All posts by Jim Zellmer

The One Parenting Decision That Really Matters

Seth Stephens-Davidowitz:

What the scientists found was that the family a kid was raised in had surprisingly little impact on how that kid ended up. Unrelated children adopted into the same home ended up only a little more similar than unrelated children who were raised separately. The effects of nature on a child’s future income were some 2.5 times larger than the effects of nurture.

Read: Parents are sacrificing their social lives on the altar of intensive parenting

Other researchers have done further studies of adoptees and twins, with similar results. As Bryan Caplan notes in his 2011 book, Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids, parents have only small effects on their children’s health, life expectancy, education, and religiosity (though studies have found that they have moderate effects on drug and alcohol use and sexual behavior, particularly during the teenage years, as well as how kids feel about their parents).

There are, of course, examples of parents who have had an enormous impact. Consider Jared Kushner. His father pledged $2.5 million to Harvard, which accepted Jared despite what were reportedly fairly low GPA and SAT scores. Jared then received a stake in his dad’s real-estate business. At the risk of being presumptuous, I think it is clear that his estimated $800 million net worth is many times higher than it would have been had he not inherited a real-estate empire. But the data suggest that the average parent—the one deciding, say, how much to read to their kids, rather than how many millions to give to Harvard—has limited effects on a kid’s education and income.

If the overall effects of parenting are this limited, the effects of individual parenting decisions are likely to be small. And indeed, if you stop reading the headlines from the parenting-industrial complex, and instead look at high-quality studies, you’ll find that’s the case for even the most debated techniques.

Why is this decision so powerful? Chetty’s team has a possible answer for that. Three of the biggest predictors that a neighborhood will increase a child’s success are the percent of households in which there are two parents, the percent of residents who are college graduates, and the percent of residents who return their census forms. These are neighborhoods, in other words, with many role models: adults who are smart, accomplished, engaged in their community, and committed to stable family lives

There is more evidence for just how powerful role models can be. A different study that Chetty co-authored found that girls who move to areas with lots of female patent holders in a specific field are far more likely to grow up to earn patents in that same field. And another studyfound that Black boys who grow up on blocks with many Black fathers around, even if that doesn’t include their own father, end up with much better life outcomes.

Data can be liberating. It can’t make decisions for us, but it can tell us which decisions really matter. When it comes to parenting, the data tells us, moms and dads should put more thought into the neighbors they surround their children with—and lighten up about everything else.

Civics: D.C. Police Department Allegedly Has Policy of Delaying/Denying FOIA Requests That May Lead to Criticism

Eugene Volokh:

This suit alleges that the District of Columbia’s Metropolitan Police Department plays favorites in how it responds to requests for information under the local Freedom of Information Act. Plaintiff Amy Phillips, a public defender, contends that the District unlawfully flags FOIA requests from people critical of MPD, which leads to response delays and denials and constitutes a violation of her First Amendment rights….

Taking the facts as laid out by Plaintiff to be true, which the Court must do at this stage, the genesis of the controversy lies in an Adverse Action Hearing held by MPD’s Disciplinary Review Division in March 2019 to adjudicate alleged misconduct by a former officer. Phillips, who is a criminal-defense attorney in the District and an “outspoken critic of MPD,” attended the March 2019 hearings and soon after submitted a FOIA request to MPD for tapes and transcripts of the proceedings [as she had done before on other occasions]…. The request was denied in full less than ninety minutes after it was submitted…. After an appeal to the Mayor’s Office of Legal Counsel and a suit in D.C. Superior Court that was covered in the local news, MPD began producing documents responsive to Phillips’s requests in September 2019, albeit with redactions Plaintiff believes are unwarranted.

Taxpayer supported Government disinformation versus parents

William Jacobson:

The federal bureaucracy is being weaponized against parent concerned about the racialization and sexualization of K-12 education, particularly in the younger grades.

Merrick Garland, dancing to the tune of the National School Board Association, portrayed parents protesting as domestic threats, and organized law enforcement at every level to coordinate strategies against them. I wrote at the time, Thank You Mitch McConnell For Keeping Merrick Garland Off The Supreme Court.

The threat of the feds kickingdown doors didn’t scare off the parents movement, so the next step predictably will be to silence the movement on social media and elsewhere. But how to do that? The same way they silenced coverage of the Biden family foreign corruption, label it “disinformation”.

That’s where things are heading, via the creepy, bizarre, caricature of the deep state, Nina Jankowicz, the head of DHS’ planned Disinformation Governance Board.

2005: Unfortunately, that is not the achievement gap that the board aimed to close.

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Notes on bullying vs civic engagement

Andrew Sullivan:

The premise here is that all women support abortion rights. But there is no serious gender gap on this question. In fact, a majority of “pro-lifers” are women, not men. So Harris is effectively saying: how dare women be allowed a voice in this debate?

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Within minutes of the SCOTUS leak, moreover, we were told it means that before long, interracial marriages will be banned … in a country where 94 percent support them! Imagine Clarence Thomas divorcing himself by jurisprudence. Here’s Traister again: “Voting rights were gutted in 2013. Marriage equality. Griswold. Loving. Don’t ever listen to anyone who tells you such fears are silly or overblown.” Actually, listen to them — if you can hear them over Traister’s permanent rage-tantrum.

What strikes me about all of this is not the emotive hyperbole — that’s par for the course in a country where every discourse is now dialed to eleven. What strikes me most in these takes is the underlying contempt for and suspicion of the democratic process — from many of the same people who insist they want to save it. How dare voters have a say on abortion rights! The issue — which divides the country today as much as it has for decades — is one that apparently cannot ever be put up for a vote. On this question, Democrats really do seem to believe that seven men alone should make that decision — once, in 1973. Women today, including one on SCOTUS? Not so much.

Is this the case in any other Western country? No. Even the most progressive countries regulate abortion through the democratic process. In Germany, it’s illegal after 12 weeks of pregnancy — more restrictive than the case before the US Supreme Court that bars abortion after 15 weeks. European countries where the legal cutoff is even more restrictive: Austria, Spain, Greece, Italy, France, Belgium and Switzerland. Abortion enshrined as a constitutional right? Not even in super-progressive Canada.

Civics: Federal Statute Bans Picketing Judges’ Residences “With The Intent of Influencing [the] Judge”

Eugene Volokh

There’s been talk of protests outside Supreme Court Justices’ homes; but it appears likely that such protests are illegal, under 18 U.S.C. § 1507 (subsection numbers added),

Whoever, with the intent of interfering with, obstructing, or impeding the administration of justice, or
with the intent of influencing any judge, juror, witness, or court officer, in the discharge of his duty,
pickets or parades in or near a building housing a court of the United States, or
in or near a building or residence occupied or used by such judge, juror, witness, or court officer, or
with such intent uses any sound-truck or similar device or resorts to any other demonstration in or near any such building or residence,
shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.
A similar provision focused just on picketing outside courts (equivalent to subsection 3 above) was upheld in Cox v. Louisiana (1965); and the logic of that decision would apply equally to residential picketing (subsection 4 above). [UPDATE: Note that U.S. v. Grace (1983), struck down a total ban on demonstrations near the Supreme Court; but the law there was “not limited to expressive activities that are intended to interfere with, obstruct, or impede the administration of justice,” as Justice Marshall’s separate opinion noted.] Here is Cox’s logic, which was set forth in a protest of an impending trial, but which I think would apply to protests of an impending appellate decision as well:

A note on high expectations

Admiral Cloudberg:

On the 23rd of February 2019, a Boeing 767 transporting cargo for Amazon suddenly dived into Trinity Bay while on approach to Houston, Texas, killing all three people on board. From the putrid estuary, investigators pulled the jet’s two black boxes, which together revealed the perplexing story of the last moments of Atlas Air flight 3591. It all began with a bumped switch, a tiny action that ultimately led to catastrophe when the disoriented first officer panicked and flew his plane into the ground. The sequence of events in the cockpit defied comprehension. How could a trained pilot make such a fundamental error? It was in their attempts to answer this question that investigators found the real cause of the accident. Beneath the surface of the first officer’s training record, they found a long history of failed examinations, terrible airmanship, and difficulties performing basic procedures. One instructor said that he was one of the worst pilots he had ever trained. And after all of this, he was hired anyway — due to inadequate hiring practices, a deliberate act of deception, and an FAA program that wasn’t implemented in time to stop it.

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

“FDR told us that Pearl Harbor was “a day of infamy,” not an episode in which the US Navy was caught with its pants down”

Antonio:

Perspectives on reality of course vary according to the ideals and institutions involved.  It doesn’t matter to the French what the Anglo-Saxons think of Napoleon.  The events of the Napoleonic era have been conformed to the ideals and institutions of French republicanism in a way that frankly seems strange to me (as an honorary Anglo-Saxon) but works for them.

The stories are not necessarily false and not necessarily propaganda, but they are partial and perspectival – and they can be picked apart. That is true of every explanation, including those provided by scientists. Human knowledge is much more limited than we like to admit. To shape the flux of events into a story that will persuade the public, therefore, the elites must control the means of communication. When that control slips, the elite class lapses into a state of crisis. Every major transformation in information technology has brought in train widespread chaos and disruption, often accompanied by bloodshed, as the old elites – wedded to obsolete forms of communication – were chased up their castle towers and heaved out the window. The most disruptive innovation of this nature was surely the printing press. It inspired revolutions in religion, politics, and science.

Mandates, closed schools and Dane County Madison Public Health.

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”

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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?

Public health has fragmented trust: The problem is not rogue online misinformation; it is errors from CDC, NIAID, and the White House

Vinay Prasad

Building trust in institutions is vital to their success, but as we enter the third year of the pandemic, public health still seems hellbent on destroying itself.

In recent weeks, we have seen flip flops on major policy proposal: a vaccine passport for domestic air-travel and authorizing the Pfizer vaccine for kids ages 6mo-4 years. These were publicly flirted with, but eventually abandoned. The administration has pushed medical products through, without the traditional advisory boards (as in the case of the 4th dose for Americans over 50).  We have witnessed absurd contradictions– that Kyrie Irving can watch the basketball game from the first row, but not play on the court–, and worse, that this rule only applies in New York city. Finally, the prospect that mask mandates may return in the fall looms over us, even as our rules become more absurd, with restaurant servers and preschoolers acting as the last, powerless people tasked with masking for all.  Public health, the institution, must own these absurdities and contradictions because the CDC has the scope and authority to correct them with clear guidance.  Just as we need trust, public health seems poised to destroy it .   Let’s consider these cases:

In early October 2021 Ashish Jha, the newly selected Biden COVID Czar, suggested a vaccine mandate for domestic air travel, a view he reiterated in late January 2022. On Dec 27th, Anthony Fauci emphasized the idea of a vaccine passport for domestic air travel. Politico reports that Dr. Jha has long advised the administration on health policy, and Dr. Jha has confirmed he received “updates and announcements” from the administration prior to his appointment. Then silently, the proposal was abandoned with no action taken. As a close observer, I was confused as to what happened.

Mandates, closed schools and Dane County Madison Public Health.

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”

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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?

50 years on, the lessons of the Tuskegee Syphilis Study still reverberate

Jennifer Oullette:

This year marks the 50th anniversary of The New York Times’ exposé of the infamous Tuskegee Syphilis Study, thanks to a frustrated social worker who tipped off the press. By the time it broke in 1972, experiments had been conducted on unsuspecting Black men in the area surrounding Tuskegee, Alabama, for 40 years. All 400 or so of the male subjects had contracted syphilis, and all had been told they were receiving treatment for the disease—except they were not.

