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

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

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

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: State Tax & Spending Choices

Wall Street Journal:

Democrats and their interest groups are whining about his proposed spending “cuts,” which are merely smaller increases. Mr. Newsom says federal largesse from last year’s infrastructure bill and Inflation Reduction Act will offset alleged cuts to climate and public-transit spending, and no doubt he’s right.

But it’s no small irony that Texans are now benefitting tremendously from the growing global demand for oil and gas, which Mr. Newsom and friends are trying to eliminate. Texas’s oil and gas tax revenue has grown $5.3 billion since 2019 owing to higher commodity prices and increasing production in the Permian basin.

Yet Texas’s budget isn’t nearly as dependent on oil and gas as California’s is on Silicon Valley. Much of Texas’s surplus this year owes to surging sales-tax revenue from inflation and population growth—i.e., Californians moving to Texas and spending their tax savings.

Mr. Newsom claimed Tuesday that California has a more “fair” tax system than the Lone Star State and that Texans pay more in taxes. This is disinformation. According to the Census Bureau, California’s per capita state tax collections ($6,325) were second highest in the country in 2021 after Vermont. Texas’s ($2,214) were second lowest after Alaska.

“Vaccination rates for U.S. kindergarteners dropped again last year”; note Wisconsin’s big drop

Mike Stobbe:

The new numbers suggest that as many as 275,000 kindergartners lack full vaccine protection.

Falling vaccination rates open the door to outbreaks of diseases once thought to be in the rearview mirror, experts say. They point to a case of paralytic polio reported last year in New York, and to recent measles surges in Minnesota and Ohio.

Those outbreaks coincide with anecdotal and survey information suggesting more parents are questioning bedrock childhood vaccines long celebrated as public health success stories.

A Kaiser Family Foundation poll last month found less support among parents for school vaccine requirements vs. a 2019 survey.

“It’s crazy. There’s so much work to be done,” said Dr. Jason Newland, a pediatric infectious diseases doctor at St. Louis Children’s Hospital and vice chair for community health at Washington University.

. Wisconsin, along with Mississippi and Georgia show the largest drop in kindergarten vaccination rates in the country according to the new CDC report.

Many researchers were not compliant with their published data sharing statement: a mixed-methods study

We analyzed all articles from 333 open-access journals published during January 2019 by BioMed Central. We categorized types of the DAS. We surveyed corresponding authors who wrote in the DAS that they would share the data. Consent to participate in the study was sought for all included manuscripts. After accessing raw data sets, we checked whether data were available in a way that enabled reanalysis.


Of 3556 analyzed articles, 3416 contained the DAS. The most frequent DAS category (42%) indicated that the data sets are available on reasonable request. Among 1792 manuscripts in which the DAS indicated that authors are willing to share their data, 1669 (93%) authors either did not respond or declined to share their data with us. Among 254 (14%) of 1792 authors who responded to our query for data sharing, only 123 (6.8%) provided the requested data.

Civics: “I am here because I stole something that was never mine to take — precious human life,” Hale said at his sentencing.

Ryan Devereaux, Murtaza Hussain

Daniel Hale, a former U.S. Air Force intelligence analyst, was sentenced to 45 months in prison Tuesday after pleading guilty to leaking a trove of government documents exposing the inner workings and severe civilian costs of the U.S. military’s drone program. Appearing in an Alexandria, Virginia, courtroom, the 33-year-old Hale told U.S. District Judge Liam O’Grady that he believed it “was necessary to dispel the lie that drone warfare keeps us safe, that our lives are worth more than theirs.”

“I am here because I stole something that was never mine to take — precious human life,” Hale said. “I couldn’t keep living in a world in which people pretend that things weren’t happening that were. Please, your honor, forgive me for taking papers instead of human lives.”

In delivering his judgement, O’Grady said that Hale was “not being prosecuted for speaking out about the drone program killing innocent people” and that he “could have been a whistleblower … without taking any of these documents.”

Seattle Public Schools sues TikTok, YouTube, Instagram and others, seeking compensation for youth mental health crisis

Todd Bishop:

However, Seattle Public Schools appears to be the first school district in the country to file such a suit against the companies.

The district alleges that it has suffered widespread financial and operational harm from social media usage and addiction among students. The lawsuit cites factors including the resources required to provide counseling services to students in crisis, and to investigate and respond to threats made against schools and students over social media.

“This mental health crisis is no accident,” the suit says. “It is the result of the Defendants’ deliberate choices and affirmative actions to design and market their social media platforms to attract youth.”

At more than 90 pages, the suit offers extensive citations in support of its claims, including surveys showing a 30% increase from 2009 to 2019 in the number of Seattle Public Schools students who said they felt “so sad or hopeless almost every day for two weeks or more in a row that [they] stopped doing some usual activities.”

GeekWire overnight contacted the district for further comment on its suit, and each of the companies for their responses. We’ll update this story as we hear back.

Meta, the parent of Facebook and Instagram, has said in response to lawsuits by parents that it has implemented a series of tools and safety measures for teens and families using its services.

Madison’s taxpayer supported discriminatory policies, now in litigation

2011: a majority of the taxpayer funded Madison School Board aborts the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB Charter School in a 5-2 vote.

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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

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

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

Tech and education

Kalley Huang:

Alarmed by his discovery, Mr. Aumann decided to transform essay writing for his courses this semester. He plans to require students to write first drafts in the classroom, using browsers that monitor and restrict computer activity. In later drafts, students have to explain each revision. Mr. Aumann, who may forgo essays in subsequent semesters, also plans to weave ChatGPT into lessons by asking students to evaluate the chatbot’s responses.

“What’s happening in class is no longer going to be, ‘Here are some questions — let’s talk about it between us human beings,’” he said, but instead “it’s like, ‘What also does this alien robot think?’”

Across the country, university professors like Mr. Aumann, department chairs and administrators are starting to overhaul classrooms in response to ChatGPT, prompting a potentially huge shift in teaching and learning. Some professors are redesigning their courses entirely, making changes that include more oral exams, group work and handwritten assessments in lieu of typed ones.

‘The system forces people to get credentials for positions that probably don’t need them’

Will Kessler:

A libertarian higher education expert proposed bold measures to improve the system, including rethinking accreditation requirements and ultimately phasing out all aid programs because they inflate tuition.

The Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, released a new book “Empowering the New American Worker” on Dec. 15. The book advocates pro-market solutions to economic problems, and policy analyst Neal McCluskey wrote the chapter called “Higher Education.”

McCluskey (pictured) holds a doctorate in public policy and serves as director for Cato’s Center for Academic Freedom, according to his bio.

He made the case that the United States’ current higher education policy is “counterproductive for many American workers, producing ballooning college prices, leading employers to demand credentials they don’t need, and failing to provide commensurate increases in knowledge or skills.”

2023 Trust Barometer


Institutions Out of Balance: Government Far Less Trusted than Business. Percent trust, and the percentage-point difference between trust in business vs government

Government and Media Fuel Cycle of Distrust, Seen as Sources of Misleading Information

Government, by contrast, “is viewed as unethical and incompetent,”

Civics: Censorship Lawsuit against legacy media

Tyler Durden:

The lawsuit (pdf), filed on Tuesday in a federal court in Texas, targets The Washington Post, the British Broadcasting Corp (BBC), The Associated Press (AP), and Reuters—all of which are members of the “Trusted News Initiative (TNI),” a self-described “industry partnership” formed in 2020 among legacy media giants and big tech companies.

“By their own admission, members of the TNI have agreed to work together, and have in fact worked together, to exclude from the world’s dominant internet platforms rival news publishers who engage in reporting that challenges and competes with TNI members’ reporting on certain issues relating to COVID-19 and U.S. politics,” the complaint reads.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr., a critic of the Biden administration’s COVID-19 vaccination policies, led the lawsuit. He is joined by Creative Destruction Media, Trial Site News, Truth About Vaccines founders Ty and Charlene Bollinger, independent journalist Ben Swann, Health Nut News publisher Erin Elizabeth Finn, Gateway Pundit founder Jim Hoft, Dr. Joseph Mercola, and Ben Tapper, a chiropractor.

The plaintiffs, the lawsuit alleges, are among the many victims of the TNI’s “group boycott” tactic, defined as a coordinated effort to facilitate monopoly by cutting off the competitors’ access to supplies and necessities.

In this case, the TNI members are accused of engaging in group boycott—in concert with their big tech partners—against small, independent news publishersby denying them access to internet platforms they need to compete and even survive in the online news market.

“As a result of the TNI’s group boycott, [the plaintiffs] have been censored, de-monetized, demoted, throttled, shadow-banned, and/or excluded entirely from platforms like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, and Linked-In,” the lawsuit states.

Declining Kindergarten Vaccination Rate

Andrew Joseph:

The percentage of U.S. kindergartners who’ve received standard childhood vaccines took a small but notable dip into the 2021-2022 school year, health officials said Thursday, amid disruptions related to Covid-19 and fears that anti-vaccine sentiment stirred up by the pandemic could be spreading to other shots.

Vaccinations among children remain high, but the trend — with coverage dropping from about 95% in the 2019-2020 school year to 94% in 2020-2021 to 93% in 2021-2022, according to the data released Thursday — has health officials concerned. Having that rate of kindergartners vaccinated against measles, for example, means that at least 250,000 kindergarteners could be unprotected.

“This is alarming and should be a call to action to all of us,” said Sean O’Leary, the chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Committee on Infectious Diseases.

