All posts by Jim Zellmer

You Have No Idea How Much We’re Using ChatGPT.

Owen Kichizo Terry

Look at any high school or college academic integrity policy, and you’ll find the same message: submit work that reflects your own thinking, or face discipline. A year ago, this was just about the most common-sense rule on Earth. Today, it’s laughably naive.

There’s a remarkable disconnect between how those with influence over education systems –– teachers, professors, administrators –– think students use generative AI on written work and how we actually use it. As a student, the assumption I’ve encountered among authority figures is that if an essay is written with the help of ChatGPT, there will be some sort of evidence –– the software has a distinctive “voice,” it can’t make very complex arguments (yet), and there are programs that claim to detect AI output. This is a dangerous misconception. In reality, it’s very easy to use AI to do the lion’s share of the thinking while still submitting work that looks like your own. Once this becomes clear, it follows that massive structural change is needed if our schools are going to keep training students to think critically.

A $55,000 Fashion Education Now Means Learning to Make Chic Outfits for Roblox Avatars

Sarah E. Needleman:

Younger generations are increasingly using avatars to represent themselves in the digital realm, and half of Gen Zers change their avatars’ clothing at least weekly, according to a study by Parsons and videogame-company Roblox.

“We dress in the physical world and we dress in the digital world,” Ben Barry, Parsons’ dean of fashion, said in a recent panel discussion. “We are in a new era,” he added.

So these days, some aspiring fashion designers are more interested in making dapper duds for those digital muses than actual models.

The more-than-a-century-old Parsons School boasts big-name fashion-industry alumni, including Marc Jacobs, Tom Ford, Anna Sui and Donna Karan, and it is where the first few seasons of the hit reality show “Project Runway” were filmed.

Parsons added an avatar-design course called “Collab: Roblox” this semester through a partnership with Roblox, which operates in the so-called metaverse with thousands of games and occasional concerts. Its users, many still in high school or younger, appear as avatars they can dress up in countless ways. The new course teaches students how to make digital clothing for those figures on the Roblox platform. No scissors, measuring tape or pouty-lipped supermodels are required.

Civics: FBI

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: a Milwaukee Bankruptcy?


Wisconsin lawmakers are fast tracking a plan to bailout Milwaukee to prevent it from declaring bankruptcy. AB245 was introduced earlier this month and it’s already scheduled for a floor vote on May 17th.

Lawmakers claim if Milwaukee declared bankruptcy, it would be devastating for everyone in Wisconsin if that happened. They point to Detroit‘s 2013 bankruptcy as proof. That caught our attention at the MacIver Institute. We wanted to know, how exactly did Detroit’s bankruptcy affect the rest of Michigan?

Did Detroit’s bankruptcy affect Michigan’s bond rating? Did Michigan lose population because of Detroit’s bankruptcy? Did MIchigan lose industry because of Detroit’s bankruptcy?

The answers to those questions could provide critical insight into what might happen if Milwaukee declared bankruptcy. Like Milwaukee, it’s the largest city in a midwestern state with a strong manufacturing background. Michigan tried everything to bail Detroit out of its self-made financial problems, including several revenue raising options not available to any other city in the state, direct intervention, and eventually allowing it to declare bankruptcy. Wisconsin is starting down that same path with Milwaukee. It is currently trying to give Milwaukee the ability to raise a special 2% sales tax available to no other local government in the state.

Trust the Science? The Use of Outdated Reading Curricula in Wisconsin Schools

Will Flanders and Matt Levene:

Forward Exam scores show that Wisconsin students are struggling in reading. Currently statewide, only about 36.8% of students scored proficient or higher on the Forward Exam, meaning the majority of students are falling behind. Reading problems cut across all socioeconomic and racial lines. Much attention has been focused on the “Science of Reading,” and the persistence of reading curricula around the state that are not focused on these metrics. The Science of Reading is a ‘back to the basics’ approach that is focused on learning phonics, increasing vocabulary, and sounding out words rather than the context-clue based “guessing” techniques that have become popular in recent decades. Until now, it has not been possible to take a statewide look at what curricula districts are using for reading, and whether this choice has a relationship to student outcomes.

This paper takes advantage of a new dataset available from the Department of Public Instruction that details the curricula used in each district around the state. We correlate reading outcomes on the Forward Exam with some two of the most widely criticized curricula that rely on “Whole Language” techniques—Lucy Calkins and Fountas and Pinnell.

Key takeaways include:

Whole Language techniques are still in wide use. About 44% of schools around Wisconsin under the high school level are still using Lucy Calkins and/or Fountas and Pinnell.

Use of Lucy Calkins is correlated with lower proficiency. Controlling for a number of other factors that are known to affect reading scores, the use of Lucy Calkins is correlated with about a 2.1% decline in ELA proficiency. No relationship was found with Fountas and Pinnell, possibly due to lower usage rates.

Combined, use of either curriculum is correlated with lower proficiency. Controlling for a number of other factors known to affect reading scores, the use of Lucy Calkins or Fountas and Pinnell is correlated with 2.7% lower reading scores.
Policymakers should consider adopting best practices from the Science of Reading. States like Mississippi have seen significant jumps in reading proficiency by moving away from Whole Language methods to science-based methods. The evidence here suggests Wisconsin could benefit from doing the same.

A list of district-level reading curricula is available on WILL’s School Scorecard. Visit to see what is in use in your community.

“Well, it’s kind of too bad that we’ve got the smartest people at our universities, and yet we have to create a law to tell them how to teach.”

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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

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

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

On “Cognitive Endurance”

Christina Brown, Supreet Kaur, Geeta Kingdon, and Heather Schofield

Schooling may build human capital not only by teaching academic skills, but by expanding the capacity for cognition itself. We focus specifically on cognitive endurance: the ability to sustain effortful mental activity over a continuous stretch of time. As motivation, we document that globally and in the US, the poor exhibit cognitive fatigue more quickly than the rich across field settings; they also attend schools that offer fewer opportunities to practice thinking for continuous stretches. Using a field experiment with 1,600 Indian primary school students, we randomly increase the amount of time students spend in sustained cognitive activity during the school day—using either math problems (mimicking good schooling) or non-academic games (providing a pure test of our mechanism). Each approach markedly improves cognitive endurance: students show 22% less decline in performance over time when engaged in intellectual activities—listening comprehension, academic problems, or IQ tests. They also exhibit increased attentiveness in the classroom and score higher on psychological measures of sustained attention. Moreover, each treatment improves students’ school performance by 0.09 standard deviations. This indicates that the experience of effortful thinking itself—even when devoid of any subject content—increases the ability to accumulate traditional human capital. Finally, we complement these results with quasi-experimental variation indicating that an additional year of schooling improves cognitive endurance, but only in higher-quality schools. Our findings suggest that schooling disparities may further disadvantage poor children by hampering the development of a core mental capacity.

Federal Spending Soars, Revenue Falls

Wall Street Journal:

April is typically the best month for the federal fisc because it’s the tax payment deadline for the previous year. But this year the April budget surplus fell by $135 billion from a year earlier. Including adjustments for timing shifts in federal outlays, the decline was $274 billion, or 73% from April 2022.

That portends bigger budget deficits for the rest of the fiscal year. The deficit for the first seven months is already $928 billion, or 236% higher than in 2022 with timing adjustments. Keep in mind that this is happening when the economy is still growing and the unemployment rate is still low.

The big culprit is spending, which is up 12% in the first seven months or nearly $400 billion, including timing adjustments. Entitlements are up 11% and education spending owing to student-loan changes is up 56%. Chalk this up to the spending pipeline enacted by the last Congress that has years to go unless it’s pared back by this Congress.

And get this: Interest on the national debt rose 40%, or $107 billion, and is already $374 billion for the first seven months. That’s what happens when interest rates rise 500 basis points in a year to fight the inflation that runaway federal spending helped to ignite.

Citing President Dwight Eisenhower’s concern for the ties between government funding and higher education, Giordano writes that the fear ‘has become a reality.’

Elaine Gunthorpe:

In his recent Fox News op-edCampus ReformHigher Education Fellow Nicholas Giordano discusses the “unholy alliance” forming between government bureaucrats and the academic elites. 

Citing President Dwight Eisenhower’s concern for the ties between government funding and higher education, Giordano writes that the fear “has become a reality.”

“[T]hroughout the country, professors on college campuses have been recruited to develop tools for monitoring and restricting discourse, betraying the values of free speech,” Giordano writes, pointing to an example from Wisconsin.   

“[T]he University of Wisconsin has been awarded a $5 million grant by the National Science Foundation (NSF),” Giordano explains, “to develop a system that can detect and ‘strategically correct’ what the government perceives as misinformation relating to COVID, elections, and vaccines.”

He goes on to elaborate:

A Mathematician’s Lament

Paul Lockhart:

As for the primary and secondary schools, their mission is to train students to use this language— to jiggle symbols around according to a fixed set of rules: “Music class is where we take out our staff paper, our teacher puts some notes on the board, and we copy them or transpose them into a different key. We have to make sure to get the clefs and key signatures right, and our teacher is very picky about making sure we fill in our quarter-notes completely. One time we had a chromatic scale problem and I did it right, but the teacher gave me no credit because I had the stems pointing the wrong way.”

In their wisdom, educators soon realize that even very young children can be given this kind of musical instruction. In fact it is considered quite shameful if one’s third-grader hasn’t completely memorized his circle of fifths. “I’ll have to get my son a music tutor. He simply won’t apply himself to his music homework. He says it’s boring. He just sits there staring out the window, humming tunes to himself and making up silly songs.”

Minhyong Kim is leading a new initiative called Mathematics for Humanity that encourages mathematicians to apply their skills to solving social problems.

Philip Amman:

I think, first of all, primarily, we’re training them for their own sake, not for ours. Of course, community benefits will come out of the situation in some way. But mostly, it’s about their individual fulfillment that we’re here for when we’re educating them. How they find meaning in life, it’s up to them.

Secondly, I think mathematical sophistication is very important in understanding the world at present in many possible ways. You definitely need to have a sophisticated mathematical view that you combine with other things to understand the world. Now, if there are a lot of such people in society, then people who teach and produce new mathematics, it’s hard to think that they wouldn’t benefit from it. If, in other words, you have a mathematically sophisticated society, the status of the people who are specialists in mathematics [will improve].

America’s higher education institutions preach social justice while running on the exploitation of adjunct workers

Dick Bauer:

During the pandemic, this same university chose not to send its foreign students to their native homes during the two-year period of the COVID pandemic. The reason: The F2F tuition the school was charging the students (and this school was in the top 100 in Forbes magazine for their graduate school) was three times the in-state or U.S. citizen tuition. Sending foreign students home would eliminate a very lucrative revenue source. 

Additionally, such foreign nationals were required, according to the school’s pandemic-era policies, to attend at least three classes in-person each semester to maintain matriculation status and keep their student visas. That meant that there needed to be instructors on campus to teach these classes, but of course the full-time faculty could not be forced to endanger themselves by breaking COVID lockdown rules. So it was left to adjuncts like myself, who did not receive any medical insurance from the school, to drive to campus to hold in-person classes for these high-revenue students.

Despite teaching as many as eight courses in one term, I was never offered any of the benefits that are customarily associated with a full-time academic salary in America. Some schools have elected to restrict the hours adjunct faculty are allowed to work in order to avoid the Affordable Care Act requirement that would otherwise require them to provide health insurance to their employees. According to AdjunctNation, more than 200 schools set limits on adjunct working hours. Adjuncts typically earn between $20,000 and $25,000 annually, while the average salary for full-time instructors is $84,300, according to the American Association of University Professors.

