Category Archives: Uncategorized

The Oregon Department of Education Paid $50K For Two Nikole Hannah-Jones Webinars

Oregonians for Liberty:

The Oregon Department of Education paid $50,000 for the two webinars it hosted this past week featuring Nikole Hannah-Jones. 


On Friday May 7, Hannah-Jones spoke to Oregon’s teachers on “1619: Centering Black History and Black Futures in Oregon.” On Thursday May 13, she spoke first to students on “the importance of black history, as well as how this history has helped to build our society today” and then to teachers on “how the historical events detailed in the 1619 Project can and should inform how we create the conditions of belonging for Black students, families, and educators in Oregon.”


Oregonians for Liberty in Education filed a public records request to learn that ODE paid “a total of $50,000…using resources from Every Day Matters,” a program focused on chronic absenteeism, for the two events held this past week. ODE further explained that “the event was seven months in the making.”


Some obvious questions: Seven months? $50,000? “Every Day Matters” funds? Importing divisive “1619 Project”-based political activism from the New York Timesto “create the conditions of belonging?”


Spending seven months and $50,000 on these two webinars seems like a clear-cut case of counterproductive priorities.

If you love research, academia may not be for you

David Matthew’s:

Over the past few years, I’ve had a couple of conversations with friends that left me wondering exactly what universities have become.

These friends are either in the middle of a PhD or contemplating doing one, and inevitably we turned to discuss whether a career in academia would be worthwhile. They wanted, simply put, a life that gave them time to think deeply about their chosen subject.

This is still, on the whole, what we think should be the essence of academia. Universities are supposed to provide space for serious thought. But I came away from our chats wondering whether my friends might have better luck pursing this goal outside the academy (more on this later).

These conversations came to mind last week when I discovered a rare treasure trove of data about how researchers in the Netherlands spend their time.

What emerges is a disheartening picture of professors who have little time for research (despite promises to the contrary from management) and work scarily long hours.

Those lucky enough to have become full professors – supposedly the light at the end of the tunnel for struggling junior scholars – spend just 17 per cent of their time on their own research. Teaching, research supervision and “management and organisational tasks” were all bigger commitments. Associate and assistant professors fare little better carving out research time for themselves.

‘How Much Damage Have My Colleagues and I Done?’

Lee Burdette Williams:

Eileen answered quickly. “We don’t know, and neither does our son, because he wasn’t allowed access to the second set of case files.”

“That’s not right,” I said.

“We didn’t think so, so we’ve hired a lawyer, but he’s already missed too much school to graduate. And he’s not sure he wants to go back. We found FACE when we started looking online for help.”

Teresa seemed to shift her thoughts abruptly. “What about you? Is this your first FACE event too? What brings you here?”

“Yes. I’m actually one of tomorrow’s presenters.”

“Oh. Which one?” Eileen opened the folder she had laid on the high-top table nearby. She quickly glanced again at my name tag which, like hers, had only my first name, then at the schedule in her open folder. I was listed as “former student-affairs dean.” The friendly tone our conversation had taken, which I felt I had earned with some seriously hard work, disappeared. “Nice talking with you,” Eileen said, and then looked at Teresa. “We should mingle.” And without another word, they walked away, leaving me alone with my now-empty plastic cup.

I could have, maybe should have, continued to interact with others around the pool deck, but I was shaken, both by their story and by their reactions to me. I looked at my phone and saw a text from my friend Linda. “How’s it going there so far?” Linda was provost during my time as dean of students and understood the challenges this weekend presented. From a corner of the hotel lobby just off the pool deck, I hit the “call” icon and was relieved when she answered.

“It’s not that I’m not familiar with being hated by people because of my job title,” I told Linda. “It’s more that I felt so immediately … indicted? And also inadequate.” She made some sympathetic comments, offered another round of encouragement, and we said goodbye.

Maybe I was naïve. Yes. I was naïve. I really believed that my remarks the next day would shed some light on the hardworking, caring people in my profession, and offer a new perspective on fairness and justice. I was so, so wrong.

Teacher Union & School “Reopenings”

Mike Antonucci:

What comes next? Federal and state governments are funneling unprecedented amounts of new money into public education, and the teachers unions have plenty of ideas on how to spend it.
Watch a TV news segment or read an article about school reopenings and you’re bound to hear American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten speak to what she thinks schools need. But she won’t be making those decisions, not even for her members. AFT’s local unions will tailor their stances to their conditions and political realities.
Local unions in the nation’s four largest school districts — New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago and Miami-Dade County — each handled school closings in a different way, and they each will handle post-pandemic relations with school districts in different ways.
Unions in New York and Miami reached agreement on reopening last fall, while Chicago’s union didn’t come to terms until March. The Los Angeles union didn’t come to terms until April, and most LA schools won’t reopen until this fall. Some asked for additional staff to address mental health issues and learning loss, while others went further afield, wanting an end to standardized tests.
Some demands, however, are universal. Each union wants smaller class sizes, which means more teachers, and more support employees to occupy various new programs.

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.

US Attitudes Toward Socialism, Communism and Collectivism

Victims of Communism Foundation:

The Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation (VOC) today released its fifth Annual Report on U.S. Attitudes Toward Socialism, Communism, and Collectivism. The report, polled by internationally recognized research and data firm YouGov, synthesizes data from 2,100 representative U.S. respondents ages 16 and older, and the margin of error is plus or minus 2.32%.

This year’s study showed increased favorability of the term ‘socialism’ (49%) among Gen Z compared to 2019 (40%). Opinions of capitalism declined slightly from 2019 to 2020 among all Americans (58% to 55%), with Gen Z (ages 16-23) slightly up (49% to 52%) and Millennials (ages 24-39) down (50% to 43%). 35% of Millennials and 31% of Gen Z support the gradual elimination of the capitalist system in favor of a more socialist system.

It also showed growing concern for Donald Trump as president, especially among younger generations of Americans, with 34% of Gen Z and 35% of Millennials seeing him as the greatest threat to world peace, up 8% and 7% from 2019, respectively. This sentiment held true regarding his handling of the pandemic as well, with 39% of Gen Z and 32% of Millennials believing Trump is more responsible for COVID-19 becoming a pandemic than Xi Jinping of China. Opinions of America’s inequality grew markedly from 2019 with 68% of Americans thinking that America’s highest earners don’t pay their fair share. Among these Americans, 57% of Gen Z and 60% of Millennials favor a complete change of our economic system away from capitalism — a 14% and 8% increase from 2019, respectively.

Rise in catalytic converter thefts leaves few vehicles safe in Madison

Addison Lathers:

Catalytic converters thefts are on the rise again, and few neighborhoods have been left unscathed.

Madison has long been a hotspot for converter thefts, in part due to an abundance of street parking available throughout the city. In 2020, the city experienced 142 cases involving catalytic converter thefts. Some cases involved more than one converter being stolen. 

The Goodman Community Center lost the use of two of its vans for nearly a week after the catalytic converters were stolen off of them shortly before the Memorial Day weekend. The community center isn’t sure when the theft occurred, but assumed that the converters were stolen while the vans were left parked in the St. Bernard Catholic Church parking lot.

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.

She Won Her School Board Race by Opposing Critical Race Theory

Virginia Allen:

As a lawyer defending religious liberty, a wife, and a mother of four school-age children, Smith says, she was enjoying life and had plenty to keep her busy. But she felt compelled to run for school board to try to stop the agenda of critical race theory, which she says would “radically change our school district.”

Now a school board member in Southlake, Texas, just outside Dallas, Smith says she is committed to keeping far-left ideology out of classrooms.

Smith joins the show to discuss how critical race theory is making its way into more schools across the country and what her priorities are as a new school board member.

Political Posturing, interests and “adult employment” on taxpayer supported Dane County Madison public health ordering schools closed

Wisconsin Supreme Court:

For the respondent, there was a brief filed by Remzy D. Bitar, Sadie R. Zurfluh, and Municipal and Litigation Group ̧ Waukesha. There was an oral argument by Remzy D. Bitar.

For the petitioners Wisconsin Council of Religious and Independent Schools, et al., there was a reply brief filed by Richard M. Esenberg, Anthony LoCoco, Luke N. Berg, Elisabeth Sobic, and Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty, Milwaukee.
For the petitioners St. Ambrose Academy, Inc. et al., there was a reply brief filed by Misha Tseytlin, Kevin M. LeRoy, and Troutman Pepper Hamilton Sanders LLP, Chicago, Illinois; with whom on the brief was Andrew M. Bath and Thomas More Society, Chicago, Illinois; with whom on the brief was Erick Kaardal and Mohrman, Kaaradal & Erickson, P.A., Minneapolis, Minnesota.

An amicus curiae brief was filed on behalf of Attorney General Josh Kaul by Colin A. Hector, assistant attorney general, and Colin T. Roth, assistant attorney general; with whom on the brief was Joshua L. Kaul, attorney general.
An amicus curiae brief was filed on behalf of Institute for Justice by Lee U. McGrath, Minneapolis, Minnesota; with whom on the brief was Milad Emam, Arlington, Virginia.

An amicus curiae brief was filed on behalf of Freedom from Religion Foundation by Brendan Johnson, Patrick C. Elliott, and Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc., Madison.

An amicus curiae brief was filed on behalf of State Superintendent of Public Instruction Carolyn Stanford Taylor and Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction by Heather Curnutt, Madison.

An amicus curiae brief was filed on behalf of City of Milwaukee by Tearman Spencer, city attorney, and Gregory P. Kruse, city attorney.


An amicus curiae brief was filed on behalf of Madison Metropolitan School District and Monona Grove School District by Sheila M. Sullivan, Melita M. Mullen, and Bell, Moore & Richter, S.C., Madison.
An amicus curiae brief was filed on behalf of Madison Teachers Inc., Wisconsin Association of Local Health Departments and Boards, Wisconsin Education Association Council, Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association, Racine Educators United, Kenosha Education Association, and Green Bay Education Association by Diane M. Welsh, Aaron G. Dumas, and Pines Bach LLP, Madison.
An amicus curiae brief was filed on behalf of Governor Tony Evers and Secretary–Designee of Department of Health Services Andrea Palm by Sopen B. Shah and Perkins Coie LLP, Madison.
An amicus curiae brief was filed on behalf of Wisconsin Faith Voices for Justice by Barry J. Blonien, Tanner Jean-Louis, and Boardman & Clark LLP, Madison.

An amicus curiae brief was filed on behalf of Liberty Justice Center, Alaska Policy Forum, Pelican Institute For Public Policy, Roughrider Policy Center, Nevada Policy Research Institute, and Rio Grande Foundation by Daneil R. Suhr, Reilly Stephens, and Liberty Justice Center, Chicago, Illinois.

An amicus curiae brief was filed on behalf of League of Wisconsin Municipalities by Claire Silverman and Maria Davis, Madison

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

Notes and commentary from Scott Girard:

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

Additional commentary:

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

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

Molly Beck and Madeline Heim:

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

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

Channel3000:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Survivor Of Mao’s China Stuns School Board With Chilling Warning About Critical Race Theory

Hank Berrien

A Chinese woman who suffered under the brutal Communist Chinese regime of Mao Tse-Tung vehemently denounced Loudoun County’s School board in Virginia for its championing of Critical Race Theory, charging, “All of this seems very familiar … the only difference is they used class instead of race. … This is, indeed, the American version of the Chinese Cultural Revolution.”

Given one minute to speak, the Chinese woman wasted no time getting to the point, asserting, “I’ve been very alarmed by what’s going on in our schools. You are now training our children to be social justice warriors and to loathe our country and our history. Growing up in Mao’s China, all of this seems very familiar. The Communist regime used the same critical theory to divide people; the only difference is they used class instead of race.”

“During the Cultural Revolution, I witnessed students and teachers turn against each other,” she recalled. “We changed school names to be politically correct. We were taught to denounce our heritage. The Red Guards destroyed anything that is not Communist: old statues, books, and anything else.”

She pointed out that in China during the Cultural Revolution, students were also encouraged to report on each other: “We were also encouraged to report on each other, just like the Student Equity Ambassador program and the Bias Reporting System.”

She concluded, “This is, indeed, the American version of the Chinese Cultural Revolution. The Critical Race Theory has its roots in cultural Marxism. It should have no place in our schools.”