The new data, published in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, looked at uptake of routine childhood vaccinations, including the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) shot; the diphtheria, tetanus, and acellular pertussis (DTaP) shot; and the shots against poliovirus and varicella (chickenpox). Overall, the CDC recommends routine vaccination against 14 diseases during the first two years of a child’s life.

Though there was some variation in uptake among the different vaccinations, all the shots saw a 0.4 to a 0.9 percentage point drop in coverage from 2020-2021 to 2021-2022, the CDC reported.

County judge applies lessons from King’s ‘Letter from Birmingham Jail’ to Milwaukee

Elliott Hughes:

Sixty years after Martin Luther King, Jr. described the segregated and prejudicial life of Birmingham, Ala. in a letter while sitting in jail, Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge Kori Ashley framed Milwaukee under similar terms.

She started by calling it a “tale of two cities.” One of them was plagued by “poverty, gun violence, car theft and despair,” while the other enjoyed “prosperity, peace and hope.”

Ashley went on to describe a wealth of lessons from King’s seminal 1963 “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” that apply to the racially segregated Milwaukee of today.

“If we do not answer his call, I fear we will surely continue to suffer for it,” Ashley said before a crowd of around 200 people at All Saints Catholic Church, 4051 N. 25th St., on Saturday. “Dr. King’s letter from the Birmingham jail is a written reminder of God’s vision of racial equality and a call to action.”

Sneetches are racist! No, they’re anti-racist! Or maybe …

Joanne Jacobs:

In a school district near Columbus, Ohio, Sneetches are vanguards of critical race theory. NPR’s Planet Money was taping a third-grade class where teacher Mandy Robek was illustrating how children can learn economics principles from kids’ books. An administrator pulled the plug when a student noted that the star-bellied Sneetches are discriminating against plain-bellied Sneetches in a way that recalls racial discrimination in the U.S. That was politics, she said, not economics.

NPR’s Erika Beras asked a group of economists to recommend children’s books that teach concepts such as division of labor (Pancakes, Pancakes!) and the labor-market matching process (Put Me in the Zoo). Three economists recommended The Sneetches because it deals with “preferences and class, open markets, entrepreneurship, discrimination and economic loss, some game theory,” said Beras.

Pushup Punishment

David Sentendrey and Dan Henry:

A high school football coach in Rockwall was suspended after some players needed medical attention following a workout.

The principal at Rockwall Heath High School said steps are being taken to determine exactly what happened.

The school district said it hired an “independent third party” to investigate the incident.

The school’s head football coach is accused of requiring a group of football players to do a large number of pushups.

Coach John Harrell has been placed on administrative leave while the investigation is underway.

Rick Singer, Ringleader of College-Admissions Cheating Scheme, Sentenced to 3½ Years in Prison

Melissa Korn:

Mr. Singer apologized to the students he worked with, saying they were “deserving of more integrity than I showed them,” and expressed regret for tarnishing the reputations of universities, tainting the experiences of families who worked with him legitimately and embarrassing his family and friends.

“Despite my passion to help others, I lost my ethical values and have so much regret. To be frank, I’m ashamed of myself,” Mr. Singer said.

Prosecutors called Mr. Singer’s scheme “staggering in scope” and “breathtaking in its audacity.” They said his cooperation with the investigation was valuable, while also beset with missteps.

In addition to the prison term, Mr. Singer was sentenced to three years of supervised release, and ordered to pay $10.7 million in restitution to the IRS, forfeit more than $5.3 million in assets and pay a $3.4 million forfeiture money judgment.

Civics: 39 years ago, a KGB defector chillingly predicted modern America

Paul Ratner:

Once demoralization is completed, the second stage of ideological brainwashing is “destabilization”. During this two-to-five-year period, asserted Bezmenov, what matters is the targeting of essential structural elements of a nation: economy, foreign relations, and defense systems. Basically, the subverter (Russia) would look to destabilize every one of those areas in the United States, considerably weakening it.

The third stage would be “crisis.” It would take only up to six weeks to send a country into crisis, explained Bezmenov. The crisis would bring “a violent change of power, structure, and economy” and will be followed by the last stage, “normalization.” That’s when your country is basically taken over, living under a new ideology and reality.

This will happen to America unless it gets rid of people who will bring it to a crisis, warned Bezmenov. What’s more “if people will fail to grasp the impending danger of that development, nothing ever can help [the] United States,” adding, “You may kiss goodbye to your freedom.”

It bears saying that when he made this statement, he was warning about baby boomers and Democrats of the time.

In another somewhat terrifying excerpt, here’s what Bezmenov had to say about what is really happening in the United States: It may think it is living in peace, but it has been actively at war with Russia, and for some time:

“Most of the American politicians, media, and educational system trains another generation of people who think they are living at the peacetime,” said the former KGB agent. “False. United States is in a state of war: undeclared, total war against the basic principles and foundations of this system.”

ChatGPT, Humanities and Higher Education Support

Eric Schliesser:

Like many other academics, it seems, I spent part of Winter break playing around withChatGPT, a neural network “which interacts in a conversational way.” It has been trained up on a vast database, to recognize and (thereby) predict patterns, and its output is conversational in character. You can try it by signing up. Somewhat amusingly you must prove you the user are not a robot. Also, it’s worth alerting you that the ChatGPT remembers/stores your past interactions with it.

It’s uncanny how fluent its dialogic output is. It will also admit ignorance. For example, when I asked it who was “President in 2022,” it responded (inter alia) with “My training data only goes up until 2021, so I am not able to provide information about events that have not yet occurred.”

Notice that it goes off the rails in its answer because it wrote me that in 2023! (It’s such a basic mistake that I think claims about it passing, or faking, the Turing test are a bit overblown, although one can see it being in striking distance now.) When I pressed it on this point, it gave me a much better answer:

Notes on Scholarship discrimination at Harvard

Aaron Sibarium

McLean Hospital, which describes itself as the “largest psychiatric teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School,” has since 2021 hosted a paid research program for “Black, Indigenous, and underrepresented people of color,” according to the hospital’s website. The 10-week internship offers participants a $7,000 stipend and places them in prestigious labs.

The internship may ramp up legal scrutiny on America’s oldest Ivy, which, alongside the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, is battling a high-profile lawsuit from Students for Fair Admissions, a nonprofit opposed to affirmative action.

That scrutiny hasn’t stopped either school from promoting discriminatory programs: UNC Chapel Hill has at least five scholarships, fellowships, and other initiatives that are available only to minorities; a sixth initiative, exclusively for “BIPOC” students, was made available to all races following a discrimination complaint.

Lawyers say that these programs violate civil rights law and demonstrate just how committed universities are to racial preferences.

“UNC and Harvard have been doubling down on Ibram Kendi-style ‘you have to be racist to be anti-racist’ programming,” said Ilya Shapiro, the director of constitutional studies at the Manhattan Institute. “Not only are these clear-cut legal violations, but it’s not a good look as the Supreme Court scrutinizes the use of racial preferences in admissions.”

Civics: Spying tool has scooped up data on Americans, prompting outcry Biden administration says Section 702 key to combating threats

Katrina Manson:

The US intelligence community faces a hard battle to renew foreign surveillance powers that have enabled authorities to repeatedly access private information about Americans despite constitutional protections.

The Biden administration wants to renew Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), a warrantless wiretapping program introduced in 2008, which was last renewed in 2018 and is due to expire at the end of the year.

How Stanford Failed the Academic Freedom Test

Jay Bhattacharya:

We live in an age when a high public health bureaucrat can, without irony, announce to the world that if you criticize him, you are not simply criticizing a man. You are criticizing “the science” itself. The irony in this idea of “science” as a set of sacred doctrines and beliefs is that the Age of Enlightenment, which gave us our modern definitions of scientific methodology, was a reaction against a religious clerisy that claimed for itself the sole ability to distinguish truth from untruth. The COVID-19 pandemic has apparently brought us full circle, with a public health clerisy having replaced the religious one as the singular source of unassailable truth.

The analogy goes further, unfortunately. The same priests of public health that have the authority to distinguish heresy from orthodoxy also cast out heretics, just like the medieval Catholic Church did. Top universities, like Stanford, where I have been both student and professor since 1986, are supposed to protect against such orthodoxies, creating a safe space for scientists to think and to test their ideas. Sadly, Stanford has failed in this crucial aspect of its mission, as I can attest from personal experience.

I should note here that my Stanford roots go way back. I earned two degrees in economics there in 1990. In the ’90s, I earned an M.D. and a Ph.D. in economics. I’ve been a fully tenured professor at Stanford’s world-renowned medical school for nearly 15 years, happily teaching and researching many topics, including infectious disease epidemiology and health policy. If you had asked me in March 2020 whether Stanford had an academic freedom problem in medicine or the sciences, I would have scoffed at the idea. Stanford’s motto (in German) is “the winds of freedom blow,” and I would have told you at the time that Stanford lives up to that motto. I was naive then, but not now.

Academic freedom matters most in the edge cases when a faculty member or student is pursuing an idea that others at the university find inconvenient or objectionable. If Stanford cannot protect academic freedom in these cases, it cannot protect academic freedom at all.

To justify this depressing claim, I would like to relate the story of my experience during the pandemic regarding a prominent policy proposal I co-authored called the Great Barrington Declaration (GBD). I could relate many additional incidents that illustrate Stanford’s stunning failure to protect academic freedom, but this one suffices to make my point.