The researchers in charge of the study instead deliberately withheld treatment in order to monitor the progression of the disease as it advanced unchecked. The study’s exposure led to a public outcry and heated debate over informed consent, ultimately giving rise to a number of regulations to prevent such an ethical lapse in the future. The Tuskegee Syphilis Study has since become a vital case study in bioethics, but public awareness of its existence is spotty at best. A new paperpublished in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine seeks to remedy that, and it argues that federal regulation is not enough to prevent similar unethical research.

“The fact that everybody else is doing something different, I think that’s OK,” Wald said. “It doesn’t trouble me so much. I think we’re doing the right thing.”

Scott Girard:

Districts have varied in their approach to pandemic health and safety measures, with some making decisions at the School Board level and others leaving it to administrators. With a few exceptions, the Madison School Board has mostly left it to administrators, including on the mask mandate.

Christina Gomez Schmidt, the School Board member assigned to attend the weekly metrics meetings, expressed exasperation at the April 12 meeting that the district hadn’t moved to mask-optional when numbers were lower in March.

The weeks of Feb. 28, March 7 and March 14 — all just after the PHMDC mandate expired — saw total case numbers among students and staff in the low 40s.

Mandates, closed schools and Dane County Madison Public Health.

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”

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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?

Commentary on the 2022 Wisconsin Gubernatorial Candidates, K-12 Education and prospects

Libby Sobic:

Gov. Tony Evers’s recent vetoes put him at a historic rate of total vetoes compared to previous governors. Of the more than 100 vetoes he executed a week ago Friday, about a quarter were related to education. In many veto messages, the governor cited his previous role as state schools superintendent. Yet his vetoes demonstrate a bias towards the public school establishment and how out of touch the current administration is with Wisconsin parents.

The pandemic created a great awakening for parents across the country. Many families, who were happy with their local public school, were thrown into a difficult dynamic when their district placed the interests of adults over their students in returning to the classroom. In Wisconsin, families fled their local districts and enrolled their children in alternative options. But some parents became determined to hold their local district accountable for their decisions and are trying to change the public school status quo.

In our latest cover story, Cap Times reporters Scott Girard and Jack Kelly describe the GOP’s focus on K-12 education issues as the core Republican strategy against Evers.

They reported: “The party’s two top candidates for governor, former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and businessman Kevin Nicholson, both list education as their No. 1 issue on their campaign websites.

“State Rep. Timothy Ramthun, who is also running for governor, says he wants to give ‘power to the parents.’ Construction magnate Tim Michels, a late addition to the Republican gubernatorial primary …. has also made education a top issue, saying Wisconsin needs ‘to get back to teaching more ABCs and less CRT (critical race theory).’ ”

Evers vetoed 21 education-related GOP bills over the past two years. The governor told Cap Times reporters that the Republican ideas, which included the topics of teaching about race, mask policy and school choice, among others, would have “obliterated” K-12 education in the state.

“The Republican bills were going to make life in our public schools very, very difficult,” he said. “They were going to essentially replace what happens now with a radical agenda that, frankly, no one in the school world wants.”

The governor also said the GOP is being hypocritical about wanting local control.

“Local control for the Republicans is only if it advances their agenda,” Evers said. “Time and time again, in and outside of the school world, they’ve been (working) against local control.”

Evers added: “Division hurts kids. Honest to God, we don’t need to spend our time dividing our schools and hurting your kids with radical, intrusive, micromanaging of our schools. … I stand with those kids — (Republicans) apparently are standing against them.”

Yet:

Mandates, closed schools and Dane County Madison Public Health.

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”

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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?

Race-Preferential Admissions Policies?

Gail L. Heriot and Alexander M. Heideman:

Some commentators have argued that in deciding Grutter v. Bollinger (2003), the Supreme Court (and Justice O’Connor in particular) was influenced by the “broad societal consensus” in favor of race-preferential admissions policies, there was no such consensus in 2003. Indeed, the consensus of opinion went—and remains—in the opposite direction. Thus, if Justice O’Connor was so influenced, she was mistaken.

II. Even if there had been such a “broad societal consensus,” it should not have excused the Court from its obligation to strictly scrutinize the University of Michigan’s racially discriminatory admissions policy. Unfortunately, by purporting to “defer” to the university’s judgment on whether the need for racial diversity in education is “compelling,” Justice O’Connor essentially admitted that the Court was not scrutinizing the policy with the level of care that had become customary in racial discrimination cases up to that point.

III. With the overwhelming rejection of California’s Proposition 16 in the November 2020 elections, it has become all the more clear that a societal consensus really does exist on race-preferential admissions policies, but it’s a broad agreement against such policies, not a broad agreement in favor. Certainly, therefore, if Justice O’Connor based her opinion in part on the belief that Americans were somehow favorably disposed toward race-preferential admissions (at least for the short term), that reasoning can be safely dismissed now. With Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard University likely to come before the Court in the near future, the lesson of Proposition 16’s defeat should be (and likely will be) drawn to the Court’s attention.

Notes on “the war on tests”

Wenyuan Wu:

The Test-Free Movement in a Historical Context

Forces within, from slavery to school segregations under Jim Crow laws to race-based admissions, have tried to corrupt the grand proposal of equality and merit. Like previous illiberal bargains to categorize students by race, the central focus of test-free admissions is also preoccupied with immutable features of the individual, under the fashionable banner of social identities, rather than observable academic performance. But unlike historical race-based practices that were rooted in bigotry and racism, arbiters of “equitable” college admissions in the modern era claim they are waging battles against the evil spirits of white supremacy, systemic inequities, and structural racism.

The movement away from merit-based considerations started with the holistic evaluation model, in which academic, nonacademic, and environmental factors are compounded to build a full profile of the applicant. Harvard invented the model nearly a century ago to limit Jewish enrollment. But even with capturing unmeasurable factors for holistic evaluations, the racial composition of student bodies at selective U.S. colleges and universities was still not squarely reflective of America’s general demographics.

Many thus have turned to race-based affirmative action to artificially drum up the admission numbers of the so-called underrepresented minority students (URMs). Applicants with statistically significant academic gaps are lumped into the same freshman classes. Yet again, this soft experiment of race-conscious admissions fell short of achieving the goal of racial diversity. In spite of the broad-spectrum implementation of race-based affirmation action, the share of URMs at elite institutions has decreased since 1980.

Getting Rid of the Tests in the Name of Equity

Book bans and school board elections

Michael Hardy:

Seventh-grader Jordan Banks loves playing video games and drawing cartoons. He dreams of going to art school, but instead his parents enroll him at preppy Riverdale Academy, where the most popular sport is lacrosse and everyone wears Vineyard Vines. At first, Jordan has trouble fitting in—he’s one of the few Black students at Riverdale, and teachers keep confusing him with other students of color—but he makes friends quickly. By the end of the year, he even has a girlfriend.

Banks is the protagonist of New Kid, a Newbery Medal–winning graphic novel by children’s author Jerry Craft that recently became an unlikely cynosure of controversy in the Katy Independent School District, which serves 90,000 students at 74 campuses in the suburbs west of Houston. This past fall, New Kid was removed from KISD libraries after a petition signed by around four hundred parents criticized it for “teaching children that their white privilege inherently comes with microaggressions which must be kept in check.” The district, regularly ranked among the best in the Houston area, also canceled a virtual speaking appearance by Craft, whom the petition accused of pushing critical race theory—an academic framework for studying persistent discrimination that is typically taught only in colleges and graduate schools. 

The petition was written by Bonnie Anderson, a mother of three KISD students who is running for an unpaid position on the district’s board of trustees in the nonpartisan May 7 election. In a recent interview with Texas Monthly, Anderson said that district libraries were rife with books pushing the “unscientific notion that people who are white are born with privilege because of the way, you know, society has been constructed.” Anderson also wants to ban many books that address LGBTQ issues, which she labels “pornography,” and eliminate the district’s few remaining pandemic-related health measures, which she has compared to Jim Crow–era segregation.

The Rich Basketball History of Madison La Follette High School

Josepha Da Costa, age 16

The rich history of La Follette Basketball began in 1977. They finished 4th in the Big Eight conference that year. While the team finished the regular season with an overall record of 17 wins and 8 losses, they managed only 10 wins against 8 losses during the conference season. 

Nonetheless, the Lancers made an electrifying for a run for a state title. Coached by Pete Olsen, they advanced to the finals by beating Milwaukee Tech 55-48 and Neenah 46-43. The state championship game was played against a team that had been to the finals 15 times since the last time a Madison high school made a trip to state. 

Eau Claire Memorial came into the game with a record of 23 wins and 2 losses. A lot of pressure. But the Lancers stayed calm and collected, sinking 63.6% of their shots. In the end, La Follette took home the trophy, beating the tough competition 65-48.

In 1982, the Lancers took home another state championship trophy. With one of the best players in the state at the time, Rick Olsen, the team beat Stoughton in a close regional game, 64-62. Then, behind throughout most of the game, the Lancers suddenly rallied to beat Madison West, sending the Lancers to sectionals. There they beat conference foe Sun Prairie to advance to state.

“At least 2.4 million students in the United States have participated in Reading Recovery”. Madison?

Emily Hanford & Christopher Peak:

The fact that students who participated in Reading Recovery did worse in later grades than similar students who did not get the program surprised May. [study]

“Was Reading Recovery harmful? I wouldn’t go as far as to say that,” he said. “But what we do know is that the kids that got it for some reason ended up losing their gains and then falling behind.”

In a written response to the study, the Reading Recovery Council of North America, the organization that advocates for the program in the United States, disputed some of the research methodology and maintained that their program is effective. It also said: “Reading Recovery has and will continue to change in response to evidence gathered from a wide range of studies of both students having difficulties with early reading and writing and their teachers.”

Mandates, closed schools and Dane County Madison Public Health.

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”

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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?

College students expect to make $103,880 after graduation – almost twice the reality

Wyatte Grantham-Phillips:

College students expect to make about $103,880 in their first job after graduation, a new survey suggests.

But statistics show that the average starting salary for college graduates is $55,260. Overestimates also persist in undergrads’ outlook for mid-career earnings – while both race and gender pay gaps grow.

Today’s college students expect to make about $103,880 in their first post-graduation job, a survey suggests. But the reality is much lower – as the average starting salary is actually about half that at $55,260, statistics show.

The survey, conducted by Real Estate Witch, found that, across all majors and institutions, undergraduate students overestimate their starting salaries by 88%. And 1 in 3 worry that they won’t make enough money to live comfortably after graduation.

Job prospects for the class of 2022 are higher than in recent years. A report by the National Association of Colleges and Employers found that employers plan to hire 31.6% more new graduates from the class of 2022 than they hired from the class of 2021.

Declining student count vs Growing $pending

Mike Antonucci:

We have heard a lot about educator shortages recently, but over the past few weeks the media have sounded the alarm over a different shortage: students.

The Associated PressWashington PostChalkbeatPolitico and The 74 are national outlets that highlighted steep declines in K-12 public school student enrollment and the dangers of layoffs and deep budget cuts when federal relief money is gone.

Chicago, Minneapolis and Sacramento — all cities with recent teacher strikes — proposed cuts to find money to pay labor costs amid declining enrollment.

Mandates, closed schools and Dane County Madison Public Health.

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”

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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?

Litigation on spending to educate undocumented immigrants

Niki Griswold:

Gov. Greg Abbott said Wednesday that Texas would consider challenging a 1982 U.S. Supreme Court decision requiring states to offer free public education to all children, including those of undocumented immigrants.

“Texas already long ago sued the federal government about having to incur the costs of the education program, in a case called Plyler versus Doe,” Abbott said, speaking during an appearance on the Joe Pags show, a conservative radio talk show. “And the Supreme Court ruled against us on the issue. … I think we will resurrect that case and challenge this issue again, because the expenses are extraordinary and the times are different than when Plyler versus Doe was issued many decades ago.”

The remarks came days after a leaked draft of a forthcoming U.S. Supreme Court opinion revealed that a majority of justices are poised to revoke Roe v. Wade, the landmark case establishing the right to abortion.