Parents and the Media: Taylor Lorenz Edition

In New Bar Exam Data, Racial and Ethnic Disparities Persist

Cheryl Miller:

Black and Hispanic law school graduates saw marked year-over-year improvements in pass rates on California’s February 2021 bar exam, according to statistics released Wednesday by the state bar.

Thirty-five percent of African American test-takers who sat for the exam for the first time in February passed, up from 17.6% the previous year. The percentage of Hispanic test-takers who passed rose from 25.2% to 45.4%. The overall pass rate for first time test-takers was 53.1%

Despite the improved pass rates, a significant disparity still persists between white test-takers and applicants of color. Almost 69% of white test-takers who sat for the exam for the first time taking the test for the first time passed. [Pass rates for first-time test-takers from California ABA-accredited Law Schools were: White: 72.4%, Asian: 66.0%, Hispanic: 60.9%, and Black: 30.8%.]

How the Public-Relations Apparatus Works

Dan McLaughlin:

There is, naturally, a synergy with the plaintiffs’ bar:

To help people navigate the legal risks, Ms. Steinhorn created a partnership with Vincent White, a lawyer focused on workplace harassment. Mr. White said Lioness has brought him enough agreements “to keep eight lawyers busy.” He does an initial review free; roughly 10 percent of those who interview end up pursuing a case with Mr. White’s firm.

The Times story is silent on whether that “partnership” profits the proprietors of Lioness. But this much is clear: The publicity is good for them.

Teacher Dana Stangel-Plowe Speaks Out About Dwight-Englewood School

FAIR:

In my professional opinion, the school is failing to encourage healthy habits of mind, essential for growth, such as intellectual curiosity, humility, honesty, reason, and the capacity to question ideas and consider multiple perspectives. In our school, the opportunity to hear competing ideas is practically non-existent. How can students, who accept a single ideology as fact, learn to practice intellectual curiosity or humility or consider a competing idea they’ve never encountered? How can students develop higher order thinking if they are limited to seeing the world only through the lens of group identity and power?

Sadly, the school is leading many to become true believers and outspoken purveyors of a regressive and illiberal orthodoxy. Understandably, these students have found comfort in their moral certainty, and so they have become rigid and closed-minded, unable or unwilling to consider alternative perspectives. These young students have no idea that the school has placed ideological blinders on them.

Of course, not all students are true believers. Many pretend to agree because of pressure to conform. I’ve heard from students who want to ask a question but stop for fear of offending someone. I have heard from students who don’t participate in discussions for fear of being ostracized. One student did not want to develop her personal essay — about an experience she had in another country — for fear that it might mean that she was, without even realizing it, racist. In her fear, she actually stopped herself from thinking. This is the very definition of self-censorship.

School Board Parent Legal Posturing

William Jacobson:

Last Friday, June 4, 2021, I filed a public records request with the South Kingstown school district seeking, among other things, records of communications with the Superintendents Association and public sector unions regarding Nicole and/or PDE, and records as to how Cummiskey’s statements were approved.

My suspicions were confirmed, in part, last night during a School Committee public meeting when Cummiskey gave a statement announcing she was stepping down as Chair, though not from the School Committee entirely. Cummiskey stated that she did not write the statement attacking Nicole and accusing PDE of being racist. She said the statement in its various forms for media, social media, and public hearing, was prepared by a Public Relations firm hired by the School Committee at the recommendation of the Committtee’s legal counsel.

[Note, in the statement Cummiskey gave, there’s a reference to a mailer. That’s a separate issue of a controversy over the leak of student names and addresses to a local AFL-CIO affiliate for use in a campaign to approve a school bond, that ultimately was rejected.]

Here is the key excerpt from the statement (full video below):

Does ‘diversity’ really improve learning?

Joanne Jacobs:

The “largely untested proposition that diversity enhances education” will be the key to deciding whether Harvard’s race-conscious affirmative action program is constitutional, writes Adam Liptak in the New York Times.

The U.S. Supreme Court is likely to consider a challenge by Students for Fair Admissions.

The court’s balance has shifted since it narrowly upheld the University of Texas’ affirmative action program in 2015, Liptak notes. In that case, some justices wondered about the evidence that diversity improves learning. “What unique perspective does a minority student bring to a physics class?” asked Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. asked during oral arguments.

A new study finds law review articles at elite law schools were more likely to be cited in the five years after editors were chosen by race-conscious policies.

Science journals have encouraged and enforced a false Covid narrative

Ian Birrell:

Many scientists have been dismayed by their actions. “It is very important to talk about the scientific journals — I think they are partially responsible for the cover-up,” said Virginie Courtier-Orgogozo, a leading French evolutionary biologist and key member of the Paris Group of scientists challenging the established view on these issues. The rejection of the lab leak hypothesis, she argues, in many places was not due to Trump’s intervention but the result of “respectable scientific journals not accepting to discuss the matter”.

The Paris Group, for instance, submitted a letter to The Lancet in early January signed by 14 experts from around the world calling for an open debate, arguing that “the natural origin is not supported by conclusive arguments and that a lab origin cannot be formally discarded”. This does not seem contentious. But it was rejected on the basis it was “not a priority for us”. When the authors queried this decision, it was reassessed and returned without peer review by editor-in-chief Richard Horton with a terse dismissal saying “we have agreed to uphold our original decision to let this go”. The authors ended up publishing their statement on a pre-print site.

Yet this is the same prestigious journal that published a now infamous statement early last year attacking “conspiracy theories suggesting that Covid-19 does not have a natural origin“. Clearly, this was designed to stifle debate. It was signed by 27 experts but later turned out to have been covertly drafted by Peter Daszak, the British scientist with extensive ties to Wuhan Institute of Virology. To make matters worse, The Lancet then set up a commission on the origins — and incredibly, picked Daszak to chair its 12-person task force, joined by five others who signed that statement dismissing ideas the virus was not a natural occurrence.

Almost Overnight, Standards of Color-Blind Merit Tumble Across American Society

Richard Bernstein:

According to the National Science Foundation, black men and women, who are 12% of the general population, make up just 5% of working engineers — this despite affirmative action programs and numerous other efforts over the years to recruit minorities into engineering programs in colleges and universities. How dramatic increases in a very short period can happen now remains unexplained.

As for American medicine, it’s been a very long time since it was a white male preserve, as just about any visit to a large urban hospital, with their many Filipino and Indian physicians both male and female, will show. For several years now, more women have been accepted to medical schools than men, but while the numbers of blacks going to medical school has also increased, only 5% of physicians in the country are black or African American.  

How Academic Freedom Ends

Timothy McLaughlin

Last month, a group of University of Hong Kong academics gathered on the third floor of the campus’s Jockey Club Tower for a highly anticipated town hall. Nearly a year had passed since Beijing imposed a new security law on Hong Kong, arresting dozens of peoplereengineering the territory’s voting system, and seizing the assets of a publicly listed company linked to activists. Staff members at the prestigious university, the city’s oldest, were seeking reassurance about how this new reality would change the school, its research, and their jobs.

The takeaway, one of those in attendance told me, was that “help is not on the way.”

By the time of the meeting, the university had severed ties with its students’ union, issuing a scathing statement against the group that read like party-speak from Beijingtorn down colorful walls of protest art along a main thoroughfare; and instituted a heavy security presence on campus.

The May town hall offered its audience little to feel confident about, according to multiple people who attended the closed-door session. The two administrators who addressed the group admitted that they had been caught off guard by the speed and breadth of the crackdown across the city. The assembled faculty pressed them on whether HKU would provide legal assistance if they were arrested for allegedly violating the law while working, what to do if students reported professors on a government tip line, and what educators may be forced to teach. (The new rules require universities to “promote” national security.)

They Rage-Quit the School System—and They’re Not Going Back

Pia Ceres:

It’s easy to homeschool in Texas. A cursory search leads to a step-by-step guide for withdrawing your kid from the school system. Plug a few bits of information into a templated letter, send to a district administrator, and voila! You’re running a school, and everything your kid learns is entirely up to you.

“It was so nerve-racking,” says Sarahi Espitia, a mom of four in McKinney, Texas, a suburb north of Dallas. After a grueling spring of remote learning, Espitia began homeschooling her kids at the start of the 2020 school year. As a graduate of public schools, she felt like she had just plunged her family into the unknown. “We’re so used to going to school.”

Except that the definition of “going to school” had been radically upended by the Covid-19 pandemic. Campuses closed abruptly, while children and teachers struggled mightily with online learning. Espitia, who also helps run the family’s restaurant, was left to navigate confusing new platforms, screen-time fatigue, and endless technical malfunctions for four children. Her kids were 10, 8, 6, and 3; her youngest, a preschooler, didn’t even know how to use a mouse yet. By the end of the year, Espitia says, her “kids were crying.” Wearied by online learning, yet wary of letting her children return to in-person learning, she turned to homeschooling—just for the year, just until things got back to normal.

Teacher Union sues the taxpayer supported Madison School District

Lester Pines (Pines Bach law firm) has long represented local and state Teacher unions.

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: Only 40% of Voters Think Dr. Fauci Told the Truth About Virus Research

Rasmussen:

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that 40% of Likely U.S. Voters believe Fauci has told the truth about U.S. government funding for so-called “gain-of-function” virus research. Forty-six percent (46%) of voters believe Fauci has not told the truth about U.S. funding of such research, and 15% are not sure. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul last week said newly released emails show Fauci was aware that American taxpayer dollars were funding gain-of-function research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, suspected as the source of the COVID-19 virus. Fauci has defined gain-of-function research as “taking a virus that could infect humans and making it either more transmissible and/or pathogenic for humans.”

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.

Commentary on Teacher Union interactions with the taxpayer supported Madison K-12 School District

Elisabeth Beyer:

The Madison School District has reissued next year’s teacher contracts along with a letter outlining expected pay increases for education and experience, but the union says its related dispute remains unresolved because the raises are still missing from the document members must sign by June 15.

Scott Girard:

At issue is a change the district says better aligns with state law, but that skeptical teachers fear would allow administration to pull a bait and switch later on.

Last month, the contracts were issued with teachers’ current-year salaries and a statement they would “make no less than” that amount. That surprised and upset many, as historically the contracts issued in the spring for the following year reflected increases outlined in the Employee Handbook for longevity and extra credentials, known as “steps and lanes.”

Because the School Board approves the handbook, the union maintains that the steps and lanes are already agreed upon, regardless of the budget.

The contracts reissued Monday now show the current year salary “+ steps/lanes + base wage increase,” which MTI communications specialist Michelle Michalak wrote in an email “does not resolve the issue but further confuses it.”

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

Why I Stopped Hiring Ivy League Graduates

RR Reno:

I’m not inclined to hire a graduate from one of America’s elite universities. That marks a change. A decade ago I relished the opportunity to employ talented graduates of Princeton, Yale, Harvard and the rest. Today? Not so much.

As a graduate of Haverford College, a fancy school outside Philadelphia, I took interest in the campus uproar there last fall. It concerned “antiblackness” and the “erasure of marginalized voices.” A student strike culminated in an all-college Zoom meeting for undergraduates. The college president and other administrators promised to “listen.” During the meeting, many students displayed a stunning combination of thin-skinned narcissism and naked aggression. The college administrators responded with self-abasing apologies.

Haverford is a progressive hothouse. If students can be traumatized by “insensitivity” on that leafy campus, then they’re unlikely to function as effective team members in an organization that has to deal with everyday realities. And in any event, I don’t want to hire someone who makes inflammatory accusations at the drop of a hat.

Student activists don’t represent the majority of students. But I find myself wondering about the silent acquiescence of most students. They allow themselves to be cowed by charges of racism and other sins. I sympathize. The atmosphere of intimidation in elite higher education is intense. But I don’t want to hire a person well-practiced in remaining silent when it costs something to speak up.

What happens when journalists don’t have any friends in finance to challenge their thinking?

Jermey Arnold:

But it took about a minute of reading to realize that not only was his claim, ah overstated, but that this was the worst thing I’ve ever read by ProPublica, and a real contender for the worst thing I’ve read so far in 2021 from a credible outlet. And reading the rest along with its supplements did not disabuse me of those feelings.