On Oct. 4, 2020, along with two other eminent epidemiologists, Sunetra Gupta of the University of Oxford and Martin Kulldorff of Harvard University, I wrote the GBD. The declaration is a one-page document that proposed a very different way to manage the COVID-19 pandemic than had been used up to that date. The lockdown-focused strategy that much of the world followed mimicked the approach that Chinese authorities adopted in January 2020. The extended lockdowns—by which I mean public policies designed to keep people physically separate from one another to avoid spreading the SARS-CoV-2 virus—were a sharp deviation from Western management of previous respiratory virus pandemics. The old pandemic plans prioritized minimizing disruption to normal social functioning, protecting vulnerable groups, and rapidly developing treatments and vaccines.

The Campaign to Re-Educate Jordan Peterson

Wall Street Journal:

You would think Canadians had learned by now not to tell Jordan Peterson what to say. The psychology professor became an internet sensation in 2016 after arguing that Canadian legislation amounted to “compelled speech” on gender pronouns. Now the College of Psychologists of Ontario is demanding that Mr. Peterson acknowledge he “lacked professionalism” in public statements and undergo a “coaching program” of remedial education.

Maybe the new commissars missed Mr. Peterson’s videos praising Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, the man who said: “Live not by lies.” Mr. Peterson won’t comply, and he says he’ll now face a disciplinary committee that could revoke his license to practice.

The College of Psychologists, the profession’s governing body in Ontario, appointed an investigator in March to examine complaints about Mr. Peterson’s comments on Twitter and the popular Joe Rogan podcast. On Nov. 22, the College’s panel released a decision. Per images provided by Mr. Peterson, the panel ruled: “The comments at issue appear to undermine the public trust in the profession as a whole, and raise questions about your ability to carry out your responsibilities as a psychologist.”

What are these comments? Calling Elliot Page, the transgender actor, by his former name, “Ellen,” and the pronoun “her,” on Twitter. Calling an adviser to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau a “prik.” A sarcastic crack at antigrowth environmentalists for not caring that their energy policies lead to more deaths of poor Third World children.

Writing English Prose

David Bentley Hart:

To my mind, each is in its own way a perfect, exquisitely faceted gem of English prose from an especially glorious literary epoch. The music of the one has haunted me for most of my life; the gleeful perversity of the other has lost none of its power to make me laugh in nearly four decades. And, however great the joy I take in either of these passages in isolation, it is as nothing compared to the idiot bliss I derive from their juxtaposition. Taken together, they ideally illustrate the two extremes of the great man’s voice: on the one hand, its glowing beauty and spacious sonority; on the other, its anfractuous density and heedless flamboyance.

TAAS: Trust as a Service

The rabbit hole:

When analyzing the market space inhabited by both traditional and new-age media companies one of the necessary prerequisites for customer buy-in is Trust. Without trust, people can not consume a media source especially when that media source purports to be a purveyor of news and information.

According to Gallup, American trust in mass media institutions has tanked. Trust is down across all political demographics with the Democrats being the sole exception; this is an industry ripe for disruption. Enter Twitter and Elon Musk.

Twitter, at its core, is offering Trust as a Service (TaaS) to its user base. Twitter is trying to sell its audience on the idea that we can entrust it to host important conversations on its platform without engaging in unethical moderation tactics to censor information deemed ‘inappropriate.’ In addition, Twitter is attempting to prove to what extent it can act as a “trust broker” since conversations that happen on Twitter can make or break trust in people, institutions, and other entities.

Historically, we had what is now a ‘Legacy Media’ that brokered trust by telling us who we could and could not trust. As Malcolm X noted, centralized trust brokerage oligarchies gave a small group of people the ability to control the narrative to such an extent that perceptions of guilt and innocence could be shaped. Now we have reached a point, as shown earlier by Gallup, where Legacy Media has destroyed its own reputation by failing to adapt to the increasing levels of transparency that came with the Internet and through biased reporting.

Anything in a traditional media format is delayed, less scrutinized, and riddled with bias as indicated by the above chart.

Parent Coaches

Jon Masson:

But overall, the experience has been overwhelmingly positive for the two.

“I wouldn’t change it,” Angie Murphy said. “It’s been wonderful, but it’s been tough. As a coach’s kid, you are under a microscope. We have great parents here and we have great kids, so she hasn’t had to deal with a lot of that, but I have known horror stories where coaches coach their kids and people say, `Well, that kid is playing because their mom or dad is the coach.’

“We haven’t had to deal with that here. She earned it on the court because of her skills, not because her mom is the coach.”

Megan Murphy, who first started playing basketball in kindergarten and now has verbally committed to UW-Stevens Point, said, “It’s fun to share the wins with her and the good things about basketball.”

But she added, “We try to avoid talking about basketball at home. Otherwise, it gets to be too much.”

The Hamline controversy over a depiction of Muhammad is symptomatic of something deeper.

Alexander Jabbari:

Recently, Hamline University, in Minnesota, fired an adjunct instructor of art history after she displayed a painting of the prophet Muhammad in a class. A Muslim ruler in 14th-century Iran had commissioned the devotional painting for other Muslims in a context permissive of such depictions. Prior to the lesson that ignited the controversy, the instructor took great care to contextualize the image sensitively and granted students the option to not view it.

Wikipedia admin jailed for 32 years after alleged Saudi spy infiltration


Whistleblowers have alleged that the Saudi Arabian government infiltrated the highest ranks of Wikipedia in order to control information about the country, activists reported yesterday. The alleged infiltration resulted in the 2020 arrests in Saudi Arabia of two Wikipedia administrators—Ziyad al-Sofiani (jailed for up to eight years) and Osama Khalid (jailed for up to 32 years)—for “swaying public opinion” and “violating public morals” by posting content “deemed to be critical about the persecution of political activists in the country.” Today, Wikimedia Foundation released a statement to Ars disputing the report, alleging that there was no “infiltration” and that Wikipedia admins have “no ranks.”

These conflicting statements follow an investigation concluded by the Wikimedia Foundation last month that resulted in the banning of 16 users for “conflict of interest editing on Wikipedia projects” in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. At the time, Wikimedia said, “We were able to confirm that a number of users with close connections with external parties were editing the platform in a coordinated fashion to advance the aim of those parties.”

Should You Give Up Your Salary and Go to Grad School?

Lindsay Ellis:

Big layoff announcements and growing fears about the economy usually mean more applications to M.B.A. and other graduate programs. But this time, career advisers and analysts are preaching caution.

Signs of a slowdown generally spark interest in graduate studies from both recent college graduates and those in the middle of their career. What better time to pause a career and acquire new skills for when the boom times return, the logic typically goes.

But this isn’t a widespread downturn, and the broader labor market remains strong. In addition, higher inflation and rising student-loan interest rates are complicating the calculus of whether it pays to leave the job market for a couple of years to notch a higher degree.

On the Decline of US Institutions

Rod Dreher:

OK, here’s what I think. Brooks (who’s a friend; our political differences matter not one bit to me) doesn’t seem to grasp the enormity of the collapse of the institutional Republican Party’s authority. There was the Iraq War. And then came the Wall Street crash, which happened on a Republican president’s watch. It’s not fair to blame Bush entirely for that — Washington’s sellout to Wall Street deregulation was truly a uniparty affair; as Bill Clinton — but the Republican Party was supposed to be the party that was more trustworthy on defense and economics. And it imploded. Not only did it implode, but its Washington leadership seemed to learn no lessons from that implosion. It offered no leadership. When the Tea Party emerged out of understandable populist rage, Washington Republicans, bereft of a better idea, hitched their wagons to its star, but went nowhere. The key document to read to understand why the GOP Establishment collapsed in the face of Donald Trump remains Tucker Carlson’s Politico piece from January 2016, when nobody thought Trump had a chance at the nomination, titled, “Donald Trump Is Shocking, Vulgar — And Right”. 

What is entirely missing from the Brooks-Stephens discussion is that the changes in the GOP took place during the Great Awokening. The rise of the illiberal Left — and, crucially, its conquering nearly ever major institution in American life — is the elephant in the room here. While all this was happening, the Republican Party did very damn little to stop it. Not even Trump, for all his rhetoric, made much of a difference. The reason I have a tiny bit of sympathy for Stephens’s position is that I too believe that a lot of the Trumpian populist Storm and Stress was little more than populism in the service of nihilism. Still, Brooks and Stephens lament that conservatives used to venerate institutions, but now hate them. Does it occur to these men that these institutions may not merit deference anymore? Why can’t they see that these institutions are the ones tearing America apart by attacking classical liberal ideas of race and justice, gutting the natural family, and demonizing anyone who dares to question its dogmas. Why should conservative Americans have any faith in these institutions anymore, when the leadership of these institutions broke faith with them a while back? It’s not a surprise that Brooks and Stephens grieve the populism on the Right, because they have made their peace with the Cultural Revolution. They remind me of Catholic institutionalists who can’t understand why so many of the great unwashed in the pews don’t trust the clergy, never mind the fact that the bishops ran the institutional church into the ditch, and the current leadership in Rome is busily deconstructing what’s left of the Church’s authority and heritage.

Recapturing Higher Education 

Christopher Rufo:

The most significant political story of the past half-century is the activist Left’s “long march through the institutions.” Beginning in the 1960s, left-wing activists and intellectuals, inspired by theorists such as Italian Communist Antonio Gramsci and New Left philosopher Herbert Marcuse, made a concerted effort to embed their ideas in education, government, philanthropy, media, and other important sectors.

