Category Archives: Uncategorized

Have Universities Abandoned their commitment to free thought and ideas?

Niall Ferguson:

I was brought up to think of a university as a haven for free thought and free inquiry; a place where established scholars and students communicate ideas, in both directions; a place where old thoughts and new are subjected to rigorous examination.

I was therefore appalled by the accusations made against me at a live-streamed Stanford University Faculty Senate meeting on February 11th and published online by Joshua Landy, David Palumbo-Liu and two other faculty members. I was included in a group of some half-dozen Hoover fellows who were said to have “abused” the position of the Institution and “quite possibly, contributed to significant public harm.” Landy expressed astonishment that I am “still on the roster” and that Stanford somehow failed “to publicly censure” me.

Like Palumbo-Liu, Landy is a professor of comparative literature. He is the author of two books: Philosophy as Fiction (Oxford, 2004) and How To Do Things with Fictions (Oxford, 2012). In his presentation to the Faculty Senate, Landy chose to present his statements concerning me as fact. Once again, however, he was doing things with fiction.

Landy made no effort to contact me before making his accusations. He based his claims on a 2018 article in the student newspaper, the Stanford Daily, a piece that was not made any more true by its being replicated elsewhere, and he ignored my own published refutation. An elementary understanding of context, not to mention prudence, might have led someone levelling such an accusation to acknowledge that his target had publicly rebutted the allegations against him. To repeat a false allegation is bad enough. To repeat it as if it is unchallenged fact is unacceptable, whether as a matter of fairness to a colleague, or of good academic practice.

Milwaukee’s taxpayer supported schools Should Offer In-Person Classes Or else the Legislature should expand school choice.

Shannon Whitworth:

Let us not forget that prior to the pandemic panic, Wisconsin already had the largest achievement gapbetween white and Black children in the nation. This gap will only get worse as schools across the state continue with in-person instruction while MPS students struggle to connect virtually, and in many ways educate themselves. Inner-city students are far less likely to have comparable access to technology, according to a recent study by the Rand Corporation, and many more of these students are working or are having to care for younger siblings while their parents are working.

For many of these students, school is the only place where they get a decent meal. Most importantly, attending school in-person is the most effective means of instruction because of the personal connection students establish with teachers. A selling point for any school is smaller class sizes because an instructor has more of an opportunity to connect, understand and individualize the instruction. By going all-virtual, MPS has gone the opposite direction with predictable, disastrous results.

One cannot underscore enough the importance of a high school diploma, with high-school graduates generating significantly higher lifetime earningsthan dropouts. A recent study by the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) found that learning loss from the Spring 2020 semester will result in an estimated $7.7 billion in lost lifetime earnings for Wisconsin students.

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

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

Molly Beck and Madeline Heim:

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

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

Channel3000:

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

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

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

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

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

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

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Assembly against private school forced closure.

Wisconsin Catholic schools will challenge local COVID-19 closing order. More.

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

Michael Loconto went down in a moment of online infamy. Can he come back?

Adrian walker:

That’s the question that Michael Loconto has been pondering for months now.

Loconto was chairman of the Boston School Committee when he met with his moment of infamy last October. Several hours into a meeting on Zoom in which the School Committee voted to temporarily overhaul the admissions standards for the city’s exam schools, Loconto was captured on a hot microphone mocking the names of Asians who were waiting to speak.

His downfall was as swift as it was surprising: He resigned the next day, under fire for his comments.

What should have been Loconto’s proudest moment in the role — helping to engineer a huge step toward equity in the BPS — had become just the opposite. He quickly retreated from public view.

His would not be the last moment of Zoom infamy; other public officials, in Massachusetts and elsewhere, have seen their reputations upended by comments on Zoom, including a Lowell School Committee member who resigned recently after using an anti-Semitic slur.

Still, the case of Loconto has fascinated me, partly because it seemed so out of character.

Kitchen-table classrooms

The Economist:

The ranks of home educators were swelling long before the disruption of covid-19. For decades the greatest number in America have been conservative Christians who fear that schools may corrupt their offspring. But since 2007 the share of parents who say that providing religious or moral instruction is the “most important” reason for them to home-school has fallen, according to a survey by the Department of Education. More parents now cite concerns about drugs and other nasty influences in schools. Those who live near bad schools and who cannot afford private ones sometimes decide home-schooling is a better option. Black families and those from other minorities have additional worries about racism in the public-school (that is, state-school) system, says Cheryl Fields-Smith of the University of Georgia.

Around the world “accidental” home-schoolers are now more common, argues Rebecca English, who studies home education at Queensland University of Technology in Australia. These parents say that they have withdrawn their children as a last resort because their local schools cannot accommodate disabilities or emotional problems. Today’s parents have a lower tolerance for schools failing to deal with issues, such as bullying, that previous generations of children were sometimes expected to endure. In many places the expansion of special educational services has not kept pace with demand, leading to long waits for the evaluations that are required before children can benefit from them.

Academic Freedom Is Withering On College Campuses

Eric Kaufman:

Academic freedom is in crisis on American campuses. Last year, the National Association of Scholars recorded 65 instances of professors being disciplined or fired for protected speech, a fivefold increase from the year before. Yet many of academia’s defenders brush aside worries about dismissal campaigns and the lack of ideological diversity as little more than a collection of anecdotes cherry-picked to feed a right-wing moral panic.

My new report for the Center for the Study of Partisanship and Ideology gives the lie to these claims. Based on eight comprehensive surveys of academic and graduate-student opinion across the U.S., Canada and Britain, it buttresses the findings of numerous studies to provide hard data on the absence of viewpoint diversity and presence of discrimination against conservative and gender-critical scholars. …

Some 75% of American and British conservative academics in social sciences and humanities say their departments offer a hostile climate for their beliefs. Nearly 4 in 10 American centrist faculty concur.

Here’s what S.F. parents think about the deal to bring some students back to the classroom in April

Nanette Asimov, Michael Cabanatuan:

Parents’ excitement about San Francisco schools finally reopening in April turned glum Saturday as most realized that their children were not included in the latest plan.

“It was initial excitement and overjoyed feelings of — is this really happening?” said Meredith Dodson, whose son is in preschool at Rooftop Elementary in the Twin Peaks neighborhood. “Now it’s skepticism and concern about what this means for the spring.”

Dodson said she doesn’t know whether her child’s school is among those set to reopen in April. (It’s not.) Although school officials announced Friday night that they had at last reached a tentative deal with teachers to return to the classroom, she and other parents soon realized that only 24 elementary schools of 64 will reopen by the end of April. It’s not clear whether the remaining elementary schools will reopen in May. The agreement opens preschool and elementary grades, but not middle or high schools.

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 School Climate

Chris Rickert and Logan Wroge:

“I didn’t know we were so behind in this pandemic as a nation,” she said. “I never thought we were going to be here a year into this.”

For some schools outside of Madison, it hasn’t been anywhere near a year. Many private and religious schools reopened to full-time, in-person learning in September after persuading the state Supreme Court to block a local public health order that would have prevented them. Suburban and more rural public schools have been reopening in recent months under hybrid models. 

That back-to-school sentiment hasn’t been as strong in Madison, where kindergarteners are set to begin in-person instruction Tuesday followed by first grade, second grade and 4-K students in subsequent weeks. No dates for returning older students have been announced.

Those small steps toward normalcy have spurred sharp disagreements between district administrators and the teachers union. Last week, Madison teachers staged a “teach-out” to protest what they view as a rushed and dangerous return to school weeks before most of them are due to be vaccinated.

But while Madison parents see the toll the long layoff is taking on student learning and mental health, many also sympathize with teachers and laud their efforts teaching online.

Windsor-Engnell said she wishes the school district’s approach during the pandemic had been more “nuanced” and allowed for at least some in-person learning for the families that needed it. She’s especially concerned about how the long shutdown will affect student mental health, and estimated her children are absorbing about 50% to 60% of the education they would be getting in person.

Still, she said her North Side family doesn’t have any health conditions that puts them at greater risk for the virus and that in some ways that puts them in a “privileged position.”

Virtual learning last spring was a “hot mess for everybody,” said Ana Luyet, who lives on Madison’s Near West Side with husband and two teenage daughters, 13 and 15, “but everybody did the best they could with the tools at their disposal.”

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

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

Molly Beck and Madeline Heim:

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

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

Channel3000:

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

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

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

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

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

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

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Assembly against private school forced closure.

Wisconsin Catholic schools will challenge local COVID-19 closing order. More.

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

Civics: Why Did Amazon Cancel Justice Thomas?

Jason Riley:

Early last month Amazon deleted a documentary film about Justice Clarence Thomas from its popular streaming service. Titled “Created Equal: Clarence Thomas in His Own Words,” and culled from more than 30 hours of interviews with its subject, the film recounts Justice Thomas’s rise from poverty in segregated Georgia to Yale Law School and, eventually, to the Supreme Court. Along the way, viewers learn about the justice’s views on race, religion, politics and the role of the judiciary.

The documentary began airing on PBS in May 2020 and streaming on Amazon in October. But it was taken down by Amazon on Feb. 8, according to the director, Michael Pack, and he has never been told why. “Our distributor, who’s the one who made the deal with Amazon, has repeatedly asked them for explanations but they haven’t given any,” Mr. Pack told me by phone this week. “They have the right to pull anything from their site, and they don’t have to give an explanation. So it’s not a contract violation. But many people have complained, and they haven’t put it back up.”