My concerns:

  • I don’t think anyone involved at ProPublica knows what tax avoidance means
  • I don’t think anyone involved at ProPublica grasps why virtually all developed countries don’t tax unrealized capital gains
  • I don’t think anyone involved at ProPublica tried very hard (at all?) to learn about what they didn’t know before publishing this piece
  • I don’t think anyone involved at ProPublica gave nearly enough thought to the implications of violating privacy laws (or at least norms) to publish a non-story

As ever though, to show is better than to tell. So what follows will dive in.

Brain-Computer Interface Smashes Previous Record for Typing Speed

Emily Waltz:

The ancient art of handwriting has just pushed the field of brain-computer interface (BCI) to the next level. Researchers have devised a system that allows a person to communicate directly with a computer from his brain by imagining creating handwritten messages. The approach enables communication at a rate more than twice as fast as previous typing-by-brain experiments. 

Researchers at Stanford University performed the study on a 65-year-old man with a spinal cord injury who had had an electrode array implanted in his brain. The scientists described the experiment recently in the journal Nature

“The big news from this paper is the very high speed,” says Cynthia Chestek, a biomedical engineer at the University of Michigan, who was not involved in the study. “It’s at least half way to able-bodied typing speed, and that’s why this paper is in Nature.”

For years, researchers have been experimenting with ways to enable people to directly communicate with computers using only their thoughts, without verbal commands, hand movement, or eye movement. This kind of technology offers a life-giving communication method for people who are “locked in” from brainstem stroke or disease, and unable to speak.

On ‘Biweekly’ and ‘Bimonthly’: Sorry, not sorry

Merriam Webster:

What to Know

Biweekly and bimonthly can mean the same thing because of the prefix bi-, which here can mean “occurring every two” or “occurring twice in.” Therefore, biweekly can be “twice in a week” or “every other week.” Bimonthly can also mean “every other week” if it’s twice in a month, or it can mean “every other month.”

Look up the adjective biweekly in this dictionary and you will see it defined as “occurring every two weeks” AND as “occurring twice a week.” Similarly, the adjective bimonthly is defined as “occurring every two months” AND as “occurring twice a month.” 

For this, we are sorry. But we don’t mean “sorry” in the sense that we feel penitence; we are not to blame. We mean “sorry” in the sense that we feel a kind of sorrow aroused by circumstances beyond our control or power to repair.

Commentary on Governance Legitimacy

William Lind:

more interesting, and ominous, measure of the whole system’s legitimacy is the rising number of shootings. Such an important barometer is moved by more than one thing; the war on cops is a factor, the cultural collapse of the black urban community is another, the 15 minutes of fame the media gives a shooter motivates some. But I think a broad and spreading sense that the establishment has transformed what used to be America into an insane asylum may be a major and unacknowledged cause. Down is now up, white is black, day has become night and night is filled with nightmares. This is Nietzsche’s “transvaluation of all values,” and it is a core component of the Frankfurt School’s cultural Marxism, aka “wokeness”, “Political Correctness”, etc. In an insane asylum, people do insane things, including shooting their families, friends, co-workers, and anyone else they can.

Defending Speech We Hate

ACLU:

Has the ACLU lost its way? This appears to be a perennial question. In 1994, then-ACLU President Nadine Strossen wrote a 17-page article with 54 footnotes, responding to the charge that the organization “is abandoning its traditional commitment to free speech and other classic civil liberties and is becoming a ‘trendy’ liberal organization primarily concerned with equality and civil rights.” Sixteen years before that, in 1978, J. Anthony Lukas wrote a feature for The New York Times Magazine titled “The ACLU Against Itself,” recounting the controversy over whether the group should have represented a group of Nazis who sought to march in Skokie, Illinois. The question is not new.

But the answer remains the same. The ACLU is committed to the principle of free speech today, just as it was in the 1990s, 1970s, and long before that. And we are specifically committed to the proposition that the First Amendment’s guarantees (like those of the rest of the Constitution) apply to all, not just to those with whom we agree. At the same time, the ACLU also remains devoted to defending other fundamental civil rights and civil liberties, including equal protection of the law — as we always have been. Addressing the tensions that sometimes arise between these commitments is not easy. But we seek to do so, today as always, not by abandoning any of our core commitments, but by acknowledging and confronting the conflicts in as forthright, inclusive, and principled a way as we can.

Some have charged that in doing so we have abandoned our fidelity to the First Amendment in the years since our representation of a white supremacist protester in Charlottesville. In that case, we challenged the revocation of his permit to protest the removal of a monument to Confederate General Robert E. Lee. The protest turned violent, the police failed to intervene, and ultimately one of the alt-right adherents, Alex Field, rammed his car into a group of counter-demonstrators, killing one person and injuring 19 others. The Charlottesville tragedy and the ACLU’s role in defending the protesters’ permit led to considerable controversy, inside and outside the ACLU.

The Benefits of Rental Assistance for Children’s Health and School Attendance in the United States

Andrew Fenelon:

Programs that provide affordable and stable housing may contribute to better child health and thus to fewer missed days of school. Drawing on a unique linkage of survey and administrative data, we use a quasi-experimental approach to examine the impact of rental assistance programs on missed days of school due to illness. We compare missed school days due to illness among children receiving rental assistance with those who will enter assistance within two years of their interview, the average length of waitlists for federal rental assistance. Overall, we find that children who receive rental assistance miss fewer days of school due to illness relative to those in the pseudo-waitlist group. We demonstrate that rental assistance leads to a reduction in the number of health problems among children and thus to fewer days of school missed due to illness. We find that the effect of rental assistance on missed school days is stronger for adolescents than for younger children. Additionally, race-stratified analyses reveal that rental assistance leads to fewer missed days due to illness among non-Hispanic White and Hispanic/Latino children; this effect, however, is not evident for non-Hispanic Black children, the largest racial/ethnic group receiving assistance. These findings suggest that underinvestment in affordable housing may impede socioeconomic mobility among disadvantaged non-Hispanic White and Hispanic/Latino children. In contrast, increases in rental assistance may widen racial/ethnic disparities in health among disadvantaged children, and future research should examine why this benefit is not evident for Black children.

Loudon County, VA school board recall plans

Matt Leach:

The press conference was organized by Fight For Schools, a political action committee led by former Trump Justice Department official Ian Prior. Its goal is to remove school board members it perceives as pushing CRT in Loudoun County schools.

“They’re the ones voting on all these policies, they’re the ones supervising what is happening in the administration,” says Prior. “Ultimately, if we want to make change, if we want to get to an education that values students as individuals and not as some identity group, then we have to replace the school board.”

The next LCPS school board elections are not until 2023, but Prior does not plan to wait that long. His group is gathering signatures to recall six members of the board. According to Ballotpedia, they would need about 17,300 votes to recall all six members. If enough signatures are collected, a trial would be held at the circuit court level.

Civics: FBI sought info on who read USA Today news article for case

BBC:

Gannett is asking a court to cancel the subpoena, saying it breaches the first amendment of the US constitution, which protects the free press from government interference.

“Being forced to tell the government who reads what on our websites is a clear violation of the first amendment,” said Maribel Perez Wadsworth, USA Today’s publisher.

“The FBI’s subpoena asks for private information about readers of our journalism.”

Ms Wadsworth said the the FBI’s order broke the justice department’s guidelines on the “narrow circumstances” in which the government can subpoena reporters.

Although Gannett’s lawyers had tried to contact the FBI, the agency had not provided it with an explanation for the subpoena, she added.

Gannett’s lawyers say the order is “unconstitutional”, and invades the rights of both the news organisation and its readers, citing a Supreme Court judgement that said: “A requirement that a publisher disclose the identity of those who buy his books, pamphlets or papers is indeed the beginning of surveillance of the press”.

Matt Zapotosky:

Is Poe the most influential American writer? A new book offers evidence.

Michael Dirda:

Is Poe really the most influential American writer? Note that I didn’t say “greatest,” for which there must be at least a dozen viable candidates. But consider his radiant originality. Before his death in 1849 at age 40, Poe largely created the modern short story, while also inventing or perfecting half the genres represented on the bestseller list, including the mystery (“The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” “The Gold-Bug”), science fiction (“The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar,” “The Conversation of Eiros and Charmion”), psychological suspense (“The Tell-Tale Heart,” “The Cask of Amontillado”) and, of course, gothic horror (“The Fall of the House of Usher,” “The Masque of the Red Death,” the incomparable “Ligeia”).

That’s just the fiction. W.B. Yeats once named Poe “the greatest of American poets,” which does sound absurd. Still, few poems are more famous than “The Raven” with its dolorous tocsin, “Nevermore.” Among my own earliest memories is hearing my steelworker father, not a bookish man, regularly murmur the first stanza of “Annabel Lee”: “It was many and many a year ago/ In a kingdom by the sea . . .”

Finally, Poe — like several of his characters — haunts us from beyond the grave. When we peer at the mournful figure in those familiar daguerreotypes, we seem to glimpse the emblematic image of the modern artist as misunderstood genius, prey to melancholy, drawn to self-destruction.

Justice Department says it will no longer seek access to journalists’ records amid outcry over Donald Trump and Joe Biden’s bid to seize New York Times’ reporters’ email records

James Gordon:

Justice Department officials say they will no longer seek access to journalists’ phone and email records amid an outcry over the Trump and Biden administrations’ attempts to seize four New York Times journalists’ email records.

The White House has claimed that nobody was aware of a gag order which barred the Times from reporting the attempts to obtain its staffers’ communications until Friday night, with both the Biden administration and Justice Department since backtracking.

Donald Trump’s officials made the initial request for the records on January 5 this year to try and work out the source of White House leaks about former FBI Director James Comey, with that legal process continuing after Joe Biden took office.

Bing Censors Image Search for ‘Tank Man’ Even in US

Joseph Cox:

Multiple Twitter users also sent Motherboard images of the lack of image results on Bing while connecting from France, Switzerland, and other countries.

Shane Huntley from Google’s Threat Analysis Group first tweeted a screenshot of the Bing search result. Security researcher Kevin Beaumont also tweeted the same results from what he said was a search from a UK IP address. Motherboard also replicated the search on a U.S. IP address.

A Microsoft spokesperson told Motherboard in an email that “This is due to an accidental human error and we are actively working to resolve this.”

Covixs/ “Big Tech acts as the government’s censorship bureau – by doing through the back door what big government cannot do under the Constitution”

Faith in science is an oxymoron.

Leighton Akira Woodhouse:

Some time during the George W. Bush presidency, Democrats began proudly calling themselves “the party of science.” The moniker was a reaction to the Bush administration’s open embrace of Creationism, and its climate change denialism. The Republican Party was being led around by the nose, liberals charged, by kooky Evangelical philistines and corrupt corporate lobbyists for the fossil fuel industry. It had lost its grip on reality, a development that was comically encapsulated by a Bush official’s pejorative use of the phrase “reality-based community,” in sneering reference to critics who still took things like facts seriously. Liberal bloggers appropriated the phrase to describe themselves ironically.

This new science-based identity was congruous with the ascendance of a key demographic within the Democratic coalition, one that would be instrumental in electing and re-electing President Barack Obama. Prosperous, educated professionals, once a reliable, if liberal, Republican voting bloc, had for some time been shifting their partisan allegiance. As the GOP was increasingly drawing in rural and blue collar voters and, accordingly, elevating cultural issues like guns and religion that were imperative to them, the Democrats were burnishing their appeal to urban and suburban college graduates by embracing free trade, emphasizing identity-based issues like abortion and gay rights, and proudly espousing their commitment to expert-driven, technocratic governance. This rebranding from a workers’ party to the party of sober, rational, informed wonkiness flattered these new Democratic voters’ self-conception.

Reports of a decline in male fertility rely on flawed assumptions, a new study contends.

Rachel Gross:

For starters, no one knows what an “optimal” sperm count is. The World Health Organization sets a range of “normal” sperm count as from 15 to 250 million sperm per milliliter. (Men produce about 2 to 5 milliliters of semen per ejaculation.) But it isn’t clear that more is better. Above a certain threshold — 40 million per milliliter, according to the W.H.O. — a higher sperm count does not mean a man is more fertile.

“Doubling your sperm count from 25 to 50 million doesn’t double your chances,” said Allan Pacey, an andrologist at the University of Sheffield and the editor of Human Fertility. “Doubling it from 100 to 200 million doesn’t double your chances — in fact it flattens off, if anything. So this relationship between sperm count and fertility is weak.”