Some adjuncts cobble together a full-time teaching schedule by offering classes at more than one university—as many as three or four. However, professors who “moonlight” at multiple colleges rarely earn the same salary or benefits as full-time instructors.

Barrington schools settle with teachers fired over COVID vaccination

Antonia Noori Farzan

The Barrington School Committee has reached a settlement with three teachers who were fired for refusing to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Brittany DiOrio, Stephanie Hines and Kerri Thurber will each receive a payment of $33,333, a spokesperson for the school district announced Thursday in a news release. Additionally, they will receive back pay: $65,000 for Hines, $128,000 for Thurber and $150,000 for DiOrio. The three teachers’ legal counsel will receive $50,000 in attorney’s fees.

The Parents Who Fight the City for a “Free Appropriate Public Education”

Jessica Winter:

Travis came to live at his ninth home the day before he started kindergarten. When his new foster parents, Elizabeth and Dan, enrolled Travis at their neighborhood public school, in a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood in Brooklyn, they learned that Travis was eligible for special-education services. (Some names in this story have been changed.) Several languages had been spoken in Travis’s past homes, which had included foster-care placements and homeless shelters, and he had not begun speaking until he was three and a half. A neuropsychiatric evaluation of Travis, conducted when he was four, estimated that he had a grasp of twenty words; it also noted that he still wore pull-up diapers and “tends to speak very loudly to his peers.”

Elizabeth noticed a line in Travis’s paperwork that read “Disability Classification,” and, next to it, the initials “E.D.” The school’s principal told her that they stood for “emotional disturbance.” Elizabeth and Dan, who later adopted Travis and his infant brother, Kieran, did not yet know that Travis had suffered abuse and neglect in previous homes. Nor did they know that Travis had been kicked out of two preschools for violent behavior. But, Elizabeth told me, “it was almost immediately apparent that he had aggressive and violent coping skills. That was how he interacted with the world, because that was how the world had interacted with him.”

That fall, when Elizabeth visited Travis’s kindergarten classroom for her first parent-teacher conference, one of the teachers gestured toward a comfy reading nook, piled with pillows. “See that calm-down corner? We built that for Travis,” the teacher said. Elizabeth, who is a stay-at-home mother, began receiving frequent calls about Travis acting out at school: tantrums, hitting other children, throwing books. A behavioral paraprofessional was assigned to Travis, but the incidents persisted. “We started getting calls like, ‘There’s a field trip coming up, and it would probably be best if Travis stayed home.’ Or, ‘Could he not come into school tomorrow? It would just be easier,’ ” Elizabeth said.

Notes on DIE $pending at the University of Wisconsin

David Blaska:

Requiring prospective employees to attest to their DEI faithis a prohibited political test, President Rothman told legislators. “If people think we are imposing litmus tests on them at that stage in the employment process, we are not being inclusive,” he said. “We need to be inclusive.”

Doubtless, the UW system boss was responding to Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, who threatens to reduce system funding by the $16 million spent annually on DEI enforcement. 

“I have heard from people who have had to fill out DEI statements to apply for a UW job and graduate students who have had to admit to their white privilege. This is preposterous!” — Assembly Speaker Robin Vos

“noted the divergence between students’ academic assessments and graduation rates”

Melissa Whitler:

“If graduation rates are going up, are our children prepared for life after school?” El-Amin asked at the board meeting. 

Interim Superintendent Rochelle Cox said that this is one of the reasons why the intervention triads will be at middle and high schools, and not just in elementary grades, next year. 

“I want every parent out there of an eleventh grader or tenth grader or ninth grader to know that there is support next year if their student is struggling in reading or math,” Cox said.

Cox also said that within high schools, there are many accommodations happening for students who are struggling with basic literacy and numeracy in other content areas. 

Senior Academic Officer Aimee Fearing explained that the district is currently auditing high school courses to determine whether or not they meet all State standards. As part of that process, she said the district has already told at least one high school, “You are assigning graduation credit for a course that we don’t believe meets State standards.”

Free speech, racial equity battles play out on Wisconsin campuses

Todd Richmond:

In just the past two weeks, the state’s top Republican announced a push to defund the University of Wisconsin System’s diversity efforts — a move the Democratic governor lambasted as ridiculous. A student from UW-Madison posted racial slurs online, triggering bitter protests but no announced discipline. And a state medical college canceled a diversity symposium featuring Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson out of concerns the discussion would be too disruptive, resulting in cries of bias from conservatives.

Amid that backdrop, Republican legislative leaders are set to hold a hearing Thursday with only invited speakers to discuss “how the lack of free speech and intellectual diversity on college campuses affects the quality of higher education.” The speakers include John Sailer, policy director at the National Association of Scholars, a conservative group that advocates against diversity policies, and Tim Higgins, a former UW regent appointed by former Republican Gov. Scott Walker.

“I think people are talking about viewpoint diversity as being as important or more important than other types of diversity,” said Republican Rep. David Murphy, chairman of the state Assembly’s colleges committee, who will preside over the hearing. “And I think (diversity efforts aren’t) showing any benefits.”

Fake scientific papers are alarmingly common

Jeffrey Brainard:

His findings underscore what was widely suspected: Journals are awash in a rising tide of scientific manuscripts from paper mills—secretive businesses that allow researchers to pad their publication records by paying for fake papers or undeserved authorship. “Paper mills have made a fortune by basically attacking a system that has had no idea how to cope with this stuff,” says Dorothy Bishop, a University of Oxford psychologist who studies fraudulent publishing practices. A 2 May announcement from the publisher Hindawi underlined the threat: It shut down four of its journals it found were “heavily compromised” by articles from paper mills.

Sabel’s tool relies on just two indicators—authors who use private, noninstitutional email addresses, and those who list an affiliation with a hospital. It isn’t a perfect solution, because of a high false-positive rate. Other developers of fake-paper detectors, who often reveal little about how their tools work, contend with similar issues.

Still, the detectors raise hopes for gaining the advantage over paper mills, which churn out bogus manuscripts containing text, data, and images partly or wholly plagiarized or fabricated, often massaged by ghost writers. Some papers are endorsed by unrigorous reviewers solicited by the authors. Such manuscripts threaten to corrupt the scientific literature, misleading readers and potentially distorting systematic reviews. The recent advent of artificial intelligence tools such as ChatGPT has amplified the concern.

Promoting the Western canon shouldn’t only be a Republican talking point.

Cornel West and Jeremy Wayne Tate:

Gov. Ron DeSantis just gave a welcome boost to the classical-education movement. He signed legislation allowing high-school students to qualify for Bright Futures scholarships, a state fund for college education, by submitting scores from the Classic Learning Test instead of the SAT alone.

This move will likely be portrayed, wrongly, as partisan and conservative. But the greatest works of civilization have always been about spurring—not preventing—radical change. They teach us about the revolutionary ideas of the past and help us better understand the present. The richest ideas of what it means to be human are those that have stood the test of time.

Many of the seminal works of literature, history, philosophy, science and theology were revolutionary in their respective ages. Turn the pages of Galileo Galilei’s “Two New Sciences” and you’ll experience the alteration of humanity’s view of itself in relation to the heavens. By disproving the then-common belief that the planets revolved around the Earth rather than the sun, Galileo laid the foundation for modern science. Isaac Newton, swept aside what remained of the Old World’s scientific superstitions—only to find himself upstaged two centuries later by Albert Einstein’s “Relativity.”

Like revolutionary ideas today, the ideas of yesterday were provocative and, in many cases, much more consequential. Galileo was put on trial because he upset the status quo. In the 13th century, Bishop Stephen Tempier of Paris condemned key works of theologian Thomas Aquinas for being too radical. Soviet dissident Alexander Solzhenitsyn and civil-rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. were imprisoned for their views. In colonial America, James Madison and his co-authors feared printing their names on the Federalist Papers, so they hid under aliases. Even the most mild-mannered of philosophers stirred trouble for thinking against the grain. Plato watched his great teacher Socrates put to death for his teachings.

Notes on “substitutions”

Alex Tabarrok

The misunderstanding came from thinking that we need every user of fuel to find substitutes. Not at all! In reality, as fuel prices rise, those with the lowest substitution costs will switch first, freeing up fuel for users who have more difficulty finding alternatives. Just one industry with favorable substitution possibilities, combined with a few moderately adaptable industries, can produce a significant overall effect. Moreover, there are nearly always some industries with viable substitution options. To see why reverse the usual story and ask, if fuel prices fell by 50% could your industry use more fuel? And if fuel prices fell by 50% are their industries that could switch into the now cheaper fuel?

People often find it easier to imagine new uses rather than ways to reduce existing consumption. However, it is typically the new uses that are scaled back first. Tyler and I illustrate this with our jet and rubber ducky graph. Although jet aircraft won’t shift away from oil even at high prices, rubber (actually plastic) duckies, which are made from oil, can find substitutes–wood, for example–when oil prices rise. And if plastic ducky manufacturers cannot find substitutes, they go out of business, freeing up more oil for other uses. In this way, the market identifies the least valuable goods to cease production, another kind of substitution.

Stanford’s “Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Belonging (DEIB) Content Style Guide”

Steven McGuire:

The guide states that “it is not intended to constrain the academic freedom or free speech rights of members of the Stanford community,” but it takes positions on topics that remain matters of public and academic controversy, and it is part of the university’s official “Identity Guide.”

The entry for “gender, gender identity” says that “Not all people fall under one of two categories for sex or gender, according to leading medical organizations, so avoid using both sexes, either sex, or opposite sexes to encompass all people.” Colin Wright, an evolutionary biologist, maintains that sex is binary, as do many other scientists and doctors. Should a university communications office be canonizing beliefs that may well be pseudoscientific?

Offices and Officers of the Constitution, Part III: The Appointments, Impeachment, Commissions, and Oath or Affirmation Clauses

Seth Barrett Tillman and Josh Blackman

This Article is the third installment of a planned ten-part series that provides the first comprehensive examination of the offices and officers of the Constitution. The first installment introduced the series. The second installment identified four approaches to understand the Constitution’s divergent “Office”- and “Officer”-language. This third installment will analyze the phrase “Officers of the United States,” which is used in the Appointments Clause, the Impeachment Clause, the Commissions Clause, and the Oath or Affirmation Clause.

This Article proceeds in six sections. Section I describes our methodology, which includes textualism, original public meaning originalism, original methods originalism, and consideration of historical practices during the founding-era and later-in-time. Section II explains that the phrase “Officers of the United States” is defined by the Appointments Clause. This phrase refers to appointed positions in the Executive and Judicial Branches. Our position here is supported by the drafting history of the Appointments Clause, as well as Supreme Court precedent. Section III turns to the Impeachment Clause, which applies to “civil Officers of the United States.” This latter category refers to non-military appointed positions in the Executive Branch and Judicial Branch. Members of Congress, as well as appointed positions in the Legislative Branch, are not “civil Officers of the United States,” and therefore such positions cannot be impeached.

“An emphasis on adult employment”

“Well, it’s kind of too bad that we’ve got the smartest people at our universities, and yet we have to create a law to tell them how to teach.”

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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

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

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

Wisconsin’s long term, disastrous reading results

“Well, it’s kind of too bad that we’ve got the smartest people at our universities, and yet we have to create a law to tell them how to teach.”

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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

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

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

Recently, Soros Funded Wisconsin Watch released articles criticizing the Wisconsin parental choice programs and incorrectly claiming that private schools may “discriminate.


Recently Wisconsin Watch released articles criticizing the Wisconsin parental choice programs and incorrectly claiming that private schools may “discriminate.” This memo provides resources and information about the false claims made in the article and talking points to refute them. 

The claims that private schools may “discriminate” are false. 