If this episode sounds familiar, it’s because Amazon pulled a similar stunt last fall. Eli Steele’s “What Killed Michael Brown ?”—a critique of liberal social policies that was written and narrated by his father, the race scholar Shelby Steele —was slated to stream on Amazon in October, then held up for reasons the company never fully explained. Amazon eventually relented and made the film available, but only after these pages weighed in and made a fuss.

What is the point of schools?

Lucy Kellaway:

Next week it will all be over. 

Nine million children in England will put on their uniforms, which most of them have not worn since December, and head back to school. Nine million mothers or fathers will heave a sigh of relief at no longer having their Zoom calls interrupted by having to chivvy their children or trying to home-school them about ionic bonds or subordinate conjunctions. Nearly 500,000 teachers will close the laptops on which they have been communicating with students on Zoom, Loom, Teams and Satchel One, and prepare to meet them again in the flesh.

Yet in a way it’s not over. Coronavirus has disrupted education, literally so, by stopping it in its tracks for two extended periods. That break has given all of us — teachers, parents, policymakers — space to wonder if getting back to normal should really be the goal — or whether there’s some improved version of normality that we should be aiming for instead. 

Neither is it over for the children themselves, who have missed a total of 20 weeks’ education — more than half a full school year. Covid-19 has left scars that the government’s promise last month of more money for tutors and summer schools is not easily going to heal.

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

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

Molly Beck and Madeline Heim:

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

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

Channel3000:

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

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

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

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

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

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

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Assembly against private school forced closure.

Wisconsin Catholic schools will challenge local COVID-19 closing order. More.

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

“Americans’ trust in the Black Lives Matter movement has fallen and their faith in local law enforcement has risen since protests demanding social justice swept the nation last year”

Susan Page, Sarah Elbeshbishi and Mabinty Quarshie:

Americans’ trust in the Black Lives Matter movement has fallen and their faith in local law enforcement has risen since protests demanding social justice swept the nation last year, according to an exclusive USA TODAY/Ipsos Poll.

The debate over the intersection of racism and policing will be in the spotlight again as jury selection opens Monday in the Minneapolis trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd, which sparked nationwide marches last year.

The survey finds complicated and shifting views about Chauvin’s actions and broader questions of race. On many issues, there is a chasm in the perspective between Black people and white people.

Protesters shut down southbound Interstate 35 on May 30, 2020, in Austin, Texas, after the death of George Floyd in police custody.

Last June, 60% in a USA TODAY/Ipsos Poll described Floyd’s death as murder; that percentage has now dropped by double digits to 36%. Uncertainty has grown about how to characterize the incident, caught on video, when Chauvin held his knee on Floyd’s neck and ignored his protests that he couldn’t breathe. Last year, 4% said they didn’t know how to describe it; that number has climbed to 17%.

“There were eight minutes that the officer could have made a different decision, and he willfully held a man,” said Valda Pugh, a 67-year-old retiree from Louisville who is Black. She was among those surveyed. “It was a murder. It was willful – maybe not premeditated. Nonetheless, the young man died.”

Kevin Hayworth, 66, of Garner, Iowa, who is white, disagreed. “I think it was a police officer doing his job,” he said in a follow-up phone interview. “It was just a tragedy, but I think he was within the limits of his duty of jurisdiction.” 

Statistics Postdoc Tames Decades-Old Geometry Problem

Erica Klarreich:

In the mid-1980s, the mathematician Jean Bourgain thought up a simple question about high-dimensional shapes. And then he remained stuck on it for the rest of his life.

Bourgain, who died in 2018, was one of the preeminent mathematicians of the modern era. A winner of the Fields Medal, mathematics’ highest honor, he was known as a problem-solver extraordinaire — the kind of person you might talk to about a problem you’d been working on for months, only to have him solve it on the spot. Yet Bourgain could not answer his own question about high-dimensional shapes.

“I was told once by Jean that he had spent more time on this problem and had dedicated more efforts to it than to any other problem he had ever worked on,” wrote Vitali Milman of Tel Aviv University earlier this year.

In the years since Bourgain formulated his problem, it has become what Milman and Bo’az Klartag of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel calledthe “opening gate” to understanding a wide range of questions about high-dimensional convex shapes — shapes that always contain the entire line segment connecting any two of their points. High-dimensional convex shapes are a central object of study not just for pure mathematicians but also for statisticians, machine learning researchers and other computer scientists working with high-dimensional data sets.

Academia, Taxpayer funded NPR and the first amendment

Ari Shapiro and Miles Parks:

Basically, she says a redesign of the entire Internet is the only solution. Information just spreads too easily right now, even if it’s untrue or hateful. That has her less focused on moderation policies and more on actually educating young people because they’re going to be the ones who have to fix this mess.

Mass. education commissioner wins authority to force school districts to bring students back to classrooms full-time

James Vaznis and Felicia Gans:

The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education voted on Friday to give Education Commissioner Jeffrey Riley the power to force districts to bring students back to the classrooms full-time, a move that aims to put student learning and wellbeing back on track after a year of epic disruptions.

The return of students to five days a week of in-person learning will begin April 5, with students in pre-kindergarten through grade 5. Middle school students will likely follow sometime after that. It remains unclear if high schools will be forced to reopen full time before the school year ends.

“Now is the time to begin moving children back to school more robustly,” Riley said before the vote, noting that the proposal had broad support in the medical community.

The 8 to 3 vote followed passionate public testimony about whether the state was usurping local control — or whether, as others argued, state officials needed to intervene to address the deteriorating mental health of students and significant learning losses.

Board members asked a panel of medical experts a range of questions, including about the safety risks variants presented in school settings and the capacity of schools to address mental health issues.

In the end, board members said they felt a duty to step in.

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

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

Molly Beck and Madeline Heim:

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

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

Channel3000:

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

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

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

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

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

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

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Assembly against private school forced closure.

Wisconsin Catholic schools will challenge local COVID-19 closing order. More.

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

City student passes 3 classes in four years, ranks near top half of class with 0.13 GPA

Chris Papst:

IA shocking discovery out of a Baltimore City high school, where Project Baltimore has found hundreds of students are failing. It’s a school where a student who passed three classes in four years, ranks near the top half of his class with a 0.13 grade point average.

Tiffany France thought her son would receive his diploma this coming June. But after four years of high school, France just learned, her 17-year-old must start over. He’s been moved back to ninth grade.

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

Epidemics and trust: The case of the Spanish Flu

Arnstein Aassve, Guido Alfani, Francesco Gandolfi, Marco Le Moglio, Guido Alfani and Marco Le Moglie:

Recent studies argue that major crises can have long‐lasting effects on individual behavior. While most studies focused on natural disasters, we explore the consequences of the global pandemic caused by a lethal influenza virus in 1918-19: the so‐called “Spanish Flu.” This was by far the worst pandemic of modern history, causing up to 100 million deaths worldwide. Using information about attitudes of respondents to the General Social Survey, we find evidence that experiencing the pandemic likely had permanent consequences in terms of individuals’ social trust. Our findings suggest that lower social trust was passed on to the descendants of the survivors of the Spanish Flu who migrated to the United States. As trust is a crucial factor for long‐term economic development, our research offers a new angle from which to assess current health threats.

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

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

Molly Beck and Madeline Heim:

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

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

Channel3000:

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

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

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

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

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

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

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Assembly against private school forced closure.

Wisconsin Catholic schools will challenge local COVID-19 closing order. More.

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

Colleges That Require Virus-Screening Tech Struggle to Say Whether It Works

Natasha Singer and Kellen Browning:

Before the University of Idaho welcomed students back to campus last fall, it made a big bet on new virus-screening technology.

The university spent $90,000 installing temperature-scanning stations, which look like airport metal detectors, in front of its dining and athletic facilities in Moscow, Idaho. When the system clocks a student walking through with an unusually high temperature, the student is asked to leave and go get tested for Covid-19.

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

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

Molly Beck and Madeline Heim:

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

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

Channel3000:

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

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

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

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

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

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

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Assembly against private school forced closure.

Wisconsin Catholic schools will challenge local COVID-19 closing order. More.

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

The Cancellation Of Dr. Seuss Should Disturb You, Because You’re Next

John Daniel Davidson:

Dr. Seuss has been cancelled. Some of his work has been deemed racist, and we can’t have that. On Tuesday, the entity that oversees the estate of Theodor Seuss Geisel announced it would no longer publish six of Geisel’s books because they “portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong.”

Among the works now deemed unfit for children are Geisel’s first book under the pen name Dr. Seuss, “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street,” published in 1937, and the much-beloved, “If I Ran the Zoo,” published in 1950. The former depicts a “Chinaman” character and the latter shows two men from “the African island of Yerka” in native garb.

There’s not much point in quibbling over whether these and other such illustrations in the condemned Dr. Seuss books are in fact racist or bigoted, or whether Geisel held racist or xenophobic views. By all accounts he was a liberal-minded and tolerant man who hated Nazis and, as a political cartoonist, mocked the antisemitism that was all-too-common in America during World War II.

He was also a man of his era. Later in life, he regretted some of his political work during the war that stereotyped Japanese Americans, which, as jarring as it might seem today, nevertheless reflected attitudes that were commonplace at the time.