Media trust hits new low

Mike Allen:

By the numbers: For the first time ever, fewer than half of all Americans have trust in traditional media, according to data from Edelman’s annual trust barometer shared exclusively with Axios. Trust in social media has hit an all-time low of 27%.

56% of Americans agree with the statement that “Journalists and reporters are purposely trying to mislead people by saying things they know are false or gross exaggerations.”
58% think that “most news organizations are more concerned with supporting an ideology or political position than with informing the public.”
When Edelman re-polled Americans after the election, the figures had deteriorated even further, with 57% of Democrats trusting the media and only 18% of Republicans.

Once a Bastion of Free Speech, the A.C.L.U. Faces an Identity Crisis

Michael Powell:

Mr. Goldberger, a Jew who defended the free speech of those whose views he found repugnant, felt profoundly discouraged.

“I got the sense it was more important for A.C.L.U. staff to identify with clients and progressive causes than to stand on principle,” he said in a recent interview. “Liberals are leaving the First Amendment behind.”

The A.C.L.U., America’s high temple of free speech and civil liberties, has emerged as a muscular and richly funded progressive powerhouse in recent years, taking on the Trump administration in more than 400 lawsuits. But the organization finds itself riven with internal tensions over whether it has stepped away from a founding principle — unwavering devotion to the First Amendment.

The Absurdity of Peer Review
What the pandemic revealed about scientific publishing

Mark Humphries:

I was reading my umpteenth news story about Covid-19 science, a story about the latest research into how to make indoor spaces safe from infection, about whether cleaning surfaces or changing the air was more important. And it was bothering me. Not because it was dull (which, of course, it was: there are precious few ways to make air filtration and air pumps edge-of-the-seat stuff). But because of the way it treated the science.

You see, much of the research it reported was in the form of pre-prints, papers shared by researchers on the internet before they are submitted to a scientific journal. And every mention of one of these pre-prints was immediately followed by the disclaimer that it had not yet been peer reviewed. As though to convey to the reader that the research therein, the research plastered all over the story, was somehow of less worth, less value, less meaning than the research in a published paper, a paper that had passed peer review.

Imagine reading about the discovery of the structure of DNA with that same reticence we use today: “In a recent Letter to the journal Nature, Cambridge University scientists James Watson and Francis Crick proposed a new structure for DNA (not yet peer reviewed). They claim their “double helix” model, a spiral of two strands of bases, both explains decades of experimental work, and provides a clear mechanism for copying genes. Their proposal drew heavily on data contained in Letters in the same issue of Nature from the teams of Rosalind Franklin (not yet peer reviewed) and Maurice Wilkins (not yet peer reviewed).”

43,0% of young people aged between 15 – 34 years old are not only unemployed according to Statistics South Africa

Tefo Mohapi:

Despite these very unsettling statistics, you will hear the South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa, talk about how the government is creating jobs and improving the country. In fact, just this week, the President could be heard across different media platforms talking about how the government has been steering the country through a difficult period and making good progress with economic recovery and job creation.

Unfortunately, the numbers don’t lie.

South Africa has a serious youth unemployment problem. Beyond being a problem, it is a ticking time bomb as young able people grow more frustrated with each passing day as they are unable to make ends meet. The data is also quite clear, a lot of the youth do not even complete high school, making them not only unemployed but unemployable.

Read and think for yourself. Don’t let others think for you.

Leonardo:

If you are capable of anything else than being at the orders of someone, you’re on the side of the people who believe that the world is not divided between masters and slaves.


As a person with intelligence who thinks by himself, without taking ideas from others and submits to some as a servant; you now have the opportunity to show that you can be your own owner, that what you say “matters” and people are listening to what you have to say.


The country you live in, is not “THEIRS” it’s “YOUR” country, your community, the location upon which you live your life. Why shouldn’t life be just joy? Democracy in its essence is based on the rule of the people (Demos = “people” / Kratos = “rule) “the RULE of the PEOPLE”. Our current Democracy uses the Inversion Mental Model (IMM) where instead of being the rule of the people, it’s the rule of the elite. Exactly how the Department of Defense (DOD) using IMM becomes the Department of Attack, a description which makes more sense as if you haven’t yet noticed the DOD is actually always Attacking.

The power of the people is formed by you, me, and everybody else with whom we live together, although we let ourselves be ruled and abused by opportunists: people interested only towards their own interests, not in any case of you nor your life or mine. You can observe these facts by yourself, I’m just the one confirming what you’ve already realized and known since you have started thinking by yourself.

Commentary on federal education practices

Hams Bader:

The Biden administration is expected to reinstate the Obama administration’s 2014 school-discipline guidelines, which prodded schools to suspend all racial groups at the same rate, even if there was more misbehavior among students of one race than another. In response to those guidelines, and worried about being investigated by the Education Department, some school officials adopted unconstitutional racial quotas for school suspensions, or mandated special review of any suspensions of black or Hispanic students, effectively creating special privileges based on race.

The Biden administration renewed this pressure for quotas on June 4, by issuing a notice that called for new federal policies about school discipline, in light of the fact that “students of color are disproportionately subjected to disciplinary actions in contrast to their White peers.” It further implied that there are no racial differences in misbehavior rates, even though studies and surveys show that black students do have higher rates of misbehavior in school. It cited a controversial report by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights that claimed that “Students of color as a whole, as well as by individual racial group, do not commit more disciplinable offenses than their white peers.”

But as the Washington Post noted in 2019, the Commission never showed that claim was true. The Commission’s chairwoman, who is now Biden’s nominee to head the Office for Civil Rights, “pointed to a few spots” in the Commission’s report to “claim that there are no underlying differences in student behavior. But those citations did not offer such evidence. One set of data referenced in the report showed the opposite,” noted The Post.

“Facts” were facts, until the facts suddenly changed.

Maximilian Forte:

The documentary itself establishes its lead questions at the outset. Nico Sloot, described as an international entrepreneur, acts as the main voice in the film and our lead detective. What struck me from the start was how he framed the central problem that provoked his investigative journey: when would herd immunity be achieved? On the question of risk: who is going to get sick and who is going to die?

Sloot formed an independent research team that grew to include up to 20 scientists in four countries, across a range of specialties. This was something of an ad hoc think tank. The team encompassed doctors, economists, accountants, data specialists, among other specialties, and each member of the team had his/her own specific research task. It is quite impressive to see such an independent citizens’ initiative form, and it is a welcome antidote to the authoritarian, top-down, ask no questions, just follow orders approach involved with state proclamations and directives by top public health officers. Such independent initiatives should serve as a refreshing reminder—because apparently one is needed—that it is not wrong to ask questions and challenge assertions.

What or who provoked Nico Sloot? In part, he admits, it was a speech given early in the crisis by Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte. This compelled Sloot to conduct what he estimates is about 1,000 hours of research, added to others who joined him, totalling at least 5,000 hours. I suspect he is providing a low estimate. On his motivation, Sloot explains: “In business you always work with risk…so the first thing I looked at was: What are the facts here? How many will die and how many will fall victim to COVID-19?”

We hear and view the same speech by Prime Minister Rutte to which Sloot refers at the opening, and it is the standard kind of dramatic announcement that we all heard in our respective locales (it is included in the trailer I created, in the absence of an English-language trailer).

Yet Sloot himself apparently disagrees: the “collateral damage” of the measures taken were worse than the virus. He mentions that, for The Netherlands alone, around 300,000 hospital procedures had to be postponed. In Canada it was reported that many crucial cancer treatments, colonoscopies, and important surgeries that had been scheduled, were all pushed back thus creating a massive backlog. Even more: Canadian media reported the common occurrence of people suffering from heart problems, or even actual heart attacks, and not going to the hospital (either out of fear of getting infected by the virus, or because they knew hospitals were already dedicated almost exclusively to COVID-19 patients).

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: Comrades in Tweets? The Contours and Limits of China-Russia Cooperation on Digital Propaganda

ALEXANDER GABUEV, LEONID KOVACHICH:

Amid the deluge of online disinformation during the coronavirus pandemic, geopolitical tensions pitting China and Russia against the West have continued to ratchet up, especially in the digital domain. Russian information operations have drawn greater attention in the West since the 2016 U.S. presidential election, and many analysts have seen echoes of such online trolling and disinformation in the more assertive, confrontational posture of Chinese diplomats on social media during the coronavirus pandemic. Russian and Chinese propagandists also seem to be mirroring each other’s tactics and cross-promoting each other’s content, leading some Western analysts and governments to warn of deepening digital cooperation between Moscow and Beijing.

China and Russia do indeed share a lot of strategic objectives, and their partnership has been deepening across the board since the 2014 outbreak of war in Ukraine and Western sanctions against Moscow. After all, both countries’ leaders decry U.S. hegemony and see the United States and its alliances as challenges to their national security and national interests. And both Chinese and Russian policymakers are striving to exploit existing fissures in Western societies while weakening ties between the United States and its allies through information operations and other means. Furthermore, both the Kremlin and Zhongnanhai are intent on defusing Western criticisms of (and perceived designs to topple) their political regimes, while advancing their own self-serving, government-friendly narratives. Beyond these commonly held strategic objectives, both countries have drawn tactically on their own histories while also learning from one another and others.

The Rise of Remote Work May Reshape College Towns. Here’s How These Campuses Are Wooing Transplants.

Lindsey Ellis:

Universities are luring remote staff at corporations to move from urban hubs to college towns, as companies look to continue flexible work arrangements for their employees.

At least two colleges — Purdue University and West Virginia University — are supporting programs for these remote workers, betting that this mode of work will have staying power after the Covid-19 pandemic accelerated the shift to scattered workplaces.

Universities have long hosted corporate incubators, but the new programs represent another way the pandemic has shifted the way colleges think about who works on campus, and why. Many universities are considering how employees’ desires for remote work will affect their own human-resources policies. These colleges, however, are making a play for other people’s employees, showing that campuses will both influence and be affected by this major shift in where Americans live and work.

Purdue is set to hold a visitors’ weekend for a small group of applicants for a so-called “remote-working community” in the campus’s business-and-research park, which is operated by the university’s research foundation and a development company. These people will uproot their lives — some with a deal-sweetening $5,000 — to move to West Lafayette, Ind. They can live at discounted rates in housing built in the Purdue park and access campus facilities, including the library and a co-working space.

Why I spoke out against lockdowns

Martin Kulldorff:

I had no choice but to speak out against lockdowns. As a public-health scientist with decades of experience working on infectious-disease outbreaks, I couldn’t stay silent. Not when basic principles of public health are thrown out of the window. Not when the working class is thrown under the bus. Not when lockdown opponents were thrown to the wolves. There was never a scientific consensus for lockdowns. That balloon had to be popped.

Two key Covid facts were quickly obvious to me. First, with the early outbreaks in Italy and Iran, this was a severe pandemic that would eventually spread to the rest of the world, resulting in many deaths. That made me nervous. Second, based on the data from Wuhan, in China, there was a dramatic difference in mortality by age, with over a thousand-fold difference between the young and the old. That was a huge relief. I am a single father with a teenager and five-year-old twins. Like most parents, I care more about my children than myself. Unlike the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic, children had much less to fear from Covid than from annual influenza or traffic accidents. They could get on with life unharmed — or so I thought.

For society at large, the conclusion was obvious. We had to protect older, high-risk people while younger low-risk adults kept society moving.

But that didn’t happen. Instead, schools closed while nursing homes went unprotected. Why? It made no sense. So, I picked up a pen. To my surprise, I could not interest any US media in my thoughts, despite my knowledge and experience with infectious-disease outbreaks. I had more success in my native Sweden, with op-eds in the major daily newspapers, and, eventually, a piece in spiked. Other like-minded scientists faced similar hurdles.

Instead of understanding the pandemic, we were encouraged to fear it. Instead of life, we got lockdowns and death. We got delayed cancer diagnoses, worse cardiovascular-disease outcomes, deteriorating mental health, and a lot more collateral public-health damage from lockdown. Children, the elderly and the working class were the hardest hit by what can only be described as the biggest public-health fiasco in history.

Throughout the 2020 spring wave, Sweden kept daycare and schools open for every one of its 1.8million children aged between one and 15. And it did so without subjecting them to testing, masks, physical barriers or social distancing. This policy led to precisely zero Covid deaths in that age group, while teachers had a Covid risk similar to the average of other professions. The Swedish Public Health Agency reported these facts in mid-June, but in the US lockdown proponents still pushed for school closures.