These claims are false. Wisconsin Watch claims that federal law “allows religious entities to discriminate against LGBTQ+ students” and that schools in the parental choice program may discriminate against LGBTQ+ students or those with disabilities “once that student is enrolled.” 

Private schools are governed by different laws than public schools.  There are specific prohibitions of discrimination that apply to private schools participating in the parental choice program. For example, Wisconsin law requires private schools in the choice programs to do a blind admission process. Schools are not permitted to create barriers for enrollment for student based on anything other than the DPI application and income verification forms. Private schools are allowed to give existing students and their siblings eligibility preferences.  

Private schools are not permitted to “discriminate” against students with disabilities. 

The Obama Administration began a misguided investigation into private schools in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program in 2011. DPI, at that time, correctly stated that private schools in the program have a different legal standard to serve students with disabilities. Despite a three-year investigation, there were no instances of discrimination found

Private schools have a different legal standard than public schools for students with disabilities. 

Public schools are subject to several state and federal laws regarding the education of students with disabilities including the requirement that public school districts may not deny any student access to a “Free and Appropriate Public Education” and receive specific funds to educate children with disabilities. Even within public school districts, not all individual schools are required to provide a full range of special education services.

Private schools must meet a different legal standard. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Title III of the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) set forth requirements for private schools. 

Title III of the ADA requires private schools to make “reasonable modifications” for individuals with disabilities to access the facility and prohibits private schools from discriminating against individuals based on their disability. Changes to accommodate may not fundamentally alter the nature of the goods and services provided by the private school or impose an undue financial or administrative burden on the private school. Similarly, Section 504 requires private schools to make “minor adjustments” for individuals with disabilities to access the facility. Private schools may consider  the nature of the program provided and the expense of accommodations sought when serving individuals with disabilities under Section 504. 

Furthermore, private schools participating in the Wisconsin Special Needs Scholarship Program, to specifically serve students with disabilities, must meet with families to complete an agreement to discuss the educational needs of each student and to explain special education resources available at the school. Participating private schools are also required to provide reports to parents about student progress.

The Wisconsin Watch articles do not specifically claim a private school violated the federal laws regarding students with disabilities. 

Private schools in Wisconsin serve hundreds of students with disabilities.

Academic research found that private schools in Wisconsin parental choice programs serve many students with disabilities. Reported disability rates are often lower because choice schools lack the financial incentive public schools have for identification.

This is further supported by the growing participation in the Special Needs Scholarship Program, a state-funded program to give students with disabilities funding to attend a private school of their choice. Since the program’s creation in 2015, participation has grown by 815%, from 215 to 1,986 students. 

Private schools in the choice program welcome all students. 

Private schools in the choice program choose to participate in the program, with full knowledge that they are opening their doors to students and families from all different backgrounds and beliefs. Many of these schools participate because they want to serve as many students as possible. 

Private schools in the choice program may not require participation in religious classes. 

Once enrolled, all students are subject to the policies of the school, religious policies included. If families disagree with the religious beliefs of the school, state law permits families to opt their children out of religious instruction. 

Additionally, the choice program is a voluntary program that empowers families to choose the school that best fits their child’s needs. Families are always free to choose to send their children to a school that matches their values.

Religious schools have a constitutional protection to serve students based on their beliefs. 

The U.S. Constitution protects the free exercise of religion. This allows religious schools to teach and make decisions based on their religious beliefs. For private, religious schools, this includes decisions relating to policies and procedures at the school. 

Both the Wisconsin Supreme Court and U.S. Supreme Court have determined that parental choice programs are legal. 

The claims that taxpayer dollars should not go to schools that enforce their religious beliefs has been litigated both in Wisconsin and most recently in the U.S. Supreme Court. The U.S. Supreme Court has made clear that if states choose to create and provide a parental choice program the state may not discriminate against faith-based schools and may not bar students from using public funds to attend religious schools. 

With private schools, the choice ultimately lies with the student, parent, and family. 

All families deserve to access high-quality schools that meet their child’s needs. Far too many families are stuck in their assigned public schools, but school choice provides families with the option to attend the school that is the best fit for their child.

Ultimately, parents and students have every right to go to a school that matches their moral convictions.  The whole idea behind school choice is if a parent or student is upset with how a school is run, then they can in fact go somewhere else and take their money with them. 

For additional questions, please contact:

Nic Kelly,

Libby Sobic,

Notes and links on “Wisconsin Watch

“Well, it’s kind of too bad that we’ve got the smartest people at our universities, and yet we have to create a law to tell them how to teach.”

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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

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

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

“an overwhelming 74 percent thought that race or ethnicity should not be a factor in college admissions”

Ray Teixeira

Democrats are very shaky indeed on the idea of merit today but that wobbliness goes back quite a way to the origins of affirmative action as a tool for allocating jobs and school admissions. As it evolved in practice, affirmative action became bound up with preferences based on race (later also on gender) that were used to override allocations based on conventional measures of merit. While these practices have been with us for a long time, they have never been popular. Voters have been stubbornly resistant to the idea that it’s fair to allocate sought-over slots on the basis of race rather than merit.

This is true today as the Supreme Court prepares to render a decision next month on affirmative action in higher education as practiced byHarvard and the University of North Carolina. The Harvard case turns particularly on whether Asians have been discriminated against in admissions to that college. Given the proclivities of the Court and the blindingly obvious pattern of such discrimination—denying it seems as plausible as professing one’s belief in the Easter Bunny—it is a safe bet that the Court will decide against the universities. In so doing, the Court will find itself on the good side of public opinion and Democrats, who will no doubt denounce the decision in histrionic terms, will find themselves very much on the wrong side.

In typical polling from Pew in 2022, just 7 percent of the public thought high school grades should not be a factor in college admissions and a mere 14 percent thought standardized test scores should not be a factor. But an overwhelming 74 percent thought that race or ethnicity should not be a factor in college admissions.

A “woke” takeover of the Texas Historical Association?

Rob D’Amico:

The TSHA committee responsible for a nomination to a vacant seat had put forth an academic to fill it, which would have made the balance 12–8 in favor of academics. TSHA backers of a more traditionalist history of Texas (think “Remember the Alamo!”) were upset because they said the meeting’s board election was about to throw the organization’s governance out of whack, in violation of its bylaws. Many in that camp felt that academics often promoted a more progressive version of Texas history that unduly questioned the motives of Texas revolutionaries and overemphasized the shortcomings of other historical figures and groups: for example, blaming Texas Rangers in general for the racist and murderous acts of some of that group’s members, especially during its earlier days.

Executive director J. P. Bryan Jr.—a former TSHA president whose ancestor helped found the association and who leans toward the more traditional take on Texas history—had a wild card to play at the meeting. Bryan told the voting members in attendance that instead of just considering the committee-anointed academic nominee, they should consider a nomination from the floor of Wallace Jefferson, a former Texas Supreme Court justice and a nonacademic, to maintain balance. Jefferson, who is Black, also would help advance the association’s diversity goals.

Tennessee Open Records

MD Kittle:

The Star News Network is suing the Federal Bureau of Investigation alleging the law enforcement agency has broken a critical First Amendment guard in repeatedly denying Freedom of Information Act requests seeking the Covenant School killer’s manifesto.

Filed Wednesday, the federal lawsuit asks the U.S. District Court for Middle Tennessee to order the FBI to release Audrey Elizabeth Hale’s manifesto and related documents and to issue a declaration that the agency violated FOIA in denying the request for the information.

The Milwaukee-based Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) is representing three plaintiffs, Nashville-based Star News Digital Media, Inc., which owns and operates The Star News Network, Michael Patrick Leahy and Matt Kittle.

The pain points of teaching computer science

Austin Henley:

We identified 6 categories of pain points:

  • Where are students struggling? It is a huge challenge for instructors to know when students are struggling. There is often not an effective feedback loop since instructors often rely on students to ask questions. However, two instructors expressed why this doesn’t work: “I can’t see where they get stuck and many don’t ask questions” and “students are doing lots and lots of things but I can’t process all they are doing”.
  • Answering student questions. In contrast, instructors and TAs are overwhelmed with responding to questions and problems. These questions are often last minute, repetitive in nature, and require technical troubleshooting. For example, “Why does Python no longer exist?”.
  • Limited TA support. You might be thinking that teaching assistants will just solve all these challenges! Sadly, most departments are understaffed with TAs, if they have any at all, despite growing enrollments. Instructors said that even when they have TAs, they sometimes require considerable time to manage and may not be reliable.
  • Grading and feedback. Nearly every instructor brought up the time and tedium of grading. In fact, one instructor told us “grading is probably the biggest burden of the courses”. Instructors also described how critical it is to design a rubric and feedback mechanism that is transparent and minimizes lawyering.
  • Course material preparation. Instructors lamented about the high cost of creating and maintain course materials, such as lectures, assignments, and quizzes. They often don’t update them over the years because they “just don’t have the resources”. The shift to online courses because of COVID-19 required significant upfront investment, though instructors complained they saw little engagement from students.
  • Administrative tasks. The grunt work of running a course includes managing social dynamics, accreditation tasks, enforcing academic honest policies, dealing with LMS issues, etc. Several instructors said they wished they could spend this time improving the course instead. Dealing with cheating was probably the least favorite task of all!

Censorship at Northwestern

Jonathan Turley:

Northwestern University has long been a school hostile to free speech. My alma mater was ranked 197 out of 203 universities for free speech in a major survey by FIRE. (Fortunately, my other alma mater, the University of Chicago, was ranked number one for free speech). This month showed why Northwestern developed a reputation for speech intolerance and a lack of ideological diversity. Northwestern University’s Associated Student Government suspended the funding for the College Republicans due to objections to posters for an event featuring writer and critical race theory critic James Lindsay. The justification was a poster featuring a skull and crossbones, an objection that seemed more of a pretense than a principle. This move reportedly came after Lindsay’s speech was the subject of protests on campus.According to the Daily Northwestern, one of the posters displayed a skull and crossbones that was superimposed over the LGBT Pride flag. ASG co-president, Molly Whalen, seemed disappointed that the group did not have the power to ban Lindsay but took solace from the fact that they could deny the Republicans any funding:

“We can’t prevent a speaker from coming to campus as student government. That’s done by administration. We focused on the part that we could control, which is student group conduct and student group finances.”

It is doubtful that other groups from the College Democrats to Black Lives Matter to pro-choice groups would be sanctioned for using the common symbol to express their opposition to the MAGA movement or racism or pro-life positions.

Who Would Chose Socialism?

Robert Nozick:

What percentage of people would choose to live under socialism? The communist countries do not help us to answer this question, for neither through elections nor through emigration do they offer their people any choice. What about the electoral experience of democratic societies such as England or Sweden? Even this does not enable us to disentangle (imagined) self-interest from our topic: the desire to participate in socialist interpersonal relations of equality and community.

To find out what percentage of people especially want to live under socialism, we need a situation where people have a reasonably attractive socialist option and also a reasonably attractive nonsocialist one. If it is not precisely the optimal experiment to answer our question, the Israeli experience with kibbutzim comes as close as the real world can.

Not only have the kibbutzim offered socialist personal relations in a socialist community, but these communities have been widely admired for performing the important functions of reclaiming the land, aiding Jewish self defense, and “normalizing” the occupational structure of the Jewish people. Unlike 19th-century utopian communities in America or 20th-century “communes, membership in a kibbutz brought respect and support from the wider society, aiding members through difficulties. Furthermore, no natural population provides a more fertile ground for socialist commitment than the Ashkenazi Jewish population. No people is more prone to being captured by an “idealistic” ideological position, especially one emphasizing group solidarity. Indeed, there was selective entry into Israel early in the century; many came in order to help build socialism and did their best to instill their ideals in their children.