Estimating Students’ Valuation for College Experiences

Esteban M. Aucejo, Jacob F. French & Basit Zafar:

The college experience involves much more than credit hours and degrees. Students likely derive utility from in-person instruction and on-campus social activities. Quantitative measures of the value of these individual components have been hard to come by. Leveraging the COVID-19 shock, we elicit students’ intended likelihood of enrolling in higher education under different costs and possible states of the world. These states, which would have been unimaginable in the absence of the pandemic, vary in terms of class formats and restrictions to campus social life. We show how such data can be used to recover college student’s willingness-to-pay (WTP) for college-related activities in the absence of COVID-19, without parametric assumptions on the underlying heterogeneity in WTP. We find that the WTP for in-person instruction (relative to a remote format) represents around 4.2% of the average annual net cost of attending university, while the WTP for on-campus social activities is 8.1% of the average annual net costs. We also find large heterogeneity in WTP, which varies systematically across socioeconomic groups. Our analysis shows that economically-disadvantaged students derive substantially lower value from university social life, but this is primarily due to time and resource constraints.

High school seniors of color are behind on completing financial aid forms, a worrying sign for college enrollment

Deirdre Fernandes:

When most high school seniors were planning for college in the fall, 18-year-old Lizneida Fermin was juggling her job at a local coffee shop and making sure her grandmother and aunts who had contracted COVID-19 had the supplies and food they needed to stay safe.

The e-mails from guidance counselors reminding her to fill out her college financial aid forms kept piling up, but Fermin, a senior at Lawrence High School, was just too overwhelmed. “Every day was really hard to get up and focus on school when I was doing my own thing,” she said.

Across Massachusetts, high schools that serve predominantly Black and Latino students have seen some of the steepest declines in the number of seniors submitting the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, during the pandemic.

Mega-Universities Are On the Rise. They Could Reshape Higher Ed as We Know It.

Lee Gardner:

Paul J. LeBlanc remembers the day, about a decade ago, when a public research university in New England announced that it was starting an online M.B.A. Southern New Hampshire University, where LeBlanc is president, had just rolled out its own ambitious online program and started its rise from undistinguished private institution with a few thousand students to today’s online-education juggernaut with more than 92,000 undergraduates enrolled.

LeBlanc found the prospect of such an august competitor bracing — until he heard a radio ad touting the new program. The ad suggested that those interested in the program come to an open house.

“You have an online program, but people have to go to your campus to get information and register?” he asks, still sounding incredulous. And, sure enough, “They’ve never been competition.”

At a time when many colleges are struggling with shrinking enrollment and tighter budgets, Southern New Hampshire is thriving on a grand scale, and it’s not alone. Liberty, Grand Canyon, and Western Governors Universities, along with a few other nonprofit institutions, have built huge online enrollments and national brands in recent years by subverting many of traditional higher education’s hallmarks. Western Governors has 88,585 undergraduates, according to U.S. Education Department data, more than the top 14 universities in the annual U.S. News & World Report rankings combined.

Civics: Citing privacy concerns, Google says it won’t use technologies that track individuals across multiple websites

Sam Schechner and Keach Hagey:

Google plans to stop selling ads based on individuals’ browsing across multiple websites, a change that could hasten upheaval in the digital advertising industry.

The Alphabet Inc. company said Wednesday that it plans next year to stop using or investing in tracking technologies that uniquely identify web users as they move from site to site across the internet.

The decision, coming from the world’s biggest digital-advertising company, could help push the industry away from the use of such individualized tracking, which has come under increasing criticism from privacy advocates and faces scrutiny from regulators.

Google’s heft means that its move is also likely to stoke a backlash from some competitors in the digital ad business, where many companies rely on tracking individuals to target their ads, measure their effectiveness and stop fraud. Google accounted for 52% of last year’s global digital ad spending of $292 billion, according to Jounce Media, a digital-ad consultancy.

Inside Education, Part 4: Finance: Are school budgets cholesterol free?

Armand A. Fusco, Ed.D.:

In addition to determining whether there is any “fat” in staff utilization and workload (part three), it’s absolutely essential to examine budget line items to determine if any may be clogged with cholesterol. Diagnosing the line items for cholesterol requires intelligent and aggressive questioning of all administrators and managers, comparing and analyzing past, present and new budget figures, and making comparisons with other like districts.

The place to begin is with salary accounts since they make up three-quarters or more of the budget. Board members must review—with forensic eyes– the employee roster showing current salary, step increases, contractual increases, extra-pay and stipends. It should also indicate who may be retiring or leaving and the estimated replacement salary. When all dollars are totaled, the figure should agree with the proposed budgeted salary account. This kind of analysis is not made by the typical school board.

What must also be included is the cost of benefits—a significant line item–for each employee to see if the total matches the line item for “benefits.” Again, this is not typically done. Benefits are a bit more complicated, but the idea is to match benefit costs with actual employees. One reason it is clogged with cholesterol is because part time employees are provided with full benefits rather than allocated according to time worked. In other words, if someone work 50% of the time, they should be required to pay 50% of the cost of medical insurance; otherwise, it is not fair to full time personnel.

Well, isn’t this how a budget is reviewed? No! The budget book will not show the staff roster and their salaries and benefits; and it would be rare indeed if this information is provided as part of the back-up materials. Incidentally, all of this data is public information, but the average person would not know how to review and analyze the information. For example, noncertified staff can be paid for overtime, but that information would not be shown for specific employees. Instead, overtime is just a general line item with not connection to employees who receive it. Certainly, it’s possible to determine what every employee is actually paid from the prior budget to get some sense of who is paid for overtime and how much does it add to their compensation. There is no extra work involved since this information must appear on their tax W-2 forms.

Inside Education – Part 3 Finance: Do school budgets come fat-free?.

How the Woke Stole Childhood The campaign against Theodor Geisel takes cancel culture to new lows.

Steven Malanga:

Theodor Geisel’s Dr. Seuss books are so popular, and printed and reprinted in so many editions, that you can find used copies of classics like The Cat in the Hat on eBay.com for under $5—shipping included. You can typically even snap up a first edition of something like Hooray for Diffendoofer Day! for just $4.99, plus $3.45 shipping. Yet on Tuesday, sellers suddenly inundated eBay.com with new, pricey Seuss listings. A 1964 edition of And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street went onto the site at an astonishing $400!

Though that sounded expensive, within an hour some 140 would-be sellers had examined the listing. A newer, less prestigious Grolier Book Club edition of the same book was offered for a more modest $80. By 11:30 Tuesday morning, someone had already snapped it up. The buyer must have considered himself fortunate, because by noon a similar edition of the book had already received 17 offers, in the process getting bid up to $127, with four days left to go in the auction. Potentially the biggest jackpot of the day, however, would go to the person listing an edition of 13 stories of Dr. Seuss, all packaged together. Several hours and 20 bids later, the price had hit $162, with six days of bidding left.

Book collectors are an enterprising lot. The sudden online Seuss surge was the result of news that Geisel’s descendants, who have controlled the rights to his books since his death in 1991, had decided to stop publishing six of his titles (Mulberry Street, If I Ran the Zoo, McElligot’s Pool, On Beyond Zebra!, Scrambled Eggs Super!, and The Cat’s Quizzer) because critics allege that they contain racist or insensitive imagery. An academic journal, Research on Diversity in Youth Literature, has even accused Geisel of white supremacy for a “preponderant influence or authority demonstrated by White characters over others” in his books and for Orientalism, defined as distorting “differences between Middle Eastern, Southeast Asians, South Asians, and East Asians” and portraying these “cultures as exotic, backward, uncivilized.”

We Expect 300,000 Fewer Births Than Usual This Year

Melissa S. Kearney and Phillip B. Levine:

The Covid-19 pandemic has thrown the country into an economic recession and an unprecedented restructuring of our work and social lives. Early on, some likened the public health crisis to a blizzard, imagining that people would stay home, cozy up with their romantic partners and make babies.

These playful visions have given way to a more sobering reality: The pandemic’s serious disruption of people’s lives is likely to cause “missing births” — potentially a lot of them. Add these missing births to the country’s decade-long downward trend in annual births and we can expect consequential changes to our economy and society in the years to come. Unfortunately, there are no easy fixes.

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

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

Molly Beck and Madeline Heim:

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

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

Channel3000:

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

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

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

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

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

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

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Assembly against private school forced closure.

Wisconsin Catholic schools will challenge local COVID-19 closing order. More.

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Madison’s property & business climate

Mitchell Schmidt:

Officials with the World Dairy Expo, the largest convention and exposition in Dane County, are exploring venue options outside the Madison area for this year’s event, due to local COVID-19 restrictions.

Currently, Dane County, which has been home to the event for more than 50 years, remains the planned host for the expo. But event officials have been looking into alternative locations for the 2021 show, which is scheduled to run from Sept. 28 through Oct. 2.

“Our leadership believes that it’s important for us to bring the global dairy industry together in some form and fashion in 2021,” said Scott Bentley, the expo’s general manager. “That is the desire that has prompted us to consider alternative venues.”

The expo, which brings in 62,000 people from 100 countries for a week each fall to the Alliant Energy Center, serves as a major economic boon for hotels and restaurants and typically has an estimated economic impact on the region of more than $45 million. The event also draws high-profile visits, with U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue attending in 2019. Last year’s event was canceled due to COVID-19 concerns.

The decline of State Street.

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

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

Molly Beck and Madeline Heim:

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

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

Channel3000:

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

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

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

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

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

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

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Assembly against private school forced closure.

Wisconsin Catholic schools will challenge local COVID-19 closing order. More.

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

Save Cantonese at Stanford

Team Cantonese:

Dear Provost Persis Drell,

As members of the Stanford community, we wish to express our deep concern and disappointment at the decision to eliminate the Cantonese language program at Stanford. This popular program has expanded to include different proficiency levels since its inception in 1997 and enjoyed steady enrollment thus far. The decision to terminate the contract of the sole Cantonese lecturer on campus, Dr. Sik Lee Dennig, effectively erases the program. Moreover, we strongly believe that Stanford University has a historical obligation to the Cantonese community because its foundation was built on the backs of Cantonese migrant workers. Stanford University has a moral duty to continue Cantonese language education and to uphold its commitment to diversity and inclusion. We urge you to rescind the Language Center’s decision and recommit Stanford to its Cantonese language program.