Mandates and closed schools: yet another experiment on our children

David Leonhardt

Across much of the Northeast, Midwest and West Coast, school buildings stayed closed and classes remained online for months.

These differences created a huge experiment, testing how well remote learning worked during the pandemic. Academic researchers have since been studying the subject, and they have come to a consistent conclusion: Remote learning was a failure.

In today’s newsletter, I’ll cover that research as well as two related questions: How might the country help children make up the losses? And should schools have reopened earlier — or were the closures a crucial part of the country’s Covid response?

Mandates, closed schools and Dane County Madison Public Health.

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”

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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?

College Admission Notes

Steve Sailer:

In recent weeks, American college admissions departments sent out to high school student applicants millions of thick envelopes (good news) and thin envelopes (bad news). But finding out what colleges decided in aggregate is becoming increasingly difficult as more universities respond to the various critiques against them by clamping down on their release of information.

For example, Princeton University announced last month that it was not going to issue its annual press release on how many undergraduate applications it had accepted for admission. It will only publicly announce late in 2022 how many students had enrolled. Princeton’s bureaucrats rationalized their censorship with the implausible argument that increased public ignorance will

…help us keep students central to our work and tamp down the anxiety of applicants.

Princeton’s decision might have something to do with a statistic that Princeton used to announce each April about the applicants it had accepted. In 2014:

…49.2 percent have self-identified as people of color, including biracial and multiracial students.

In 2019:

…56 percent have self-identified as people of color, including biracial and multiracial students.

And in 2021, after George Floyd, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s alma materstated:

Sixty-eight percent of U.S. citizens or permanent residents in the admitted group self-identified as people of color, including biracial and multiracial students.

During the current racial reckoning, it’s mathematically inevitable that for nonwhites to benefit, the children of white parents must suffer. But many white folks are just waking up to that fact. Thus, continuing to issue press releases rubbing their noses in it might be imprudent.

Civics: Free Speech, or not at St Vincent

Jeffrey Anderson:

The conference featured one compelling presentation after another, all of which are now posted online. It was a rich opportunity for students to hear viewpoints outside of the academic mainstream so dominated by the groupthink Left. Scott Atlas, Jeffrey Tucker, Wilfred Reilly, and I all gave presentations on the ill-advised response to Covid, during which scientific knowledge and centuries of Western norms were often abandoned in favor of costly and coercive lockdowns, mask mandates, and vaccine requirements. Allison Stanger talked about Big Tech and the threat it poses to our republic. David Azerrad discussed the tension between racial preferences and colorblind justice. Keith Whitaker gave an interesting and nuanced account of the history of financial panics and what they tell us about human nature. Johnny Burtka offered students helpful advice gleaned from great books. And Jacob Howland capped things off by talking about how our “crisis of logos”—our decreasing willingness, or ability, to engage in meaningful discussions about the great questions of our day, or any day—requires our full attention and commitment to reverse.

As if on cue, St. Vincent’s administration promptly confirmed this crisis of logos. After a few of the many students who had attended Azerrad’s talk complained about it, President Taylor and his administration initially censored the publication not only of the video of Azerrad’s presentation but also of the videos of the other eight conference presentations as well, as Howland recounted for City Journal. After being pressured by national organizations that fight for freedom of speech, the administration subsequently relented on posting the videos. But then it promptly took aim at the Center that Watson has built, giving every indication that the administration is determined to make this the final such free-flowing Culture and Policy Conference that St. Vincent College will ever allow.

Civics: Free Speech and St Olaf

Robert Zimmerman:

The new dark age of silencing: David Anderson, the president of St. Olaf College in Minnesota, has removed the director of the school’s Institute for Freedom & Community, Edmund Santurri, because Santurri apparently encouraged too much free speech by inviting a wide range of speakers to lecture at the institute.

The lecture that appeared to draw the most objections was by Peter Singer, who has expressed controversial views about disabled people. An appearance by John McWhorter — who has argued some anti-racism initiatives go too far in stifling debate — was also reportedly controversial.

Singer has for decades often advocated in favor of abortion and even infanticide. McWorter meanwhile opposes the racist principles of critical race theory. To put it mildly, these speakers indicated the sincerity of Santurri’s effort to bring a wide range of political thought to St. Olaf.

Tight High School Coach Market Notes

Jon Masson:

McFarland athletic director Paul Ackley feels a sense of satisfaction when the numerous steps in a high school coaching search come together and a quality candidate who connects with the students, staff and community is vetted and finally hired.

“We always feel blessed if we can get a person who’s in the classroom and in the hallways (of the school), and then on the courts, the fields or the rinks,” Ackley said. “We feel blessed if they can make that connection right away. Then it bodes well, for the most part.”

Getting to that point is a process, from posting the opening on the Wisconsin Education Career Access Network (WECAN) or other internal and external sites, to receiving initial applications to doing interviews and vetting finalists — including checking their coaching and academic credentials and backgrounds.

Civics: Obama to Trump voter analysis

The study: Just How Many Obama 2012-Trump 2016 Voters Were There? Using different surveys to try to answer an oft-asked question

Civics: The Court, like the U.S. Constitution, was designed to be a limit on the excesses of democracy. Roe denied, not upheld, the rights of citizens to decide democratically

Glenn Greenwald:

Every time there is a controversy regarding a Supreme Court ruling, the same set of radical fallacies emerges regarding the role of the Court, the Constitution and how the American republic is designed to function. Each time the Court invalidates a democratically elected law on the ground that it violates a constitutional guarantee — as happened in Roe — those who favor the invalidated law proclaim that something “undemocratic” has transpired, that it is a form of “judicial tyranny” for “five unelected judges” to overturn the will of the majority. Conversely, when the Court refuses to invalidate a democratically elected law, those who regard that law as pernicious, as an attack on fundamental rights, accuse the Court of failing to protect vulnerable individuals.

This by-now-reflexive discourse about the Supreme Court ignores its core function. Like the U.S. Constitution itself, the Court is designed to be an anti-majoritarian check against the excesses of majoritarian sentiment. The Founders wanted to establish a democracy that empowered majorities of citizens to choose their leaders, but also feared that majorities would be inclined to coalesce around unjust laws that would deprive basic rights, and thus sought to impose limits on the power of majorities as well.

Ann Althouse notes. And: A witty comment at WaPo: “It’s almost as if the Supreme Court believes it has a right to privacy….”

Matthew Schmitz:

Aaron Sibarium of the Washington Free Beacon has extensively documented the growing radicalism of students at America’s top law schools. They have been trained in forms of activism that place desired outcome over due process, and inculcate contempt for legal procedures and professional norms. As they graduate and take roles at law firms, government bureaus, and high courts, their attitudes will remake our legal system. Their cynicism will spread—not only on the left, but on the right, which will not fail to notice how the system is changing.

One response to this state of affairs is to insist on the rule of law and due process to the exclusion of all else, in hopes that our society can be constituted on the basis of pure neutrality. This is naive. Legal procedures are never perfectly neutral. They are always shaped by the politics of those who wield them, and they are always arranged toward certain ends. That does not make them worthless. It simply means that they become hard to sustain in the face of grave social conflict. In every individual case, justice matters. So does procedural integrity. But due process and rule of law cannot substitute for the shared ends on which social peace depends.

Of course, reaching agreement on shared ends looks all but impossible. America is deeply divided by a culture war that is also a class war. As Christopher Lasch observed, abortion is “first and foremost a class issue.” It condenses far-ranging class differences into a single potent issue. Of Americans with an advanced degree, 72 percent regard abortion as “morally acceptable,” while only 33 percent of Americans with a high school diploma or less agree.

Our Schools Need the Science of Reading

Robert Meyer for Governor:

Wisconsin is one of the last states to move on from antiquated “three cueing” K-2 reading instruction. Pre-service teachers are actually still taught this disproven theory at the UW! A lifelong, bureaucrat, Dr. Evers has determinedly avoided this problem despite our African American 3rd graders (and other subgroups) reading an entire school year behind their counterparts in other states. I will direct DPI to remove EdReports from the the DPI website, and start supporting our educators with the most current Science of Reading information essential for all students and teachers to succeed.

What Computer Science Programs Should Teach (IMHO)

Michael DeHaan

What should people going into “Computer Science” learn in college? I’ve thought about this post for like 10 years, but never wrote it. Might as well get it out of my system.

Mostly I’m impressed with the energy out of new graduates, but observing some things, I think I’m not positive that is directly correlated to what colleges are teaching them. There are also a lot of things in industry that I see people lack experience in, and while it’s not the fault of a college program to teach people things, nor even should it be a requirement that someone have a CS degree, these are things that are most easily fixed if they were addressed at this level.

Well, first off, there is little “Computer Science” in much of anything any of us in the computer industry do. So I think, really, we should just admit that what universities are teaching is “software engineering”. That’s ok. Call it that if it lets you rewrite the curriculum. Even that’s a euphemism though? Should we maybe first admit that too?

Software engineering in the work environment has none of the rigor of an “engineering”, but is a weird mix of an art – where we are not given the time to practice or refine or art (damn you “agile”!!!), and craftsmanship/labor. It’s a skilled trade, much like finished carpentry, plumbing, or dentistry. (Sidenote: I once had a dentist who moonlighted as a plumber). Does this change what we teach also? I think it maybe should.

Civics: CDC Tracked Millions of Phones to See If Americans Followed COVID Lockdown Orders

Joseph Cox:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) bought access to location data harvested from tens of millions of phones in the United States to perform analysis of compliance with curfews, track patterns of people visiting K-12 schools, and specifically monitor the effectiveness of policy in the Navajo Nation, according to CDC documents obtained by Motherboard. The documents also show that although the CDC used COVID-19 as a reason to buy access to the data more quickly, it intended to use it for more general CDC purposes.

Civics literacy

Leada Gore:

A recent survey found America may need to go back to civics class.

Annenberg Public Policy Center’s Civics Knowledge Survey found only 2 in 5 American adults – or 39 percent – could correctly name the three branches of government: executive, legislative and judicial. That figure was the highest in five years, up from 32 percent last year.

One in five adults couldn’t name any branch, the study showed.

Notes on renaming Madison’s Jefferson Middle School amidst our long term, disastrous reading results

Scott Girard

The Madison Metropolitan School District received 42 proposals for names for Thomas Jefferson Middle School on the city’s west side as officials consider a renaming.

Four suggest keeping it as “Thomas Jefferson Middle School” and another would make it simply “Jefferson Middle School,” though the submission makes it clear the author wants it to still be named for the third president of the United States.

Proposals included names with connections to Jefferson. One would name the school after Sally Hemings, one of Jefferson’s slaves and the mother of some of his children, while others suggested Eston Hemings Jefferson, the youngest son of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings whose grave is in Forest Hill Cemetery in Madison.

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”

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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

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

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

Georgia just became the latest state to require personal finance education

Carmen Reinicke:

High school students in Georgia will soon have guaranteed access to a personal finance course before they graduate.

On Thursday, Republican Gov. Brian Kemp signed into law SB 220, a bill requiring personal finance classes for high school students. Starting in the 2024-2025 school year, all 11th- and 12th-grade students will need to take at least a half-credit course in financial literacy before graduation.