“Carbon-14 dating shows only 12% of atmospheric CO2 added since 1750 is manmade”

Skrable, Kenneth; Chabot, George; French, Clayton1

After 1750 and the onset of the industrial revolution, the anthropogenic fossil component and the non-fossil component in the total atmospheric CO2concentration, C(t), began to increase. Despite the lack of knowledge of these two components, claims that all or most of the increase in C(t) since 1800 has been due to the anthropogenic fossil component have continued since they began in 1960 with “Keeling Curve: Increase in CO2 from burning fossil fuel.” Data and plots of annual anthropogenic fossil CO2 emissions and concentrations, C(t), published by the Energy Information Administration, are expanded in this paper. Additions include annual mean values in 1750 through 2018 of the 14C specific activity, concentrations of the two components, and their changes from values in 1750. The specific activity of 14C in the atmosphere gets reduced by a dilution effect when fossil CO2, which is devoid of 14C, enters the atmosphere. We have used the results of this effect to quantify the two components. All results covering the period from 1750 through 2018 are listed in a table and plotted in figures. These results negate claims that the increase in C(t) since 1800 has been dominated by the increase of the anthropogenic fossil component. We determined that in 2018, atmospheric anthropogenic fossil CO2 represented 23% of the total emissions since 1750 with the remaining 77% in the exchange reservoirs. Our results show that the percentage of the total CO2 due to the use of fossil fuels from 1750 to 2018 increased from 0% in 1750 to 12% in 2018, much too low to be the cause of global warming.

Oakland Teachers Strike for Climate Justice

Wall Street Journal:

The union also wants reparations for black students to remedy alleged historic injustices. How about instead remedying the enormous learning deficits the union has caused by protecting bad teachers and closing schools during the pandemic? Perhaps the district could extend the school year, or, better yet, provide families with private school vouchers?

Instead, the union wants the first week of school each year to focus on creating a “positive school culture,” whatever that means, rather than instruction. It is also demanding a “Climate Justice Day for standards-based teach-ins, workshops, action, and field trips.” Maybe kids can’t read, but they can be unemployed climate warriors. 

The Oakland union is taking cues from the National Education Association. “When we expand the continuum of bargaining, we build power, and go on the offense in order to fight for social and racial justice, for our kids, for our schools, for our communities, and for the future,” the NEA states on its website. 

Tired of being criticized for prioritizing their own interests over those of children, unions are now pretending to promote what they call the “common good.” Yet in doing so they are substantiating the Supreme Court’s landmark Janus decision (2018), which held that government collective-bargaining implicates workers’ First Amendment rights.

“An emphasis on adult employment”


“The simple fact is that this State and County have set themselves on a course to disaster”

Florian Sohnke:

And the worst part is that the agency for whom I work has backed literally every policy change that has the predictable, and predicted, outcome of more crime and more people getting hurt.

Bond reform designed to make sure no one stays in jail while their cases are pending with no safety net to handle more criminals on the streets, shorter parole periods, lower sentences for repeat offenders, the malicious and unnecessary prosecution of law enforcement officers, the overuse of diversion programs, intentionally not pursuing prosecutions for crimes lawfully on the books after being passed by our legislature and signed by a governor, all of the so-called reforms have had a direct negative impact, with consequences that will last for a generation.

Many years ago, my family found a nice corner of the suburbs. Now my son, who is only 5, hears gunfire while playing at our neighborhood park, and a drug dealer is open-air selling behind my house (the second one in two years). If it were just me to consider, I’d stick it out. I’ve been through enough stupid State’s Attorney policies before. But this Office’s complete failure to even think for a moment before rushing into one popular political agenda after another has put my family directly in harm’s way.

The current people in charge of this state, including the SAO, suffer from a fundamental misunderstanding…we live in a society with adversarial court and criminal justice processes. Defense attorneys, legal aid clinics, Public Defenders, defendant advocate groups…they fight like hell to protect the rights of criminal defendants. Andy they should. Their work is as noble as ours. But we have an obligation to fight like hell on behalf of the People. It should go without saying that this must be done ethically and evenhandedly. When both sides vigorously defend their positions, a balance is reached between protecting rights while preserving some sort of order and safety. Once we start doing too much of the defense’s job, once we pull our punches, once we decide it’s worth risking citizens’ lives to have a little social experiment, that balance is lost. The unavoidable consequences are what we are witnessing in real time, an increase in crime of all kinds, businesses and families pulling up the stakes, and the bodies piling up; the whole time with a State’s Attorney who insists there is nothing to see here, and if there is, it must be someone else’s fault. And then they wonder why they cannot retain experienced prosecutors or even hire new ones…it’s because any true prosecutor recognizes the importance of this balance, and they will not be permitted to be a prosecutor under this administration.

Report on the Censorship-Industrial Complex: The Top 50 Organizations to Know


This is why the Trump-Russia scandal in the United States will likely be remembered as a crucial moment in 21st-century history, even though the investigation superficially ended a non-story, fake news in itself. What the Mueller investigation didn’t accomplish in ousting Trump from office, it did accomplish in birthing a vast new public-private bureaucracy devoted to stopping “mis-, dis-, and malinformation,” while smoothing public acquiescence to the emergence of a spate of new government agencies with “information warfare” missions. 

The “Censorship-Industrial Complex” is just the Military-Industrial Complex reborn for the “hybrid warfare” age.

Much like the war industry, pleased to call itself the “defense” sector, the “anti-disinformation” complex markets itself as merely defensive, designed to fend off the hostile attacks of foreign cyber-adversaries who unlike us have “military limitations.” The CIC, however, is neither wholly about defense, nor even mostly focused on foreign “disinformation.” It’s become instead a relentless, unified messaging system aimed primarily at domestic populations, who are told that political discord at home aids the enemy’s undeclared hybrid assault on democracy

They suggest we must rethink old conceptions about rights, and give ourselves over to new surveillance techniques like “toxicity monitoring,” replace the musty old free press with editors claiming a “nose for news” with an updated model that uses automated assignment tools like “newsworthy claim extraction,” and submit to frank thought-policing mechanisms like the “redirect method,” which sends ads at online browsers of dangerous content, pushing them toward “constructive alternative messages.”

New New York City Reading Programs

Alex Zimmerman:

New York City’s elementary schools will be required to use one of three reading curriculums, a tectonic shift that education officials hope will improve literacy rates across the nation’s largest school system.

Beginning in September, elementary schools in 15 of the city’s 32 districts will be required to use one of three programs selected by the education department, Chancellor David Banks and Mayor Eric Adams announced Tuesday. By September 2024, all of the city’s roughly 700 elementary schools will be required to use one of the three. Chalkbeat first reported the plans in March. 

The new mandate won support from the teachers union, whose leaders expressed faith in the city’s efforts to train thousands of teachers on new materials. Training for the first year is expected to cost $35 million, though city officials declined to provide an estimate of the effort’s overall price tag, including the cost of purchasing materials.

Meanwhile, the plan earned a strong rebuke from the union representing principals, who have long had wide latitude to choose which materials their teachers use. That freedom has allowed school leaders to use programs that vary widely in their approach and quality, Banks has argued.

Union sues to strike down US debt limit as default looms

Daniel Wiessner

A union for U.S. federal government employees filed a lawsuit on Monday claiming a law setting a $31.4 trillion debt ceiling is unconstitutional as political leaders seek to avoid a historic default expected as soon as next month.

The National Association of Government Employees (NAGE) says the debt limit law adopted in 1917 violates the U.S. Constitution’s separation of powers because it forces the president in the event of a default to cut spending already authorized by Congress.

DIE and Kafka

Scott Gerber

Franz Kafka’s “The Trial” tells the story of Josef K., a man arrested, prosecuted and killed by an inaccessible authority, with the nature of his crime revealed neither to him nor to the reader. I’m Josef K.

Around 1 p.m. on Friday, April 14, Ohio Northern University campus security officers entered my classroom with my students present and escorted me to the dean’s office. Armed town police followed me down the hall. My students appeared shocked and frightened. I know I was. I was immediately barred from teaching, banished from campus, and told that if I didn’t sign a separation agreement and release of claims by April 21, ONU would commence dismissal proceedings against me. The grounds: “Collegiality.” The specifics: None.

Josef K. never learns what he’s alleged to have done wrong. The offenses I’ve allegedly committed haven’t been revealed to me, either. But I have an educated guess.

Like many universities, ONU is aggressively pursuing “diversity, equity and inclusion” initiatives. I have objected publicly as vice chairman of the University Council, an elected faculty governance body, and in newspaper op-eds and on television, to DEI efforts that don’t include viewpoint diversity and would lead to illegal discrimination in employment and admissions. The same week I was led out of my classroom by police and campus security, I published an op-ed defending Justice Clarence Thomas’s right to have friends—even rich ones. …

Why Journalists Have More Freedom Than Professors

Ross Douthat

In recent months, there have been several instances of elite universities or their faculty members offering some kind of institutional pushback to a censorious progressivism. Prominent examples include Cornell’s refusal to create a trigger warning requirement demanded by the undergraduate student assembly, the formation of a Harvard faculty group defending academic freedom and Stanford’s official condemnation of the disruptions at a conservative judge’s law school talk.

These developments dovetail with the argumentmade earlier this year by Musa al-Gharbi at Columbia, a perceptive observer of the culture war, that the Great Awokening as a period of intense moral fervor may be winding down — that after “10 straight years of heightened unrest in knowledge-economy institutions and knowledge-economy hubs” we’re seeing a partial depoliticization, a diminishment of ideological policing and cancellation attempts. And they also dovetail, to some extent, with an essay this week from Matt Yglesias, the Vox co-founder turned Substacker, arguing that critics of wokeness risk creating a self-fulfilling prophecy if they constantly emphasize the obstacles to free speech and the professional penalties for heterodoxy, rather than simply encouraging journalists and academics to have courage and recognize that you can take a controversial position without being immediately professionally disappeared.

I agree with al-Gharbi that the recent intellectual trends within liberal institutions are somewhat more favorable to free debate, and I agree with Yglesias that intellectual courage is necessary and that the language of anti-wokeness sometimes encourages people to imagine a more Soviet situation than actually exists. But I also think that there are different ways that an era of “heightened unrest” and ideological revolution can give way to relative cultural peace.

In some situations, the revolution might be rolled back or resisted or collapse of its own accord. But in others, peace might arrive because the revolution feels confident in its path to ultimate victory and no longer feels an urgent need to make examples of its enemies; it can move comfortably to entrenchment, the institutional long march.

Politics and the English Language

George Orwell:

MOST people who bother with the matter at all would admit that the English language is in a bad way, but it is generally assumed that we cannot by conscious action do anything about it. Our civilization is decadent, and our language—so the argument runs—must inevitably share in the general collapse. It follows that any struggle against the abuse of language is a sentimental archaism, like preferring candles to electric light or hansom cabs to aeroplanes. Underneath this lies the half-conscious belief that language is a natural growth and not an instrument which we shape for our own purposes.

Now, it is clear that the decline of a language must ultimately have political and economic causes: it is not due simply to the bad influence of this or that individual writer. But an effect can become a cause, reinforcing the original cause and producing the same effect in an intensified form, and so on indefinitely. A man may take to drink because he feels himself to be a failure, and then fail all the more completely because he drinks. It is rather the same thing that is happening to the English language. It becomes ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts. The point is that the process is reversible. Modern English, especially written English, is full of bad habits which spread by imitation and which can be avoided if one is willing to take the necessary trouble. If one gets rid of these habits one can think more clearly, and to think clearly is a necessary first step towards political regeneration: so that the fight against bad English is not frivolous and is not the exclusive concern of professional writers. I will come back to this presently, and I hope that by that time the meaning of what I have said here will have become clearer. Meanwhile, here are five specimens of the English language as it is now habitually written.