Stanford must continue its Cantonese program for the following reasons:

Civics: A wolf in watchdog’s clothing: On government’s move to regulate digital media

The Hindu:

The new rules introduced by the Centre last week to regulate all types of digital platforms, with the idea of redressing user grievances and ensuring compliance with the law, are deeply unsettling as they will end up giving the government a good deal of leverage over online news publishers and intermediaries. This holds troubling implications for freedom of expression and right to information. Electronics and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, while launching The Information Technology (Guidelines for Intermediaries and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, presented it as a “soft-touch oversight mechanism”. A government press note termed it “progressive” and “liberal”. It also claimed the rules seek to “address people’s varied concerns while removing any misapprehension about curbing creativity and freedom of speech and expression”. The soft tone notwithstanding, these rules force digital news publishers and video streaming services to adhere to a cumbersome three-tier structure of regulation, with a government committee at its apex. This, in itself, is unprecedented in a country where the news media have been given the space all along to self-regulate, based on the mature understanding that any government presence could have a chilling effect on free speech and conversations. That the new rules pertain only to digital news media, and not to the whole of the news media, hardly provides comfort, as the former is increasingly becoming a prime source of news and views. Further, it is of significant concern that the purview of the IT Act, 2000, has been expanded to bring digital news media under its regulatory ambit without legislative action, which digital liberties organisations such as the Internet Freedom Foundation have flagged.

Madison Teachers, Inc. Work Stoppage Plans

Empower Wisconsin:

An email from MTI faculty representatives urged teachers to report to the district before 8 a.m. last Thursday that they had COVID-19 symptoms.

“I’m sure we all feel exhausted, or have consistent headaches, not really feeling our usual energetic selves. Are you picking up what I’m putting down here?” the email states.

“We need them (MMSD) to get thousands of responses on the google forms. Flood them. We are encouraging you and your staff to join us all in solidarity to show the district that we do not believe it is safe yet,” the union reps’ message implored.

A source with inside information said some teachers had a change of heart following publication of Empower Wisconsin’s story and organizers spoke of shifting the protest to Monday. Sources say the teachers will now use other means to try to get their message across.

Two public interest law firms — the Liberty Justice Center and the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty notified the union on Friday that if the teachers went through with their plan they would be breaking state law and could face a lawsuit.

“An organized sick out is a form of strike and illegal in the State of Wisconsin and we are prepared to file a lawsuit to stop this illegal action. Madison students need to be in school, not used as pawns in a publicity stunt,” said Daniel Suhr, senior attorney at the Liberty Justice Center.

The union quickly punched back, threatening the law firms and, apparently, Empower Wisconsin.

Elizabeth Beyer:

In a learning preference survey filled out by 98% of district families in February, 65% of families with kindergarten students said they plan to resume sending their children to in-person learning on March 9. 

No recent surveys of MTI members were available. But in a survey the union conducted of its members at all grade levels in December, 94% of the respondents said they did not feel comfortable returning to the classroom to teach in-person instruction during the third quarter. 

Scott Girard:

Staff at schools beyond elementary joined in Thursday’s protest in a show of “solidarity.” Pete Opps, a LHS teacher and one of the school’s Madison Teachers Inc. building reps, stood outside the school talking with a pair of community residents who pulled into the parking lot to share their support for the teachers. Throughout the morning, some cars honked in support as they drove by on Pflaum Road.

“The teach out is really about visibility,” Opps said. “There’s a lot of people in the community just recognizing that putting people back together in a school may not be the best approach at this juncture.”

“To try to meet the students’ needs who are in front of them and also virtually simultaneously, that’s just sort of an impossible ask, especially at the elementary level,” Schultz said. “We wanted to represent those concerns that we’re hearing.”

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

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

Molly Beck and Madeline Heim:

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

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

Channel3000:

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

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

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

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

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

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

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Assembly against private school forced closure.

Wisconsin Catholic schools will challenge local COVID-19 closing order. More.

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

My Generation Isn’t Suffering Enough

Freya India:

My generation is miserable. Gen Z, those of us born after 1997, are the saddest, loneliest, and most mentally fragile age group to date, cursed with rising rates of anxiety, depression, and suicide. How can that be? How can a generation with everything feel so desperately unhappy? By almost every metric, human life is dramatically better today than it ever has been. The number of people living in extreme poverty has fallen from around 90 percent in 1820 to just 10 percent in 2015, while rates of illiteracy, mortality, and battle deaths are also in rapid decline. For the most part, Gen Z are heirs to an immense fortune: a utopian world of instant gratification and technological dynamism. In theory, this should be the age of happiness.

And yet, misery abounds. In the United States, 54 percent of Gen Z report anxiety and nervousness, according to researchers at the American Psychological Association. This is compared with only 40 percent of millennials and a national average of 34 percent. It isn’t just a case of self-report bias either, since the suicide rate for Americans aged between 15 and 24 has risen by over 51 percent in the last decade. For Gen Z women in particular, suicide rates have risen a staggering 87 percent since 2007. In my home country of the UK, one in four girls is clinically depressed by the time they are 14.

There’s no shortage of articles trying to make sense of the mental health epidemic at a time of such global prosperity. Teens and pre-teens today, we’re told, are simply interred beneath the weight of political issues like climate change, immigration, and sexual assault, as well as fatigued by job stress, exam burnout, and the attainment of unrealistic social media standards. The antidote, many suggest, lies in practicing better “self-care,” from daily gratitude journaling to adopting a 38-step skincare routine. And it’s a popular remedy. Since the pandemic began, online searches for “self-care” have risen 250 percent, with schools, universities, and employers turning to compulsory wellness programmes like mindfulness training and meditation sessions to improve mental health.

Political pressure to reopen schools is growing more intense

Charles Lipson:

This week, Matt Meyer did what many parents long to do. He dropped off his kid at school. That’s unusual in Berkeley, California, where he lives, because the schools there have been closed for a year, and the teachers’ union adamantly opposes their reopening. Parents like Mr. Meyer who can afford private schools, which are mostly open, send their kids there. His child has been there since last June. So he dropped off his child and drove off to his job.

His job is head of the Berkeley teachers’ union. His main task there is to keep the public schools closed for everyone else.

Matt’s job and that of other teachers’ union bosses is getting harder — and not just because the hypocrisy is so obvious. It’s getting harder because parents and kids across the country are fed up. The national cry is Howard Beale’s from the 1976 film, Network, ‘I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore. Things have got to change.’

Until now, that cry has been mostly silent, but it is growing more vocal and more urgent. Returning kids to school and returning parents to work are America’s two most important dinner-table issues. The issues are closely linked, of course, because many parents can’t leave home for their jobs if the kids can’t leave home for their schools.

But even parents who don’t have this work problem are desperate to see their kids back in school. They know all too well that kids are falling further and further behind academically and socially. That’s especially true for younger children, where remote learning has proved ineffective. The problem is most acute for poor children, who have less access to computers and less assistance from parents who can tutor them. These human costs will be felt for years. 

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

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

Molly Beck and Madeline Heim:

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

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

Channel3000:

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

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

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

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

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

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

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Assembly against private school forced closure.

Wisconsin Catholic schools will challenge local COVID-19 closing order. More.

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

The Journal of Free Speech Law, a New Faculty-Edited (Peer-Reviewed) Law Journal

Eugene Volokh:

I’m delighted to announce the founding of the Journal of Free Speech Law, a new faculty-edited law journal. (Motto: “It is an experiment, as all life is an experiment.”) The journal will publish in print as well as electronically; the first issue—a symposium on regulation of social media removal decisions—will come out in Summer 2021. (Many thanks to the Stanton Foundation for a generous multiyear grant that will allow all this to happen.)

Future articles will be selected by our “robe & gown” editorial board, which currently consists of:

Commentary on a review of Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 schools COVID-19 precautions

Emily Hamer:

An independent review of COVID-19 mitigation measures at Madison School District buildings found that the steps taken are “more than adequate” to create a safe environment for students, staff and parents.

The 176-page report was posted to the district’s website Tuesday. McKinstry, a local building company, conducted the Feb. 26 analysis of the school buildings and physical changes, such as air filters, that have been put in place to protect from COVID-19.

The report comes as the district plans to start reopening to in-person learning March 9, beginning with kindergarten students. Teachers and some community members have expressed frustration with the reopening plan, arguing that staff should be vaccinated first.

Some teachers and staff plan to teach their online classes from outside their schools buildings Thursday to protest returning to in-person classes before being immunized.

McKinstry said “it is clear” that the safety precautions the district has taken “meet or exceed” recommendations from local health officials and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to slow or stop the spread of COVID-19.

One of McKinstry’s focus areas is helping ensure health care environments are safe.

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

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

Molly Beck and Madeline Heim:

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

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

Channel3000:

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

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

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

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

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

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

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Assembly against private school forced closure.

Wisconsin Catholic schools will challenge local COVID-19 closing order. More.

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

How iPhone 12’s Lidar and AI help me navigate the street as a blind person

BBC:

Technology that can describe the environment around it can be life-changing for blind people or those who have sight loss.

Apple’s iPhone 12 Pro uses a Lidar (light detection and ranging) sensor and artificial intelligence to enable users to identify objects and detect how close people are to other people around them.

In the age of the coronavirus pandemic where maintaining social distancing is important, such technology could prove particularly useful.