In July, the New England Journal of Medicine published an article on ‘reopening primary schools during the pandemic’. Shockingly, it did not even mention the evidence from the only major Western country that kept schools open throughout the pandemic. That is like evaluating a new drug while ignoring data from the placebo control group.

Martin Kulldorff, a professor of medicine at Harvard University.

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.

San Francisco schools see enrollment drop as families flee the district (Madison?)

Jill Tucker:

Yet it’s clear many families vowed to leave after losing faith in the district because of the slow reopening of classrooms and ongoing drama among district leadership. That includes an $87 million lawsuit filed by board member Alison Collins against five colleagues after they removed her from the vice presidency and committee positions following the discovery of racist tweets against Asian Americans, which have remained online since 2016.

Claire Raj’s family is among those who have opted out. The mother of three, with a former first-grader and third-grader at McCoppin Elementary, said she felt the district let students and schools down this year.

Despite being a parent leader at the school, she pulled her kids out in January, enrolling them at St. Anne School, which had resumed in-person learning in October. Her youngest son’s teacher at St. Anne informed her that her son didn’t have enough muscle control in his hand to write after months on a computer tablet and that he was well behind peers in reading and writing.

The district just didn’t do enough to help families, she said.

“It’s something we had never considered, going to private school. We aren’t Catholic,” Raj said. “Once we started considering it, it seemed we just didn’t have any choice.”

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.

Our biggest institutions are blocking us from pursuing a good American life.

JD Vance:

I thought I’d start today by sketching out a vision for what we should be about in the conservative movement in the twenty-first century, because I think it’s useful to anchor ourselves, not just in first principles but in the lives of the people affected by those principles, and then I’ll talk about why I think “woke capital” is such a problem.

I think that we should fight for the right of every American to live a good life in the country they call their own, to raise a family in dignity on a single middle-class job. It’s a simple vision: If you work hard and play by the rules, you should be able to live a good life in this country that is your own, that was built by your parents and grandparents, that will be inherited by your children.

Now that’s of course more complicated than it sounds. I think it requires that we respect our history so people are anchored in the traditions of this country, so they can teach their children those traditions, and so they can pass on a feeling of rootedness in their own community. That’s why we worry about the assault on our history and our schools. I think it requires that we give our children and ourselves the right to speak openly and participate meaningfully in this democratic society of ours.

Civics: The Media’s Lab Leak Debacle Shows Why Banning ‘Misinformation’ Is a Terrible Idea

Robby Soave:

Facebook made a quiet but dramatic reversal last week: It no longer forbids users from touting the theory that COVID-19 came from a laboratory.

“In light of ongoing investigations into the origin of COVID-19 and in consultation with public health experts, we will no longer remove the claim that COVID-19 is man-made or manufactured from our apps,” the social media platform declared in a statement.

This change in policy comes in the midst of heated debate about how to respond to the perception that social media is amplifying the spread of false information. For the last several years, journalists and politicians have pushed to police so-called misinformation through various means. Major news organizations have hired mis- or disinformation reporters. Lawmakers such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D–Mass.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D–Calif.) have urged social media sites to prohibit speech deemed wrong or dangerous—and have sometimes suggested that this should be required by law. More recently, various groups have asked President Joe Biden to establish a federal initiative to combat online misinformation.

But Facebook’s concession that the lab leak story it once viewed as demonstrably false is actually possibly true should put to rest the idea that banning or regulating misinformation should be a chief public policy goal.

Why the bullshit-jobs thesis may be, well, bullshit

The Economist:

MOST PEOPLE feel, from time to time, that their work is meaningless. David Graeber, the late anthropologist, built an elaborate thesis out of this insight. He argued in a book in 2018 that society has been deliberately creating more and more “bullshit jobs” in professions such as financial services to fill the time of educated workers who need the money to pay off student debts but who suffer from depression because of their work. His thesis has been cited more than 800 times by academics, according to Google Scholar, and often repeated in the media.

When the book came out, this columnist was unimpressed, arguing that the thesis was a partial reworking of the insights of C. Northcote Parkinson, who argued that bureaucracy has an innate tendency to expand and make work for itself. Three academics—Magdalena Soffia, Alex Wood and Brendan Burchell—have undertaken a systematic analysis* of the claims behind Mr Graeber’s work and found that the data often show the exact opposite of what he predicted. The bullshit-jobs thesis, in other words, is largely bullshit.

Commentary on the Taxpayer Supported Madison School District’s Curriculum Experiences

Machine generated transcript:

My mother was the first African-American graduate of Edgewood college. She was a first grade teacher in the Madison schools. I was a product of the Madison schools and my kids are currently in the Madison’s school district. What I am seeing now in the school is something I’ve never seen before. It’s like the teachers are promoting the vision.

We’re always taught unity. And how to get along with one another silver rights helped us advance. And now my children are being made to think of themselves as perpetual victims and to think of the white race as perpetual oppressors. This isn’t right. As a veteran of the United States army, I served to uphold and defend the principles that this bill promotes.

My achievements honor, graduate in basic training. My efforts in the Gulf war and my honorable discharge are a reflection of my individual efforts and sacrifice not given to me due to my race.

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

Scientists Suing Scientists, and Behaving Badly

Nathan Schachtman:

In his 1994 Nobel Prize acceptance speech, the Hungarian born chemist George Andrew Olah acknowledged an aspect of science that rarely is noted in popular discussions:

“[One] way of dealing with errors is to have friends who are willing to spend the time necessary to carry out a critical examination of the experimental design beforehand and the results after the experiments have been completed. An even better way is to have an enemy. An enemy is willing to devote a vast amount of time and brain power to ferreting out errors both large and small, and this without any compensation. The trouble is that really capable enemies are scarce; most of them are only ordinary. Another trouble with enemies is that they sometimes develop into friends and lose a good deal of their zeal. It was in this way the writer lost his three best enemies. Everyone, not just scientists, need a few good enemies!”[1]

If you take science seriously, you must take error as something for which we should always be vigilant, and something we are committed to eliminate. As Olah and Von Békésy have acknowledged, sometimes an enemy is required. It would thus seem to be quite unscientific to complain that an enemy was harassing you, when she was criticizing your data, study design, methods, or motives.

Civic Education, Rightly Understood

Wilfred McClay:

We live in anxious times. But many times in our past were far more anxious, and the reasons for anxiety then were more compelling. Consider, for example, the situation facing the world in the early months of 1941, when Hitler’s triumphant armies controlled continental Europe, when only the British Isles managed to hold out, and when the future of liberty looked very dim—indeed, when civilization itself seemed imperiled. Yet at that moment, the novelist John Dos Passos chose to pen these words: “In times of change and danger when there is a quicksand of fear under men’s reasoning, a sense of continuity with generations gone before can stretch like a lifeline across the scary present.”

He must have been tempted to declare, as journalists like to do, that the present situation was utterly without precedent and that the past had nothing to teach the present. After all, had the world ever before seen a more fearsome and pitiless fighting machine than the one that Adolf Hitler had assembled? But Dos Passos chose to convey an exactly opposite message. He urged that we look backward to a past that could be a source of sanity and direction, a lifeline of sustenance and instruction.

Duck Hunt? University of Oregon Announces Policy On Monitoring Student Social Media and Off-Campus Statements

Jonathan Turley:

However, the new change allows for sweeping and ill-defined authority. It is a convoluted structure but under the new rule you can be punished for off-campus conduct if it is a substantial disruption to any member of the university that involves “academic work or any University records, documents, or identifications”

That would seem to encompass references to school “identifications” in the form of other students or associations. That ambiguity can be a chilling element in such a speech limitation. Indeed, if a student identifies herself as an Oregon student, is that sufficient “identification”? What does “involved” with an identification mean?

Students’ Civic Online Reasoning: A National Portrait

Joel Breakstone:

Are today’s students able to discern quality information from sham online? In the largest investigation of its kind, we administered an assessment to 3,446 high school students. Equipped with a live internet connection, the students responded to six constructed-response tasks. The students struggled on all of them. Asked to investigate a site claiming to “disseminate factual reports” on climate science, 96% never learned about the organization’s ties to the fossil fuel industry. Two thirds were unable to distinguish news stories from ads on a popular website’s home page. More than half believed that an anonymously posted Facebook video, shot in Russia, provided “strong evidence” of U.S. voter fraud. Instead of investigating the organization or group behind a site, students were often duped by weak signs of credibility: a website’s “look,” its top-level domain, the content on its About page, and the sheer quantity of information it provided. The study’s sample reflected the demographic profile of high school students in the United States, and a multilevel regression model explored whether scores varied by student characteristics. Findings revealed differences in student abilities by grade level, self-reported grades, locality, socioeconomic status, race, maternal education, and free/reduced-price lunch status. Taken together, these findings reveal an urgent need to prepare students to thrive in a world in which information flows ceaselessly across their screens.

Mask mandate and use efficacy in state-level COVID-19 containment

Damian D. Guerra and Daniel J. Guerra:

Background: Containment of the COVID-19 pandemic requires evidence-based strategies to reduce transmission. 11 Because COVID-19 can spread via respired droplets, many states have mandated mask use in public settings. 12 Randomized control trials have not clearly demonstrated mask efficacy against respiratory viruses, and 13 observational studies conflict on whether mask use predicts lower infection rates. We hypothesized that statewide 14 mask mandates and mask use are associated with lower COVID-19 case growth rates in the United States. 15 Methods: We calculated total COVID-19 case growth and mask use for the continental United States with data from 16 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. We estimated post-17 mask mandate case growth in non-mandate states using median issuance dates of neighboring states with mandates. 18 Results: Case growth was not significantly different between mandate and non-mandate states at low or high 19 transmission rates, and surges were equivocal. Mask use predicted lower case growth at low, but not high 20 transmission rates. Growth rates were comparable between states in the first and last mask use quintiles adjusted for 21 normalized total cases early in the pandemic and unadjusted after peak Fall-Winter infections. Mask use did not 22 predict Summer 2020 case growth for non-Northeast states or Fall-Winter 2020 growth for all continental states. 23 Conclusions: Mask mandates and use are not associated with slower state-level COVID-19 spread during COVID-24 19 growth surges. Containment requires future research and implementation of existing efficacious strategies.

They Rage-Quit the School System—and They’re Not Going Back

Pia Ceres:

Espitia is a part of a wave of parents and caregivers who withdrew their children from US public schools and elected to homeschool because of the pandemic—and she’s part of a group that isn’t going back. The crisis gave rise to a diverse swath of families that are using tech to totally customize their kids’ learning, and they might even change what “going to school” means in the post-pandemic world.

A More Diverse Class of Homeschoolers

While homeschooling is legal in all 50 states, it has never been considered the American norm. In 2019, homeschooled students represented just 3.2 percent of US students in grades K through 12, or around 1.7 million students. By comparison, 90 percent of US students attend public school. But a March 2021 report from the US Census Bureau indicates an uptick in homeschooling during the pandemic: In spring 2020, 5.4 percent of surveyed households reported homeschooling their children (homeschooling being distinct from remote learning at home through a public or private school). By fall 2020, the figure had doubled to 11.1 percent.

“I like the idea of presenting material to my kids that’s not necessarily the colonized experience.”

Academic intelligence is absurdly overvalued

James Marriott:

In my early twenties I was fixated on the idea of taking a masters degree. I made myself fairly miserable in pursuit of this goal: I saved almost all the money I earned, moved into my grandmother’s spare bedroom and took out an enormous loan from the government. The obsession was not rational. I am not sure I could ever have coherently explained why I thought I needed a second degree in English literature.

I was, I think, a victim of what the American writer Fredrik deBoer calls “the cult of smart”: the pervasive modern idea that intelligence is the defining human quality and that academic performance is a “shorthand for total human value”.

I believe deBoer is correct: academic intelligence is absurdly overvalued. For

Ann Althouse Commentary:

If you, like me, wondered what’s in 17th-century sermons, here’s a big page of links to English sermons from the 17th century. Lots of John Donne sermons here. Sample:

South Kingstown (RI) School Committee Votes NOT To Sue Mom Nicole Solas Who Sought CRT Records

William Jacobsen:

The story has been covered not only by FoxNews.com, but also by GoLocalProv, which quoted the local ACLU Director:

Rhode Island ACLU Executive Director Steve Brown told GoLocal on Tuesday he believes the South Kingstown School Committee’s response is “inappropriate.”