What the Students for Fair Admissions Cases Reveal About Racial Preferences

Peter Arcidiacono, Josh Kinsler and Tyler Ransom

Using detailed admissions data made public in the SFFA v. Harvard and SFFA v. UNC cases, we examine how racial preferences for under-represented minorities (URMs) affect their admissions to Harvard and UNC-Chapel Hill. At Harvard, the admit rates for typical African American applicants are on average over four times larger than if they had been treated as white. For typical Hispanic applicants the increase is 2.4 times. At UNC, preferences vary substantially by whether the applicant is in-state or out-of-state. For in-state applicants, racial preferences result in an over 70% increase in the African American admit rate. For out-of-state applicants, the increase is more than tenfold. Both universities provide larger racial preferences to URMs from higher socioeconomic backgrounds.
JEL Classification: I23, I24, J15
Keywords: Higher education, College admissions, Affirmative Action

Civics: The Digital Berlin Wall Act 2: How the German Prototype for Online Censorship went Global

Jacob Mchangama:

Jacob Mchangama, director of Justitia and the Future of Free Speech project, says: “We are witnessing a deeply worrying trend where governments, both democratic but mostly authoritarian, are introducing measures to combat vaguely defined categories of hate speech and fake news by placing responsibility on the social media platforms for user content. The Network Enforcement law and its imitators create big incentives for social media companies to over-regulate online speech and risk pushing extremists towards platforms that are even harder to survey. Even if there are good reasons to counter online hate speech and disinformation, the approach prototyped by the German NetzDG law will exacerbate the decade-long global free speech recession which is part and parcel of the wider democratic recession.”

“First, many states began to emphasize school accountability starting in the 1990s”

David Leonhardt:

Massachusetts, North Carolina, Texas and other states more rigorously measured student learning and pushed struggling schools to adopt approaches that were working elsewhere. The accountability movement went national in the 2000s, through laws signed by George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

The timing of the test-score increases is consistent with this story, as researchers at the Brookings Institution have noted. As you can see in the charts above, the biggest gains came shortly after states began holding schools more accountable for student learning. In more recent years, the gains leveled off. This pattern suggests that schools made some important changes in response to accountability policies but then struggled to maintain the pace of improvement.

Wisconsin’s attempt to increase reading rigor was defeated by Governor Evers extensive use of teacher mulligans.

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”

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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

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

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

Military Mulls Massive Recruiting Plan to Enlist College Athletes

Ebert Novy Williams and Daniel Libit:

The U.S. military is actively discussing an initiative, proposed by a defense contractor, to fund athletic scholarships for tens of thousands of college athletes each year in exchange for their mandatory service.

Over the last seven months, the proposal, which would not include football and basketball players, has reached military and civilian leaders throughout the Department of Defense and key members of Congress. It has been pitched as a solution to inefficient recruiting within the armed forces—which spend billions on recruits who fail basic training—and financial unease in college sports, where athletic departments face increasing cuts to non-revenue teams like tennis and wrestling.

Needless to say, the proposal would require a massive rethink for both intercollegiate athletics and the Department of Defense, two American institutions often criticized for their lack of innovation. It would almost assuredly draw pushback from some key stakeholders, such as the NCAA and its members. That’s before the task of convincing high school athletes, an attractive demographic to military recruiters, that a college athletic scholarship is worth a commitment to years of military or alternative civilian service once they have completed their schooling.

Writing For Engineers

Heinrich Hartmann:

Writing is key to have impact in large organizations. As a senior software engineer chances are that writing is the most important skill you have to acquire in order to increase your scope beyond the team and advance your career.

Writing is hard. Many Software engineers struggle with writing. Personally I never had an intrinsic interest in literature, so writing did not naturally come to me either. I have spent days and weeks agonizing and procrastinating around larger writing tasks. And to this day, having pressure to produce high-quality documents on a deadline gives me nightmares.

This article contains some learnings that have helped me (and others) to become better and more productive as a writer over the past 15 years. I am sharing them in the hope, that you find them useful. However, don’t think that I am always able to follow this advice myself 😅. I still have a lot to learn.

Civics: FBI warrantless domestic surveillance

Dustin Volz:

The 3.4 million figure “is certainly a large number,” a senior FBI official said in a press briefing Friday on the report. “I am not going to pretend that it isn’t.”

More than half of the reported searches—nearly two million—were related to an investigation into a national-security threat involving attempts by alleged Russian hackers to break into critical infrastructure in the U.S. Those searches included efforts to identify and protect potential victims of the alleged Russian campaign, senior U.S. officials said.

Officials declined to give more details on the alleged Russian threat, including whether it was linked to the Russian government or a criminal hacking group. Russia has historically denied accusations of hacking the U.S. or other nations.

The Countless Failures of Big Bureaucracy

Donald Devine:

Ludwig von Mises’ Yale University Press classic Bureaucracy explains in a relatively few pages the difference between public and private-sector bureaucratic management. The private sector can measure what is going on in large hierarchies of bureaucracy below its CEO simply by asking whether each unit is making a profit. The public sector has no equivalent measuring device.

This basic structural disadvantage is further hampered by the environment in which the bureaucracy must operate. The top levels of democratic governments must be elected by a population unfamiliar with administrative details and must vote based on what they can see.

Officials must deal with this electorate as it is and give people what they think they want rather than what they need. Neither the executive, legislative, nor judicial branches can see into the bureaucracy any better than career leaders. At the same time, U.S. bureaucracy itself operates under dual civil service and union personnel shields where almost no one is fired or disciplined.

How do even our best bureaucracies work under these constraints? The U.S. Navy primarily needs ships, and in the 1990s its leadership realized air and assault vessels had been designed for open-ocean warfare and would be vulnerable in shallow coastal waters like China’s. The first smaller littoral combat ship produced to meet that need was not launched until 2006. Now, 15 years later, the Navy announced that it must retire nine of them, one of which was commissioned less than two years before, and the others had “major propulsion issues.” The Navy-friendly Wall Street Journal called this “arguably the services’ biggest acquisitions failure of all time in a crowded field.” The editors could only recommend more money and back to the drawing board to solve a 30-year inability to effectively confront America’s most dangerous foe.

Much of the problem is that national government tries to do too much. It does not even know how many laws it has.

Mandates, closed schools and Dane County Madison Public Health.

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”

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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

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

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

Humanities Graduate Education Is Shrinking

Scott Jaschik:

Graduate education in the humanities is shrinking, according to a new report issued today by the Humanities Indicators Project of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Master’s degrees in the humanities, of which 16,057 were awarded in 1988, rose to 32,584 in 2012, the year they peaked. In 2020, they fell to 26,566, the report said. The number of doctoral degrees awarded also rose and fell during that time. There were 3,110 doctoral degrees in the humanities in 1998. The number rose steadily to 6,010 in 2015 but fell to 5,483 in 2020.

To some critics, this is a natural flow, as there are fewer jobs (especially in higher education) for Ph.D.s in the humanities. To others, the numbers reflect the tragedy of the academic job market failing to keep up with student and faculty demand.

Biden administration “ministry of truth”

Related:

Law School Rankings and Political Ideology: Measuring the Conservative Penalty and Liberal Bonus with Updated 2023 Rankings Data

Michael Conklin:

In 2020, novel research was conducted to measure whether, and to what extent, conservative law schools are punished and liberal law schools are rewarded in the U.S. News & World Report peer rankings. The study found a drastic conservative penalty and liberal bonus that amounted to a difference in the peer rankings of twenty-eight spots. This Article updates the research using the latest political affiliation data and the most recent 2023 rankings data. The updated results produce an astounding thirty-two-place difference in the peer rankings attributable to political ideology. This increase from the 2020 research elicits discussion regarding the effects of recent societal changes in polarization and civility. 

A discussion on how this disparity in the rankings may perpetuate a lack of ideological diversity in legal academia is also discussed. The harm to professors, students, and society at large from such a lack of ideological diversity in law schools is discussed. Finally, this Article concludes by proposing a simple solution to circumvent this manifestation of ideological bias in legal academia.

“Hard maths” and girls

BBC:

A government social mobility adviser has been criticised for saying girls are less likely to choose physics A-level because it involves “hard maths”.

Head teacher Katharine Birbalsingh told MPs it was not a subject girls “tend to fancy”, adding: “I just think they don’t like it.”

She said 16% of A-level physics pupils at her school were girls, but she wasn’t “campaigning” for this to go up.

The Institute of Physics (IOP) said it was alarmed by the comments.

Liberal Democrat education spokeswoman Munira Wilson also called on Ms Birbalsingh to apologise for her remarks.

Union College Sophomore Gets Expelled for Refusing Booster Shot, Despite Her Doctor Saying Her Getting Booster Is ‘Ill-Advised’

Daniel Schmidt:

A sophomore at Union College, a liberal arts college in New York that receives federal funding, has been expelled for refusing to get a COVID booster shot, even though her doctor wrote a letter to the college warning that her getting a booster shot is “ill-advised” because she is experiencing severe health problems “presumably caused by the vaccine itself.”

Diamond “Ellie” Puentes, who is now living in Chicago, told the Chicago Thinker she was hesitant to get a booster shot because she experienced negative side effects after receiving a second dose of the Pfizer COVID vaccine in September 2021. A day after receiving the second dose, she became sick, experiencing congestion, coughing, and a sore throat. Less than ten days later, she started vomiting and having diarrhea. She also had a sharp pain in her upper abdomen. 

These health problems culminated in her going to an emergency room, where she stayed for six hours and was diagnosed with gastritis. Seven months later, she continues to have symptoms of vomiting and diarrhea.

“It’s interesting how much free speech the opponents of free of speech already have”

Ann Althouse:

“It is easy to assume” a lot of things! It’s also easy to splatter opinion columns with the idea that Musk is a racist, sexist pig and that to declare that you’ve made “a moral and ethical case” for censorship… and — paradoxically — that you’re fighting misinformation.

It’s interesting how much free speech the opponents of free of speech already have.

Notes on a (postponed) University of Wisconsin System Free Speech Survey

Wisconsin State Journal:

Henderson is entitled to his opinion. But the purpose of this survey is to gauge student views — not his own. And enough examples of intolerance of unpopular views on campuses justify a serious examination. In 2016, for example, protesters delayed a speech by conservative activist Ben Shapiro at UW-Madison, though his talk eventually resumed. A year later, protests over conservative speakers on campuses in California, New York and Vermont turned violent.

Khan World School Launches

ASU Preparatory Academy

Students work together solving real-world problems in a unique online school model that rewards curiosity, empowers agency and provides them with the skills and confidence needed to excel in college and careers. Students master core knowledge and dive deeply into society’s most challenging problems with support from peers and world-class learning guides.

An update on the campaign to defend serious math education in California

Scott Aaronson

As you might remember, last December I hosted a guest post about the “California Mathematics Framework” (CMF), which was set to cause radical changes to precollege math in California—e.g., eliminating 8th-grade algebra and making it nearly impossible to take AP Calculus. I linked to an open letter setting out my and my colleagues’ concerns about the CMF. That letter went on to receive more than 1700 signatures from STEM experts in industry and academia from around the US, including recipients of the Nobel Prize, Fields Medal, and Turing Award, as well as a lot of support from college-level instructors in California. 

Following widespread pushback, a new version of the CMF appeared in mid-March. I and others are gratified that the new version significantly softens the opposition to acceleration in high school math and to calculus as a central part of mathematics.  Nonetheless, we’re still concerned that the new version promotes a narrative about data science that’s a recipe for cutting kids off from any chance at earning a 4-year college degree in STEM fields (including, ironically, in data science itself).

To that end, some of my Californian colleagues have issued a new statement today on behalf of academic staff at 4-year colleges in California, aimed at clearing away the fog on how mathematics is related to data science. I strongly encourage my readers on the academic staff at 4-year colleges in California to sign this commonsense statement, which has already been signed by over 250 people (including, notably, at least 50 from Stanford, home of two CMF authors).

As a public service announcement, I’d also like to bring to wider awareness Section 18533 of the California Education Code, for submitting written statements to the California State Board of Education (SBE) about errors, objections, and concerns in curricular frameworks such as the CMF.

Civics: The current custom in journalism holds that whatever the National Institutes of Health’s Anthony Fauci calls misinformation is, by fiat, medical misinformation. Until Fauci changes his mind, that is.