San Francisco Parents Work to Recall School Board Members Amid Reopening Controversy

Alejandro Lazo:

Fed up with the pace of plans to reopen public schools, parent groups are mobilizing against San Francisco’s elected school board, arguing it has given priority to social justice issues over getting kids back in classrooms.

Two parents have launched a formal recall effort against three members of the school board, including its president and vice president, while another group is considering options that include asking voters to eliminate school board elections altogether.

The parent activism is the latest development in the escalating San Francisco schools-reopening saga. Public schools have been shut down since last March, and negotiations between the local teachers union and the district remain at an impasse despite San Francisco having low Covid-19 rates for a major U.S. city.

“The people and businesses of San Francisco have worked very hard, have sacrificed, to keep our Covid levels low, and our schools have been closed entirely throughout,” said Patrick Wolff, one of the parents who formed the Campaign for Better San Francisco Public Schools, which can fund-raise for political campaigns. “So just think of the harm that’s being done.”

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

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

Molly Beck and Madeline Heim:

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

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

Channel3000:

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

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

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

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

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

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

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Assembly against private school forced closure.

Wisconsin Catholic schools will challenge local COVID-19 closing order. More.

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

News Media Use, Talk Networks, and Anti-Elitism across Geographic Location: Evidence from Wisconsin

Chris Wells:

A certain social-political geography recurs across European and North American societies: As post-industrialization and mechanization of agriculture have disrupted economies, rural and nonmetropolitan areas are aging and declining in population, leading to widening political and cultural gaps between metropolitan and rural communities. Yet political communication research tends to focus on national or cross-national levels, often emphasizing networked digital media and an implicitly global information order. We contend that geographic place still provides a powerful grounding for individuals’ lifeworld experiences, identities, and orientations to political communications and politics. Focusing on the U.S. state of Wisconsin, and presenting data gathered in 2018, this study demonstrates significant, though often small, differences between geographic locations in terms of their patterns of media consumption, political talk, and anti-elite attitudes. Importantly, television news continues to play a major role in citizens’ repertoires across locations, suggesting we must continue to pay attention to this broadcast medium. Residents of more metropolitan communities consume significantly more national and international news from prestige sources such as the New York Times, and their talk networks are more cleanly sorted by partisanship. Running against common stereotypes of news media use, residents of small towns and rural areas consume no more conservative media than other citizens, even without controlling for partisanship. Our theoretical model and empirical results call for further attention to the intersections of place and politics in understanding news consumption behaviors and the meanings citizens draw from media content.

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

Thousands of students reported ‘missing’ from school systems nationwide amid COVID-19 pandemic

Arielle Mitropoulos:

States around the country are reporting a significant decline in the number of students enrolled in public school because of the coronavirus pandemic, leaving experts and educators concerned about the trend, and its potential long-term consequences.

A notable number of students seem to have simply fallen off the grid, not showing up for online or in-person instruction, their whereabouts unknown by school officials.

Given the chaos caused by the pandemic, and the lack of data, it is difficult to truly determine the exact magnitude of the problem, which seems to be disproportionately affecting already vulnerable student populations – among them homeless students, children with disabilities, children of immigrants, children in foster care and children of color.

A recent study by Bellwether Education Partners, a non-profit that focuses on underserved communities, estimates that approximately 3 million of the “most educationally marginalized students in the country” may have been missing from school since March 2020, when the pandemic forced school closures. The group said it arrived at the number by calculating a “likely percentage of at-risk groups not in school, based on media reports and available data.”

ABC News contacted officials from the departments of education in all 50 states, and found that the problem appears to be nationwide.

Although some states reported that they do not track such information, many others said that they have seen a significant decline in their enrollment numbers, and still others have reported they have thousands of missing students.

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

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

Molly Beck and Madeline Heim:

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

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

Channel3000:

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

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

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

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

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

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

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Assembly against private school forced closure.

Wisconsin Catholic schools will challenge local COVID-19 closing order. More.

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

5 Pandemic Mistakes We Keep Repeating We can learn from our failures.

Zeynep Tufekci:

One of the most important problems undermining the pandemic response has been the mistrust and paternalism that some public-health agencies and experts have exhibited toward the public. A key reason for this stance seems to be that some experts fearedthat people would respond to something that increased their safety—such as masks, rapid tests, or vaccines—by behaving recklessly. They worried that a heightened sense of safety would lead members of the public to take risks that would not just undermine any gains, but reverse them.

Julia Marcus: The danger of assuming that family time is dispensable

The theory that things that improve our safety might provide a false sense of security and lead to reckless behavior is attractive—it’s contrarian and clever, and fits the “here’s something surprising we smart folks thought about” mold that appeals to, well, people who think of themselves as smart. Unsurprisingly, such fears have greeted efforts to persuade the public to adopt almost every advance in safety, including seat belts, helmets, and condoms.

But time and again, the numbers tell a different story: Even if safety improvements cause a few people to behave recklessly, the benefits overwhelm the ill effects. In any case, most people are already interested in staying safe from a dangerous pathogen. Further, even at the beginning of the pandemic, sociological theory predicted that wearing masks would be associated with increased adherence to other precautionary measures—people interested in staying safe are interested in staying safe—and empirical research quickly confirmedexactly that. Unfortunately, though, the theory of risk compensation—and its implicit assumptions—continue to haunt our approach, in part because there hasn’t been a reckoning with the initial missteps.

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

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

Molly Beck and Madeline Heim:

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

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

Channel3000:

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

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

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

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

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

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

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Assembly against private school forced closure.

Wisconsin Catholic schools will challenge local COVID-19 closing order. More.

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

Washington, DC School leaders warn that not every student will be able to get an in-person slot this academic year

Perry Stein:

After a month of in-person learning for about 20 percent of D.C. public school students, demand is growing for expanded access to classroom instruction for the fourth term of the academic year, which begins in late April.

City officials have said that they will leave such decisions up to individual schools, but principals are handicapped by a number of factors. Federal health guidelines recommend six feet of social distancing, and local guidelines cap class sizes at 11 students, restricting how many students principals can accommodate.

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

Molly Beck and Madeline Heim:

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

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

Channel3000:

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

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

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

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

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

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Assembly against private school forced closure.

Wisconsin Catholic schools will challenge local COVID-19 closing order. More.

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

Civics: Customers want to know why Amazon removed Clarence Thomas documentary

Christina Maas:

Critics have lamented that Amazon has stopped streaming a documentary on Justice Clarence Thomas.

Customers have noticed that “Created Equal: Clarence Thomas in His Own Words,” a documentary on the renowned supreme court justice, is no longer available for streaming on Amazon Prime.

To celebrate Black History, Amazon created a page called “Amplify Black Voices,” which “features a curated collection of titles to honor Black History Month across four weekly themes (Black Love, Black Joy, Black History Makers, and Black Girl Magic).”

On Amazon Prime, the company added multiple films, including docu-dramas and documentaries on the country’s first black supreme court justice, Thurgood Marshall. The site even added two films about Anita Hill, the woman who made claims that Thomas sexually harassed her.

“Culturally responsive” Illinois teacher training rule

Amy Korte:

The COVID-19 pandemic has shuttered schools throughout Illinois, with 1.2 million of the state’s 1.9 million students still fully remote as of Dec. 18. In Chicago Public Schools, Illinois’ largest school district, the teachers union is in a showdown with the district’s CEO and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot over the district’s plan to reopen schools for elementary school students.

Against this tension-filled backdrop stands another controversial education issue: in December, the Illinois State Board of Education, or ISBE, passed a new rule that would require culturally responsive teaching and leading standards to be incorporated in all Illinois teacher preparation programs. Critics of the proposed standards have said they require educators to embrace left-leaning ideology and prioritize political and social activism in classrooms at a time when Illinois students are underperforming on basic skills tests.

Unless the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules, or JCAR, which consists of 12 lawmakers from the General Assembly, votes to suspend the rule at its meeting Feb. 16, these standards will apply to all Illinois professional educator licenses endorsed in teaching, school support personnel and administrative fields.

The Art of Reading More Effectively and Efficiently

aliabdaal:

It might seem odd to have a blog post devoted entirely to reading. After all, if you’re reading this, chances are you can read. But reading effectively and efficiently is its own skill – one that we’re never really taught how to do.

Throughout our academic life, we’re programmed to believe that effective reading is measured by speed and breadth. The more we can read, the smarter we look. And the more broadly we can read, the more intelligent we seem.

In fact, I’ve fallen prey to this myself, making a clickbait video called How I Read 100 Books a Year. Full disclosure: I don’t actually. It’s closer to 50. But that makes for a less clickable video (sorry, not sorry).

Oakland parents at ‘Schools Not Screens’ rally press to get classrooms reopened

Sam Whiting:

After seven months of watching her kindergartner try to figure out the difference between school and home and her dyslexic second-grader try to learn to read by Zoom, Megan Bacigalupi was moved to action Sunday afternoon.

She stood behind a rented podium near the shores of Lake Merritt and leaned into the public address system. “In-person education is essential,” said Bacigalupi, who was not just one mad mom acting on her own. On the other side of the podium, facing into the sun, stood 200 sign-carrying adults and their kids, united as OUSD Parents for Safe Reopening.

“Schools Not Screens” was the rallying cry as this grassroots organization stood on the grass to insert parents’ voices into the negotiation between the Oakland Unified School District board and the teachers union, as to how and when 86 public schools will bring 36,000 students back into the K-12 classrooms.

