Category Archives: Uncategorized

I Left Out the Full Truth to Get My Climate Change Paper Published

Patrick Brown:

To put it bluntly, climate science has become less about understanding the complexities of the world and more about serving as a kind of Cassandra, urgently warning the public about the dangers of climate change. However understandable this instinct may be, it distorts a great deal of climate science research, misinforms the public, and most importantly, makes practical solutions more difficult to achieve.

To put it bluntly, climate science has become less about understanding the complexities of the world and more about serving as a kind of Cassandra, urgently warning the public about the dangers of climate change. However understandable this instinct may be, it distorts a great deal of climate science research, misinforms the public, and most importantly, makes practical solutions more difficult to achieve.

Conservative attempts to do away with the longstanding faculty protection may backfire.

Mark McNeilly:

In many red-leaning states around the country, lawmakers have proposed modifying or ending tenure. In my home state of North Carolina, House Bill 715 was under consideration but appears to be stalled. Bills in other states have also been sidelined, at least for now. But the persistence of these attempted reforms, alongside growing conservative distrust of academia, suggests more tenure battles ahead.

The arguments against tenure run the gamut. Some policymakers worry about complacent faculty coasting by with scant contributions to teaching and research. Others worry about long-term costs, the creation of a caste system between overworked contract professors and overpaid tenured dons, and the inability to shift university resources as the interests and priorities of students change. And, of course, many lawmakers are quick to point out that few other professions enjoy the kind of protections afforded to tenured faculty.

As a fixed-term professor in a professional school, I’ve had my doubts about tenure’s value.Advocates for tenure point to its vital role in securing academic freedom, allowing faculty to pursue controversial lines of research and argument without worrying about arbitrary dismissal. Tenure also plays a role in attracting talent and allowing universities to trade off paying lower salaries to talented scholars and researchers in return for job security and intellectual freedom.

I have long been intrigued by the question of whether tenure truly works as a means of promoting academic freedom and intellectual curiosity. As a fixed-term professor in a professional school, I’ve had my doubts about tenure’s value, based mainly on the fact that I know plenty of professors with tenure who still self-censor on important topics.

Math Rigor

Collin Binkley

At George Mason, fewer students are getting into calculus — the first college-level course for some majors — and more are failing. Students who fall behind often disengage, disappearing from class. 

“This is a huge issue,” said Maria Emelianenko, chair of George Mason’s math department. “We’re talking about college-level pre-calculus and calculus classes, and students cannot even add one-half and one-third.”

For Jessica Babcock, a Temple University math professor, the magnitude of the problem hit home last year as she graded quizzes in her intermediate algebra class, the lowest option for STEM majors. The quiz, a softball at the start of the fall semester, asked students to subtract eight from negative six.

“I graded a whole bunch of papers in a row. No two papers had the same answer, and none of them were correct,” she said. “It was a striking moment of, like, wow — this is significant and deep.”

Before the pandemic, about 800 students per semester were placed into that class, the equivalent of ninth grade math. By 2021, it swelled to nearly 1,400.

Embryo Selection

Diana Fleischman, Ives Parr, Jonathan Anomaly, and Laurent Tellier:

This is where a new technology comes in: preimplantation genetic testing for polygenic disorders (PGT-P) or polygenic screening, which may inform which embryo parents choose and who is born. Because embryo choice is so consequential, polygenic screening—like other, new reproductive technologies before it—attracts more than its share of controversy and critics, many of whom use the label of eugenics as a smear, to suggest that parents electing to screen their own embryos are somehow akin to Nazis endorsing sterilization and murder. Progressives who criticize polygenic screening tend to use accusations of eugenics inconsistently, applying it to reproductive technology like polygenic screening but not abortion.

Other similar reproductive technologies are less controversial today than when first introduced. For example, most couples using IVF choose to genetically test their embryos for an abnormal number of chromosomes, known as “aneuploidy.” One reason for this genetic screening is that aneuploid embryos almost always result in a miscarriage. Another reason is that the few cases that do not miscarry result in life-long, incurable syndromes, such as Down Syndrome—associated with health problems, disability, and shorter lifespan. While aneuploidy screening is not entirely uncontroversial, this screen is far more widely accepted than when it was first introduced decades ago, and criticism of screening out Down Syndrome as “eugenics” is increasingly a fringe position. 

Another commonly accepted embryo screen is for monogenic disorders, that is for diseases caused by single genes. For example, couples can screen out embryos with Tay-Sachs, a devastating neurological disorder that kills young children. Carriers of Huntington’s disease—a degenerative neurological disease that, on average, kills its victims in their early sixties – also often choose to use IVF to screen out embryos likely to be afflicted. For most people, it is clear today why future parents would not want their children to have chromosomal abnormalities or monogenic disorders. But the acceptance of these tests has taken time and was far from universal when these tests were introduced in the 1990s.

The West has been below replacement fertility once before. Then came the Baby Boom. Understanding that boom may help us deal with today’s bust.

Anvar Sarygulov

The West has been below replacement fertility once before. Then came the Baby Boom. Understanding that boom may help us deal with today’s bust.

In 1800, the average British woman had 4.97 children over the course of her life, about the same amount as the average woman living in Burkina Faso today. A century later, Britain’s fertility rate had slipped to 3.9 children per woman. And thirty years later, in 1935, it had plummeted to 1.79, well below the replacement rate of 2.1 – the number of children per woman needed to keep the population steady.