“I can certainly understand the difficulties facing a municipal body when confronted with such a huge number of APRA requests in a short period of time,” said Brown “However, I am also hopeful that, upon consideration, the school committee will recognize that suing a resident for this activity is not an appropriate response.”

Additional outlets included The Daily WireThe Washington ExaminerReal Clear PoliticsYahoo NewsMSNThe UK Independent, and The Providence Journal, which detailed some vicious personal attacks from the school committee chairperson and local unions:

The committee’s chairwoman said Wednesday the requests were part of a national strategy of a “racist group.” ….

South Kingstown School Committee Chairwoman Emily Cummiskey described the possible suit Wednesday as a “potential injunction” to blunt “a nationally-organized, racist group [attempting] to create chaos and intimidate our district. …This is their MO nation-wide and I anticipate other districts in our state will soon experience the same unfortunate influx we have.”

ntelligence can be detected but is not found attractive in videos and live interactions

Julie C. Driebea and Ruben C. Arslang

Self-reported mate preferences suggest intelligence is valued across cultures, consistent with the idea that human intelligence evolved as a sexually selected trait. The validity of self-reports has been questioned though, so it remains unclear whether objectively assessed intelligence is indeed attractive. In Study 1, 88 target men had their intelligence measured and based on short video clips were rated on intelligence, funniness, physical attractiveness and mate appeal by 179 women. In Study 2 (N = 763), participants took part in 2 to 5 speed-dating sessions in which their intelligence was measured and they rated each other’s intelligence, funniness, and mate appeal. Measured intelligence did not predict increased mate appeal in either study, whereas perceived intelligence and funniness did. More intelligent people were perceived as more intelligent, but not as funnier. Results suggest that intelligence is not important for initial attraction, which raises doubts concerning the sexual selection theory of intelligence.

Civics: There’s no such thing as a former journalist

Roy Peter Clark:

This sense of atrophy is one way that individuals experience the larger existential crises facing journalism. As an enterprise, journalism has suffered the devastating loss of resources from the collapse of its business model — money from advertising — magnified by the disruption of the internet and the growth of social media.

Who will pay for quality journalism in the future? Many experiments are underway, but no one has the answer. The loss of news and editorial power has left communities — whole states — under-covered, depriving citizens of the information they need to make good decisions about their lives. Some locations are so depleted they have been tagged as news deserts.

But that is just the half of it. The other half of the existential crisis involves vicious attempts to decertify the press, to dismiss it as biased and unethical, to transform its reputation from that of responsible watchdog to enemy of the people. The act of blaming the messenger for the delivery of bad news is ancient, but in the modern world its effect has been to make the practice of journalism more disheartening and at times dangerous.

It’s Time to Break Up the Ivy League Cartel

Sam Haselby and Matt Stoller

Power in the U.S. flows through the gates of the Ivy League and a very small tier of other top universities. These institutions set and sanction the boundaries of knowledge, including what kinds of political and social views are welcomed in prestige cultural spaces. This has long been the case. In 1805, for example, Unitarianism won a real degree of respectability when Harvard, then a Calvinist institution, appointed the Unitarian Henry Ware to the Hollis chair, long the most prestigious endowed chair in the country. Last year, in a 21st-century version of the Ware affair, conservatives won when Harvard’s president and provost overruled the faculty and turned away the economist Gabriel Zucman, whose renown rests in large part on his empirical work substantiating the democratic benefits of a wealth tax. Lawrence H. Summers, who once said that “inequality has … gone up in our society” because “people are being treated closer to the way they’re supposed to be treated,” supported the hire but nevertheless explained, shortly thereafter, that raising taxes on the rich is a bad idea.

Commentary on our digital past

Kashmir Hill:

People were thinking about this a lot a decade ago. During an August 2010 interview, it was on the mind of Eric Schmidt, then the chairman of Google, the creator of the best fossil-digging equipment out there. Mr. Schmidt predicted, “apparently seriously,” according to The Wall Street Journal, that young people would change their names upon reaching adulthood in order to escape their digital pasts. The prediction was widely mocked for its impossibility.

The same month, another prominent data scientist, Jeff Jonas, offered a more utopian prediction: “I hope for a highly tolerant society in the future,” he wrote on a legal blog called Concurring Opinions. “A place where it is widely known I am four or five standard deviations off center, and despite such deviance, my personal and professional relationships carry on, unaffected.”

I remember this prediction because I cited it a decade ago when a 28-year-old woman had her Congressional campaign upended by a “scandal,” one that seems quaint by today’s standards but was a glimpse into our future. The woman who provided it was named, coincidentally, Krystal Ball.

Ms. Ball was running as a Democrat for a House seat in Virginia at the time; a conservative blog got its hands on decade-old photos from a post-college Christmas party, where Ms. Ball was dressed as a “naughty Santa” and her husband at the time was Rudolph with a red dildo for a nose. This sounds ridiculous, but the “raunchy party photos” fueled news stories across the world. I thought that what she was experiencing was notable for its limited shelf life: As more and more people got smartphones and flocked to apps like Instagram and Twitter that encouraged them to thoroughly document their lives and thoughts, this sort of shaming of people’s past selves would surely stop, because the throwing of stones would become hypocritical and dangerous.

Remains of 215 children found at former residential school in British Columbia

The Canadian Press:

The remains of 215 children have been found buried on the site of a former residential school in Kamloops, B.C.

Chief Rosanne Casimir of the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation said in a news release Thursday that the remains were confirmed last weekend with the help of a ground-penetrating radar specialist.

Casimir called the discovery an “unthinkable loss that was spoken about but never documented at the Kamloops Indian Residential School.”

She said it’s believed the deaths are undocumented, although a local museum archivist is working with the Royal British Columbia Museum to see if any records of the deaths can be found.

Some of the children were as young as three, she said.

China’s Newest Computer Science Student Is a Computer

Fan Yiyang:

One of China’s elite universities has a new student that’s distinguishable from the rest of her peers — she’s human-like but powered by artificial intelligence.

Named Hua Zhibing, the virtual student is enrolled at Tsinghua University’s department of computer science and technology, where she will study under the tutelage of a dedicated professor, domestic media reported. Claimed to be the first AI-powered student to attend university, Hua started school on Tuesday and will focus on technology and data-related courses. 

Hua was jointly trained by the non-profit research institute Beijing Academy of Artificial Intelligence, along with technology companies Zhipu.AI and Xiaoice, though the motive behind its development was not immediately clear.

The Chinese government has an ambitious vision for the country’s AI sector, with plans to achieve a “major breakthrough” in the basic theory of artificial intelligence by 2025. Officials hope the technology will become a driving force in the country’s economic transformation and in upgrading its industrial capabilities.

In recent years, China has increasingly applied artificial intelligence in several sectors, including health and education, though the growing use of facial recognition technologies has raised privacy concerns. Meanwhile, companies have used AI to develop anything from an app to help save local dialects to self-driving cars, digital doppelgangers for news anchors, and even a chat bot to provide company to lonely men.

Parents Need Academic Transparency, not Intimidation, from their School Boards

Matt Beienburg:

It should not be this way, and fortunately, it doesn’t have to be.

The Goldwater Institute’s Academic Transparency Act model language, which has been adapted into legislation passed by the Arizona State Senate and the North Carolina House of Representatives this spring and is now also being advanced in Wisconsin—would provide parents unprecedented access to the classroom materials being presented to their kids. Under the legislation, schools would post on a publicly accessible portion of their website a simple list (i.e., syllabus) of the actual materials being used in student instruction so that prospective parents like Nicole Solas could immediately review the type of content awaiting her daughter if she were to enroll at the local public district school.

Teachers wouldn’t be required to violate copyright law or spend time scanning materials, but rather simply account for whatever curriculum resources they used during instructional periods—whether that be textbooks, essays like those from the 1619 Project, or online news articles—in a format as simple as a Google Doc.

It should not take hundreds or thousands of dollars—much less a willingness to brave the threat of retaliatory lawsuits, as in Ms. Solas’ case—for parents to know what is being taught in the nearby schools in which they’re considering enrolling their students.

With academic transparency, those roadblocks to parental awareness and engagement can become a thing of the past.

Civics: Two New Laws Restrict Police Use of DNA Search Method

Virginia Hughes:

New laws in Maryland and Montana are the first in the nation to restrict law enforcement’s use of genetic genealogy, the DNA matching technique that in 2018 identified the Golden State Killer, in an effort to ensure the genetic privacy of the accused and their relatives.

Beginning on Oct. 1, investigators working on Maryland cases will need a judge’s signoff before using the method, in which a “profile” of thousands of DNA markers from a crime scene is uploaded to genealogy websites to find relatives of the culprit. The new law, sponsored by Democratic lawmakers, also dictates that the technique be used only for serious crimes, such as murder and sexual assault. And it states that investigators may only use websites with strict policies around user consent.

Montana’s new law, sponsored by a Republican, is narrower, requiring that government investigators obtain a search warrant before using a consumer DNA database, unless the consumer has waived the right to privacy.

The laws “demonstrate that people across the political spectrum find law enforcement use of consumer genetic data chilling, concerning and privacy-invasive,” said Natalie Ram, a law professor at the University of Maryland who championed the Maryland law. “I hope to see more states embrace robust regulation of this law enforcement technique in the future.”

WELCOME TO FAIRFAX COUNTY PARENTS ASSOCIATION

Fairfaxparents.org:

Fairfax County Parents Association is a nonpartisan volunteer grassroots organization of parents that seeks to ensure students are the first priority in Fairfax County Public Schools. This is accomplished by educating parents about the governance and administration of the school system and empowering parents to advocate on behalf of their children. We seek to ensure the school board is governed in accordance with the law, specifically that the roles are non-partisan. The FCPA will work to support teachers and staff of the school system to aid their efforts to educate our children.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Ongoing Wisconsin $pending growth

Libby Sobic and Will Flanders, Ph.D.

Wisconsin invests in our K-12 schools by creating options for families. On average, Wisconsin school districts average revenue (of local, state and federal funding) per student was $14,737 in 2019-2020.

The majority of K-12 education funding is directly distributed to school districts. Under current law, even the lowest funded school districts receive more funding per pupil than independent charter schools and private schools in the parental choice programs.


Today, the claims for more funding for districts are rendered almost comedic in light of all of the federal stimulus funds flooding into the state.

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”

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

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: Stagnant Lifetime Earnings

Fatih Guvenen, Greg Kaplan, Jae Song, and Justin Weidner:

The lifetime earnings of the median male worker declined by 10 percent from the 1967 cohort to the 1983 cohort. Further, more than three-quarters of the distribution of men experienced no rise in their lifetime earnings across these cohorts. Accounting for rising employer-provided health and pension benefits partly mitigates these findings but does not alter the substantive conclusions.

How are these changes reflected in wage/salary earnings? When nominal earnings are deflated by the personal consumption expenditure (PCE) deflator, the annualized value of median lifetime wage/salary earnings for male workers declined by $4,400 per year from the 1967 cohort to the 1983 cohort, or $136,400 over the 31-year working period.

China Wrecks IPO Plans for High-Flying Education Startups

Bloomberg:

China is escalating a crackdown on its online education sector, forcing once high-flying startups to mothball plans for multi-billion-dollar initial public offerings this year.

Just months ago, edtech outfits were one of the hottest investments in China’s post-Covid internet industry, pulling in more than $10 billion of venture funding last year from powerhouses like Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., Tencent Holdings Ltd. and SoftBank Group Corp. Then Beijing stepped in.

President Xi Jinping suggested in March the surge in after-school tutoring was putting immense pressure on on China’s kids, signaling a personal interest in curbing excesses. That led to warnings in state-owned media and penalties aimed at predatory practices that play on a nation’s obsession with academic achievement. Now, the country’s education ministry plans to create a dedicated division to oversee all private education platforms for the first time, according to people familiar with the matter.

Princeton Removes Greek, Latin Requirement for Classics Majors to Combat ‘Systemic Racism’

Brittany Bernstein:

Classics majors at Princeton University will no longer be required to learn Greek or Latin in a push to create a more inclusive and equitable program, an effort that was given “new urgency” by the “events around race that occurred last summer,” according to faculty.