Boston parent group suing school committee for new exam school admissions process

Alexi Cohan:

A group of Boston parents has filed a lawsuit against the school committee and Superintendent Brenda Cassellius for what they call a “wholly-irrational” exam school admissions process, which had recently undergone changes due to the pandemic.

“As a parent, I want to request that my child receive a fair and equitable opportunity to apply for these three exam schools,” said Bentao Cui, president of Boston Parent Coalition for Academic Excellence, a new organization pushing for a merit-based entrance to Boston’s exam schools.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of 14 BPCAE families in U.S. District Court in Boston on Friday.

In October, school committee members voted to suspend for one year the use of an admissions test for Boston’s three elite schools Boston Latin School, Boston Latin Academy and the John D. O’Bryant School of Mathematics and Science.

There Is No Such Thing as “White” Math

Sergiu Klainerman:

I am not at all qualified to introduce today’s guest writer, Sergiu Klainerman.

I barely eked out a C+ in high school calculus, while Sergiu is a professor of mathematics at Princeton who specializes in the mathematical theory of black holes. He’s been a MacArthur fellow, a Guggenheim fellow and is a member of the National Academy of Sciences 

Mathematics allowed a young Sergiu, who came of age in Ceausescu’s Romania, to escape to a world where right and wrong couldn’t be fudged, and, ultimately, to a life of freedom in the United States. Without math, his life quite literally would not have been possible.

In the piece below he explains how activists are destroying his discipline in the name of progress. Worse, they are robbing poor children of the opportunity to raise themselves up by mastering it — with untold effects on all of us.

Math, with its seemingly unbiased tools — 2 + 2 always equals 4 — has presented a problem for an ideological movement that sees any inequality of outcome as evidence of systemic bias. The problem cannot be that some kids are better at math, or that some teachers are better at teaching it. Like so much else, the basic woke argument against math is that it is inherently racist and needs to be made antiracist. That is accomplished by undermining the notion of right and wrong answers, by getting rid of the expectation that students show their work, by referring to mathematical testing tools as racist, and by doing away with accelerated math classes.

If that sounds like a caricature, I urge you to read this whole document, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which Sergiu writes about below. As the linguist John McWhorter put it in a powerful piece published yesterday: “to distrust this document is not to be against social justice, but against racism.”

Sergiu wrote me in an email that the situation in his field reminds him of this line from Thomas Sowell: “Ours may become the first civilization destroyed, not by the power of enemies, but by the ignorance of our teachers and the dangerous nonsense they are teaching our children. In an age of artificial intelligence, they are creating artificial stupidity.”

This week, as promised, is education week. Like Shark Week! But dorkier. And, I hope, far more important. This is our first installment.

I’m pleased to publish Sergiu Klainerman:

In my position as a professor of mathematics at Princeton, I have witnessed the decline of universities and cultural institutions as they have embraced political ideology at the expense of rigorous scholarship. Until recently — this past summer, really — I had naively thought that the STEM disciplines would be spared from this ideological takeover.

I was wrong. Attempts to “deconstruct” mathematics, deny its objectivity, accuse it of racial bias, and infuse it with political ideology have become more and more common — perhaps, even, at your child’s elementary school.

This phenomenon is part of what has been dubbed “The Great Awokening.” As others have explained powerfully, the ideology incubated in academia, where it indoctrinated plenty of bright minds. It then migrated, through those true believers, into our important cultural, religious and political institutions. Now it is affecting some of the country’s most prominent businesses.

Unlike the traditional totalitarianism practiced by former communist countries, like the Romania I grew up in, this version is soft. It enforces its ideology not by jailing dissenters or physically eliminating them, but by social shaming, mob punishment, guilt by association, and coerced speech.

When it comes to education, I believe the woke ideology is even more harmful than old-fashioned communism.

Communism had a strong sense of objective reality anchored in the belief that humans are capable of discovering universal truths. It forcefully asserted, in fact, the absolute truth of dialectic materialism, as revealed by its founders Marx, Engels and Lenin. Communist ideology held science and mathematics in the highest regard, even though it often distorted the former for doctrinal reasons. 

Mathematics was largely immune to ideological pressure, and thus thrived in most communist countries. Being skilled in math was a source of great societal prestige for school children. And it was a great equalizer: those from socioeconomically disadvantaged families had a chance to compete on equal footing with those from privileged ones.

Related:

Math Forum audio / video

Connected Math

Discovery Math

Candidates for Wisconsin state school superintendent clash on leadership, vouchers

WISN:

“I am pro-kid. I do not support taking away a parent’s right to choose where their kid goes to school,” Kerr said. “The state superintendent cannot change these laws. So look at the Legislature. Does anyone really think the current legislature is going to massively roll back these policies? No. But I’m going to continue to be an advocate and equity champion for all kids.”

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

Mathematicians Set Numbers in Motion to Unlock Their Secrets

Kelsey Houston-Edwards:

During this period, they began to envision a way to extend the crucial analogy between torsion points of elliptic curves and finite orbit points of dynamical systems. They knew that they could transform a seemingly unrelated problem into one where the analogy was directly applicable. That problem arises out of something called the Manin-Mumford conjecture.

The Manin-Mumford conjecture is about curves that are more complicated than elliptic curves, such as y2 = x6 + x4 + x2 − 1. Each of these curves comes with an associated larger geometric object called a Jacobian, which mimics certain properties of the curve and is often easier for mathematicians to study than the curve itself. A curve sits inside its Jacobian the way a piece sits inside a jigsaw puzzle.

Unlike elliptic curves, these more complicated curves don’t have a group structure that enables adding points on a curve to get other points on the curve. But the associated Jacobians do. The Jacobians also have torsion points, just like elliptic curves, which circle back on themselves under repeated internal addition.

Many colleges went test-optional. Some Madison high school students still want to take ACT/SAT

Kelly Meyerhofer:

Eliana Sauer, a junior at Madison Memorial High School, has long hoped to qualify as a National Merit Finalist, a designation that can unlock thousands of dollars in scholarship money. She took the preliminary SAT, also known as the PSAT, as a sophomore and did well. But only the scores a student receives their junior year are considered in the scholarship award.

Because the Madison School District has been operating online, it didn’t offer the in-person exam to students this year, something Sauer said the district didn’t fully communicate despite families sending multiple inquiries in recent months.

“We had just been banking on that test being offered so when it didn’t happen and there was no communication about it, we were in panic mode,” she said. “It just seems like no one is super interested in helping juniors figure this out besides juniors.”

Citing Racial Inequities, Boston Public Schools Suspend New Advanced Learning Classes

Meg Woodhouse:

A selective program for high-performing fourth, fifth and sixth graders in Boston has suspended enrollment due to the pandemic and concerns about equity in the program, GBH News has learned.

Superintendent Brenda Cassellius recommended the one-year hiatus for the program, known as Advanced Work Classes, saying the district would not proceed with the program for new students next year.

“There’s been a lot of inequities that have been brought to the light in the pandemic that we have to address,” Cassellius told GBH News. “There’s a lot of work we have to do in the district to be antiracist and have policies where all of our students have a fair shot at an equitable and excellent education.”

Related: English 10.

After Leading School Closures, Berkeley Teachers’ Union President Spotted Dropping Daughter Off at In-Person Preschool

KQED:

‘Why is that safe for him and those people who work there (at the preschool), but not for all of the kids in Berkeley Unified and the teachers? The answer is: It is safe.’Jonathan Zachreson, Founder of Reopen California Schools

Looking to prove a double-standard by the Berkeley Federation of Teachers union president, they followed Meyer and his 2-year-old daughter to her preschool, camera in hand. The footage they captured has ignited the ire of parents groups fighting teachers unions — and Meyer in particular.

“It’s completely opposite of what he’s pushing,” said Jonathan Zachreson, the founder of Reopen California Schools, which counts Berkeley parents among many of its members. “So why is that safe for him and those people who work there (at the preschool), but not for all of the kids in Berkeley Unified and the teachers? The answer is: It is safe.”

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

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

Molly Beck and Madeline Heim:

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

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

Channel3000:

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

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

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

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

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

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

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Assembly against private school forced closure.

Wisconsin Catholic schools will challenge local COVID-19 closing order. More.

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

The COVID Zoom Boom Is Reshaping Sign Language

Sarah Katz:

People who use American Sign Language to communicate are no strangers to video chatting. The technology—which has been around since 1927, when AT&T experimented with the first rudimentary videophones—allows deaf people to converse with signs over the airwaves. But after the coronavirus pandemic began confining people to their homes early last year, the use of platforms such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Google Meet exploded. This increased reliance on videoconferencing has inevitably transformed the way deaf people communicate.

One adaptation arises as a result of a video meeting’s limited frame size. “The signing space is expansive,” says Michael Skyer, a senior lecturer of deaf education at the Rochester Institute of Technology. “Even if many signs are produced easily or normally in the ‘Zoom screen’ dimensions, many are not.” The sign for “body,” for example, is usually produced by making a “B” hand shape and moving it from the shoulders to the hips. But to fit the reduced signing space demanded by videoconferencing, many signers have been ending it at the chest.

Buffalo’s school district tells students that “all white people play a part in perpetuating systemic racism”—while presiding over miserable student outcomes.

Christopher Rufo:

The story of Buffalo Public Schools is a sad and familiar one: a dying industrial town, underperforming inner-city schools, and high rates of failure among racial minorities. Instead of focusing on improving academic achievement, however, Buffalo school administrators have adopted fashionable new pedagogies: “culturally responsive teaching,” “pedagogy of liberation,” “equity-based instructional strategies,” and an “emancipatory curriculum.”