This process came to spectacular fruition following the 2020 death of George Floyd, when it seemed that every prestige institution in the United States got busy advancing the same ideological line on race, gender, and culture—which, whether they knew it or not, mimicked the precise themes that the old radicals had originally proposed.

The long march through the institutions, in other words, was complete.

But conservatives, too, have updated their playbook. They have read their Gramsci and have begun to understand that ideological capture poses a grave threat to the American system. President Donald Trump shook conservatives out of their complacency with instinctual, if sometimes crude, cultural countermeasures. Florida governor Ron DeSantis has built on this approach, offering a sophisticated policy agenda for protecting families against captured bureaucracies.

Civics, Congressional Trading: On average, Democrats were down -1.76% in 2022, whereas Republican members were up +0.4%. Meanwhile, the S&P500 itself was down 18% in 2022.

Unusual Whales:

One of those fields that are filled with unusual trading is Congressional trading. And so, Congressional stock trading was a hot topic in 2022. Our 2021 political trading report brought international attention to Congress and their stock portfolios and for the first time caused a large public outcry on the topic. Within weeks of publishing it, Congress acted swiftly with drafting several proposals for a stock trading ban. Notably, 27 lawmakers immediately signed on to ban the practice, with politicians at the forefront such as Rep.Spanbanger egging Unusual Whales on and others like Senator Hawley directly quoting UW’s work. Together, we kept the topic in the news and in the minds of politicians for months. 

Other examples of the UW report making waves:

“Although flu season began early, there is limited evidence that it is worse than typical years”

Vijay Prasad:

 Dr. Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, says: “It feels like it’s bad because hospitals are so understaffed, but this does not represent an outlier season.”

RSV, which is a standard childhood illness, also surged early, and it generally hits very young children and the elderly hardest. There are ongoing shortages both in terms of medicine, like Tylenol, and pediatric hospital beds. But the latter is less about the rising cases and more about the disappearance of pediatric services. Caring for children is not a major moneymaker for hospitals, and often earns less than adult hospitalization. Over the past two decades, as the Washington Post explained, there has been a major decline in pediatric beds nationally. The bottom line: we should be less afraid of RSV and more concerned about our broken ability to handle routine viral illness year to year.

Second, there is no avoiding respiratory viruses. With extreme, draconian measures, exposure to respiratory viruses can be delayed, but can never be averted. This is in contrast with, say,  our ability to avoid contaminated drinking water or sexually transmitted diseases. The difference is that human beings have to breathe every minute of every day. And, as humans are social creatures, most of that breathing will naturally be very close to other human beings.

“The piper must be paid at some point in nature; kids will get sick, and it has nothing to do with a more compromised immune system,” says Dr. Danuta Skowronski from the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control.

This point must be emphasized. It is natural, healthy, and necessary for young children to be exposed to many viruses. In order for children to build immunity to common pathogens—in order for them to develop a normally functioning immune system—they must have such exposure, which will sometimes make them sick.

And third, there is no evidence that the interventions purported to stop Covid-19, flu, and RSV will help. Before Covid-19, the evidence to support masking was thin. I co-authored a survey of masking trials that were done prior to the advent of Covid-19, examining whether masks stopped transmission of respiratory viruses. Fourteen of the 16 trials showed masks were ineffective at this. In other words, the pre-Covid evidence was clear that recommending masks for the average person was useless. This is likely one reason why Dr. Anthony Fauci, the CDC, the World Health Organization, and others initially advised against masking. 

Even worse, the evidence for masking young children for Covid-19, flu, and RSV viruses is entirely lacking.

Chat GPT goes woke

Nate Hochman:

That’s why its built-in ideological bias that I happened upon last night is so concerning. It’s not clear if this was characteristic of ChatGPT from the outset, or if it’s a recent reform to the algorithm, but it appears that the crackdowns on “misinformation” that we’ve seen across technology platforms in recent years — which often veer into more brazen efforts to suppress or silence viewpoints that dissent from progressive orthodoxy — is now a feature of ChatGPT, too. Given the expansive power over the information ecosystem that AI could soon wield, that presents a profound threat to the cause of free speech and thought in the digital sphere.

A poor pandemic response and high drug-overdose deaths prove all is not well.

William Galston:

For most of my life, I rejected the assertion that America is a “sick society.” This judgment seemed too broad and lacking in nuance. Yes, there was regress in some areas, such as the surge of gun-related crimes in the 1980s. But there was progress on other fronts. Life expectancy increased steadily, and a rising share of Americans had access to healthcare. The rate of smoking among young people declined sharply, as did teen pregnancy. Many gaps among racial and ethnic groups were narrowing.

It’s no secret that life expectancy in the U.S. is much lower than it should be. In 2019, before the Covid-19 pandemic struck, we ranked 29th among the 38 member nations of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. U.S. life expectancy trailed Germany’s by 2.5 years, Canada’s by 3.2 years, and France’s by four years.

Some of this disparity reflects the U.S.’s terrible performance in infant mortality. It ranked 33rd, behind every European and Asian country in the OECD. Some of it reflects huge geographical disparities within the U.S. The life expectancy gap in 2019 between America’s best state (Hawaii) and its worst was about seven years. Still, even Hawaii trailed 25 OECD countries. (West Virginia would have placed dead last, behind Mexico.)

Why is One City Charter School Facing Legacy Madison Media Blowback?

Kaleem Caire:

Thank you CapTimes for printing my OpEd. Interestingly, in a conversation with the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction yesterday, state officials told us that we are legally obligated to count our students who are enrolled and present on the day of the pupil count (tomorrow, Friday). This is state law. They also told us we “should keep the money”.

As a side note, see a second article that I posted in the comment below about this. Our counting or not counting our Scholars will not have an impact on MMSD. What will impact them and other districts more is if our Scholars enroll with them or not. So, why did One City Schools get singled out and why do people expect us to do what NONE of the 423 traditional public school districts or 60 independent public charter school districts in Wisconsin do? One word answer: Politics.

It’s funny how in my home town (Madison), I am personally and constantly expected to go above and beyond everyone else and work magic with a too little funding. MMSD will receive and spend $23,000 per student, on average from the state, federal government and local property taxes. One City will only receive approximately $13,000 per student from the state and federal government, and not one dime of local property tax money, even though we operate “public schools” that educate the public’s children. Tell me if that’s fair. I have to raise $9,000 per student (multiplied by 400+ students) from private philanthropy, foundations, corporations and people like you in order to operate our schools.

This is totally not fair.

Public school districts like MMSD, Middleton, etc also get to count our charter school students in their annual property tax levy if our Scholars reside within their districts, and keep that money.

They do not “transfer” this money to us…but this wasn’t mentioned in any of the press releases or articles other organizations wrote about us. Why not?

Why not point out that traditional public school districts get to keep thousands of dollars per child for students they don’t educate and are not enrolled in their schools? It’s very disingenuous and unfair, and is only meant to draw negative public attention to public charter schools and One City. It’s sad, very sad.

Independent public charter schools like One City are also expected to produce dramatic test score improvements annually when each year we enroll many new students who are two or more years behind academically. We also had to alter our entire school model just 18 months after opening our first charter (elementary) school after the pandemic arrived in March 2020. Thankfully, this school year, we have been able to shift back to our original school design and are enjoying doing our work with our Scholars the way we always intended.

This is how innovators in education who go against the status quo in Dane County and Madison are treated. We get questioned, ridiculed and smacked for trying to do something new, despite 90 percent of Black and 80 percent of Brown students failing miserably in our public schools – EVERY YEAR.

BUT YOU DON’T SEE MANY ANY HEADLINES about that, or about the BUT YOU DON’T SEE MANY ANY HEADLINES about that, or about the fact that just 35 PERCENT OF ALL third graders in Wisconsin, including students from all racial backgrounds, can read to learn by the end of 3rd grade. That’s all – 35%…..and just 8% of all Black third graders and 18% of all Latino third graders in Wisconin.

The $250,000 One City Schools might receive for our Scholars is more important than addressing the massive failure of thousands of our children in Madison, Dane County and our state?

Our priorities continue to be jacked up and off-base, people. Our chickens will come home to roost, and in many ways, they already are.

No, schools are not solely at fault for the failure of our children BUT One City focuses holistically on the family, community, students and their habits of character), and our educators and school at the same time. We have expectations and supports for everyone. We go at these challenges head on and are transparent about our challenges and results so we and others can learn from them.

One City Schools is an asset to Madison, Dane County and Wisconsin, and should be treated and supported this way. Who else is trying to tackle the challenges the way we are? Onward.

2011: a majority of the taxpayer funded Madison School Board aborts the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB Charter School in a 5-2 vote.

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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

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

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

K-12 taxpayer $pending reporting: early growth trees vs Madison’s $597M forest edition

Scott Girard:

UPDATE: In a letter to the editor submitted to the Cap Times after the article below was published, One City Schools founder and CEO Kaleem Caire wrote that the school would not count the ninth and 10th grade students who will be leaving for enrollment purposes.

“This would be disingenuous, and we do not operate this way,” Caire wrote. “We could do this, but we won’t.”

Department of Public Instruction communications specialist Chris Bucher wrote in an email Wednesday afternoon that the department’s requirements for enrollment remain in place, meaning a student must be both enrolled and in attendance on the day of the second Friday count or in attendance on a day both before and after the count, in the case of an absence on the count day.