Steep enrollment declines, sparked by long pandemic closures, have eroded school budgets, forcing many systems to shrink.

Stevens Malange

Public school districts across the United States closed for unprecedented periods during the Covid-19 pandemic. Enrollments plunged, as students either headed to private schools or stayed home for schooling. Other children simply disappeared from schools and remain unaccounted for even today by school officials. Now, because of this exodus, school districts nationwide are grappling with another kind of closing: empty classrooms and underused school buildings are prompting waves of school shutdowns, as education officials look to downsize their operations in response to smaller student populations and disappearing Covid bailout funds. In many communities, the process is messy, with parents, teachers, and teachers’ unions objecting. But failing to act will only worsen budget deficits at a time of economic uncertainty.

According to an international study, American schools closed for an average of 70 weeks during the pandemic—far longer than schools shut down in most European countries, though the length of closures varied by state. Schools in Texas and Florida, for example, were closed for just a fraction of the time that schools in California and New York were shuttered. In all, public schools lost some 1.2 million students in the first two years of the pandemic. Some migrated to private institutions, where enrollments grew by 4 percent, while homeschool numbers rose by 30 percent.

Among states sustaining the biggest losses are California, which saw public school enrollment shrink by some 245,000 in two pandemic years, and New York, where enrollments fell 80,000 in the same period. In these states and elsewhere, Covid accelerated a trend already underway. School enrollment had peaked in many states in the mid-2010s and begun slipping shortly after, a result of fewer births, outmigration, and modest growth in homeschooling and alternative schools. New York State, for instance, has lost about 6 percent of its students, or 120,000 children, since 2016. California’s enrollment has dropped by 382,000 students since the 2014 school year.

“One used to be able to convince oneself that kids would grow out of this kind of thing once they entered the ‘real world’ of employment”


I had a meeting arranged with one of my undergraduate students for 10am last Friday. At around 9.30 I received an email from her saying that since she was “struggling with [her] mental health” she wouldn’t be able to physically come to the building. It would be “too much”. So could we please have the meeting via Zoom instead?

This kind of thing has become completely normal. Vast swathes of students have diagnoses of ADHD or the ubiquitous ‘anxiety and depression’; the rest, who don’t, still feel no compunction in disclosing their ‘struggles’ at the drop of a hat. Working around these issues is now simply a fact of life for academics. We confront them literally on a daily basis.

Debate around the mental health crisis among the young tends to bifurcate into two camps – which, unusually in our times, doesn’t tend to cleave neatly to the political Left or Right. On the one hand, there are those who think it is real and that the conditions young people grow up in (too much screen time, too little socialising, too much pressure in school, family breakdown, consumer capitalism, structural racism or sexism, worries about climate change, take your pick) are conducive to bad mental health. On the other there are those who think the issue is overblown and probably a matter of overdiagnosis (either because adults are too soft or because of financial incentives for child psychologists and doctors and ultimately ‘Big Pharma’).

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: notes on our exploding debt (and spending)

Stanley Druckenmiller:

Let me give you some facts. The share of fiscal spending going to seniors has been growing dramatically since the 1960’s when Medicaid and Medicare joined social security as federal entitlements. Today we spend 6x more per senior than per child in the US. Think social security vs education. Almost 40% of all our taxes are spent on seniors, and this trend is only starting. As the chart shows {Slide #2 below}, we are just getting under way in terms of the fiscal consequences of the grey boom. In 25 years, spending on seniors will grow to take 70% of all taxes. Effectively, with entitlements compounding away, everything else gets squeezed.
In this context, the fiscal recklessness of the last decade has been like watching a horror movie unfold. Look at this chart {Slide #3 below}. During the last decade, our debt grew from $15T to $31T today… a level of indebtment only comparable to that after WWII. But what is worse is that this debt does not account for what the government has promised it will pay you in terms of social security and Medicare. It actually assumes these payments will be ZERO. In the 1950s this “off‐the‐book” debt was small as baby boomers were just being born so actual debt was a reasonable measure of the country’s indebtedness. Not anymore. There are credible estimates that if you assume the government will pay the same to seniors in the future as it is paying today, the present value of that debt approaches $200T. That’s trillion with a “T”.
What makes the last 10 years particularly horrific is that we had some golden opportunities to reduce the fiscal gap ahead of the demographic storm that is under way. After WWI and II, the US quickly repaid its debt by raising taxes and restricting spending. Contrast that with today. After the GFC but pre covid {Slide #4 below}, when the economy boomed in 2018 and the unemployment rate hit a 50‐year low, and even under a Republican administration, the deficit could not go lower than 5% of GDP! And then post covid, we had a booming economy where tax revenues were augmented by high inflation, nominal growth of

“Red Memory: The Afterlives of China’s Cultural Revolution”

Tania Branigan:

Chongqing saw some of the era’s fiercest fighting, with the rift between Red Guards descending into warfare. The Kuomintang had made it their capital while battling the Japanese occupation, and it was home to multiple munitions plants; when armed struggles broke out in 1967, the military backed one side and helped its fighters seize what they needed. The factions battled with grenades, machine guns, napalm, tanks and ships upon the river – everything except planes, a resident recalled.

They executed in cold blood too: even the injured, even the pregnant. Tens of thousands fled the city and at least twelve hundred people died, though the true toll was probably much higher. Some were caught in the violence by chance, like the eight-year-old killed by a ricocheting bullet as he played on the street. The others were not so much older, and you could blame chance there too, even if they saw themselves as soldiers. They never thought it would be so serious, that people would die, that so many would die. By the time they saw their friends fall they’d been battling for hours. They were numb; none of it seemed possible. Had it really happened at all?

Two seventeenth century atlases digitised and online

Norden and Van den Keere:

Both sets of maps ended up in the collection of Robert (1661-1724) and Edward (1689-1741) Harley, the 1st and 2nd Earls of Oxford, thousands of manuscripts, printed books and associated materials which became one of the founding collections of the British Museum in 1753. Norden’s work, produced for and originally owned by James VI and I, came into the Harleys’ possession in 1710, whilst Van der Keere’s maps reached the collection in 1725.

In addition to their shared provenance, it is interesting to note that the two mapmakers knew and worked with each other. As well as his surveying work and devotional writing, Norden conceived of a grand multi-volume county-by-county geography or ‘chorography’ of Britain, having recognised, like others, the public appetite for maps and geographical writings following the success of Christopher Saxton’s atlas of 1579. Norden’s Speculum Britannia was not completed, but he started work on a number of counties, and even published some of them. The first published county, in 1593, was Middlesex, containing maps including ones of London and Westminster engraved by one Pieter Van den Keere.

Why are adolescents so unhappy?

Robert Rudolf & Dirk Bethmann

Using PISA 2018 data from nearly half a million 15-year-olds across 72 middle- and high-income countries, this study investigates the relationship between economic development and adolescent subjective well-being. Findings indicate a negative log-linear relationship between per-capita GDP and adolescent life satisfaction. The negative nexus stands in stark contrast to the otherwise positive relationship found between GDP per capita and adult life satisfaction for the same countries. Results are robust to various model specifications and both macro and micro approaches. Moreover, our analysis suggests that this apparent paradox can largely be attributed to higher learning intensity in advanced countries. Effects are found to be more pronounced for girls than for boys.


New York Is Forcing Schools to Change How They Teach Children to Read

Troy Closson:

In a recent interview, Mr. Banks said that the city’s approach had been “fundamentally flawed,” and had failed to follow the science of how students learn to read.

“It’s not your fault. It’s not your child’s fault. It was our fault,” Mr. Banks said. “This is the beginning of a massive turnaround.”

Over the next two years, the city’s 32 local school districts will adopt one of three curriculums selected by their superintendents. The curriculums use evidence-supported practices, including phonics — which teaches children how to decode letter sounds — and avoid strategies many reading experts say are flawed, like teaching children to use picture clues to guess words.

The move represents a sea change in a city where principals have historically retained authority over approaches to teaching at their individual schools.

Half of the districts will begin the program in September; the others will start in 2024. Waivers to opt out will only be considered for schools where more than 85 percent of students are proficient in reading, a threshold that only about 20 schools meet.

94% of teacher donations went to Democratic candidates or organizations


  • Of Wisconsin-based teachers, 88.5% of donations went to Democratic candidates or organizations. Even when considering only those who list a Wisconsin address, donations still disproportionally favor Democrats.
  • 100% of donations from the Wisconsin Education Association Council (WEAC) Conduit went to Democrats. This is via the donation pass-through organization of state teachers’ unions. Those who give to the intermediary organization “WEAC We Can Do It” have donations earmarked to specific candidates that are “pro-public education.”
  • WILL has created a map of donations from teachers on our website. This will allow policymakers to take a more granular look at teacher ideology in their own communities.
  • The position of teachers’ unions on issues like school choice is at odds with the general public. As of February 2022, a School Choice Wisconsin survey found that 77% of Republicans expressed support for school choice, as did 53% of Independents and 36% of Democrats.
  • This paper also serves to highlight further potential evidence of the leftward leanings of Wisconsin classrooms. With public school teachers overwhelmingly giving donations to Democrat candidates, it is highly likely that their ideology flows into the teaching they provide to students across the state, at least to some extent. WILL has previously highlighted this.

Political Contributions of Wisconsin Teachers and Education Reform

“Well, it’s kind of too bad that we’ve got the smartest people at our universities, and yet we have to create a law to tell them how to teach.”

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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

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

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

K-12 Tax& Spending Climate: Government spending is increasing at a far greater pace than household income


Questions That Need To Discussed And Answered:

  • Are local governments truly destitute and in desperate need of a massive increase of taxpayer funding? See charts above.   
  • Why should state taxpayers bail out the lavish and reckless pension plans of the city of Milwaukee and Milwaukee County?
  • How much has the City of Milwaukee and Milwaukee County paid towards their pension plans for the last twenty years? Is this a case where the irresponsible local politicians, rather than fully paying for the pension they promised their government employees, just kicked the can down the road to create this bailout crisis?
  • Since all the locals that testified said it wasn’t enough, how long before the state is back at the table with another influx? 
  • During negotiations, how much did the locals say it would take to actually solve the problems?
  • Was there any consideration of placing limits on local governments preventing them from allowing outside funding and administration of elections?
  • Some of these communities have gone to referendum to ask for more money and been denied.  Towns under 3,000 population, and there are more than a thousand of them, can raise taxes by a vote at an annual meeting.  Does the state want to be in the business of second-guessing the residents, and simply taking tax dollars out of a different pocket?

COVID-Related Learning Loss in US Mirrors Global Trend

Rob Garver:

Providing further proof that U.S. children suffered significant learning loss when schools were closed during the COVID-19 pandemic, the National Assessment Governing Board released a report Wednesday that showed test scores measuring achievement in U.S. history and civics fell significantly between 2018 and 2022.

The tests, part of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), commonly known as the “nation’s report card,” were given to thousands of eighth-grade students across the country. Scores on the U.S. history assessment were the lowest recorded since 1994, while the scores on the civics test fell for the first time ever.

Only 13% of students tested in U.S. history were considered proficient, meaning that they had substantially mastered the material expected of them. That was 1 percentage point lower than in 2018. Another 46% tested at the NAEP “basic” level, meaning they had partial mastery of the material, down 4 percentage points. The remaining 40% of students tested did not meet the bar for basic knowledge, an increase of 6 percentage points.