Buffalo Public Schools diversity czar Fatima Morrell, architect of the district’s pedagogical revolution, summarizes these dense phrases in a single word: “woke.” Last year, in her role as director of the Office of Culturally and Linguistically Responsive Initiatives, Morrell created a new curriculum promoting Black Lives Matter in the classroom and an “antiracist” training program for teachers. According to one veteran teacher, who requested anonymity, Morrell’s training programs have pushed “radical politics” and, in practice, become a series of “scoldings, guilt-trips, and demands to demean oneself simply to make another feel ‘empowered.’” Teachers must submit to these “manipulative mind games” and express support for Morrell’s left-wing politics, or risk professional retaliation.

During one all-hands training session, the details of which I have obtained through a whistleblower, Morrell claimed that America “is built on racism” and that all Americans are guilty of “implicit racial bias.” She argued that “America’s sickness” leads some whites to believe that blacks are “not human,” which makes it “easier to shoot someone in the back seven times if you feel like it.” Morrell, who earned her Ed.D. from the University of Buffalo, said that the solution is to “be woke, which is basically critically conscious,” citing a pedagogical concept developed by Marxist theoretician Paolo Freire holding that students must be trained to identify and eventually overthrow their oppressors. After Morrell’s presentation, one teacher reaffirmed this political imperative, declaring that students must become “activists for antiracism” and public school teachers should begin “preparing them at four years old.”

Expanding certain Taxpayer funded Madison schools

Logan Wroge:

As the Madison School District prepares for an overhaul of its high schools, some parents are questioning how fair it is — and whether it’s a violation of district policy — to let the two more-affluent high schools raise potentially tens of millions in donations to bolster referendum-funded renovations.

Parents, alumni, staff and students at Memorial and West high schools have formed capital campaign committees to raise money for extra projects not included in renovation plans being funded by the $317 million facilities referendum voters approved last fall.

But at a board meeting last week, La Follette parents of former, current and future students urged the board to consider what approving donor-funded projects at Memorial and West will mean for the more economically disadvantaged La Follette and East high schools.

Madison recently expanded Hamilton Middle and Van Hise elementary school, our two least diverse organizations.

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

The Algorithmic Genius of Arcadia

Hermione Lee:

Begun in 1991, worked on through 1992 and staged in 1993, Arcadia is a mid-life play. It is written at a time of looking back and looking forward, just as the play looks back and forward. The parallel lines spoken by Septimus and Valentine in the last act hold in one mental space the moment in which we still have time to act, and the prospect that time will in the end run out, for us individually as well as for the universe: “we have time”/ “there’s no time left.” The play is full of anxiety and sadness about time. But it is also a comedy of time, and timings, and plays with time in enchantingly light and suspenseful ways.

Arcadia is a truly original play, and seduced its audiences and readers by being so new and ingenious. The thrill of discovering revolutionary ideas, for the scientists, poets, historians, landscape gardeners and geniuses who inhabit the play, mirrors the ebullient inventiveness of the thing itself.

Time had always been on his mind. It goes right back to his experiments of the 1960s, under the influence of Eliot, with the inexorable ticking taxi meter that measures out Dominic Boot’s day, or Gladys the speaking clock made dizzy by the infinity of time (“Silence is the sound of time passing”), or the early version of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern at the Court of King Lear, ending with Hamlet’s soliloquy: “I have time . . . it will be night soon . . . I have a lot of time.” Out of that came their play, which they spend killing time, stuck in limbo, not knowing their fate, while scenes from Hamlet, in another time zone, keep rushing in on them at fast-forward speed.

National security law: English Schools Foundation tells parents practices will not change under new Hong Kong guidelines

Chan Ho-him:

Hong Kong’s biggest international school group has said it will help pupils understand the concept of national security but will not be introducing new practices such as flag-raising ceremonies following the issuing of sweeping guidelines on the topic by education authorities.

The English Schools Foundation (ESF), which runs 22 kindergartens and schools in the city, also said it would have measures in place to prevent a breach of the national security law on campus, although it was not “required to adopt the approaches” set out in the guidelines.

School Reopening Pits Parents Against Teachers: “Is There a Word Beyond ‘Frustrating’?”

Kris Maher and Jennifer Calfas:

Patrick Cozzens had never spoken up at a school board meeting until he stood in front of a crowd of angry parents earlier this month to read a statement his 16-year-old daughter helped him to write.

“I’ve watched her go from a child that has loved school, thrived at school her entire life, to one now, using her own words, who just doesn’t care anymore,” he said, his voice breaking. “What are you focused on? Get our children back!”

Dozens of parents who live in the affluent community outside Pittsburgh erupted in applause, and the president of the school board rapped his gavel for order. Other parents, some via Zoom, and at least one teacher opposed a plan introduced by the superintendent to return the town’s 5,300 students to classrooms full-time in March, up from two days a week at most currently.

“The thought of returning to a full in-person day amid a global pandemic is so overwhelming that it could honestly bring me to tears,” said Emily Rindels, a fifth grade teacher in Mt. Lebanon, who teaches about half of her students at a time in the classroom, under the district’s hybrid model.

Judge in Google case disturbed that ‘incognito’ users are tracked

Joel Rosenblatt:

When Google users browse in “Incognito” mode, just how hidden is their activity? The Alphabet Inc. unit says activating the stealth mode in Chrome, or “private browsing” in other browsers, means the company won’t “remember your activity.” But a judge with a history of taking Silicon Valley giants to task about their data collection raised doubts Thursday about whether Google is being as forthright as it needs to be about the personal information it’s collecting from users.

At a hearing Thursday in San Jose, California, U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh said she’s “disturbed” by Google’s data collection practices in a class-action lawsuit that describes the company’s private browsing promises as a “ruse” and seeks US$5,000 in damages for each of the millions of people whose privacy has been compromised since June of 2016.

Weighing Google’s attempt to get the suit dismissed, Koh said she finds it “unusual” that the company would make the “extra effort” of data collection if it doesn’t use the information to build user profiles or targeted advertising. Google has become a target of antitrust complaints in the last year filed by state and federal officials — as well as businesses — accusing it of abusing its dominance in digital advertising and online search. Koh has a deeper history with the company as a vocal critic of its privacy policies. She forced Google in one notable case to disclose its scanning of emails to build profiles and target advertising.

In this case, Google is accused of relying on pieces of its code within websites that use its analytics and advertising services to scrape users’ supposedly private browsing history and send copies of it to Google’s servers. Google makes it seem like private browsing mode gives users more control of their data, Amanda Bonn, a lawyer representing users, told Koh. In reality, “Google is saying there’s basically very little you can do to prevent us from collecting your data, and that’s what you should assume we’re doing,” Bonn said.

Many taxpayer supported K – 12 school districts use Google services, including madison

Madison teachers union faces lawsuit over planned illegal “sick out”

WILL:

Attorneys at the Liberty Justice Center and Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) are warning Madison Teachers Inc. that they face legal repercussions if they move forward with an illegal sick out on Monday.

“Madison Teachers, Inc. leaders are asking their members to falsely call-in sick in order to shut down in-person learning,” said Daniel Suhr, senior attorney at the Liberty Justice Center. “An organized sick out is a form of strike and illegal in the State of Wisconsin and we are prepared to file a lawsuit to stop this illegal action. Madison students need to be in school, not used as pawns in a publicity stunt.”

Attorneys at public-interest law firms the Liberty Justice Center and WILL notified the union that in the event of an illegal strike, Wisconsin law authorizes students and parents, as well as the school district, to enforce the ban on teacher strikes in court. Liberty Justice Center and WILL plan to file a lawsuit in state court on behalf of Madison parents to stop the strike.

The Liberty Justice Center is a nonprofit law firm that won a pivotal Supreme Court case against government unions in 2018. Their attorneys have taken on illegal teachers strikes across the country, including in Idaho, Virginia, Arizona and most recently in Chicago.

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

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

Molly Beck and Madeline Heim:

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

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

Channel3000:

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

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

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

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

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

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

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Assembly against private school forced closure.

Wisconsin Catholic schools will challenge local COVID-19 closing order. More.

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

Google pledges changes to research oversight after internal revolt

Jeffrey Dastin, Paresh Dave:

Reuters reported in December that Google had introduced a “sensitive topics” review for studies involving dozens of issues, such as China or bias in its services. Internal reviewers had demanded that at least three papers on AI be modified to refrain from casting Google technology in a negative light, Reuters reported.

Jeff Dean, Google’s senior vice president overseeing the division, said Friday that the “sensitive topics” review “is and was confusing” and that he had tasked a senior research director, Zoubin Ghahramani, with clarifying the rules, according to the recording.

Ghahramani, a University of Cambridge professor who joined Google in September from Uber Technologies Inc, said during the town hall, “We need to be comfortable with that discomfort” of self-critical research.

Google declined to comment on the Friday meeting.

Many taxpayer supported K-12 school districts use Google services, including Madison.

Teens drive brutal spike in carjackings with covid limiting school and supervision

Dan Morse and Tom Jackman:

New Orleans has seen a similar spike as teenagers know they’re less apt to be punished. “The wheels of justice,” said that city’s top police official, Shaun Ferguson, “just aren’t moving like they did pre-covid.”

And in Washington, total carjackings hit 345 in 2020 compared with 142 the year before. Things are only getting worse this year, with 46 carjackings through early February.

The rise in carjackings includes plenty of adult suspects. Experts say the coronavirus has made jobs more scarce and — because people are home all day — made breaking into homes more of a risk. Pandemic reality also applies to juveniles. Schools are closed and youth programs are shuttered. Precautions against packing children into locked, juvenile facilities has led to their quick release while reductions to in-person contact has made them more difficult to monitor.