Last month, faculty members approved changes to the Classics department, including eliminating the “classics” track, which required an intermediate proficiency in Greek or Latin to enter the concentration, according to Princeton Alumni Weekly. The requirement for students to take Greek or Latin was also removed.

Josh Billings, director of undergraduate studies and professor of classics, said the shift will give students more opportunities to major in classics.

Billings said the changes had been floated before university president Christopher Eisgruber called for addressing systemic racism at the university, but the curriculum shift resurfaced as a priority after the president’s call to action and the “events around race that occurred last summer.”

“We think that having new perspectives in the field will make the field better,” he said. “Having people who come in who might not have studied classics in high school and might not have had a previous exposure to Greek and Latin, we think that having those students in the department will make it a more vibrant intellectual community.”

Writing Tips

Jonathan Christensen:

In 1998 I loaded up on student loans against the advice of Amherst College’s financial aid advisor, and left our shores for jolly old England. In my first week at St Catherine’s College, Oxford, I was told to choose subjects for my tutorials. These are one-on-one meetings with professors once or twice per week. I told the faculty advisor that I wanted to steep myself in history and literature to accompany the feeling that I got from wandering the storybook campus. He said he had just the tutor for me. And with that, I ended up studying English Romantic poetry with the late Jonathan Wordsworth, who was a great-great-great nephew of the famous poet William Wordsworth.

The way tutorials work is that you meet your tutor, you discuss a subject, and then the tutor assigns one or more essays for the next meeting that will require some additional reading and research to complete. Then at that next meeting, you read your essays aloud to the tutor during the first 10 minutes. The tutor gives direct feedback on your writing, and you move on to repeat the process from the top.

On a cold day in January, Professor Wordsworth’s study smelled like the scout’s cleaning supplies and old books. I sat across from him at his computerless desk sweating and stumbling through a timid technical analysis of a poem by Coleridge. I knew I had blown it. My writing sucked. Professor Wordsworth told me firstly, I needed to write more about how the poems made me feel rather than all their technical details, and secondly, I might want to take a bit more time to proofread my future essays. In that moment he was Dumbledore—kind, intelligent, and insistent that I do my best.

Civics: Punished in Hong Kong for Texting the Press

Wall Street Journal:

Po­lice ar­rested Ms. Mo, along with nearly the en­tire op­po­si­tion move­ment, in Jan­uary. She and 46 oth­ers are charged with con­spir­acy to com­mit sub­ver­sion un­der the na­tional se­cu­rity law for or­ga­niz­ing or par­tic­i­pat­ing in an in­for­mal pro-democ­racy pri­mary elec­tion last July. Judge Es­ther Toh de­nied Ms. Mo bail in April, and the world learned why on Fri­day.

The Biggest Enemy of Campus Due Process from the Obama Years Is Back

KC Johnson:

‘One of the most sweeping bipartisan judicial rejections of an administration’s policy in decades,” commentator David French recently noted, involved the Obama administration using Title IX to undermine due process on American college campuses. The administration’s record, French wrote, “has been rejected by judges across the ideological spectrum and has cost universities millions.”

Given this legacy, George Mason law professor David Bernstein hoped that “legal actors responsible for rather blatant constitutional violations, such as Obama administration OCR [Office of Civil Rights] Chief Catherine Lhamon, will not in the future be rewarded with plum political appointments.” Yet the Biden administration has recently selected Lhamon to return to her old perch atop the OCR, the Education Department office with jurisdiction over Title IX — the federal law that bans gender discrimination in education — and racial-discrimination issues.

Perhaps no public figure in the past decade has done more to decimate the rights of accused students than Lhamon. No wonder that FIRE, the scrupulously non-partisan campus-civil-liberties organization, denounced her nomination and urged senators to reject it unless she committed, under oath, to upholding specific due-process provisions in Title IX tribunals. Given her record, it seems extremely unlikely that she would ever do so.

In 2011, the Obama administration invoked Title IX to address what it considered a surge in campus sexual assaults. The resulting “Dear Colleague” letter mandated a series of procedural changes making guilty findings more likely to result from campus tribunals. The policy’s underlying assumption was that one-sided procedures would change campus culture and lead otherwise-reluctant victims to file reports with their schools. After taking over at OCR in 2013, Lhamon unilaterally produced a second, lengthy guidance document, taking aim at schools’ allowing accused students to conduct cross-examination (most schools already prevented students’ lawyers from doing so) and cautioning universities against prioritizing the due-process rights of the accused.

Can You Ever Be Too Smart for Your Own Good? Comparing Linear and Nonlinear Effects of Cognitive Ability on Life Outcomes

Matt I. Brown, Jonathan Wai, Christopher F. Chabris:

Despite a long-standing expert consensus about the importance of cognitive ability for life outcomes, contrary views continue to proliferate in scholarly and popular literature. This divergence of beliefs presents an obstacle for evidence-based policymaking and decision-making in a variety of settings. One commonly held idea is that greater cognitive ability does not matter or is actually harmful beyond a certain point (sometimes stated as > 100 or 120 IQ points). We empirically tested these notions using data from four longitudinal, representative cohort studies comprising 48,558 participants in the United States and United Kingdom from 1957 to the present. We found that ability measured in youth has a positive association with most occupational, educational, health, and social outcomes later in life. Most effects were characterized by a moderate to strong linear trend or a practically null effect (mean R2 range = .002–.256). Nearly all nonlinear effects were practically insignificant in magnitude (mean incremental R2 = .001) or were not replicated across cohorts or survey waves. We found no support for any downside to higher ability and no evidence for a threshold beyond which greater scores cease to be beneficial. Thus, greater cognitive ability is generally advantageous—and virtually never detrimental.

Will your gifted child take calculus? Maybe not under California’s reimagined math plan

Howard Blume:

A plan to reimagine math instruction for 6 million California students has become ensnared in equity and fairness issues — with critics saying proposed guidelines will hold back gifted students and supporters saying it will, over time, give all kindergartners through 12th-graders a better chance to excel.

The proposed new guidelines aim to accelerate achievement while making mathematical understanding more accessible and valuable to as many students as possible, including those shut out from high-level math in the past because they had been “tracked” in lower level classes. The guidelines call on educators generally to keep all students in the same courses until their junior year in high school, when they can choose advanced subjects, including calculus, statistics and other forms of data science.

WASHOUGAL SCHOOL BOARD TRYING TO SILENCE OPPOSITION.

Washougal Moms:

On May 11th the Washougal School District discriminated and harassed three female community members who came to a public meeting about critical race theory and mask mandates for their children. They were kicked out by Vice Superintendent Aaron Hansen (Salary $142,100+) and Superintendent Mary Templeton (Salary $168,634+), who are vocal supporters of critical race theory. FYI: WA State budget is facing a 9 billion dollar shortfall.

The board voted to end the meeting because they claimed there was a disruption when one member would not put on a mask due to medical and religious exemptions, which she stated multiple times. However, after the three left and everyone pretended they were leaving in their cars, the board started another meeting which is against the law. They have to publicly post a 24 hour notice before any new meeting. When the three citizens learned about this from parents watching on zoom, they came back. The doors were locked (against the law) and all the attendants (fellow educators) from the earlier “adjourned” meeting were inside. They refused to let the community members in and even shut the window closed in their faces and proceeded to laugh and mock them (visibly laughing). Washougal board members called the police and demanded the three be trespassed from City of Washougal property or face arrest for the length of one year. The police trespassed all three, including the two single mothers who wore masks and have children who attend WSD, at the request of the board: police were not given an option to say no to this. There is no way to challenge this trespass besides civil litigation.

Civics and influence: Madison Becomes Last of Wisconsin’s 5 Largest Cities to Face Election Complaint

MD Kittle:

As the new complaint filed Monday against Madison lays out, the Center for Tech and Civic Life showered the WI-5 cities with more than $8 million in grant funding, with Madison receiving more than $1.27 million of the cut. The complaint, filed Tuesday, names Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway, a Democrat, and City Clerk Maribeth Witzel-Behl.

In total, CTCL received $400 million from Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, ostensibly to promote “safe and secure” elections during the COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time, critics say, Zuckerberg’s mammoth social network was silencing many conservatives and conservative viewpoints.

Emails show liberal activists and election officials sharing raw voter data and discussing how best to maximize turnout of traditionally Democratic voters in “areas with predominantly minorities.”

Yale University’s War against Alumni and Accountability

Victor Ashe:

Fearful of transparency and change, Yale’s governing body has resorted to procedural tactics to keep alumni from joining that wouldn’t be out of place in a dictatorship. 

Back in March 2020, I signed up to gather the 4,394 signatures required to become a petition candidate for the Yale Corporation. In a four-month period, I gathered over 7,200 signatures and won a place on the ballot for the Yale Corporation (which is the governing body of Yale University). It hires the president, grants tenure, adopts the annual budget and sets policy on whatever it wants to affect.

I ran because, as a Yale alumnus, I was tired of getting two names each year of persons I did not know, with no information on why they were running provided. All we got was a bio, and now a video lacking any comments from candidates on issues facing Yale. In my campaign, I also emphasized openness, and my opposition both to expensive administrative growth and to rising tuition during the pandemic.

Muldrow’s policies continue to drive (Madison) schools’ decline

Peter Anderson:

The Capital Times editorializes, “Madison has a great public schools system” and Board President “Ali Muldrow, is a dynamic leader “who will move Madison schools in the right direction” — sentiments reminiscent of the acclaim it offered former Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham, whose policies Muldrow seems poised to continue.

But is it really great?

Cheatham and Muldrow committed to eliminate the Black achievement gap. After seven years of their leadership, 89% of black third graders remain unable to read, plummeting to 5% by eighth grade — no better than when they began.

Why?

First, the school district persisted in teaching reading with obsolete whole and balanced language methods for two decades after research demonstrated that phonics is superior for disadvantaged kids.

Worse, the district has focused not on fixing its mistakes, but, like a magician’s misdirection, on shifting attention away from those embarrassing reading scores to graduation rates. Then it promptly lowered standards to pump up graduation stats.

The second reason for the district’s failure has been a breakdown in discipline. Just two years ago, Madisonian’s, who like the Cap Times had thought the city still had great schools, woke up to read a shocking article in Isthmus titled “A Rotten Year.”

The article meticulously documented the unraveling of discipline at Madison’s middle and high schools that followed the policies of Cheatham, who threw dedicated teachers committed to racial justice under the bus when they sought to maintain order, and Muldrow, who accused teachers worried about disruptive behavior of being racist.

“What’s new this year,” one teacher said, “is you don’t know how an interaction with a kid is going to go or that the district will support you after the fact. What ends up happening is teachers do nothing.”

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: “It will shock no one who has been paying attention that Facebook’s lifting of its ban on lab-leak theories coincided with the Biden administration calling for a concerted effort to uncover the true origins of the virus”

Brendan O’Neil:

In recent months it wasn’t only the inhabitants of China who were forbidden from speaking ill of the Chinese regime. So were billions of others around the world. Thanks to Facebook and its clampdown on any discussion of the theory that Covid-19 might have been ‘manufactured’ or might have leaked from a lab in Wuhan, people in America, Britain, France and across the globe were subjected to Chinese-style silencing. They were essentially banned from saying things that might embarrass the Chinese Communist Party. The supposedly woke, chilled overlords of the World Wide Web helped to globalise the CCP’s repression of free thought and open debate.

Many taxpayer supported K-12 school districts use Facebook and Instagram services, including Madison.

“all of these disasters brought to you by the total, self-assured unanimity of the highly educated people who are supposed to know what they’re doing, plus the total complacency of the highly educated people who are supposed to be supervising them”

Thomas Frank:

Ten months later, at the end of a scary article about the history of “gain of function” research and its possible role in the still ongoing Covid pandemic, Nicholson Baker wrote as follows: “This may be the great scientific meta-experiment of the 21st century. Could a world full of scientists do all kinds of reckless recombinant things with viral diseases for many years and successfully avoid a serious outbreak? The hypothesis was that, yes, it was doable. The risk was worth taking. There would be no pandemic.”

Except there was. If it does indeed turn out that the lab-leak hypothesis is the right explanation for how it began — that the common people of the world have been forced into a real-life lab experiment, at tremendous cost — there is a moral earthquake on the way.