With One City’s high school classes continuing until Jan. 20, it remains unclear what will happen if students are still attending One City but not counted as part of the school’s enrollment.

Caire’s full letter can be read here.

Olivia Herken also fails to note Madison’s enormous K-12 funding, now about $23k/student annually.

There are two enrollment counts a year: One on the third Friday in September, and another on the second Friday in January, which is this week.

Independent charter schools like One City receive four payments from the state throughout the fiscal year based on that year’s enrollment.

These funds are the primary source of state aid for independent charter schools, Bucher said, and are based on a rate set by the state (this year’s is $9,264 per student) multiplied by how many students are enrolled.

An analysis of outcomes and spending would be useful as well.

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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

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

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

Former Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz:

MTI wants One City to fail, but our community should want it to succeed. Caire has the right ideas but he’s taking on a very tough task. He is focussing his entire program on reaching kids, especially poor Black kids, who have the deck stacked against them. He is emphasizing order, discipline and high expectations. He’s providing structure for kids’ lives that is often lacking at home.

This is going to take time. One City started in 2018 with preschool and kindergarten and has been adding a grade each year. The community should rally around One City, get it through it’s growing pains, allow it to build out to a complete K-12 program and see what happens. Because I think that what will happen will be excellent.

An obsession with Diversity, Equity and Inclusion threatens students, professors, and the very credibility of higher education in the U.S.

John Sailer:

In June 2020, Gordon Klein, a longtime accounting lecturer at UCLA, made the news after a student emailed him asking him to grade black students more leniently in the wake of the “unjust murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd.”

Klein’s response was blunt. It stated in part:

Thanks for your suggestion in your email below that I give black students special treatment, given the tragedy in Minnesota. Do you know the names of the classmates that are black? How can I identify them since we’ve been having online classes only? Are there any students that may be of mixed parentage, such as half black-half Asian? What do you suggest I do with respect to them? A full concession or just half? 

He went on:

Remember that MLK famously said that people should not be evaluated based on the “color of their skin.” Do you think that your request would run afoul of MLK’s admonition?

Thanks, G. Klein

Klein’s response enraged students. They organized a petition to remove him that quickly gained nearly 20,000 signatures, resulting in the professor being placed on leave and banned from campus. But the story got national attention, and a counter-petition signed by more than 76,000 people demanded his reinstatement. In less than three weeks, Klein was allowed to return to the classroom.  

Yet his encounters with what UCLA calls Equity, Diversity and Inclusionwere far from over.

Fighting Campus Discrimination

William Jacobson:

Second, I learned about Prof. Mark Perry. I knew “of” him, but I don’t know him personally. He’s a legend for filing civil rights complaints over discriminatory campus policies and administrative conduct that is oh so politically correct, but illegal. His list of complaints he has filed notes that as of the end of 2022:

Based on resolutions with the Office for Civil Rights in 2022 resulting from my civil rights complaints, nearly 100 US colleges and universities agreed to change, discontinue, or stop promoting 170 female-only or BIPOC/Black-only programs, awards, fellowships, and scholarships to correct their Title VI and/or Title IX violations.

“arguing that the Supreme Court did not need to consider the constitutionality of affirmative action, because racial discrimination is prohibited also by statute”

William Jacobson:

Complaint: “Each of the defendant medical schools and universities, along with nearly every medical school and university in the United States, discriminates on account of race and sex when admitting students by giving discriminatory preferences to females and non-Asian minorities, and by discriminating against whites, Asians, and men.”

The Extreme Shortage of High IQ Workers

Alex Tabarrok:

At first glance it seems peculiar that semiconductors, a key item of national strategic interest, should be produced in only a few places in the world, most notably Taiwan, using devices produced only in Eindhoven in the Netherlands by one firm, ASML. Isn’t the United States big enough to be able to support all of these technologies domestically? Yes and no.

Semiconductor manufacturing is the most difficult and complicated manufacturing process ever attempted by human beings. A literal spec of dust can ruin an entire production run. How many people can run such a factory? Let’s look at the United States. The labor force is approximately 164 million people which sounds like a lot but half of the people in the labor force have IQs below 100. More specifically, although not everyone in semiconductor manufacturing requires a PhD, pretty much everyone has to be of above average intelligence and many will need to be in the top echelons of IQ.

Civics: However dreadful its political class, the US’s fundamentals are overwhelmingly strong.

Joel Kotkin

The United States today stands as a living contradiction to the ‘great man theory of history’. For the US is a great country led by small minds. In recent times, it has been ruled by a narcissistic moral reprobate and it is now being run by a cognitively deficient and scandal-plagued politician. There is a growing feeling, particularly among the young, that today’s America is diminished. Yet the US remains the world’s premier power, and its last best hope against a rising authoritarian tide.

So, how does an America led by mediocrities succeed? The secret sauce lies in two great assets – America’s geography and its constitution. 

America enjoys an enormous expanse of arable land, the largest in the world, bigger than that of Russia and Ukraine combined, and nearly 100million acres more than China. It is not only by far the largest food exporterin the world, but it also leads all countries, including Russia and Saudi Arabia, in the production of fossil fuels, which are now being consumed more than ever. And not to be overlooked are America’s vast reserves of fresh water, the third largest on the planet.

These assets separate America from its largest rivals. Neither China nor Europe has adequate domestic energy supplies, making both ever reliant, like Tennessee Williams’ Blanche DuBois, on the ‘kindness of strangers’. Shortages and high prices are already hammering Germany’s industrial economy, from its dynamic mid-sized firms to the giants of its chemicals industry, despite the German government spending a massive half-a-trillion dollars on energy subsidies. Europe is now desperately firing up coal plants and reconsidering nuclear energy, but in the near-term its energy salvationwill most likely lie in the oil fields of the Permian basin and other hotbeds of US energy production. 

These geographic advantages, as well as the growing global suspicion about China, are turning America once again into the world’s primary destination for foreign investment, particularly in energy-intensive sectors like manufacturing. Japan, Germany and Canada are the top investors. German car giant Volkswagen sees the US as its best bet for ‘strategic growth’, especially given the business and political pressure against investment in China.

Chicago Board of Education Inspector General Will Fletcher reported 470 sexual complaints against Chicago Public School employees from students in 2022.

Dylan Sharkey:

The OIG recommended disciplinary actions for any administer or staff who failed to report complaints of abuse. In total, there were 1,825 complaints received in 2022 covering the sexual allegations, misappropriation of funds, fraud, bullying and other bad conduct. There were 725 investigated.

The Cornell Note Taking System

Learning Strategies Center:

Why do you take notes? What do you hope to get from your notes? What are Cornell Notes and how do you use the Cornell note-taking system?

There are many ways to take notes. It’s helpful to try out different methods and determine which work best for you in different situations. Whether you are learning online or in person, the physical act of writing can help you remember better than just listening or reading. Research shows that taking notes by hand is more effective than typing on a laptop. This page and our Canvas module will teach you about different note-taking systems and styles and help you determine what will work best for your situation.

The U.S. Government’s Woke Training

Wall Street Journal:

The Department of Veterans Affairs has a gender gingerbread person. NASA says beware of micro-inequities. And if U.S. Army servicewomen express “discomfort showering with a female who has male genitalia,” what’s the brass’s reply? Talk to your commanding officer, but toughen up.

These are details from hundreds of pages of diversity and inclusion training materials used by the federal government in 2021 and obtained under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Everyone in corporate life knows such training, lampooned in the second episode of the TV show “The Office.” Yet taxpayers might be curious how their money is being spent to instruct the federal workforce these days.

Documents obtained via FOIA often lack context, so it’s hard to know the audience for any specific training and whether participation was voluntary or not-so-politely encouraged. With those caveats, press ahead.

Asked for its diversity training, the U.S. Army offered three modules on transgender policy, one for “Commanders at all levels,” another for “Special Staff,” and a third for “Units and Soldiers.” Notable is a series of vignettes that cover pronoun usage, urinalysis observation, and a serviceman who wants “to discuss his newly confirmed pregnancy.” With respect to showers, schedules can be adjusted or curtains installed. But a soldier’s gender in the Army’s system governs which facilities are used. Accommodating only a transgender soldier is prohibited.

How to Make Education an Investment After College

Veronica Dagher:

Another benefit of learning new ideas and skills is that it may better position you to switch jobs by making you more marketable, career coaches said. Using your brain is like using muscles, the stronger it gets with appropriate use, said Daniel Amen, psychiatrist and author of the forthcoming book “Change Your Brain Every Day.”

“The more we learn the more we can learn,” said Dr. Amen.

Get the most out of it

Generally the more time you can spend learning, the better. But don’t become fixated on attending a certain number of lectures or reading a set number of books, said Prof. Stern. Instead, try to engage in the activities you enjoy and stick with them over time.

Choose activities or skills that involve multiple brain regions and processes to get the biggest benefit from continuous learning, said Dr. Amen.

Cooking is an activity that involves planning ahead to buy the necessary ingredients, following recipe instructions, paying attention to cooking times and performing fine motor skills, such as chopping and mincing, he said.

Teaching misinformation understanding

Jenny Gross:

While teachers in Finland are required to teach media literacy, they have significant discretion over how to carry out lessons. Mrs. Martikka, the middle school teacher, said she tasked students with editing their own videos and photos to see how easy it was to manipulate information. A teacher in Helsinki, Anna Airas, said she and her students searched words like “vaccination” and discussed how search algorithms worked and why the first results might not always be the most reliable. Other teachers also said that in recent months, during the war in Ukraine, they had used Russian news sites and memes as the basis for a discussion about the effects of state-sponsored propaganda.