“We’re not giving them enough supervision. That really created a problem,” says Tim Hardy, the longtime director of the juvenile court in Yuma, Ariz., and president of the American Probation and Parole

New Orleans has seen a similar spike as teenagers know they’re less apt to be punished. “The wheels of justice,” said that city’s top police official, Shaun Ferguson, “just aren’t moving like they did pre-covid.”

And in Washington, total carjackings hit 345 in 2020 compared with 142 the year before. Things are only getting worse this year, with 46 carjackings through early February.

The rise in carjackings includes plenty of adult suspects. Experts say the coronavirus has made jobs more scarce and — because people are home all day — made breaking into homes more of a risk. Pandemic reality also applies to juveniles. Schools are closed and youth programs are shuttered. Precautions against packing children into locked, juvenile facilities has led to their quick release while reductions to in-person contact has made them more difficult to monitor.

“We’re not giving them enough supervision. That really created a problem,” says Tim Hardy, the longtime director of the juvenile court in Yuma, Ariz., and president of the American Probation and Parole Association.

Falling sperm counts could threaten the human race

Bryan Walsh:

What’s happening: In 2017, Mt. Sinai Medical School epidemiologist Shanna Swan co-authored a sweeping meta-analysis that came to a startling conclusion: Total sperm count in the Western world had fallen 59% between 1973 and 2011. 

  • Together with falling testosterone levels and growing rates of testicular cancer and erectile dysfunction, that translated into a 1% increase per year of adverse reproductive changes for men, according to Swan.

Driving the news: Now Swan has written up her conclusions in a new book with a foreboding title: “Count Down: How Our Modern World Is Threatening Sperm Counts, Altering Male and Female Reproductive Development, and Imperiling the Future of the Human Race.”

  • “If you look at the curve on sperm count and project it forward — which is always risky — it reaches zero in 2045,” says Swan, meaning the median man would have essentially no viable sperm. “That’s a little concerning, to say the least.”

By the numbers: The global fertility rate — the number of births per woman — has fallen from 5.06 in 1964 to 2.4 in 2018.

  • Today, about half the countries in the world — including the U.S. — have fertility rates below the population replacement level of 2.1 births.

  • By 2050, that proportion is projected to rise to two-thirds of nations. 

Yes, but: There are numerous factors connected to falling fertility rates that appear largely unconnected to sperm counts.

For Better Health During the Pandemic, Is Two Hours Outdoors the New 10,000 Steps?

Betsy Morris:

Will two hours in the park become the next 10,000 steps?

As people spend more time indoors, a mountain of scientific research says spending time in nature is critical to health and increases longevity. That means being in fresh air, under trees and away from cars and concrete—on a regular basis. And, no, the Peloton doesn’t count.

“There’s an urgent need emerging in science and at the gut level to increase the nature experience. This field is just exploding,” says Gretchen Daily, a professor of environmental science at Stanford University.

The benefits have been clear to scientists for some time, but the pandemic has made the matter more urgent. The physical and emotional toll the virus has taken, especially in urban areas with little green space, has galvanized doctors, researchers and others to tap into nature’s therapeutic effects.

Spending time in the woods—a practice the Japanese call “forest bathing”—is strongly linked to lower blood pressure, heart rate and stress hormones and decreased anxiety, depression and fatigue.

Inside Education – Part 3 Finance: Do school budgets come fat-free?

Armand Fusco:

Over $850 billion is spent for public education and it should be evident from Parts 1 and 2 that there is ample “fat” for thousands of dollars to be pilfered from so-called “tight” budgets. Clearly, the budget review process and oversight is lacking accountability and it requires far more vigilance and aggressiveness to protect it from accumulating fat by simply maintaining the status quo.

Of interest is that nationally student enrollment grew 6% between 1977and 1998, but spending increased 23% (inflation adjusted); in Connecticut (my home state) there was a decrease of over 14% in enrollment, yet, spending still increased 24%–modern math at work; of course, this is happening in all states.

Do such spending increases result in improved performance or added value? The 1999 edition of the Report Card on American Education (issued by the American Legislative Exchange Council) analyzed more than 200 measures of educational resources and student achievement for the past 25 years, and arrived at a startling conclusion: “The popular assumption that correlates improved student performance alone with increasing education spending is not valid. The current path is not good enough, and that throwing more money at the problem is not the answer.” Why no real change? No one has been “spanked” for getting a bad report card; and maybe no one knows how to read the report cards.

Now get this: a far more dramatic conclusion was that “only higher (not lower) pupil-to-teacher ratios, fewer students per school, and a lower percentage of a state’s federal dollars have a positive impact on educational achievement” (this should certainly rattle some education cages).

Inside Education, Part 2 Finance: How Robin Hood Hogs Feast on the School Treasure Chests!
Par

From sleeping in separate beds to their children to transporting them in prams, Western parents have some unusual ideas about how to raise them.

Kelly Oakes:

“Is he in his own room yet?” is a question new parents often field once they emerge from the haze of life with a newborn. But sleeping apart from our babies is a relatively recent development – and not one that extends around the globe. In other cultures sharing a room, and sometimes a bed, with your baby is the norm.

This isn’t the only aspect of new parenthood that Westerners do differently. From napping on a schedule and sleep training to pushing our children around in strollers, what we might think of as standard parenting practices are often anything but.

Parents in the US and UK are advised to have their babies sleep in the same room as them for at least the first six months, but many view this as a brief stopover on their way to a dedicated nursery.

In most other societies around the world, babies stick with their parents longer. A 2016 review that looked at research on children sharing not just a room but a bed with one or more of their parents found a high prevalence in many Asian countries: over 70% in India and Indonesia, for example, and over 80% in Sri Lanka and Vietnam. Research on bedsharing rates in countries across Africa is patchy, but where it does exist suggests the practice is near-universal.

Workloads of Counting Queries: Enabling Rich Statistical Analyses with Differential Privacy

Ryan McKenna:

An improved approach is conceptually a middle ground between the two extremes above called the matrix mechanism [1,2]. The idea is to invoke the Laplace mechanism on a carefully selected set of queries (different from the workload), then use the noisy answers to those queries to estimate answers to the workload queries. Finding a good strategy—or set of queries to answer with Laplace noise—is a technical challenge, but good strategies are known for simple and well-studied workloads like the CDF workload. The two baseline mechanisms above can be seen as instantiations of the matrix mechanism with different strategies: the workload queries and the histogram queries each being a different strategy. Identifying the best strategy is an optimization problem, where the optimization variables are simply the queries in the strategy, and the optimization objective is to minimize the expected error of the mechanism (on the workload queries). While it is challenging to solve this optimization problem in practice, effective algorithms exist when the workload is sufficiently small, or has certain special structure [2].  

While it is out of scope for this post to delve into these technical details, we’ll demonstrate the potential benefit from this approach in the figure below. We consider a generalization of the CDF workload with varying number of queries, corresponding to different discretization granularities. As we can see, the first baseline mechanism (Laplace on Workload) is the worst in terms of root mean squared error (RMSE), the second baseline mechanism (Laplace on Histogram) is an improvement, but the matrix mechanism (Laplace on Optimized) is the best. The improvement is up to 5.2 times better for the largest workload considered, highlighting the benefit of the matrix mechanism: substantially lower error at no cost to privacy just by using better strategies. This improvement is for one simple workload—in general, the magnitude of improvement will be different for other workloads and can be much larger.  

Teach First

The Economist:

Montgomery County, where your columnist’s three offspring attend (loosely speaking) public school, is on track to be the last of America’s 14,000 districts to return pupils to the classroom.

Provided the board does not put the brakes on its latest back-to-school plan, as it has three times previously, Lexington’s two sons in elementary school will be back in school—for as little as four days a fortnight—by the beginning of April. His 12-year-old will go back on the same part-time basis three weeks later, by which time he will not have seen a teacher in the flesh for almost 14 months.

Unprecedented as this failure may seem, its dynamics will be familiar to weary school reformers. An education policy that prioritises learning would have made returning children to school its objective, and worked through the impediments to it. (Face masks and open windows, it turns out, do most of that.) But this is not how the fragmented public school system works. The elected worthies who sit on its powerful school boards do not pursue objectives so much as balance competing local interests. This is a recipe for risk aversion and inertia or, as mcps’s wry superintendent, Jack Smith, puts it “not decision-making but mush”.

This week’s mcps meeting illustrated the pressures inherent in the mush-making. It opened with a litany of video messages from concerned school users. “Imagine yourselves in a Zoom class wading through a fog of mental illness,” beseeched an exhausted-looking Zoom mom. “The teacher I am most concerned about getting sick is my Dad,” said a schoolboy. “He might recover or he might not make it.” “My husband saw schools operating safely in Somaliland! Why can’t we do that here?” asked another mother. Outside the mcps office, rival crowds of protesters, pro-and and anti-reopening, meanwhile stomped on the icy pavement and honked their car horns. “There is a lot of anxiety on the board,” Mr Smith had earlier intimated. “Hundreds or thousands of people are going to have an opinion about you and post it everywhere.”

By the same token, excessive caution among Democrats was fuelled by hostility towards Mr Trump. Science, which Democrats cite often but selectively, has been another victim of that stand-off. Its misuse has fostered the false dichotomy aired by many: that teacher health and student welfare are irreconcilable.

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

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

Molly Beck and Madeline Heim:

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

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

Channel3000:

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

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

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

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

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

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

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Assembly against private school forced closure.

Wisconsin Catholic schools will challenge local COVID-19 closing order. More.

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

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

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