Paul Thacker:

Early in the pandemic, Fauci argued that masks provide “some slight benefit” and recommended against wearing masks, however, he became much more aggressively pro-mask, after he made disagreeing with everything-Trump part of his medical agenda. Since Fauci became a clear Trump opponent, reporters have dutifully lined up to support him, a process that influences rather than informs public health debates.

Numerous experts continue to question mask efficacy, despite many science writers turning COVID-19 virtue signaling into a Twitter art form. “We established the need for evidence-based medicine forty years ago,” said Dr. Carl Heneghan, an epidemiologist and professor of evidence-based medicine at Oxford University. Heneghan pointed me to the Cochrane Review of masks that found no evidence that masks reduce respiratory viral infections.
He added that the pandemic created an environment in which these results were ignored, even as low-quality studies were elevated if they found results that showed masks worked. For example, The Lancet published a June 2020 paper that concluded masks caused a huge reduction in infection risk. Around this same time, by an ad hoc group of researchers published a preprint that found a similar 80% reduction of infections with masks, leading to coverage in multiple media outlets.
“It sounds too good to be true,” reported Vanity Fair, announcing masks would cause COVID-19 infections to plunge. “But a compelling new study and computer model provide fresh evidence for a simple solution to help us emerge from this nightmarish lockdown.”
Heneghan said Vanity Fair got it right in the first sentence: It sounds too good to be true.

“The fact that my daughter is now homeschooled should tell you something”

Tom Knighton:

I’m not a big fan of public education. 

It’s not that I’m not a fan of education itself. I just think the government is, generally, the worst entity imaginable to deliver a quality product. That was before everything got ridiculously stupid.

Yet I have a bit of a reputation for having negative feelings toward public education, even though both of my kids have attended public school.

The fact that my daughter is now homeschooled should tell you something.

Anyway, as bad as the schools here are, they could be worse. After all, a psychologist at Boston College has some harsher words about public education than even I do.

More families may be flocking to homeschoolingand other schooling alternatives over the past two years, but Peter Gray has been urging families to flee coercive schooling since long before the pandemic began. The Boston College psychology professor wrote in his 2013 book Free To Learn: “The more oppressive the school system becomes, the more it is driving people away, and that is good.”

In our conversation, Gray explains that standard schooling today is a key factor in the continuous rise in rates of childhood and adolescent anxiety, depression, and suicide. Its imposed, one-size-fits all curriculum, reliance on reward and punishment as external motivators, and dismissal of natural childhood curiosity and creativity erode learners’ powerful drives for learning and discovery. Stripped of these drives, and increasingly deprived of opportunities to play, explore, and pursue individual interests outside of school without the constant hovering of adults, children and adolescents become more melancholic and morose.

“We adults are constraining children’s lives, in school and out of school,” says Gray in our podcast discussion. “School has become a toxic place for children, and we refuse to say that publicly. The research can show it but it almost never gets picked up in the popular press,” he adds.

The price of lockdown mandates: “The value to in-person learning was larger for districts with larger populations of Black students”

Rebecca Jack, Claire Halloran, James Okun and Emily Oster:

We estimate the impact of district-level schooling mode (in-person versus hybrid or virtual learning) in the 2020-21 school year on students’ pass rates on standardized tests in Grades 3–8 across 11 states. Pass rates declined from 2019 to 2021: an average decline of 12.8 percentage points in math and 6.8 in English language arts (ELA). Focusing on within-state, withincommuting zone variation in schooling mode, we estimate districts with full in-person learning had significantly smaller declines in pass rates (13.4 p.p. in math, 8.3 p.p. in ELA). The value to in-person learning was larger for districts with larger populations of Black students.

Mandates, closed schools and Dane County Madison Public Health.

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”

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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

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

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

Taxpayer Supported Madison School District plans to spend $543M+ during 2022-2023; about $21k/student

Elizabeth Beyer:

The district is receiving $70.6 million over the course of three payments. The district’s first installment, ESSER I, was approximately $9.2 million and had been exhausted by the end of the 2020-21 school year. Currently, $39.8 million of the second two installments, ESSER II and III, are written into the 2022-23 preliminary budget. The remaining $21.6 million has yet to be allocated and must be exhausted by the end of September 2024.

The approximately 25,000-student district is still reeling from a drop in enrollment of roughly 1,000 students in the 2020-21 school year and an additional 150 students in the 2021-22 school year.

The 2022-23 budget proposal accounts for a projected enrollment drop of 439 students and a flat revenue limit and categorical aid from the state over the 2021-23 biennium.

Tax & spending growth history can be reviewed here.

Mandates, closed schools and Dane County Madison Public Health.

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”

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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

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

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

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 system spends $5.6M on literacy curriculum

Scott Girard:

In MMSD, 34.9% of students in grades 3-8 scored “proficient” or “advanced” on the statewide Forward Exam in 2018-19, the most recent year the exam was given with a high percentage of students participating. The results were worse for every non-white group of students other than Asians, who had the same percentage as the district as a whole in those two categories.

Just 10.1% of Black students taking the exam scored above “basic,” with 58.9% scoring “below basic,” the lowest level. For Hispanic students, meanwhile, 16% scored “proficient” or “advanced,” with 46.9% scoring “below basic.”

“My major concern is no matter what materials we purchase and invest in, that we will arrive at a similar conversation a decade from now,” Muldrow said. “And that that conversation will continue to be shaped by disparities in literacy and in access to reading for students of color.

Mandates, closed schools and Dane County Madison Public Health.

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”

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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

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

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

Notes on the taxpayer supported Madison School District’s “asynchronous learning” scheme

Scott Girard:

In a statement last week, Madison Teachers Inc. put the blame on DPI for the last-minute change from the district.

“DPI should understand that to us who have to actually implement this additional work, this move signals the prioritization of compliance above compassion,” MTI president Michael Jones wrote.

Jones wrote that the other options available to the district in the face of the waiver denial “would have led to drastically changing school, lunch, transportation, and other schedules,” leaving everyone to scramble further.

For Asma Nooristani, a second grader at Lake View who was at Northport Monday, the extra work wasn’t all that bad, though she was ready for a different activity after finishing three or four pages of it.

“I really love doing homework,” she said. “Homework is fun. You can be really smart.”

Mandates, closed schools and Dane County Madison Public Health.

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”

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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

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

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

Madison’s literacy disaster, continued: reading recovery’s negative impact on children

Emily Hanford and Christopher Peak

The new, federally funded study found that children who received Reading Recovery had scores on state reading tests in third and fourth grade that were below the test scores of similar children who did not receive Reading Recovery. 

“It’s not what we expected, and it’s concerning,” said lead author Henry May, director of the Center for Research in Education and Social Policy at the University of Delaware, who delivered the findings at the prestigious, annual gathering of education researchers being held this year in San Diego.

The findings could prompt school districts nationwide to reexamine their investment in Reading Recovery and consider other ways to help struggling first-graders. 

May was the principal investigator of an earlier federally funded study of Reading Recovery, one of the largest ever randomized experiments of an instructional intervention in elementary schools. That study, which began in 2011, found evidence of large positive gains in first grade, as has other research. The program’s advocates have pointed to that research as evidence that the instructional approach is based on sound science and is effective. 

But whether the initial gains last and translate into better performance on state reading tests remained a question. The new study on the long-term impact of Reading Recovery is the largest, most rigorous effort to tackle that question, according to May. 

The fact that students who participated in Reading Recovery did worse in later grades than similar students who did not get the program surprised May. “Was Reading Recovery harmful? I wouldn’t go as far as to say that,” he said. “But what we do know is that the kids that got it for some reason ended up losing their gains and then falling behind.”

At least 2.4 million students in the United States have participated in Reading Recovery or its Spanish-language counterpart since 1984, when the program first came to America from New Zealand. The program is in nearly 2,000 schools in 41 states.

Mandates, closed schools and Dane County Madison Public Health.

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”

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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

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

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

Notes on politics and the achievement gap

Daniel Lennington and Will Flanders


Last week, Wisconsin Superintendent of Public Instruction Jill Underly put out a press releasebroadly outlining her plans to address Wisconsin’s racial achievement gap. While it is perhaps a positive to finally see the superintendent addressing the failings of Wisconsin’s public schools, this release offers a disturbing window into the way the public school establishment sees the achievement gap problem, and the misguided ways in which they plan to solve it.

Underly referred to Wisconsin’s racial achievement gap as “egregious” in her release, and indeed it is. According to the results of the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP), the state regularly has the largest gap in scores between white students and African American students of any state in the country.  On average, African American students scored 47 points lower in math and 39 points lower in English than their white counterparts. But Underly misdiagnoses the cause of this gap, which is almost entirely poverty.

In groundbreaking research released in 2019, scholars at Stanford University endeavored to discover the causes of the racial achievement gap in the United States. They found that concentrations of poverty — not the race of students — was the main driver of achievement differences. This is highlighted in the finding from our research in 2017 that student proficiency in rural school districts which suffer from high poverty is often indistinguishable from that of our urban districts that routinely bear the brunt of scrutiny.

Misdiagnosing the problem means Underly’s proposed solutions miss the mark.

Mandates, closed schools and Dane County Madison Public Health.

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”

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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

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

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

Censorship & the Trudeau Administration

Brian Lilley:

“The government’s determination to keep the consultations submissions secret until compelled to disclose them by law eviscerates its claims to support open, transparent government. There is simply no good reason to use secrecy as the default for a government consultation,” Geist wrote.

Especially not when you have been accused of wanting to expand government surveillance and censorship powers across the internet. These public submissions should have been readily available for all to see, but perhaps they were embarrassed by Twitter comparing the government’s actions to dictatorships.

The social media platform compared the government’s proposal to block websites to tactics used in China, North Korea and Iran while also saying requiring “proactive monitoring of content sacrifices freedom of expression to the creation of a government run system of surveillance of anyone who uses Twitter.”

Project Gutenberg

Gutenberg.org

Choose among free epub and Kindle eBooks, download them or read them online. You will find the world’s great literature here, with focus on older works for which U.S. copyright has expired. Thousands of volunteers digitized and diligently proofread the eBooks, for you to enjoy.

Inventing Postscript

Tekla Perry:

The PostScript program is created on the computer either by someone using the language or by desktop publishing software or other applications software that translates, say, the movements of a mouse into a PostScript program. (Other page description languages are optimized for one of these purposes, not both.) That program is sent over a local-area network or through an RS-232 port to the laser printer. There it is converted into instructions for the printer by the PostScript interpreter, software resident in ROM. On the same circuit board as up to 2 megabytes of ROM is a Motorola 68000 series processor, which executes the instructions and causes the pages to be printed.

Things were more elementary with the first laser printers, which were in regular use at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) in the mid-1970s. They were controlled by a printing protocol called Press, which was not a programming language but a set of instructions that sent image data to a printer in a steady stream. It handled letters and simple images well, but for anything more detailed, got the printer to return the message: “Page Too Complex.” Thereupon the typical PARC engineer would simplify the image.

But when Warnock, a computer scientist with a Ph.D. from the University of Utah, joined the center in 1978, he immediately began work on a new printer protocol. Six years of experience at Evans & Sutherland in Mountain View, Calif., had taught him where to start.

Wisconsin Gov Evers’ Mulligans run their course?

Libby Sobic:

Gov. Tony Evers’s recent vetoes put him at a historic rate of total vetoes compared to previous governors. Of the more than 100 vetoes he executed a week ago Friday, about a quarter were related to education. In many veto messages, the governor cited his previous role as state schools superintendent. Yet his vetoes demonstrate a bias towards the public school establishment and how out of touch the current administration is with Wisconsin parents.

The pandemic created a great awakening for parents across the country. Many families, who were happy with their local public school, were thrown into a difficult dynamic when their district placed the interests of adults over their students in returning to the classroom. In Wisconsin, families fled their local districts and enrolled their children in alternative options. But some parents became determined to hold their local district accountable for their decisions and are trying to change the public school status quo.