Civics: Voter Suppression and lawfare

Brice Murphy:

The post-elections statistics compiled by Marquette professor John D. Johnson for Urban Milwaukee definitely show the Milwaukee turnout was down in 2022 compared to the 2018 turnout, by 46,284 votes in Milwaukee County. Meanwhile the number of votes cast in the surrounding WOW counties (Waukesha, Ozaukee and Washington) actually increased over 2018.

Steve Harrison:

But the board’s decision touched off accusations from the Green Party that national Democrats were undermining their efforts. A prominent Democratic law firm – The Elias Law Group – said the Green Party misled voters when getting them to sign their petition.

Mathew Hoh, the Green’s North Carolina U.S. Senate candidate, acknowledged there were small problems with the more than 22,000 signatures submitted. He said 95% were collected by Green Party volunteers.

“But 5% were gathered by contractors,” he said. “And two of those people seemed to have tried to run a scam and submit false signatures. That was around 200 signatures (in question).”

FIRE criticizes Harvard for rescinding human rights champion Ken Roth’s fellowship

Foundation for Individual Rights in Education

The dean of Harvard’s Kennedy School has refused to approve the fellowship of the man — hailed as  the “godfather” of human rights work — because he disagrees with his stance on Israel. 

HKS, one of the top public policy institutions in the world, has violated Harvard’s clear commitments to free expression by denying former Human Rights Watch executive Kenneth Roth a fellowship because of his purported “anti-Israel bias.” As always, FIRE is neutral on Roth’s views on Israel, as well as the underlying Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and has defended individuals on every side of the issue.

Harvard’s human rights experts reportedly sought Roth for the job after he announced he was stepping down as executive director of Human Rights WatchSushma Raman, executive director of HKS’s Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, invited Roth to join the center as a senior fellow. Roth and Raman agreed on terms, and the fellowship was set to be confirmed, but when it was elevated to HKS Dean Douglas Elmendorf, he refused to approve the deal.

FIRE wrote Dean Elmendorf today to urge him to approve Roth’s fellowship, explaining that the school violated Roth’s expressive rights by denying him the fellowship because of his views.

Paul Ehrlich Confirms Science’s Negative Expansion Team Effect & Peer Review

WM Briggs:

According to Ehrlich, and his peers, the world should have ended by now because of environmental catastrophe. Since he was wrong, so was science. And science likely was wrong because of peer review, which we might also call peer acquiescence or peer enforcement, just as Ehrlich implied. 

Thus Ehrlich, given Ehrlich’s admitted errors, he agrees with us, that peer review is one of the big reasons science goes bad. 

It is a more-or-less obvious argument that the morepeers there are, all of whom are publishing science papers, the more peer review there is. And therefore the greater force there is driving science towards the mean, which is to say average, beliefs. 

Ehrlich confirmed this not only by blaming his peers on his mistakes, but by acknowledging how those very same peers gave him almost every award there is. And that means low-level peers wanting to become high-level peers, which is not unreasonable, many would seek to emulate Ehrlich, as they indeed do. But that means emulators in turn make the same kind of mistakes Ehrlich did. And enforce it all with peer review.

What makes this is all more interesting is that right on top of Ehrlich’s comments came a Nature editorial—and peer-reviewed paper!—on the theme “‘Disruptive’ science has declined — and no one knows why.”

That “no one” is tribal. The writer meant no one he knew. For I venture to say that I know, and that regular readers know, why science is suffering. But we—you and I, dear readers—are not peers and so not in the counted class.

The article’s subhead is true: “The proportion of publications that send a field in a new direction has plummeted over the past half-century.”

Our times: “Instead of a global consciousness, we have a giant machine for selling ads”

Hair Kunzu:

Early in my tenure, I was sent to San Francisco for what was called, only half-jokingly, “an injection of Wired DNA.” I lounged in hot tubs, played frame drums on the beach, ingested strong psychedelics, went to parties, and met the kind of people Wired editors liked to refer to as “digerati”—people such as Stewart Brand, who had started the Whole Earth Catalog. Working at Wired felt like being part of a cult. There were the people who got it, who understood that we were about to be raptured by the internet, and there were Luddites, who would be left behind in the ruins of the old world. In the San Francisco office, staffers went barefoot, the accounting department had a butoh troupe, and—what impressed me most—in the kitchen was a fridge full of Odwalla juices.

I bought into some of this. I had indisputably stumbled into the middle of a momentous technological and social shift, and it was fun to feel part of this late flowering of West Coast counterculture. As a writer in my mid-twenties, I was interviewing philosophers and government officials, touring Scandinavian chip fabrication plants, and trying out VR gear—yet I was also aware that my idea of a “digital revolution” wasn’t the one espoused by the magazine’s senior staff. While at Wired, I was also part of an editorial team producing an underground publication called Mute. Our slogan was “proud to be flesh,” and our contributors included artists, designers, programmers, theorists, and activists. It was grubbier, more European, and much more skeptical about the social impact of the internet. Information may have wanted to be free, we thought, but so did people. Our feral ethos was best demonstrated by the production process. A deal had been struck with the printer that produced the Financial Times. They would use our publication to do test runs on rolls of the FT’s distinctive pink paper, for which we got a cheap rate. The resulting resemblance made for good times on the Tube, as the banker reading over your shoulder, expecting something about interest rates, found himself confronted with headlines like angel, virus: cyberspace breakdown(s) or (my personal favorite)

Officials reject nomination papers for two Milwaukee School Board hopefuls

Rory Linnane:

Milwaukee election officials have rejected the nomination papers for two school board candidates who hoped to run for Milwaukee School Board this spring: former state superintendent candidate Shandowlyon Hendricks Reaves, and former Milwaukee Police Sgt. Pamela Holmes.

They had also rejected paperwork for candidate Darryl Jackson, but accepted it after he filed corrections Friday.

Officials determined Hendricks Reaves and Holmes each failed to turn in the required 400 valid nomination signatures from their respective districts.

That leaves only two contested school board race on the April 4 ballot.

Jackson will compete with Program the Parks co-founder Gabi Hart for the District 3 seat being vacated by current board vice president Sequanna Taylor. Jackson filed a challenge against Hart’s nomination signatures, which election officials will consider Monday, said Claire Woodall-Vogg, executive director of the city’s election commission.

In the other contested race, former board member Jeff Spence and Rethinking Schools marketing director Missy Zombor are running for the citywide seat being vacated by current board president Bob Peterson.

The winner of Peterson’s and Taylor’s seats will not automatically become president and vice president. Board members will choose their officers after the election.

As a teaching assistant, my job is invisible, vital and often joyful

Dizz Tate:

In 2020, after losing my waitressing job due to Covid, I became a teaching assistant at a secondary school in Birmingham. My role as a TA, as we’re known, was to provide support for students with special needs and those with English as a second language. There should have been three of us to cater for around 200 students, but for a third of the year, there was only me. Budget issues.

During the pandemic, TAs were not allowed to be in classrooms, where we are usually based. Instead I worked from a small room where, from 8am until home time, there was a constant carousel of door knocks: students who needed help with reading or maths, or who had no money for lunch, or whose uniform had ripped, or who felt anxious and needed a quiet place to sit. Often these students had a complex tangle of needs ranging from autism and anger management to low literacy.

Sometimes during the lockdowns, TAs were the only members of staff in schools, keeping them open for children who could not stay at home. I remember February 2021, when it snowed, and how relieved we were that there was enough snow for everyone to make a snowman in the playground. A natural and joyous delivery and, for once, enough supplies to go around.

Commentary on Taxpayer Funded K-12 Education: Madison’s $597.9M budget $23k/student! vs Tiny One City Charter School

Scott Girard:

For the full 2022-23 school year, an independent charter school like One City receives $9,264 per student from the state that the student’s resident school district would otherwise receive.

The state counts students twice each school year: the third Friday of September and the second Friday of January.

If a student is enrolled at such a charter school for only one of those days, the school would effectively receive $4,632 in aid that the school district would otherwise receive this year, according to an email from state Department of Public Instruction communication specialist Chris Bucher.

For the 51 students from MMSD who have attended One City this year, then, the charter was set to receive a total of $472,464 for the school year.

(No mention of property taxes and other funds that Madison’s well funded K-12 system receives, roughly $23k/student!).

One City statement:

January 10, 2023

Good Afternoon Jim,

Today, the local media reached out to our organization to inquire about another organization’s concerns regarding whether One City Schools will repay the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) the per pupil funds it allocates to our public charter schools.

One City Schools is a careful steward of public dollars. We are 100 percent in compliance with state and federal requirements for spending public dollars. Any claims to the contrary are false.

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction has a state-approved formula for allocating funds to all public schools – both charter and district schools. We receive per pupil payments annually, from DPI, divided into four payments during the school year.

Additionally, all federal funds we receive are reimbursable grants, meaning, we must spend the money before we can receive payment from DPI. Therefore, we don’t have anything to repay for our federal grants.

We continue to appreciate your support.


Gail Wiseman
VP of External Relations

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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

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

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

Notes on taxpayer funded Madison East High School

Olivia Herken:

After receiving a wave of conservative backlash, a student-organized drag show at Madison East High School has been postponed because of safety concerns.