In civics, 20% of students tested qualified as proficient, and 48% had basic knowledge of the material — both down 1 percentage point from 2018. Another 31% failed to demonstrate even basic knowledge, an increase by 4 percentage points over 2018.

Continuation of Gender-affirming Hormones Among Transgender Adolescents and Adults

Christina M Roberts, David A Klein, Terry A Adirim, Natasha A Schvey, Elizabeth Hisle-Gorman:

Our results suggest that >70% of TGD individuals who start gender-affirming hormones will continue use beyond 4 years, with higher continuation rates in transfeminine individuals. Patients who start hormones, with their parents’ assistance, before age 18 years have higher continuation rates than adults.

Sarah DiGregorio on the Little-Known, Radical History of Nursing and the Danger of Biases in Medicine Today

Sarah DiGregorio;

The idea of Nightingale, the lady with the lamp, as the prototypical nurse—this mythic origin story—has served to further white supremacy in nursing and to strip nursing history of its truer, broader kaleidoscopic power. The real history of nursing is utterly radical in its vastness—and in what it says about the care we owe each other. Maybe that radicalness is why that history has been so elided, even as nursing historians have sought to bring it forward.

Why Tenure


To become an academic researcher is to make an enormous upfront investment in human capital, often remaining in school until someone’s late 20s, even early 30s. These are people who often have a relatively high opportunity cost of time, even early in their careers, and they do this while also staring down the possibility of technical obsolescence within a decade of graduation. An academic, if they make a major contribution, often knows it will happen before they turn 40 (30 if they’re a mathematician). This is not a trivial endeavor or decision.

Building a critical mass of high quality employees when such high opportunity costs underlie the requisite labor pool presents a financial challenge. In the face of these costs, as much as half of academic compensation takes the form of non-pencuniary benefits (lifestyle, freedom, flexibility, status, etc). And there’s one more problem, and it might be the biggest. For those in more technical fields, the full career’s worth of (discounted) wages would have to be collected in their first 8 years on the job. To put it another way,for the academic labor market to clear absent these non-pecuniary benefits, salaries would have to double or more.

What do historians lose with the decline of local news?

History Today:

While we might take issue with the idea that there is less local news, it is undeniable that there is a decline in the legacy local newspaper with which we associate its delivery. This decline is in the numbers of titles and also, significantly, in their visibility. The move to digital has put papers online and also removed the surrounding trappings, such as town centre offices or newspaper sellers, from our streets. Financial pressures mean fewer staff, who are reliant on remote methods of communication rather than being visible in communities.

This loss of the physical newspaper is significant to the historian because the local newspaper’s physical legacy is that most often accessed by both professional and amateur historians. I would suggest, though, that we need a more nuanced understanding of where we are in the decline of the local newspaper. For instance, the peak number of local titles was in 1914, while newspaper wars meant circulations reached their peak in the mid-1970s. In the 19th century, titles were dominated by reports of national affairs or lengthy verbatim reports of Parliament; hardly the stuff of local record. Evidence suggests that local, targeted content only became the dominant feature of local newspapers in the early 20th century to support the sale of advertising. By the 1990s, the continued consolidation of the local newspaper industry meant that, while there were still numerous titles, many were being condemned as, in the words of Bob Franklin, ‘local in name only’. This lack of local content recalls the origins of the provincial press in the 18th century when publishers relied on ‘cut and paste’ content lifted from other newspapers rather than producing content about their own circulation areas.

Notes on our disastrous civics and history results

Andrew Rotherham:

In related news, new NAEP data on history and civics out today, it’s not good news. Some of the data suggest our social divides are getting worse with students furthest from opportunity more impacted. 

Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona made the following statement:

“The latest data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress further affirms the profound impact the pandemic had on student learning in subjects beyond math and reading. It tells us that now is not the time for politicians to try to extract double-digit cuts to education funding, nor is it the time to limit what students learn in U.S. history and civics classes. We need to provide every student with rich opportunities to learn about America’s history and understand the U.S. Constitution and how our system of government works. Banning history books and censoring educators from teaching these important subjects does our students a disservice and will move America in the wrong direction.”

This stirred up a little tempest on Twitter. People are doing gymnastics to try to argue this isn’t a politicized response. NAEP expert Tom Loveless thinks it’s a sign of coming attractions with the new timing on NAEP releases. I hope he’s wrong but he’s probably right. Marty West says stop worrying, they’re on it.

Commentary on DIE staffing and $pending

Dave Cieslewicz

The fundamental problem with these programs is that the ideology behind them conflicts with both common sense and long-held American values. As Vos said, the vast majority of us want a color blind society and most of us recognize that, while we’ve made great progress toward that goal, we’ve still got a ways to go. 

But the “cutting edge” view in the DEI world is that we can’t address past discrimination without discriminating now to make up for it. Too many of these programs ask people to accept their own deep-seated racism or “unconscious bias.” There is a huge disconnect here. You’re asking people who have grown up believing that being a racist is one of the very worst things you can be to accept the notion that they’re racists simply because of the color of their skin. Whatever you might actually think, whatever you might actually have done as an individual doesn’t matter. It’s about identity groups, good ones and bad ones. 

Nobody outside of DEI staff views the world this way. In fact, it’s ludicrous. So when your company or your department forces you into one of these programs you leave it changed for the worse. It’s natural for employees to feel resentful and wrongfully accused. If you weren’t a racist going in, you might well be one coming out.

Armed school security staff

Rory Linnane:

Eilbes said the decision was made by Steve Hancock, the head of school, after conferring over the past year with members of the school’s board of trustees, legal and insurance consultants, security experts and local police. Asked whether parents were consulted, Eilbes said there wasn’t any “formalized” outreach.

“We didn’t want to run the risk of the rumor mill,” Eilbes said. “Ultimately, we really wanted to play into the fact that families do give us a lot of leeway. They have a trust in us as a school.”

In a letter to families, Hancock said the move was a response to “the devastating rise in school shootings nationwide.”

“Through extensive analysis and thorough research, along with a strong recommendation from the River Hills Police Department, the unanimous recommendation was to arm a small number of school safety officers,” Hancock wrote.

University of Wisconsin-Madison “pretendian”

Shelby Kearns;

The University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW Madison) awarded a $5,000 residency to Kay LeClaire, a woman recently exposed for faking her Native American ancestry. 

LeClaire is the latest “pretendian” who profits by providing art or expertise to universities, museums, or other institutions, all of which are pushing for inclusivity in curriculum, faculty makeup, and exhibitions. 

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that LeClaire served as “community leader in residence for the Center for Design and Material Culture,” a residency dedicated to “the development of a toolkit and curriculum around cultural appropriation.”  

John Lucas with UW-Madison Communications told Campus Reform that “LeClaire is a prominent figure in the community,” and the university learned about her faked ancestry “through reports on social media and local media.”

“LeClaire’s campus residency was ending at the end of 2022,” he continued. “She resigned before the formal end date. It will not be renewed.”

Academia’s twisted reasons for shelving the SAT

Rich Lowry:

The long era of the dominance of the SAT in college admissions is coming to an end.

The test is increasingly being shelved not because it failed but because it succeeded in all the wrong ways.

According to a survey from an anti-testing outfit, more than 80% of four-year colleges won’t require standardized tests for admissions this coming fall. 

Many have made the tests optional, and some won’t consider them at all. 

In a swath of academia, the pandemic expedient of dropping the tests has seamlessly transitioned to a permanent change.

If this isn’t a leap forward for fairness or rationality, it is another ringing victory for the equity of “diversity, equity and inclusion” fame. 

With homework now on the chopping block for not being equitable enough — kids with involved parents tend to actually do their homework — it shouldn’t be a surprise that the SAT is being shown the door.

Diversity for Thee—But Not for Me

Eric Kaufman:

White progressives in America, as in Britain, avoid diverse neighborhoods and are more likely to leave diverse places than white conservatives. In effect, they don’t practice what they preach. These are the findings from large-scale quantitative research in the United States and Britain, recently published in my academic article, “White flight from immigration?: Attitudes to diversity and white residential choice.”

Diversity is a core value for white progressives in America and other Western countries. Over 60 percent of them support increasing immigration. As the Manhattan Institute’s Zach Goldberg shows, they are the only major part of the population to feel warmer toward other racial groups than toward their own: they rate whites as more lazy and violent, and less intelligent, than blacks. Among white progressives, 87 percent say that having an “increasing number of people of many different races, ethnic groups and nationalities” makes the U.S. a better place to live, while virtually none says that it makes the country worse.

You would think that aversion to one’s racial group would prompt white progressives to flee disproportionately white areas for more diverse ones. Surveys do show that white progressives are more likely than white conservatives to indicate that they want to live in diverse places. Studies that present Americans with showcards of stylized houses as a proxy for race —some colored white, some black, with the proportion of the latter varied—find that those with progressive racial attitudes say that they prefer more diverse places than conservatives. These findings have been replicated in Britain and the Netherlands.

But when the rubber hits the road, white liberal attitudes don’t translate into behavior.

Appearance of ‘risk’ manager sends Oberlin students into frenzy over the danger of ‘risk aversion’

Jonathan Turley:

Over its almost 200 years of existence, Oberlin College has faced a civil war, an economic depression and pandemics. But until this year, it had never faced the likes of Kalinda Watson. Student editors on The Oberlin Review have risen up against the addition of Watson to the college ranks as an existential threat.

No, Watson is not a conservative or a Republican — groups that haven’t been welcome on campus for many years. Oberlin is ranked in the top three most liberal colleges in the country, and finding a conservative professor is about as likely as finding a licensed, practicing wizard.

No, Watson is far, far worse. She is a risk management expert.

The panic over the arrival of a risk management expert in this small college is that she may be working … wait for it … to lower the risk of lawsuits at the college. Oberlin, it appears, attracts lawsuits as much as liberals.

The students fear that she will create “risk aversion” that could chill future protests.

Indeed, some of us have written about Oberlin for years as a case study of why higher education is declining in America. The college has yielded to the mob in past controversies that have cost the school a fortune.

Like so many other aspects of progressive belief, it seems that our express attitudes (it doesn’t matter who wears the pants, love is love!) are way out ahead of our actual lived behaviors

Freddie DeBoer:

where men are far more comfortable being more educated and higher-income than their partners. (With many exceptions.) And you can imagine how this dynamic plays out in specific dating pools: as more hard-charging women flood a given dating market, while the number of eligible men drags behind because of increasing advantages for women in school and the workplace, fewer and fewer women are likely to find themselves with a partner they consider marriageable. To make matters worse, since this dynamic hands men an advantage in the romantic marketplace, they may put off partnering for the long term even further, playing the field for years more because it favors them, and in doing so making matters even worse for ambitious women.

Reeves cites data that suggests that something like 30% to 40% of the decline in marriage rates is driven by the inability of women to find mates that they see as stable, smart, good earners, or otherwise up to their standards. We can certainly lament the degree to which dating markets still reflect the notion that men have to provide while women don’t – it’s a kind of regressive attitude far fewer people still explicitly hold than they once did – but that expectation remains a reality. And anecdotally, there certainly seems to be a lot of men who want only to play video games and watch porn, even if they are employed. So career women are faced with a growing structural disadvantage of insufficient suitable partners, which is exacerbated as they age because of men’s continuing preference for younger women. (Another reality we may lament but can’t really deny.) My guess is that this dynamic falls heaviest on Black women, perversely, because they’ve been doing so well lately.

64 software bugs, complex union rules and a $15.8 million mistake: Why S.F. can’t pay its teachers on time

Bilal Mahmood:

Charles Sylvester has been a special-education teacher for over 20 years in San Francisco Unified School District. He’s seen plenty of ups and downs during that time, but in 2023 he encountered a career first.