What started as a parent grassroots movement to hold local school board officials accountable quickly led to debates in the state Legislature. The Legislature responded to these concerns, passing several bills this session pertaining to education reform. For example, Wisconsin was the first legislature in the nation to pass a classroom transparency bill for local public schools this past September.

But as quickly as parents demanded action and the Legislature responded, Evers used his veto pen. Over the last several months, the Legislature passed bills expanding educational options for families through the existing school choice program and public charter schools, establishing parents’ rights against government intrusion. Each of these bills were in response to Wisconsin parents demanding change, yet Evers denied them again and again.

What will these vetoes this mean for elections this fall? The grassroots parent movement is not slowing down, and many parents claimed victories in the recent elections for school board and local government. Nationwide, other governors are signing school choice bills and other bills pertaining to public schools, including West Virginia, Iowa, Georgia, New Hampshire and Kentucky, among others.

Mandates, closed schools and Dane County Madison Public Health.

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”

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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

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

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

The climate for young men.

Rob Henderson:

I write and read about the culture and habits of elites because it is a way for me to understand this unfamiliar world I find myself in.

I read less about the culture of the poor and working-class because I experienced it firsthand. I’m familiar.

But occasionally I do read about it.

One insightful book is Promises I Can Keep: Why Poor Women Put Motherhood Before Marriage by Kathryn Edin and Maria Kefalas.

In their book, Edin, a sociology professor at Princeton, and Kefalas, a sociology professor at St. Joseph’s University, explore why low-income women are disproportionately likely to be unmarried and uninvolved with the father of their children.

A common answer from the chattering class is money. The conventional view is that a lack of money leads to out-of-wedlock births.

But broken homes are a fairly recent phenomenon.

In 1960, across social classes, the vast majority of children were raised by both of their birth parents. By 2005, there was a massive divergence.

Children living with both biological parents Affluent families in 1960: 95% Working class families in 1960: 95% Affluent families in 2005: 85% Working class families in 2005: 30% goodreads.com/book/show/1203…

Notes on Milwaukee’s use of Redistributed Taxpayer CovID fund$

Rory Linnane:

With more money in federal COVID relief coming to Milwaukee Public Schools, administrators said they will fund bonuses to retain older teachers, hire temporary staff to improve literacy, and take other steps to steady the workforce and improve academics.

This $9.6 million installment, coming after the district already received about $770 million in federal relief funds, is a result of Gov. Tony Evers’ decision to give $110 million of the state’s allocation to K-12 schools around the state.

School board members approved the plan Thursday night, shortly after receiving an updated version of the plan just before the board meeting began.

Board members Aisha Carr and Sequanna Taylor asked to delay approving the plan until there could be more discussion at a board committee meeting.

Related: Milwaukee teachers see biggest raises in over a decade.

James Madison Memorial High School tech team

Scott Girard:

While in the school, much of the students’ work is focused on the Chromebook devices that every student has. During what would otherwise be a study hall period, those in the program go to the library, where they look over devices that aren’t working.

Memorial library media technology specialist Kristin Delorme said the idea was discussed pre-pandemic with the school’s business education teacher, Bill Richardson, but never took off. As students returned this year, though, district instructional technology user manager Eric Benedict recalled those previous discussions and brought the idea back, with Delorme still glad to have them in the library to help.

“People just kept coming to me and saying, ‘Are you still interested in doing this? And would you be willing to do this?’” Delorme said. “I just said yes to everything. Once it got to the students actually being here, that’s kind of my favorite part is working with the students.”

Benedict said the students are determining what’s wrong with Chromebooks that have been turned in from their peers, with a “checklist of things for them to go through as they’re cleaning and fixing.” They are expected to work on screen replacements and key replacements on keyboards soon, too, he added.

Notes on the taxpayer supported Madison school district “equity audit”

Scott Girard

“There is a lot of evidence that the state of Wisconsin has the most extreme gaps in opportunity and outcomes based on race and that within Wisconsin, MMSD is often ranked among the worst or the worst in some of these indicators,” MMSD director of research Brianne Monahan said.

Jackson said the process was delayed by a few months as they translated all of their materials from English into Spanish and Hmong to reach more families and voices within the district. That same translation is occurring with the transcribing of the interviews, but as long as there are no “hiccups,” a report will be ready by mid-summer.

“If I am right, the next steps would just be filled with the excitement associated with learning what participants actually think,” he said.

He added that district officials and the School Board should be ready for whatever people have had to say, even if it’s difficult to hear.

“I’ve shared with (the district) that I don’t know what they’re going to say,” Jackson said. “It’s not my job or my team’s job to do anything other than amplify what those voices do say. And they may absolutely say none of the things you want them to say.”

Mandates, closed schools and Dane County Madison Public Health.

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”

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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

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

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

Notes on the NEA’s $377 million budget, and teacher pay

Mark Tapscott:

America’s largest labor union is the National Education Association (NEA), organized in 1906 with a congressional charter “to elevate the character and advance the interests of the profession of teaching; and to promote the cause of education in the United States.”

One hundred and sixteen years later, the average individual U.S. teacher salary is $60,909, just below the median household income of $67,521 for the country in 2020, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Inadequate teacher pay has long been a staple of NEA rhetoric and advocacy, as seen in this April 29, 2019, statement by then-NEA President Lily Ekelsen Garcia:

“Across the nation educator pay continues to erode, expanding the large pay gap between what teachers earn and what similarly educated and experienced professionals in other fields earn.

“Educators don’t do this work to get rich, they do this work because they believe in students. But their pay is not commensurate with the dedication and expertise they bring to the profession.”

Given the NEA’s frequently professed concern about low teacher pay, critics wonder why the union spends so little of the $377 million it received mostly in dues paid by 2.9 million members in 2021 on “representational activities”—that is, bargaining for better pay and working conditions for rank-and-file classroom teachers.

Civics: merge the ability to track the movements of billions of people via their phones with a constant stream of data purchased directly from Twitter

Sam Biddle Jack Paulson:

According to audiovisual recordings of an A6 presentation reviewed by The Intercept and Tech Inquiry, the firm claims that it can track roughly 3 billion devices in real time, equivalent to a fifth of the world’s population. The staggering surveillance capacity was cited during a pitch to provide A6’s phone-tracking capabilities to Zignal Labs, a social media monitoring firm that leverages its access to Twitter’s rarely granted “firehose” data stream to sift through hundreds of millions of tweets per day without restriction. With their powers combined, A6 proposed, Zignal’s corporate and governmental clients could not only surveil global social media activity, but also determine who exactly sent certain tweets, where they sent them from, who they were with, where they’d been previously, and where they went next. This enormously augmented capability would be an obvious boon to both regimes keeping tabs on their global adversaries and companies keeping tabs on their employees.
MOST READ

Censorship and Facebook

Ben Fritz, Keach Hagey, Kirsten Grind and Emily Glazer:

Meta Platforms Inc. FB -6.16% Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg is facing internal scrutiny over two occasions in which she pressed a U.K. tabloid to shelve a potential article about her then-boyfriend, Activision Blizzard Inc.ATVI -0.01% Chief Executive Bobby Kotick, according to people close to the executives.

In 2016 and 2019, Ms. Sandberg contacted the digital edition of the Daily Mail, which was reporting on a story that would have revealed the existence of a temporary restraining order against Mr. Kotick that had been obtained by a former girlfriend in 2014, according to people involved in the article and the campaigns to stop its publication.

Working with a team that included Facebook and Activision employees as well as paid outside advisers, Ms. Sandberg and Mr. Kotick developed a strategy to persuade the Daily Mail not to report on the restraining order, first when they began dating in 2016 and again around the time they were breaking up in 2019, the people said. Among other concerns, Ms. Sandberg’s legal and public-relations advisers, both inside and outside Facebook, worried that a story would reflect negatively on her reputation as an advocate for women.

Facebook recently started a review of Ms. Sandberg’s actions and whether she violated the company’s rules, according to people close to her and to Mr. Kotick. The review started after The Wall Street Journal began reporting on the incidents late last year, those people said.

Mission vs organization, redux; Madison’s disastrous reading Results

Paul Fanlund:

That said, his indictment of liberals in college towns echoes something Gloria Ladson-Billings, a renowned UW-Madison professor emerita, told me for a column last year about liberals and race.

“Everyone is for the most part self-interested,” she said. “You can only go so far before people start seeing it as an erosion of something they have or have access to. There are those limits that we can’t seem to get past.”

She summed up the attitude: “I’ll do X and Y, but please don’t ask me to do Z.”

I think Madison’s white liberals could do more to make “Z” happen.

Mandates, closed schools and Dane County Madison Public Health.

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”

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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

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

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

The state rejected dozens of math textbooks. The New York Times reviewed 21 of them to figure out why.

Dana Goldstein:

Dozens of math textbooks last week, the big question was, Why?

The department said some of the books “contained prohibited topics” from social-emotional learning or critical race theory — but it has released only four specific textbook pages showing content to which it objects.

Using online sample materials provided by publishers to Florida school districts, The New York Times was able to review 21 of the rejected books and see what may have led the state to reject them. Because Florida has released so few details about its textbook review process, it is unknown whether these examples led to the rejections. But they do illustrate the way in which these concepts appear — and don’t appear — in curriculum materials.

In most of the books, there was little that touched on race, never mind an academic framework like critical race theory.

But many of the textbooks included social-emotional learning content, a practice with roots in psychological research that tries to help students develop mind-sets that can support academic success.

The image below, from marketing materials provided by the company Big Ideas Learning — whose elementary textbooks Florida rejected — features one common way teachers are trained to think about social-emotional learning.

Ann Althouse commentary.

Evanston–Skokie’s school district adopts a curriculum that teaches pre-K through third-grade students to “break the binary” of gender.

Christopher Rufo:

Evanston–Skokie School District 65 has adopted a radical gender curriculum that teaches pre-kindergarten through third-grade students to celebrate the transgender flag, break the “gender binary” established by white “colonizers,” and experiment with neo-pronouns such as “ze,” “zir,” and “tree.”

I have obtained the full curriculum documents, which are part of the Chicago-area district’s “LGBTQ+ Equity Week,” which administrators adopted last year. The curriculum begins in pre-kindergarten, with a series of lessons on sexual orientation and gender identity. The lesson plan opens with an introduction to the rainbow flag and teaches students that “Each color in the flag has a meaning.” The teacher also presents the transgender flag and the basic concepts of gender identity, explaining that “we call people with more than one gender or no gender, non-binary or queer.” Finally, the lesson plan has the teacher leading a class project to create a rainbow flag, with instructions to “gather students on the rug,” “ask them to show you their flags,” and “proudly hang the class flag where they can all see it.”

In kindergarten, the lessons on gender and trans identity go deeper. “When we show whether we feel like a boy or a girl or some of each, we are expressing our GENDER IDENTITY,” the lesson begins. “There are also children who feel like a girl AND a boy; or like neither a boy OR a girl. We can call these children TRANSGENDER.” Students are expected to be able to “explain the importance of the rainbow flag and trans flag” and are asked to consider their own gender identity. The kindergartners read two books that affirm transgender conversions, study photographs of boys in dresses, learn details about the transgender flag, and perform a rainbow dance. At the end of the lesson, the students are encouraged to adopt and share their own gender identities with the class. “Now you have a chance to make a picture to show how YOU identify,” the lesson reads. “Maybe you want to have blue hair! Maybe you want to be wearing a necklace. Your identity is for YOU to decide!”