In addition to an “abundance” of supportive messages regarding the event, the Madison School District also has received “several messages that have raised a number of safety concerns for this student-led event,” according to district spokesperson Tim LeMonds.

“Without question, the safety of all our students, staff and families must be our top priority,” LeMonds said. “Therefore, due to these recent safety concerns, we have decided to postpone this event to a later date.”

“We know how disappointing this news will be for many of our students. However, we feel this decision was necessary to provide time to refine our safety plan around this very important celebration,” he said.


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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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

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

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

CRISPR in Agriculture: 2022 in Review

Nicholas Kerovolias:

2022 marked the 10th anniversary of the development of CRISPR as a genome-editing tool – and the first year that CRISPR-edited foods could be found on a grocery store shelf. In this article, we’ll go over the basics of genomic engineering in agriculture and then map out some of the most exciting new developments in 2022 from applications in crops and livestock. These include changing traits to adapt to a changing climate, improving taste or nutrition, protecting staple crops from disease, and more! We’ll also touch on the shifting regulatory landscape and what to watch for next.

The Organ as a Wind Instrument


The pipe organs found in concert halls are large scale instruments, with many metal pipes. Only some of these are visible, but back-stage there are actually many thousands of pipes – almost like a forest.
The reason several thousand pipes are needed is that one pipe can only produce one sound. One pipe might produce only a C-pitch sound with the timbre of a flute, for example, while another might be made to generate only a D-pitch sound with the timbre of a trumpet.
With a range of 56 notes from the lowest note to the highest, 56 pipes are required for each timbre of sound desired. In a case where 3 different timbres are sought, perhaps for a trumpet timbre and a flute timbre, three times as many pipes as the number of distinct tones in the range are required, making a total of 168 pipes.
This is to say that the more timbres of sound available on the organ the more pipes it needs, and the more gigantic it becomes!

The war in merit, continued

Fuzzy Slippers:

Journalist Asra Q. Nomani has taken the lead in reporting the latest round of outrages perpetrated by Fairfax County public schools in Virginia. Virginia’s public schools are notorious for their woke racism and allegedly hiding instances of rape and sexual assault in their schools.

Nomani broke the story that top administrators at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJ) allegedly have been hiding academic achievements from students and their parents because ‘equity.’

Nomani is now reporting that two more area school principals allegedly contacted parents via oddly identically-worded emails to inform them that their children had earned the national merit awards but had not been informed by the schools.

The abrupt change of heart appears to have been instigated by Virginia AG Jason Miyares’ announcement of an investigation into the controversy, including possible civil rights violations given that so many of the harmed students are Asian.

When Federal Interest Payments Come To Exceed the Military Budget: Time to Stop Defending the Rest of the World

Doug Bandow

A new year dawns bright, with the US hurtling over the fiscal cliff. The lame duck Congress voted for a pork‐​packed $1.7 trillion budget bill. As the saying goes, it’s only money!

At a time of enormous domestic need, RepublicanSenate leader Mitch McConnell pushed an extra $45 billion for Ukraine, declaring that Washington’s “number one priority” was supporting that nation. Kentuckians might wonder if their Senator had moved to Odesa, Kharkiv, or Lviv over the holidays.

Alas, this appropriation was small change compared to the overall “defense” (in fact, mostly for offensive operations) budget. Congress hiked military outlays to record levels, topping off the already‐​bloated Biden spending program at $858 billion. American taxpayers remain stuck subsidizing prosperous, populous Europeans, superfluous Middle Eastern monarchs, and cheap‐​riding Asian defense dependents.

Unwilling to raise taxes as it also shovels ever‐​more cash into social programs old and new, Congress simply borrows additional money as if loans need not be repaid. The publicly held national debt hit 100 percent of GDPand is heading toward the record of 106 percent set in 1946, at the conclusion of the worst war in human history. Within a decade the US faces trillion‐​dollar deficits for as far as government analysts can budget. By mid‐​century the Congressional Budget Office expects the debt/​GDP ratio to run around 185 percent. And that assumes policymakers don’t do anything stupid, like approve massive new spending programs without paying for them. Which, unfortunately, is as certain as the rising of the sun.

Endless borrowing isn’t cheap. Over the last decade interest payments as a share of GDP jumped abouta quarter. And the era of (almost) free money is over as the Federal Reserve pushes up rates to wring inflation out of the economy. The budget agency’s estimates are daunting: “Combined with rising interest rates, large and sustained primary deficits cause net interest outlays measured as a percentage of GDP to more than quadruple over the period: They rise from 1.6 percent of GDP in 2022 to 7.2 percent in 2052.”

“By creating a major [in ESG] at Wharton you are helping to legitimize it,” said another graduate.

Ben weingarten:

Proponents of Wharton’s new direction, such as Penn professor Witold J. Henisz, see it as a way to “enhance” capitalism’s “efficiency.” Henisz, vice dean and faculty director of Wharton’s ESG Initiative, told RealClearInvestigations that by incorporating “pollution, human rights, and other ESG impacts” into financial analyses, market participants can properly price such “externalities” and “mitigate” associated risks. 

In a recent opinion piece challenging critics of the “anti-ESG” or “anti-woke investment movement,” Henisz said: “Climate risk is investment risk. There is no credible other side, only an ideological opposition cynically seeking a wedge issue for upcoming political campaigns.” 

When RCI asked Henisz to clarify his remarks, he said: “I believe that the science on climate risk as investment risk is settled. I do not see substantive academically grounded debate on this point.”  

“There are, by contrast,” he added, “legitimate questions as to how, when and where climate risk poses investment risk and we encourage all such discourse, research and debate.”

Notes on higher education bureaucracy and its costs

Tyler Cowen:

In fact, many of the smartest young people I know are deciding against a career in academia, even if that was their initial intent. They see too much bureaucracy and not enough time for the academic work itself. Students in the biosciences, at least the ones I talk to, seem to be an exception, perhaps because the opportunities to change the world are so obvious.

In my own field, economics, the prospect of having to do a “pre-doc” and then six years for a Ph.D. is driving away creative talent. On the research side, there is an obsession with finding the correct empirical techniques for causal inference. Initially a merited and beneficial development, this approach is becoming an intellectual straitjacket. There are too many papers focusing on a suitably narrow topic to make the causal inference defensible, rather than trying to answer broader, more useful but also more difficult questions.

…As committee obligations, paperwork and referee reports accumulate, the idea that academia allows you to be in charge of your own time seems ever more distant. Bureaucratization is eating away at the free time of professors. Much of the glamour of the job is gone, and my fear is that the system increasingly attracts conformists.

Closed doors or corridors of power? How effective phonics instruction provides access to meaning

Pamela Snow:

Jane is impressed that her grandson is “sounding out words he did not know”. Wow indeed! That means her grandson has been taught the transferable skill of decoding – of lifting a previously unseen word off the page – and importantly “words he did not know”. This could either mean he had not seen them written down before, did not have them in his oral language vocabulary, or perhaps both – Jane did not specify and that’s fine, tweets have limited character lengths.

We can turn to two well-established theoretical frameworks and one more recent publication here to understand what is going on for Jane’s grandson, and for ten of thousands of other beginning readers.

The Simple View of Reading reminds us that reading comprehension (RC) is the product (not sum) of two connected processes: word identification/ decoding (D) and language comprehension (LC). It can be represented thus:

RC = D x LC

Because the operator in this formula is a multiplication sign, we are reminded that if the value on either side is zero, then the product will be zero. So, if Jane’s grandson had strong oral language skills but no decoding skills for those unfamiliar words, his reading comprehension score would be at or close to zero. (Children sometimes recognise a few key words from environmental print exposure in the pre-school years but cannot necessarily decode them if they see them in isolation or in a another context).

God and Math at Dinner: My son explains why some infinities are bigger than others.God and Math at Dinner:

Mike Kerrigan:

I shared this observation with my eldest son, Joe, early in his college career, when he told me he’d declared math as a major. Chesterton’s warning wasn’t against using logic, only embracing it to the exclusion of all else. The topic came up again recently over dinner when Joe, now a senior, explained something counterintuitive to his old man.

He said that between integers—say, 1 and 2—there are infinitely many real numbers, like 1.1 and 1.265. Such thinking scared me straight into law school at his age, yet somehow I grasped it now, if only conceptually. “Like the Incarnation,” I offered. An instance of the Creator, while remaining fully God and fully man, entering into his creation: the infinite bounded by the finite.

“I suppose,” Joe answered, checking my catechism against his set theory. Then he said something even trippier. Although whole numbers can be listed out to infinity, the hypothetical list of real numbers is necessarily larger than the hypothetical list of whole numbers. Not all infinities are equal.

GPTZero can tell if an essay about Hamlet was written using a bot.

Katie Notopoulos:

High school English students who were hoping to use artificial intelligence to write their homework have a new enemy: Edward Tian, a 22-year-old senior at Princeton University, who created a website that can detect if a piece of writing has been created using the AI tool ChatGPT.

Meanwhile, instructors everywhere are rejoicing. “So many teachers have reached out to me,” said Tian, whose recent tweet about his tool, GPTZero, went viral. “From Switzerland, France, all over the world.”

The latest version of ChatGPT, called GPT3, was released to the public in late November. The tool is able to produce amazingly coherent writing, which has endless possibilities, ranging from wonderful things (like allowing a pool installer with dyslexia to communicate effectively with his customers over email) to more nefarious uses.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Chicago’s Big Pension Gamble

Wall Street Journal:

The police and firefighter pension funds are only about 20% funded—among the worst in the country—even though 80% of city property tax dollars go toward pensions. The city’s annual pension payments have risen by $1 billion over the past three years. Perhaps the city would have less crime if it hired more police officers and paid less for pensions.