The district misreported his taxes. Thousands of dollars of payments were effectively missing.

MSU study confirms: 1 in 5 adults don’t want children –– and they don’t regret it later


Last summer, researchers at Michigan State University reported that one in five Michigan adults, or about 1.7 million people, don’t want children and therefore are child-free. Although that number was surprisingly large to many data has now been confirmed in a follow-up study.

“We found that 20.9% of adults in Michigan do not want children, which closely matches our earlier estimate of 21.6%, and means that over 1.6 million people in Michigan are child-free,” said Jennifer Watling Neal, MSU professor of psychology and co-author of the study. “Michigan is demographically similar to the United States as a whole, so this could mean 50 million to 60 million Americans are child-free.”

The new study published in PLOS ONE attempted to replicate the original study by using the same methods, but with a new sample of people. The researchers used data from a representative sample of 1,000 adults who completed MSU’s State of the State Survey, conducted by the university’s Institute for Public Policy and Social Research. To avoid any risk of cherry-picking results, the researchers preregistered the study by recording in advance exactly how the study would be conducted and what they expected to find.

“Many adults are child-free, and there do not seem to be differences by age, education or income,” said Zachary Neal, associate professor of psychology at MSU and co-author of the study. “However, being child-free is somewhat more common among adults who identify as male, white or who have always been single.”

Civics: notes on the decline of serious journalism

Mark Judge:

Yet all three reporters themselves exemplify how the media have killed themselves over the last several years and why the rise of the internet and social media has stripped reporters of the credibility they used to have. The ink-stained wretches just can’t get away with anything anymore.

The reporters Dowd interviews for her piece represent exactly why no one trusts the press anymore and why their replacements, which include people such as Matt Taibbi, Aaron Matte, Mollie Hemingway, and even Joe Rogan, are better, more accountable reporters and pundits. “Community Notes,” the new feature that lets users correct false claims in real time on Twitter, has done more for journalism than MSNBC and the Washington Postcombined.

Isikoff and Mayer, in particular, were main drivers of the Steele dossier, the absurd 2016 opposition research file paid for by the Clintons and used against former President Donald Trump. Isikoff would finally admit that he made a huge mistake in falling for the dossier — but only after it had been publicly debunked.

Professors and Performers

Bruce Ivan Gudmundsson:

The same is true for academic lectures. As much as I delight in viva voce exposition delivered before a properly proximate audience, I am much more likely to listen to lectures while driving, cooking, or making illustrations for the Tactical Notebook. (How’s that for a shameless plug for my other Substack?) Indeed, if I wished to replace the two or three learned podcasts I enjoy each day with scholarly speeches of the old fashioned kind, I would have to hire an adjunct professor.

Look at DEI and Afghanistan: is it any wonder our ranks are dwindling?

Hung Cao:

In fiscal year 2022, the Army missed its recruitment goals by 25 percent. The Navy was able to barely meet its quota by rolling forward recruits and padding their numbers before the end of the fiscal year. This caused a deficit for fiscal year 2023, so the Navy’s solution was to accept recruits with lower entry level test scores.

With the strategic mistakes of President Biden, such as the Afghanistan retreat, paired with puzzling Pentagon priorities, it’s no wonder recruitment is at an all-time low.

I watched in horror as the images of the fall of my native Saigon repeated themselves in 2021 in Kabul. A few short months after my last combat deployment, the Afghans I worked with clung desperately to aircraft and pounded at the airport gates. The worst image of all was when eleven Marines, one sailor and one soldier were killed by a suicide bomber outside Abbey Gate of Hamid Karzai International Airport as the evacuation occurred. These servicemen and women were left out there to guard a patch of land their commander-in-chief had given up. Days later, as their bodies were ceremonially paraded off a C-17, he was seen checking his watch when he should have been paying his respects. Why would anyone join the military when the ethos of “leave no one behind” is just a catchy phrase that no longer holds any substance?

This administration has a growing obsession with Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, or DEI, a college campus fad that teaches America is fundamentally racist and can only be fixed by discriminating against American males with European ancestry. DEI is unpopular in the military, a place where troops may be rightfully hesitant to serve under a commander selected for the color of his skin rather than the content of his character.

Elite organizations and individuals are not inclusive. They are rigidly exclusive. Not everyone gets to be a doctor, or an astronaut, a Navy SEAL or a starting center in the NBA. We respect those professions for the same reason recruits are drawn to them, because those who make the cut have worked hard and earned their place. It’s unsurprising that the service that is consistently hitting its recruitment target, the Marines, pride themselves on being the best of the best. Their very slogan is exclusive in nature, “the few, the proud, the Marines.” It is not “join the Marine Corps, any schlub can do it.” 

When announcing their priorities in 2021, the Biden Pentagon ranked odd and naked political priorities right next to China in terms of importance. Climate change, right-wing extremism and Covid-19 were considered just as a dire a threat as the People’s Liberation Army. Young Americans don’t join the Army to fight climate change, that is a job for scientists and engineers. They don’t join to root out domestic extremists, that is a job for law enforcement. And they don’t join to obsess over gender, sexual orientation and skin color, that is a job for weird humanities professors.

Princeton: “They are a bit like the Party functionaries. Every organization [in Romania] no matter how small, had to have someone who represented the Party…”

Princetonians for free speech:

Princeton’s Awkward Similarities to Communist Romania

An edited excerpt from a video interview with Princeton Professor Sergiu Klainerman

“At Princeton today you see a penetration of diversity, equity and inclusion in every department and office of the university. They are a bit like the Party functionaries. Every organization [in Romania] no matter how small, had to have someone who represented the Party. They were activists, not interested in education or research or whatever they were supposed to be doing, they were activists and of course they had power.”

What does this mean for university life?  Klainerman’s answer goes well beyond the mandatory courses at Princeton on topics such as sexual harassment that he finds both “triggering” and insulting, and has so far resisted.  His main concern is corruption.

“There is an aspect of [what is happening] which I think people don’t talk enough about. Suppose you are a very bright minority kid. You come from a school which unfortunately, for whatever reasons, didn’t give you a very good education. But you are very bright and you really have aspiration and enthusiasm and you are accepted at Princeton, even though in principle you don’t have the credentials for Princeton. And you want to do mathematics.

“So suppose such a kid gets to Princeton and then he/she realizes that they just don’t have the background. They have to compete against winners of international Olympiads from China, Taiwan, Pakistan and Iran. They compete with people who are 5 – 7 years ahead of them. What do you think is going to happened? They’re going to feel dejected. They’re going to feel depressed. They feel they have no chance. And in the end, they give up. … I think it is a disservice to them, to be put in the position to have to compete in situations where they just simply don’t have the background to do well. You prepare them for failure. I’m not afraid to mention this, because I think it’s true.

Parents rights

Dave Utbanski:

A California public school teacher said she was told to deceive “suspicious” parents about their children’s stated gender identities at school — and now she’s suing.

What are the details?

“It’s unfortunate that I have to go toe-to-toe and stand up against a community of people that I love,” teacher Elizabeth Mirabelli told Fox News. “I’ve been there for 25 years. This is a community of people I care about, people I’ve served for a long period of time. And so that gives me pause to have to stand up, but I felt that I had to make that choice.”

The cable network said attorneys for Mirabelli and fellow teacher Lori Ann West — both of whom taught for decades at Rincon Middle School in Escondido — filed a federal lawsuit last week against the school’s leadership, claiming they were effectively required to lie to parents whose children assumed different gender identities at school.

Civics: Break from the “Pentagon Papers Principle”

Matt Taibbi:

Following the release of today’s article about news organizations junking the “Pentagon Papers Principle,” reader Ben O’Neill made a good observation that should have been in the piece. In the newly-found summary emailed by an Aspen Institute figure in September 2020, “Partnership for a Healthy Digital Public Sphere, the section about “hack-and-dump” exercises asks [emphasis mine]: “What happens when fabricated documents are released alongside genuine (stolen) content? How can social feeds avoid serving as promoters of foreign or other adversarial entities?” 

First of all, this notion that there may be fabrications mixed in with real content is a suggestion that pops up somewhere in nearly every one of these leak stories, even if all the material proves to be real (old friend Malcolm Nance did the job in 2016 in suggesting the Podesta leaks were “riddled with forgeries”). More importantly however, that last line is a great example of what former cybersecurity official and Foundation for Freedom Online head Mike Benz calls the “foreign-domestic switcheroo.” 

It’s the basic rhetorical trick of the censorship age: raise a fuss about a foreign threat, using it as a battering ram to get everyone from congress to the tech companies to submit to increased regulation and surveillance. Then, slowly, adjust your aim to domestic targets. You can see the subtlety: the original Stanford piece tries to stick to railing against “disinformation” and information from “foreign adversaries,” but the later paper circulated by Aspen slips in, ever so slightly, a new category of dubious source: “foreign or other adversarial entities.” 

These rhetorical devices are essential. It would be preposterous to form (as Stanford did) an “Information Warfare Working Group” if readers knew the “war” being contemplated was against domestic voices. It would likewise seem outrageous to suggest, as Stanford did, that journalists respond to a domestic threat by taking a step as drastic as eliminating intra-title competition, and “forming partnerships with other organizations to pool resources.” But if you start by focusing on Russians and only later mention as an afterthought “other adversarial entities,” you can frame things however you want, from espionage to warfare. As reader O’Neill correctly pointed out, “they are now getting close to being explicit about the fact that their motivation for suppressing news is to fight domestic political adversaries.”

One other small note I left out for space reasons. The “Information Warfare Working Group” that produced the original paper by Janine Zacharia proposing the end of the “Pentagon Papers Principle” includes such anti-disinformation luminaries as Renee DiResta and Michael McFaul. In that summer of 2019, the working group also put out a paper by Dr. Amy Zegart, titled, “Spies, Lies, and Algorithms.” Her co-author? Michael Morell.

Now associated with childhood fun, the swing has a near-universal history of ritual transgression and transformation

Javier Moscoso:

What does it mean to tell the story of this instrument? The history of the swing reveals how an object of disorientation became instrumentalised across the long arc of human culture, appearing in different territories and cultures throughout time. But this history is not just the story of an object. It’s also one of many untold histories of bodies in motion that seek to unveil forgotten, overlooked or concealed gestures – human history is not only populated with words and objects. The swing allows us to begin telling the long cultural story of moving back and forth through time and space.

Once we start looking, the swing appears in the most unexpected places. It shows up in ancient Greek swinging festivals, and cave paintings made in western India during the 5th century. It is illustrated in Chinese hand scrolls from the Song dynasty, from around the 11th and 12th centuries.It fills Hindustani and Punjabi paintings, such as Lady on a Swing in the Monsoon (1750-75), in which a woman joyously swings through the air, clothes fluttering behind her, as dark clouds grow in the distance. The swing also finds its way into the origin stories of the Persian Nowruz New Year celebrations, when people swung to mimic the way the legendary Shah Jamšīd rode his chariot through the air. It also turns up in Thailand’s Chakri dynasty in the 18th century, when a giant version was built by Rama I. And it is spread across the pages of Western literature and philosophy – Friedrich Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra(1883-5), James George Frazer’s The Golden Bough (1890), Sigmund Freud’s Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality(1905), and Johan Huizinga’s Homo Ludens (1938).

New UW–Madison study finds remote learning caused lower high school completion rates for lower-income students

Laurel White:

Remote learning during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic was more likely to negatively affect the high school graduation rates of students from lower-income households than their higher-income peers, according to a new UW–Madison study. 

The study, published in Educational Researcher, found a longer time in virtual or hybrid learning environments during the 2020–21 school year decreased overall high school completion rates and increased the gap in completion rates between economically disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged students.