In first grade, students learn about gender pronouns. The teachers explain that “some pronouns are gender neutral” and students can adopt pronouns such as “she,” “tree,” “they,” “he,” “her,” “him,” “them,” “ze,” and “zir.” The students practice reading a series of scripts in which they announce their gender pronouns and practice using alternate pronouns, including “they,” “tree,” “ze,” and “zir.” The teacher encourages students to experiment and reminds them: “Whatever pronouns you pick today, you can always change!” Students then sit down to complete a pronouns workbook, with more lessons on neo-pronouns and non-binary identities.

Civics: Former Intelligence Officials, Citing Russia, Say Big Tech Monopoly Power is Vital to National Security

Glenn Greenwald:

A group of former intelligence and national security officials on Monday issued a jointly signed letter warning that pending legislative attempts to restrict or break up the power of Big Tech monopolies — Facebook, Google, and Amazon — would jeopardize national security because, they argue, their centralized censorship power is crucial to advancing U.S. foreign policy. The majority of this letter is devoted to repeatedly invoking the grave threat allegedly posed to the U.S. by Russia as illustrated by the invasion of Ukraine, and it repeatedly points to the dangers of Putin and the Kremlin to justify the need to preserve Big Tech’s power in its maximalist form. Any attempts to restrict Big Tech’s monopolistic power would therefore undermine the U.S. fight against Moscow.

While one of their central claims is that Big Tech monopoly power is necessary to combat (i.e., censor) “foreign disinformation,” several of these officials are themselves leading disinformation agents: many were the same former intelligence officials who signed the now-infamous-and-debunked pre-election letter fraudulently claiming that the authentic Hunter Biden emails had the “hallmarks” of Russia disinformation (former Obama Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former Obama CIA Director Michael Morrell, former Obama CIA/Pentagon chief Leon Panetta). Others who signed this new letter have strong financial ties to the Big Tech corporations whose power they are defending in the name of national security (Morrell, Panetta, former Bush National Security Adviser Fran Townsend).

The ostensible purpose of the letter is to warn of the national security dangers from two different bipartisan bills — one pending in the Senate, the other in the House — that would prohibit Big Tech monopolies from using their vertical power to “discriminate” against competitors (the way Google, for instance, uses its search engine business to bury the videos of competitors to its YouTube property, such as Rumble, or the way Google and Apple use their stores and Amazon uses its domination over hosting services to destroy competitors).

They just need to show that it’s associated with low status

Rob Henderson:

In the 1980s, the psychologists Richard E. Petty and John T. Cacioppo developed the “Elaboration Likelihood Model” to describe how persuasion works. “Elaboration” here means the extent to which a person carefully thinks about the information. When people’s motivation and ability to engage in careful thinking is present, the “elaboration likelihood” is high. This means people are likely to pay attention to the relevant information and draw conclusions based on the merits of the arguments or the message. When elaboration likelihood is high, a person is willing to expend their cognitive resources to update their views.

Two paths to persuasion

The idea is that there are two paths, or two “routes,” to persuading others. The first type, termed the “central” route, comes from careful and thoughtful consideration of the messages we hear. When the central route is engaged, we actively evaluate the information presented, and try to discern whether or not it’s true.

When the “peripheral” route is engaged, we pay more attention to cues apart from the actual information or content or the message. For example, we might evaluate someone’s argument based on how attractive they are or where they were educated, without considering the actual merits of their message.

When we accept a message through the peripheral route, we tend to be more passive than when we accept a message through the central route. Unfortunately, the peripheral route is more prevalent because we are exposed to an increasingly large amount of information.

“Instead, we seem to know less”

Glenn Elmers:

Science has always introduced doubt regarding long-held verities. But now the authority of science, rather than the scientific method, is used to create confusion about things that had once been considered obvious and indisputable.

There have always, for instance, been rare individuals who did not precisely fit into the categories of either man or woman, but never before in human history did these exceptions lead to biological males competing in, and dominating, female athletic tournaments. There is more than compassion or tolerance at work here. America’s political and intellectual elites claim not to know what distinguishes male from female. Just a few weeks ago, the newest justice to the United States Supreme Court, Ketanji Brown Jackson, stated flatly that she could not define what a woman is. This newly discovered ignorance is, supposedly, derived from superior scientific insight. Our technology advances, but our wisdom diminishes.

The American Constitution was written to secure the rights of human beings, not chickens or cows. What if scientists were to declare next that there is no objective basis for the idea of “human beings”? This would be no great leap from the inability to distinguish male from female. Should the American people accept that the distinction between humans and chickens (or robots) is dependent on the proclamations of biology or modern science, and that the special status of human beings should be abandoned if science says so?

More than 2,000 years ago Aristotle wrote perceptively about what defines human beings as a species, on the basis of ordinary observations. America’s founding fathers appealed to the same common sense when they cited mankind’s natural rights and the sovereignty of the American people as the authority for the “just powers” of government. Without any knowledge of DNA or the human genome, they had no difficulty recognizing that only humans, and not cows or chickens, possess such equal rights and such sovereignty. This recognition of human nature extended even to slaves, who are referred to throughout the Constitution as “persons.” The founders, like Aristotle, appealed to the ordinary understanding of moral and political reality that all rational adults possess to inform their deliberations.

COVID and the Tyranny of Faucian Science..

Mandates, closed schools and Dane County Madison Public Health.

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”

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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

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

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

Commentary on “free range kids”

Michaeleen Doucleff:

Editor’s note: This story discusses the practice of giving children the freedom to go out on their own. In some places, parents who allow young children to run errands or go places without adult supervision may violate local laws. Parents interested in this topic should be sure to familiarize themselves with the law and rules in their community.

A few years ago, my husband and I had a bit of a situation on our hands. Our 4-year-old daughter had figured out how to climb onto the roof of our home. After breakfast in the mornings, we would find her perched, like a pigeon, three stories above a busy city sidewalk. (It makes me a bit nauseous to think about it).

The first morning, I tried to coax her down by asking her nicely (“Rosy, please come down. That is dangerous.”), nagging a bit (“Rosy, I’m serious. You have to come down. Please. Please”) and eventually issuing a flimsy threat (“Ok. If you don’t come down, we won’t get ice cream on Friday.”)

Then the fourth time she went up there, I was a bit fed up and decided to try and fix the root of the problem, instead of just the symptoms. I was in the middle of writing a book about parenting around the world, and I had heard the same advice over and over again: When a kid misbehaves they need more autonomy; they need more responsibility.

“Contract-Grading” and the War Against Academic Excellence

Adam Ellwanger:

When I was in high school in the mid-1990s, we were all required to swim in gym class. This was before wokeness. Since then, concerns over “accessibility,” “inclusion,” “acceptance,” and changing clothes in a locker room have all but killed physical education. The decline was already in motion, even back then. The girls and boys were required to swim on different days to avoid potential embarrassment from being seen in swimwear. At the beginning of our swimming unit, our gym “teacher” handed each of us a contract on which we indicated the grade we desired for the quarter.

To get an “A,” you had to do forty pool laps (four different strokes for ten laps each) during every swim session. Thirty laps with three strokes would earn a “B.” A “C” was twenty laps per session using two strokes. Anything less, presumably, was a failing grade. When you had completed your laps, you were allowed to play water polo in one end of the pool. I always signed up for a “B” to ensure a little more polo. Looking back though, this “contract” was a sham.

First of all, the gym teachers spent the entire class in the shallow end with the two kids who couldn’t swim, trying to squeeze blood from a stone. We knew the teachers weren’t counting laps. And they knew that we knew they weren’t counting. Thus, their real demand was to complete enough swimming that we could plausibly argue we had held up our end of the contract. Most of us did half of the laps we had promised, then got to polo. I don’t know what grades the students who couldn’t swim received, but something tells me they weren’t “Fs.” After all: that wasn’t an option in the contract.

There was no real “education” involved here because there was no teaching involved. We were all just going through the motions. A grade of “A” was as achievable for the slowest swimmers with the poorest form as it was for the members of the varsity swim team. Just (pretend to) complete your laps. The weakness of this particular curriculum is perhaps of limited importance: those of us who were already able to swim weren’t going to drown; the vast majority of us would never do any competitive swimming; and few if any of us adopt regular swimming as a part of a physical fitness regimen.

Sadly, though, the idea of “contract-grading” is nowgaining prevalence in disciplines of critical academic importance–not only in high schools, but in manyprominent colleges and universities. This development is only the latest front in a larger war on intellectual excellence, where the focus has now moved from lowering standards to eliminating them.

Google Docs and Censorship

Commentary.

Guest Lecturers and Religious Holidays

Mike Masterson:

Lest you believe the flap over the recent prohibition on law professor Rob Steinbuch’s long-approved use of guest lecturers during absences on Jewish high holidays has passed, think again.

I say that because a committee at the UALR Bowen Law School recently voted to recommend eliminating the school’s guest lecturer policy to the full Bowen faculty, keeping the issue alive.

For years, policy has allowed guest lecturers to cover Bowen classes when faculty members were legitimately absent (as on religious holidays).

Steinbuch said the action by four fellow professors on the committee was “clearly personal and aimed at my particular situation during the Jewish holidays when for nearly 20 years I have invited legal professionals and judges to educate classes about our practice in the real world.”

A decorated law professor and the state’s leading Freedom of Information Act expert, who also is seeking election to the House of Representatives for District 73 in Little Rock, Steinbuch may be on to something, considering the school’s visiting-lecturer policy wasn’t an issue until challenged by Bowen Dean Theresa Beiner last year. That’s after Steinbuch had invited a federal judge to lecture his class during his religious-observance absence, as he had done many times before.

“Shouldn’t the state reject the math books because they’re not sufficiently about math?”

Ann Althouse:


“These questions include: ‘How can you show that you value the ideas of others?’ and ‘What helps you understand your partner’s ideas?’ The book also encourages students to learn how to ‘work together’ when doing math and to ‘listen to our friends and teachers.’ Florida Reveal Math Grade 5, which was also rejected, uses similar prompts to encourage students to think critically about how they work with others in the classroom setting. ‘When we do math, we listen to the arguments of others and think about what makes sense and what doesn’t,’ the book states in the introduction. Other prompts encourage critical thinking and highlight relationship skills, such as: ‘What can I learn from others’ thinking about the problem?’ and ‘What can you do to help all classmates feel comfortable in math class?’ The textbook encourages students to think about how they can ‘recognize and respond to the emotions of others’ and practice building ‘relationship[s]’ with classmates.”

“A full Replacement for K-12”

Balaji Srinivasan:

Why a new school? Confidence in public schools is at historic lows. Parents want a change. And people can sense that the Prussian education system, the model for American schooling, just isn’t working anymore. Perhaps fifty years ago you might well pull the same lever every day on an assembly line, but today you hit a different key every second.

Instruction hasn’t kept up.

You can watch videos on the Synthesis model here, but the fundamental concept is teaching kids how to collaboratively work with information like adults do. In a sense, it’s similar to what American education used to be — namely early apprenticeship in the kinds of activities they’d be doing as adults, the system that educated Ben Franklin.

Synthesis is starting out as a complement to existing schools, but already has thousands of happy students and parents. Over time the plan is to add more and more math and science, until eventually it’s a full-blown alternative to the legacy K-12 system. Ultimately that may involve building physical classrooms.

There are several aspects of Synthesis that I think are worth noting, as they are part of a general set of tactics to build opt-in alternatives to failing institutions.