Blame Democratic politicians who over the decades have rewarded their labor allies with generous retirement benefits but haven’t socked away money to pay for them. Instead, Chicago’s political machine has frittered away taxpayer dollars buying votes. Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker last year signed a bill boosting Chicago firefighter pensions, which will cost taxpayers $850 millio

New York City schools ban AI chatbot that writes essays and answers prompts

Maya Yang:

New York City schools have banned ChatGPT, the artificial intelligence chatbot that generates human-like writing including essays, amid fears that students could use it to cheat.

According to the city’s education department, the tool will be forbidden across all devices and networks in New York’s public schools. Jenna Lyle, a department spokesperson, said the decision stems from “concerns about negative impacts on student learning, and concerns regarding the safety and accuracy of contents”.

ChatGPT was created by OpenAI, an independent artificial intelligence research foundation co-founded by Elon Musk in 2015. Released last November, OpenAI’s chatbot is able to create stunningly human-like responses to a wide range of questions and various writing prompts. ChatGPT is trained on a large sample of text taken from the internet and interacts with users in a dialogue format.

According to OpenAI, the conversation format allowsChatGPT “to answer follow-up questions, admit its mistakes, challenge incorrect premises, and reject inappropriate requests”. Users can request rephrasings, summaries and expansions on the texts that it churns out.

College branding and the job search

Joanne Jacobs:

In an effort to level the playing field, some companies are asking job applicants to delete from their resumes the names of the colleges or universities they attended, writes David Christopher Kaufman in a New York Post commentary. Degrees are OK, but not whether the applicant went to UCLA, Cal State LA or FlybyNight College.

“A LinkedIn posting by HR&A Advisors, the TriBeCa-based real estate consultancy, asked applicants for the $121,668- to $138,432-a-year position to remove ‘all undergraduate and graduate school name references’ from their résumés and only cite the degree itself,” he writes. The policy is part of the company’s plan “to build a hiring system that is free from bias and based on candidate merit and performance.”

Racial and economic minorities have had much less “access to fancy schools and pricy education,” writes Kaufman, who is African-American. “But obscuring education histories won’t solve these inequities.”

He took out student loans to attend Brandeis and NYU “because I knew they were investments in my long-term earning potential,” he writes. He not only qualified for a good career, he developed “a strong sense of self-worth and satisfaction.”

The Abolition of School Discipline

Daniel Buck:

Growing in parallel to the broken-windows policing movement were “no excuses” schools, notably within the charter sector. A common turn of phrase in these schools was “sweat the small stuff.” In How the Other Half Learns, Robert Pondiscio details an example of this approach in the Success Academy network of charter schools in New York City. Staff members have lists of small tasks like replacing lightbulbs and wiping up scuff marks. They send students home for mismatched socks. Class time is highly structured, routinized, and disciplined. Student rebellion manifests in a loosened tie, not cursing at a teacher.

The particulars of the no-excuses strategy differ by school, but the overall results have shown promise. According to a 2015 report from Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes, charter schools in urban areas provided “significantly higher levels of annual growth in both math and reading compared to their [traditional public school] peers.” As Pondiscio observed of the study, “the standouts among this group were KIPP, Achievement First, Uncommon Schools, YES Prep, and other ‘no excuses’ pioneers.”

Intentionally or not, the theory of education that undergirded these schools’ approach to discipline borrowed from the philosophy behind broken-windows policing: Eliminating small instances of disorder — replacing every “broken window” — helps fend off more disruptive disorder. And, as with every sort of approach that “defines deviancy down,” the alternative is a slow slide toward chaos: A child leaves litter in the hallway. It’s not picked up. Soon a student throws something down the corridor, but no teacher bothers to address it. Students begin to wander hallways during class. Their noise grows louder. A student mocks a teacher. Before long, students are berating teachers — and worse.

Public Schools Lost More Than One Million Students During Pandemic

Ben Chapman & Andrea Fuller:

Public schools in the U.S. have lost more than a million students since the start of the pandemic, prompting some districts across the country to close buildings because they don’t have enough pupils or funding to keep them open.

The school board in Jefferson County, Colo., outside Denver, voted in November to close 16 schools. St. Paul, Minn., last summer closed five schools. The Oakland, Calif., school board last February voted to close seven schools after years of declining enrollment and financial strife.

Criticism by Public University Professor Isn’t “Under Color of Law,” Can’t Be Unconstitutional Retaliation

Eugene Volokh:

From today’s Eighth Circuit decision in Brown v. Linder, written by Judge Raymond Gruender and joined by Judges James Loken and Steven Grasz:

James Brown and Marc Linder both work for the State of Iowa. Brown is a urologist at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics; Linder is a professor at the University of Iowa College of Law. After Linder criticized Brown’s expert testimony in a case unrelated to this one, Brown sued Linder under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that Linder retaliated against him for engaging in constitutionally protected speech….

According to the complaint, Brown provided expert testimony for a meat-processing company in litigation about the company’s compliance with labor regulations. As a board-certified urologist, Brown was asked to opine on the health consequences of the company’s bathroom-use policy for its employees. Before, during, and after Brown’s testimony, Linder made it known that he disapproved of Brown’s support for the company’s policy.

First, in the days before Brown’s testimony, Linder “registered a verbal complaint” to Karl Kreder, the head of UI’s urology department, about Brown. Along with the complaint, Linder sent a series of emails to Kreder in which he referred to Brown’s “self-confessed money-driven report, deposition, and hearing testimony.” Then, during Brown’s testimony, Linder appeared in the gallery wearing a t-shirt that said “People Over Profits.” Following the testimony, Linder continued to condemn Brown by making comments in local newspaper articles. In one article, published in both the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier and the Cedar Rapids Gazette, Linder stated that Brown’s testimony “could have unleashed … terrible consequences for workers of Iowa.” In another, published in UI’s student newspaper, The Daily Iowan, Linder called Brown a “hired gun” who “had never even published a single scholarly article on urinary incontinence frequency/urgency.” These articles attributed Linder’s comments to “Marc Linder, a UI law professor whose focus is on labor law” and “Marc Linder, UI Professor of Law,” respectively.

Innovation in Science Is on The Decline And We’re Not Sure Why

Daniel Lawler and Juliette Collen

The rate of ground-breaking scientific discoveries and technological innovation is slowing down despite an ever-growing amount of knowledge, according to an analysis released Wednesday of millions of research papers and patents.

While previous research has shown downturns in individual disciplines, the study is the first that “emphatically, convincingly documents this decline of disruptiveness across all major fields of science and technology,” lead author Michael Park told AFP.

Park, a doctoral student at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management, called disruptive discoveries those that “break away from existing ideas” and “push the whole scientific field into new territory.”

K-12 Governance Spaghetti, amidst long term, disastrous reading results

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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

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

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

“All those media companies, nobody trusts them anymore,”

Brianna Lyman:

Rogan said on the podcast episode, which was released Thursday on Spotify. “And the reason why nobody trusts them anymore is because they’re not trustworthy.”

Rogan then said the lack of trust in corporate media has led to the emergence of independent journalists like Matt Taibbi, Glenn Greenwald and others.

“Even if you don’t agree with them, you know they’re not lying,” Rogan said, claiming there is not much truth in mainstream media.

“[Mainstream media] is controlled by these corporate interests that really care more about money than they do about anything else. If you think that, like the way, the Washington Post, The New York Times is really just about getting out the truth, that’s not real. They have an ideology,” he said.

ChatGPT and the revenge of history

Tyler Cowen:

I have been posing it many questions about Jonathan Swift, Adam Smith, and the Bible.  Chat does very well in all those areas, and rarely hallucinates.  Is it because those are settled, well-established texts, with none of the drama “still in action”?

I suspect Chat is a boon for the historian and the historian of ideas.  You can ask Chat about obscure Swift pamphlets and it knows more about them than Google does, or Wikipedia does, by a long mile.  Presumably it “reads” them for you?

When I ask about current economists or public intellectuals, however, more errors creep in. Hallucinations become common rather than rare. The most common hallucination I find is that Chat invents co-authorships and conference co-sponsorships like crazy. If you ask it about two living people, and whether they have worked together, the fantasy life version will be rather active, maybe fifty percent of the time?

‘Disruptive’ science has declined — and no one knows why

Max Kozlov:

The number of science and technology research papers published has skyrocketed over the past few decades — but the ‘disruptiveness’ of those papers has dropped, according to an analysis of how radically papers depart from the previous literature1.

Data from millions of manuscripts show that, compared with the mid-twentieth century, research done in the 2000s was much more likely to incrementally push science forward than to veer off in a new direction and render previous work obsolete. Analysis of patents from 1976 to 2010 showed the same trend.

“The data suggest something is changing,” says Russell Funk, a sociologist at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis and a co-author of the analysis, which was published on 4 January in Nature. “You don’t have quite the same intensity of breakthrough discoveries you once had.”

Telltale citations

The authors reasoned that if a study was highly disruptive, subsequent research would be less likely to cite the study’s references, and instead cite the study itself. Using the citation data from 45 million manuscripts and 3.9 million patents, the researchers calculated a measure of disruptiveness, called the ‘CD index’, in which values ranged from –1 for the least disruptive work to 1 for the most disruptive.