Because if the hypothesis is right, it will soon start to dawn on people that our mistake was not insufficient reverence for scientists, or inadequate respect for expertise, or not enough censorship on Facebook. It was a failure to think critically about all of the above, to understand that there is no such thing as absolute expertise. Think of all the disasters of recent years: economic neoliberalism, destructive trade policies, the Iraq War, the housing bubble, banks that are “too big to fail,” mortgage-backed securities, the Hillary Clinton campaign of 2016 — all of these disasters brought to you by the total, self-assured unanimity of the highly educated people who are supposed to know what they’re doing, plus the total complacency of the highly educated people who are supposed to be supervising them.

Then again, maybe I am wrong to roll out all this speculation. Maybe the lab-leak hypothesis will be convincingly disproven. I certainly hope it is.

But even if it inches closer to being confirmed, we can guess what the next turn of the narrative will be. It was a “perfect storm,” the experts will say. Who coulda known? And besides (they will say), the origins of the pandemic don’t matter any more. Go back to sleep.

Girls still need higher entrance exam scores than boys at 80% of Tokyo high schools

The Mainichi:

Some 80% of Tokyo metropolitan high schools have in recent years continued to require higher admission exam scores for girls than boys, despite metro government attempts to fix the discrepancies, the Mainichi Shimbun has learned.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Board of Education has applied corrective measures to 30 to 40 schools a year, but still admissions tests from academic 2015 to 2020 for about 80% of schools had higher passing requirements for girls, internal education board documents show. In one case, an entrance exam with the perfect score set at 1,000 had a passing-grade discrepancy 243 points higher for girls, and in another 20 girls failed despite scoring higher than the lowest-scoring successful male applicant.

According to the Mainichi Shimbun’s research, high schools under Tokyo Metropolitan Government jurisdiction are the only prefectural schools to have separate enrollment caps for male and female students. The numbers at each high school are based on the ratio of boys to girls at public junior high schools in Tokyo.

Three-child policy: China lifts cap on births in major policy shift

David Stanway & Tony Munroe:

Beijing scrapped its decades-old one-child policy in 2016, replacing it with a two-child limit to try and stave off risks to its economy from a rapidly aging population. But that failed to result in a sustained surge in births given the high cost of raising children in Chinese cities, a challenge that persiststo this day.

The policy change will come with “supportive measures, which will be conducive to improving our country’s population structure, fulfilling the country’s strategy of actively coping with an ageing population”, the official Xinhua news agency said following a politburo meeting chaired by President Xi Jinping.

Among those measures, China will lower educational costs for families, step up tax and housing support, guarantee the legal interests of working women and clamp down on “sky-high” dowries, it said, without giving specifics. It would also look to educate young people “on marriage and love”.

The dreaming spires hide a vicious sense of entitlement

James Rebanks:

Going to an elite university exposed me to the people that made me most nervous: the well-spoken, (supposedly) clever people. My first instinct was to flee from this strange new world with its archaic traditions, funny language and weird social habits. But I was too proud to go home defeated, so I decided to fight instead. It didn’t take long for me to realise that the posh kids were all leather shoes, woollen jackets, small-talk and bullshit. I soon shrugged off the idea that there were some mystical clever people somewhere that were better than me: I’d now met them, come up against them one on one, and they were often bang average. I could hold my own on anything substantive. I’d grown up among straight-talking tough people who loved to argue in smoky pubs, so Oxford tutorials felt strangely familiar.

If I’d been confined to a plastic chair, and told to sit in silence and listen for an hour to someone who wasn’t very interesting talk about a subject I hadn’t chosen to be interested in, I suspect I’d have messed about and misbehaved, just as I did as a teenager. But Oxford wasn’t like that. The teaching was personalised, flexible and interactive. That kind of system keeps people like me in the room, fired up and engaged. Kids like me, who don’t flourish in school, can benefit from such attention, and focus, and belief. A good society would strive to give it to them.

Educating the TikTok generation

Barrett Swanson:

That my students followed the accounts of these influencers made me curious about their manner of living. And as the enrollment numbers at my university continued to worsen and two of my former students emailed to say that they were dropping out of college and moving to L.A., I spent much of last summer cold-calling publicists, wanting to see where the nation’s young people were heading. I swiftly discovered that the influencer industry had become a piñata for COVID-related outrage, with a number of New York Times stories characterizing these creators as incorrigible Dionysians. The Clubhouse in particular had become a repeated target. Several of their neighbors in Beverly Hills had filed a report with the local police department claiming that, despite quarantine, Clubhouse BH had hosted a party of “over a hundred” people, with cars blocking both sides of the street and even parking in several neighbors’ driveways.

All of this led me to reasonably expect that publicists would be wary of press inquiries—let alone the kind of immersive, fly-on-the-wall piece I was proposing. So I was somewhat surprised to find, one morning in August, an email from the Clubhouse at the top of my inbox. For reasons I cannot explain, their publicists were strangely receptive to this idea. They wanted to know how long I’d stay and when I could come out. They seemed to be under the impression that I wanted to learn how to become an influencer myself. The kids would be more than happy to help me make an account, they said. “Plus, if you get three influencers to tag you in a post,” they said, “you could have half a million followers by the end of the week.”

Abolish High School

Rebecca Solnit:

I was ravenous to learn. I’d waited for years for a proper chance at it, and the high school in my town didn’t seem like a place where I was going to get it. I passed the G.E.D. test at fifteen, started community college the following fall, and transferred after two semesters to a four-year college, where I began, at last, to get an education commensurate with my appetite.

What was it, I sometimes wonder, that I was supposed to have learned in the years of high school that I avoided? High school is often considered a definitive American experience, in two senses: an experience that nearly everyone shares, and one that can define who you are, for better or worse, for the rest of your life. I’m grateful I escaped the particular definition that high school would have imposed on me, and I wish everyone else who suffered could have escaped it, too.

For a long time I’ve thought that high school should be abolished. I don’t mean that people in their teens should not be educated at public expense. The question is what they are educated in. An abolitionist proposal should begin by acknowledging all the excellent schools and teachers and educations out there; the people who have a pleasant, useful time in high school; and the changes being wrought in the nature of secondary education today. It should also recognize the tremendous variety of schools, including charter and magnet schools in the public system and the private schools — religious, single-sex, military, and prep — that about 10 percent of American students attend, in which the values and pedagogical systems may be radically different. But despite the caveats and anomalies, the good schools and the students who thrive (or at least survive), high school is hell for too many Americans. If this is so, I wonder why people should be automatically consigned to it.

Civics: “The most startling aspect, to me, about the modern institutional media is its hyperconformity”

Niccolo Soldo:

This hyperconformity seems to have developed in two phases: Phase One was a collapse of previously distinct media types (network TV, cable TV, radio, newspapers, magazines, et al) into just “web sites” and now “mobile apps”. This was not their fault. Phase Two was the virtually universal industry-wide adoption of a strident ideological monoculture. This is their fault. I’m a First Amendment absolutist, so I don’t begrudge anyone the freedom to say and write what they think, but we are told that we live in a marketplace of ideas. But if you mainly consume the standard media product, what you are experiencing is closer to a marketplace of idea.

This monoculture challenges two of my most fundamental beliefs. First, in business — and these are businesses — you seek to differentiate, to offer a unique product that your customers can’t get anywhere else. In economic terms, differentiation is the key to pricing power, which is the key to profits, which is the key to staying in business. This is precisely what the existing media industry is not doing; the product is now virtually indistinguishable by publisher, and most media companies are suffering financially in exactly the way you’d expect. Second, civilizational progress happens not by top down unanimity and ideological instruction, but by debate and dispute. That this should happen, but is not happening, in the institutional media today is obvious.

And so I think it’s obvious that the incumbents are handing us, by their own considered and determinedly executed choices, a sparkling opportunity to both build better businesses and an actual marketplace of ideas. I’m intensely proud of both Substack and Clubhouse and have very high hopes that they can deliver.

Locally, the traditional media has largely supported K-12 status quo governance, to the long term detriment of our students and community vigor.

‘Race,’ ‘Diversity,’ and the University

Maximilian C. Forte:

If this was a good time for Canadian academia, you would not be able to tell from the blanket of almost absolute silence that has been pulled over universities. There is no euphoria, no celebratory mood, no applause for the changes that are happening. There is, however, a degree of infighting, mutual suspicion, recrimination, and a palpable tension that divides faculty and also pits them against students and administrations. Against a backdrop of publicized cases of ostracism, real worry exists that expressing a perspective that has not been authorized could lead to termination or at least media-driven defamation. University administrations are all-too-quick to proclaim that what Professor X said or wrote, “does not represent the values of this institution”. Why would it? Why should it? These are not private religious colleges; Canada’s universities are public and secular. When applicants go through the hiring process, are they ever once presented with a list of the university’s “values”—a manifesto—and are they then told that if they do not agree with the document they can apply elsewhere, or else sign at the bottom line? No, that never happens (to my knowledge), and yet we work under the dictates of a party line—a decidedly partisan thrust that is distinctly and clearly a carbon-copy of the ideology of the ruling Liberal Party. This is far from the only instance where copy-and-paste has displaced academic reasoning, questioning, and debating.

Getting Schooled: The Role of Universities in Attracting Immigrant Entrepreneurs

Natee Amornsiripanitch, Paul A. Gompers, George Hu & Kaushik Vasudevan

Immigrant founders of venture capital-backed companies have been critical to the entrepreneurial ecosystem. We document the channels through which immigrant founders find their way to the United States and how those channels have changed over time. Immigrants have been an important source of founders for venture capital-backed startups accounting for roughly 20% of all founders over the past 30 years. Immigrants coming to the United States for their education have been the primary source of founders with those coming after being educated abroad and then arriving for work decreasing in importance over time. The importance of undergraduate education as a channel for immigrant founders has increased over time. Immigrant founders coming for education are likely to start their companies in the state in which they were educated, especially states where they received their graduate education, leading to potentially large local economic benefits. The results of this paper have important policy implications for the supply of entrepreneurial talent and efforts to promote entrepreneurial ecosystems.

Her High School Said She Ranked Third in Her Class. So She Went to Court.

New York Times:

Dalee Sullivan looked straight ahead into her computer’s camera and started making her case to the judge. She referred to transcripts, emails and policies she had pulled from the student handbook at Alpine High School. The school, she contended, had made errors in tabulating grade-point averages: Classes and exams that should have been included were left out, and vice versa.

Ms. Sullivan had won Lincoln-Douglas debate tournaments and, in her freshman year, was a member of the mock trial team. But she is not a lawyer. She is 18, and she graduated from the lone public high school in the small West Texas town of Alpine just a week ago, which was the reason she was in court to begin with.

“This serves to prove that no matter the outcome of the G.P.A. contest, and no matter how many times we had the school recalculate the G.P.A.,” Ms. Sullivan told the judge during a hearing on Friday, the Alpine Independent School District “was going to make certain I could never be valedictorian, even if I earned it.”

School officials said she ranked third in her class. Ms. Sullivan disagreed.

Why Misinformation Is About Who You Trust, Not What You Think

Brian Gallagher and Kevin Berger:

I can’t see them. Therefore they’re not real.” From which century was this quote drawn? Not a medieval one. The utterance emerged in February 2019 from Fox & Friends presenter Pete Hegseth, who was referring to … germs. The former Princeton University undergraduate and Afghanistan counterinsurgency instructor said, to the mirth of his co-hosts, that he hadn’t washed his hands in a decade. Naturally this germ of misinformation went viral on social media.

The next day, as serendipity would have it, the authors of The Misinformation Age: How False Beliefs Spread—philosophers of science Cailin O’Connor and James Owen Weatherall—sat down with Nautilus. In their book, O’Connor and Weatherall, both professors at the University of California, Irvine, illustrate mathematical models of how information spreads—and how consensus on truth or falsity manages or fails to take hold—in society, but particularly in social networks of scientists. The coathors argue “we cannot understand changes in our political situation by focusing only on individuals. We also need to understand how our networks of social interaction have changed, and why those changes have affected our ability, as a group, to form reliable beliefs.”

O’Connor and Weatherall, who are married, are deft communicators of complex ideas. Our conversation ranged from the tobacco industry’s wiles to social media’s complicity in bad data. We discussed how science is subtly manipulated and how the public should make sense of contradictory studies. The science philosophers also had a sharp tip or two for science journalists.