“Well, it’s kind of too bad that we’ve got the smartest people at our universities, and yet we have to create a law to tell them how to teach.”

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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

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

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

Notes on Madison tax and spending priorities

Scott Girard;

The encouragement comes as the union and the Madison Metropolitan School District disagree over a proposed wage increase in next year’s budget, among other items. Hundreds of MTI members and supporters showed up to the April School Board meeting, where the 2023-24 budget proposal was made public, to demand an 8% increase in base wages and smaller class sizes.

In a challenging budget cycle full of uncertaintyover what the state will provide, the district’s current proposal includes a 3.5% base wage increase.

Teacher Appreciation Week runs May 8-12 this year. Last year during Teacher Appreciation Week, MTI and the district officially exchanged proposals for base wage increases that were significantly far apart.

“Well, it’s kind of too bad that we’ve got the smartest people at our universities, and yet we have to create a law to tell them how to teach.”

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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

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

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

How America’s Obsession with DEI Is Sabotaging Our Medical Schools

Stanley Goldfarb:

For better or worse, I have had a front-row seat to the meltdown of twenty-first-century medicine. Many colleagues and I are alarmed at how the DEI agenda—which promotes people and policies based on race, ethnicity, gender, religion, and sexual orientation rather than merit—is undermining healthcare for all patients regardless of their status.

Five years ago I was associate dean of curriculum at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine, and prior to that, codirector of its highly regarded kidney division. Around that time, Penn’s vice dean for education started to advocate that we train medical students to be activists for “social justice.” The university also implemented a new “pipeline program,” allowing ten students a year from HBCUs (historically black colleges or universities) to attend its med school after maintaining a 3.6 GPA but no other academic requirement, including not taking the MCAT (Medical College Admission Test). And the university has also created a project called Penn Medicine and the Afterlives of Slavery Project(PMAS) in order to “reshape medical education. . . by creating social justice-informed medical curricula that use race critically and in an evidence-based way to train the next generation of race-conscious physicians.” Finally, twenty clinical departments at the medical school now have vice chairs for diversity and inclusion.

“That’s Not Happening and It’s Good That It Is”
A quick and dirty guide to regime propaganda

Michael Anton:

Gaslighting getting you down? Feel like the regime has dialed the Megaphone up to, and past, eleven? You’re not crazy. It’s definitely happening and likely to get worse as our masters’ ability to cope with reality further worsens—or worse, they gain the complete and absolute control they seek. They’re both scornful and terrified of dissent, which explains why they incessantly shriek at us and lie to our faces.

So, to help you navigate the twitstorm, I present a guide to seven of the regime’s most common, oft-deployed lies. This is not meant to be comprehensive. I’m sure there are tactics they use that either I haven’t crystalized or that aren’t front-of-mind at the moment. I encourage others to expand the catalogue with their own observations. The better we can understand how they try to manipulate us, the better we can resist and counter it all.

Let’s start with the Unholy Trinity of ruling class horse manure. These first three are similar, but subtle differences determine the ways they’re used in differing circumstances.

Personal finance class for students at Stuyvesant HS proves popular, NY lawmakers call for financial courses to be mandatory at all high schools

Sarah Belle Lin:

“A lot of kids are not aware of how to put a bank account together, balance a checkbook, or what an expense and revenue sheet is,” Comrie told amNewYork Metro. “These are critical things that need to be taught to all students so they can be aware of the challenges that they will all face as young adults.”

The initiative to bring financial literacy to New York middle and high schools has been discussed in the state legislature since 2009. 

“I’m disappointed that the State Department of Education hasn’t been embraced it,” Comrie said. “I expect that it will be embraced by more members [state legislators] this year.”

Peng, who teaches geometry and the math team at Stuyvesant High School, studied finance in college and was inspired to share the knowledge he learned about mortgages and student loans with students. He told amNewYork Metro that he had the idea in his mind, but just needed a push. That push came from a Stuyvesant student, Anisha Singhal, who penned an op-ed in January 2021 in the school newspaper called “Calculus Before Checkbooks?” Peng was convinced.

Singhal, who was finally able to enroll in the personal finance class after being waitlisted in the class’ first year, said her interest in financial literacy grew after she received her first paycheck. She didn’t think twice about the taxes and just assumed “this is why adults are always complaining.” But once she later found out from a family friend about tax refunds, she realized the importance of financial literacy.

Why do so few scientists make significant contributions and so many are forgotten in the long run?”

Richard Hamming:

Dick is one of the all time greats in the mathematics and computer science arenas, as I’m sure the audience here does not need reminding. He received his early education at the Universities of Chicago and Nebraska, and got his Ph.D. at Illinois; he then joined the Los Alamos project during the war. Afterwards, in 1946, he joined Bell Labs. And that is, of course, where I met Dick – when I joined Bell Labs in their physics research organization. In those days, we were in the habit of lunching together as a physics group, and for some reason this strange fellow from mathematics was always pleased to join us. We were always happy to have him with us because he brought so many unorthodox ideas and views. Those lunches were stimulating, I can assure you. 

While our professional paths have not been very close over the years, nevertheless I’ve always recognized Dick in the halls of Bell Labs and have always had tremendous admiration for what he was doing. I think the record speaks for itself. It is too long to go through all the details, but let me point out, for example, that he has written seven books and of those seven books which tell of various areas of mathematics and computers and coding and information theory, three are already well into their second edition. That is testimony indeed to the prolific output and the stature of Dick Hamming. 

I think I last met him – it must have been about ten years ago – at a rather curious little conference in Dublin, Ireland where we were both speakers. As always, he was tremendously entertaining. Just one more example of the provocative thoughts that he comes up with: I remember him saying, “There are wavelengths that people cannot see, there are sounds that people cannot hear, and maybe computers have thoughts that people cannot think.” Well, with Dick Hamming around, we don’t need a computer. I think that we are in for an extremely entertaining talk. 

THE TALK: “You and Your Research” by Dr. Ri

“Thursday’s strike would be the third in just over a year for a district where only 35% of students are proficient in reading”

Why are teachers going on strike?

OEA is going on strike to protest unfair labor practices of the school district, which union leaders say include negotiating in bad faith by coming to bargaining sessions unprepared and not making meaningful counter-proposals. The union filed an unfair labor practice charge against OUSD in March with the California Public Employee Relations Board, which oversees negotiations between public agencies and employees.

Jill Tucker:

Union officials have demanded a 23% raise for all members of the bargaining unit. District officials had offered up to a 22% raise, but not for all 3,000 educators. They have also tied a 10% retroactive raise to more instructional minutes for elementary school students.

The district’s offer also included paying 15% more for health benefits, in addition to required pensions costs equaling more than 19% of salaries.

On Wednesday, in a statement, district officials said all members of the union would get a 13% to 22% raise, as well as a one-time bonus and backpay.

Under the proposal, according to the district Wednesday, beginning teachers would get a $10,700 raise, plus $8,700 in back pay and one-time bonus. Veteran teachers would see an annual increase of $15,432, plus $11,600 in back pay and one-time bonus.

Other union members, including counselors, psychologists and nurses, would also get significant increases in salary.


With few exceptions, schools across California saw significant declines in standardized test scores this year compared with pre-pandemic levels, with less than half of students proficient in reading and a third performing at grade level in math.

Notes on taxpayer funds used for DIE staff

Kelly Meyerhofer:

The UW System spends about $13.6 million annually on 185 administrators related to DEI, with most of the positions concentrated at UW-Madison and UW-Milwaukee, according to records first reported on by WisPolitics. The $13.6 million in salaries represents about 0.2% of the UW System’s $6.9 billion annual operating budget.

Vos called for eliminating funding for all of the DEI positions, saying the offices are a waste of public tax dollars and teach students to view the world entirely through the lens of race. He cited examples he has heard where people had to fill out DEI statements to apply for a UW job and students had to discuss white privilege at freshmen orientation.

“The university has gone from being an institute of higher education to an institute of indoctrination,” he said.

Vos said he met with UW System President Jay Rothman and chancellors to offer his ideas on how the UW System can make good on his request.

The UW System could, for example, internally reallocate the money funding DEI offices to other programs it is seeking funding for, such as nursing, engineering and other high-demand fields.

Law Schools Face an Inflection Point With Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Josh Blackman

In recent years, there has been a rise in law students heckling speakers. In 2018, I was shouted down at the CUNY Law School in New York. In 2022, Ilya Shapiro was shouted down at the law school formerly known as Hastings. And more recently, Judge Stuart Kyle Duncan of the Fifth Circuit was shouted down at Stanford Law School.

We were protested for speaking on different topics, but there was a common thread: Students at each institution insisted that we were not welcome on campus; that our mere presence made them feel unsafe; and that our messages were not worth the pain and suffering we would cause. Thus, the students refused to let us speak.

Who is to blame for these protests? Of course, the students who heckled speakers, in clear violation of university policy, were at fault. But the blame goes much deeper. These students have been taught from the earliest age that harmful speech has no place in educational institutions. …

Universities and faculties in particular should take decisive action to prevent [DEI administrators] from subverting the core principles of academic inquiry. At this inflection point, I propose a five-course action plan.

Cynthia Rudin wants machine learning models, responsible for increasingly important decisions, to show their work.

Allison Parshall:

If you want to trust a prediction, you need to understand how all the computations work. For example, in health care, you need to know if the model even applies to your patient. And it’s really hard to troubleshoot models if you don’t know what’s in them. Sometimes models depend on variables in ways that you might not like if you knew what they were doing. For example, with the power company in New York, we gave them a model that depended on the number of neutral cables. They looked at it and said, “Neutral cables? That should not be in your model. There’s something wrong.” And of course there was a flaw in the database, and if we hadn’t been able to pinpoint it, we would have had a serious problem. So it’s really useful to be able to see into the model so you can troubleshoot it.

When did you first get concerned about non-transparent AI models in medicine? 

My dad is a medical physicist. Several years ago, he was going to medical physics and radiology conferences. I remember calling him on my way to work, and he was saying, “You’re not going to believe this, but all the AI sessions are full. AI is taking over radiology.” Then my student Alina [Barnett] roped us into studying [AI models that examine] mammograms. Then I realized, OK, hold on. They’re not using interpretable models. They’re using just these black boxes; then they’re trying to explain their results. Maybe we should do something about this.

So we decided we would try to prove that you could construct interpretable models for mammography that did not lose accuracy over their black box counterparts. We just wanted to prove that it could be done.

the Pitfalls of Latin Translation

Jaspreet Singh Boparai

Cicero’s De Finibus Malorum et Bonorum (“On the Ends of Good and Evil”) is a true classic – a text that many people own but few ever bother to read. Yet if you are interested in translation, you probably want to read the first few pages of Book One at the very least. Here Cicero discusses a few of the problems involved with writing a philosophical work in the Roman world; one of these is the Romans’ inferiority complex when it came to Classical Greek. He describes intellectuals who scorn to read philosophy in their native language, yet have no problem with Greek literary texts translated word-for-word (ad verbum e Graecis expressas) into Latin.

The discussion is interesting in part because Cicero frankly acknowledges just how bad a lot of translations were in his day. He defends Latin as a language, and has a few positive-sounding things to say about the Latin literary tradition, even though he seems tacitly to accept its inferiority to Greek literature. But there seems to have been no point in sticking up for most contemporary translations of Greek books. Or was there? Cicero himself was a brilliant translator, particularly of Plato. He thought hard about the relationship between Latin and Greek. Perhaps, though, his contemporaries were less conscientious than he was. He didn’t just provide mechanical, literal-minded translations: he wanted the Greek Classics to sound like themselves when rendered into his own language. Then again, translators who succeed at this task are rare in every age.