  • First digital, then physical. A full replacement for the education system will eventually require physical locations. Too many parents depend on state-run schools for childcare. However, it’s important to go digital first, then physical. Synthesis is building a networked community online and then, later, creating physical infrastructure as needed be.
  • Scale what can be scaled. Today’s K-12 instruction can be decoupled into (a) curricula, (b) small group tutoring and (c) de facto childcare. While the tutoring and childcare components will continue requiring hands-on attention for each student, the curricula can be created by world class instructors and cost-effectively scaled to millions of children. That means one could have the polish of a Hollywood movie or an AAA-quality game for educational content, which is what Synthesis is working on.
  • Go direct. Legacy media is incentivized to protect legacy systems. Therefore, companies offering an exit must go direct to customers and build their own distribution. Otherwise, they’ll either get politically attacked or forced to fold back into the values of the incumbent system. And so Synthesis is reaching parents entirely through social media and eschewing legacy media corporations.
  • Make exit easy. Our education systems won’t reform from within. The necessary improvements require too much change. The only real solution is to create something better from the ground up that’s so attractive users can’t help but exit the old system. Something like that doesn’t arise overnight – it’s proved out in stages, by people gradually opting out of the current system, providing feedback and driving features, till the parallel system is better in all respects and ready for broad adoption. This, too, is part of the Synthesis strategy.
  • Win and help win. Finally, the aim of education should be to train kids to grow the global pie for humanity so all can benefit. In other words, kids need to learn how to work together and succeed in a competitive environment so thatthey can contribute to the common good. And Synthesis believes that teaching values like this is as important as teaching calculus.

Human capital is the bottleneck to civilizational progress. It’s our scarcest resource. To increase the supply, the highest leverage place to begin is K-12. If we can fix that system, we have a base for a better world. That’s what Synthesis aims to do.

Mandates, closed schools and Dane County Madison Public Health.

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”

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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

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

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

Suggestions include culling To Kill a Mockingbird, The Great Gatsby, and works by Shakespeare, as well as adding New Kid and Firekeeper’s Daughter, among other titles.

Lauren Young:

The final bell of the school year is the sound of freedom for students, and summer reading assignments can be pushed to the bottom of the backpack and to-do list. Whether summer reading is suggested for fun or required for the next school year, students often see it as dreaded, uninteresting homework. Worst case, it can backfire for kids who already have a hard time reading, like the students in Larissa Hinton’s reading support class at Norview Middle School in Norfolk, VA.

“A lot of my students do not care for reading, and they’ll say all these books are boring,” says Hinton, who has taught sixth to twelfth grade English and currently works with kids at the Title I school to boost their literacy proficiency and reading enjoyment. “It drives me crazy to see these summer reading lists that keep having books that don’t work or appeal at all to students.”

Hinton was one of nearly 100 librarians, classroom teachers, and educators who participated in the SLJ and NCTE’s Summer Survey. The selections and purpose of suggested or required lists have left many teachers and librarians divided, and survey results reflect the split. While teachers’ assignments are often driven by curricular mandates, librarians frequently want kids to read what they enjoy, with the goal of keeping them engaged and turning them into independent readers.

Literacy experts see these programs as a tool to fight the “summer slide,” or the loss of reading achievements gained during the school year. Many respondents agree that the initiatives are a vital way to keep students reading, but others want to get rid of them. Some are dedicated to “the classics”—tried-and-true, yet often dated, books. On the other side, many say that newer titles covering culturally relevant topics resonate better with kids and teens. 

To Kill a Mockingbird and The Great Gatsby were the top books people wanted cut from lists, while favorite titles to add included the graphic novel New Kid by Jerry Craft and the novel The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. Instead of historical fiction, some respondents suggested science fiction and manga. Many wanted books about more diverse characters, by diverse authors, and othersproposed giving students more agency and reading choice. Additionally, respondents noted an availability problem: Old titles can be in low supply in library systems, or be out of print.

A Dubious Expediency: How Race Preferences Damage Higher Education

Gail Heriot & Maimon Schwarzschild:

The Supreme Court assumes that race-preferential admissions policies are the result of a careful academic judgment by colleges and universities that racial diversity has pedagogical benefits for students generally. But evidence shows that the usual motivation for these policies is quite different. In part it is ideological: Such policies are an effort to pay a debt for past or present societal discrimination—a motivation the Supreme Court has rejected as unconstitutional in the past. In part it is practical: Pressure for these policies comes from state legislatures, private foundations, the federal government, accreditors, and other similar sources. Why respond to such pressure? Frequently, that’s where the money is.

Mandates and health outcomes

Johan Anderberg;

When the epidemiologist Johan Giesecke read the paper, it left him a little puzzled. On any normal day, 275 people die in Sweden, he thought. He’d spent a large part of his life studying just that: where, when, and how people die. The way the world currently thought about death was, to him, completely alien. When he’d taken part in an online conference in Johannesburg, one participant had pointed out that, in that year alone, more than 2 million people had died of hunger in the world. During the same period, Covid-19 had claimed between 200,000 and 300,000 lives.

Giesecke felt as though the world was going through a self-inflicted global disaster. If things had simply been left to run their course, it would have been over by now. Instead, millions of children were being deprived of their education. In some countries, they weren’t even allowed to go to playgrounds. From Spain came stories of parents sneaking down into parking garages with their children to let them run around.

Tens of thousands of surgeries had been postponed by healthcare services. Screenings for everything from cervical to prostate cancer were put on ice. This wasn’t just happening in other countries. Sweden had seen its fair share of peculiar decisions, too. The Swedish police hadn’t tested drivers for insobriety for months, out of fear of the virus. This year, it didn’t seem quite as serious if someone were to get killed by a drunk driver.

Notes on math education

Terry Tao:

One can roughly divide mathematical education into three stages:

  1. The “pre-rigorous” stage, in which mathematics is taught in an informal, intuitive manner, based on examples, fuzzy notions, and hand-waving. (For instance, calculus is usually first introduced in terms of slopes, areas, rates of change, and so forth.) The emphasis is more on computation than on theory. This stage generally lasts until the early undergraduate years.
  2. The “rigorous” stage, in which one is now taught that in order to do maths “properly”, one needs to work and think in a much more precise and formal manner (e.g. re-doing calculus by using epsilons and deltas all over the place). The emphasis is now primarily on theory; and one is expected to be able to comfortably manipulate abstract mathematical objects without focusing too much on what such objects actually “mean”. This stage usually occupies the later undergraduate and early graduate years.
  3. The “post-rigorous” stage, in which one has grown comfortable with all the rigorous foundations of one’s chosen field, and is now ready to revisit and refine one’s pre-rigorous intuition on the subject, but this time with the intuition solidly buttressed by rigorous theory. (For instance, in this stage one would be able to quickly and accurately perform computations in vector calculus by using analogies with scalar calculus, or informal and semi-rigorous use of infinitesimals, big-O notation, and so forth, and be able to convert all such calculations into a rigorous argument whenever required.) The emphasis is now on applications, intuition, and the “big picture”. This stage usually occupies the late graduate years and beyond.

OpenAI’s GPT-3 and other neural nets can now write original prose with mind-boggling fluency — a development that could have profound implications for the future.

Steven Johnson Artwork by Nikita Iziev

The missing word jumps into your consciousness almost unbidden: ‘‘the very last word of the first paragraph.’’ There’s no sense of an internal search query in your mind; the word ‘‘paragraph’’ just pops out. It might seem like second nature, this filling-in-the-blank exercise, but doing it makes you think of the embedded layers of knowledge behind the thought. You need a command of the spelling and syntactic patterns of English; you need to understand not just the dictionary definitions of words but also the ways they relate to one another; you have to be familiar enough with the high standards of magazine publishing to assume that the missing word is not just a typo, and that editors are generally loath to omit key words in published pieces unless the author is trying to be clever — perhaps trying to use the missing word to make a point about your cleverness, how swiftly a human speaker of English can conjure just the right word.

Reducing Rigor

KUSI:

The principal, Michelle Irwin, claims she made the decision in the name of “equity.” Irwin also said cutting the honors courses would remove the stigma from non-honors classes and “eliminate racial disparities in honors enrollment.”

In an email thread obtained by KUSI News, Irwin told concerned parents the entire district has been embracing and promoting “inclusive environments.”

KUSI reached out to Irwin for comment on her decision, but we have not heard back.

KUSI News obtained an email thread between a concerned parent of a Patrick Henry student, Principal Michelle Irwin, and Erin Richardson, Superintendent of Area 6 High Schools for the San Diego Unified School District.

The entire thread is below (First email is at the bottom):

On Fri, Mar 25, 2022 at 11:44 AM Richison Erin <erichison@sandi.net> wrote:

Dear Ms. OXXXXX,

Thank you for reaching out and inquiring about some of the course changes at our high schools. I understand the concerns you have as you look forward to the success of your student(s). I hope this email will explain some of the reasoning behind those changes. We have scheduled some upcoming opportunities for parents to have their concerns addressed personally by academic leaders.

Our commitment as a district is to ensure that all students will graduate with the skills, motivation, curiosity and resilience to succeed in their choice of college and career in order to lead and participate in the society of tomorrow. Providing all students with access to a broad and challenging curriculum is one of the ways we work towards this goal.

Our schools help prepare students by offering classes that both contain the necessary rigor to maintain their academic growth and provide the necessary credit opportunities for those who plan to attend a four-year university.

Rigor

Non Diverse Benefits to student loan cancellation

CRFB:

Though some policymakers continue to propose cancelling somemost, or all student debt, a great deal of student debt has already effectively been cancelled. Overall, we estimate the equivalent of $5,500 per borrower will have been cancelled by the scheduled end of the student loan payment pause on May 1, at a cost of more than $100 billion. Extending the repayment pause further will cost an additional $50 billion per year, and policymakers should reject calls to do so.

Aside from some targeted cancellation by the current and previous administrations, nearly every borrower has benefited from interest cancellation during the current repayment moratorium while higher-than-expected inflation has eroded current balances. However, that benefit has been highly uneven and significantly more regressive than the already-regressive $10,000 across-the-board debt cancellation proposed by then-Presidential candidate Joe Biden during the 2020 campaign.

For example, we estimate a typical recent medical school graduate will effectively receive nearly $50,000 of debt cancellation, a recent law school graduate will get $30,000 of cancellation, and a recent master’s degree recipient will get $13,500. At the same time, a recent bachelor’s degree recipient will get $4,500 of debt cancellation, someone who just completed an associate’s degree will receive $3,500, and a person who was unable to complete their undergraduate degree will get $2,000.

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 make up “asynchronous” time

Scott Girard:

Lessons and coursework will be available through Seesaw and Google Classroom, with paper copies also available. 

“Each school will send families follow-up communication with additional details about asynchronous learning time,” the email states.

The district has chosen to use asynchronous learning as its solution. According to an email sent to families Wednesday, K-12 students will have 90 to 120 minutes of asynchronous learning each Monday from April 25 through June 6, with Friday, May 27, also an asynchronous learning day.

Elementary and middle school students’ learning will focus on literacy and math, while high school students will focus on college and career readiness, according to the email.

Wisconsin requires 437 hours of direct instruction in kindergarten, at least 1,050 hours of direct instruction in grades one through six, and at least 1,137 hours of direct instruction in grades seven through 12.

Mandates, closed schools and Dane County Madison Public Health.

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”

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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

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

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

“we can’t really be sure that the people who are elected are representing the interests of all those people who didn’t vote.”

Allison Garfield:

Historically low turnout and tighter margins
The Dane County Clerk’s Office calculates voter turnout by the number of registered voters in the area. So on April 5, 81,104 ballots were cast out of a total of 359,983 registered voters in the county, according to the County Clerk’s office. Here’s how previous years have stacked up.

Running as a “ghost candidate” may be a tactic, and, if so, “it’s sort of a perverse tactic because it’s the opposite of what you would expect,” Burden said. 

Oftentimes, local candidates struggle to gain attention and disseminate their names.

“To see candidates shying away from all of that does suggest that it’s a kind of strategy because those things aren’t constrained by costs,” Burden said. “It may be that these candidates were hoping that the low levels of knowledge about all of the candidates might work to their advantage and let some of them sneak into office.”

“For that reason, both Canon and Burden said it’s good practice for voters to show up at polls, even in low-stakes elections.”

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district has had any uncontested races over the past decade.