This trend occurred across Europe. By the 1920s, over half of Europeans lived in a country with a below-replacement fertility rate, including Sweden, Germany, and the Czech Republic. The US and Canada also saw steady declines in family sizes throughout the nineteenth century. In 1800, the average American woman had over seven children. By 1900, she had fewer than four, and, by 1930, fewer than three. 

France’s fertility rate had begun slipping even earlier, to great alarm. In 1896, an organisation called the Alliance nationale pour l’accroissement de la population française was born. Created expressly to combat denatalité – essentially, de-population – it had attracted some 40,000 members by the 1920s with novelist Emile Zola an early recruit. The Alliance nationale was merely one of many organisations, local and national, established to resist France’s apparent progress towards what demographer and statistician Dr Jacques Bertillon despairingly called ‘the imminent disappearance of our country’. 

French pronatalists frequently and vividly campaigned on the issue as a serious matter of national security. In 1914, the Alliance nationale published over a million posters showing two Frenchmen being bayoneted by five Germans. The poster bore a caption explaining that for every five German soldiers born, only two French soldiers were. 

The French were not the only nation to chafe against a new reality of smaller family sizes and quieter maternity wards. The British government established the National Birth Rate Commission in 1912. In fascist Italy, the ‘Battle for Births’ was named one of Mussolini’s four key economic campaigns in 1922.

Our Teacher pay Debate: still dumb

Andy Rotherham

To get right to it: That’s wrong. More importantly it’s also counterproductive if we want to pay teachers more (or get people to take education policy seriously or be able to take a serious stand on using evidence or….you get the idea). We do have a teacher compensation problem, yes, but it’s a lot more complicated than political rhetoric, and especially political rhetoric in 280 characters. 

Why is it wrong? Well for starters second jobs are a good talking point but a fractional issue in practice. Less than one in five teachers taking a second job during the school year and one in three in the summer is not “most.” It’s also not a huge source of income. It’s actually more common among private school teachers. The seasonal patterns and patterns among different teachers might not be what you’d expect either. 

More fundamentally, the very EPI analysis this rests on (which is funded by the teachers unions it should be noted) places the salary differential at 14% when you factor in benefits – defined benefit pensions, which are deferred compensation, being a crucial part of that although health care costs are also an issue. Still real, but not quite as compelling a tweet. But this part of compensation is a key part of this whole issue (another key part is overall numbers of teachers, more on that below). It’s a significant part of why in many places public dollars for overall teacher compensation continue to steadily climb but teachers are not seeing this in their paychecks every month. You can’t wish this part of the issue away or ignore it.

Taxpayer funded Lawfare and Florida’s New College

Christopher Rufo

The fight for New College of Florida has taken another turn. Earlier today, the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights opened an investigation into the Sarasota-based university, where I serve as a trustee, for alleged “discrimination on the basis of disability.”

The investigation stems from a complaint by unnamed “students, faculty, and staff” alleging, in part, that the college’s trustees and administrators violated civil rights law by removing “gender neutral” signage from bathrooms, defunding the DEI and gender studies programs, and “misgendering” the former DEI director, who uses “ze/zir” pseudo-pronouns.

This is a brazen attempt to subvert the democratic governance of New College and entrench left-wing ideological programs under the guise of civil rights law. Although the complaint is wholly without merit, this does not mean it will automatically fail. The Biden Administration has demonstrated repeatedly that it is willing to weaponize the federal law enforcement apparatus against school board parents and other conservative reformers.

We are ready for the fight. When Governor DeSantis appointed the new board of trustees, he told us: “If the media isn’t attacking you, you’re not doing your job.” The same could be said of the Biden Administration.

Teachers College to ‘Dissolve’ Lucy Calkins’ Reading and Writing Project

Sarah Schwartz

The Teachers College Reading and Writing Project, the instructional consultancy housed at Columbia University and founded by the popular and controversial literacy icon Lucy Calkins, will soon be shutting its doors, Teachers College announced Sept. 1. 

The college is dissolving TCRWP and Calkins will step down as director. Calkins, who remains a tenured faculty member at Teachers College, will be on sabbatical for the 2023-24 academic year.

Teachers College is creating a new division offering reading and writing professional development, the Advancing Literacy unit, which several former TCRWP staff will lead, according to the college’s announcement.


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

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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

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

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

Law firms become latest battleground in US diversity fight

Joe Miller:

The architect of the Supreme Court victory against affirmative action at US universities is now targeting recruitment practices at the nation’s largest law firms, in a strategic ploy that could pave the way for broader challenges to corporate America’s diversity and inclusion schemes.

Edward Blum, a conservative campaigner who in June won a decades-long battle to end racially-conscious admissions at US colleges, has already sued global firms Perkins Coie and Morrison Foerster, arguing that prestigious fellowships designed to attract “historically under-represented” applicants are illegal. He told the Financial Times he was gearing up to potentially file lawsuits against similar firms “over the next few weeks”.

While other activists, including Stephen Miller, a former adviser to Donald Trump, have led efforts to sue over diversity practices at larger companies such as Kellogg’s, Starbucks and Target, the 72-year-old Blum has focused his latest efforts on the legal profession, which he sees as a crucial pillar of a push that gained momentum in recent years with the emergence of the Black Lives Matter movement.

“Over the last 10 years, especially with [the murder of] George Floyd — the tragedy of that — we saw corporations initiating racially exclusive hiring promotion policies, policies in which managers’ bonuses were tied to specific racial outcomes in their hiring and promotion,” Blum said. Outside counsel, he added, “have been blessing these corporate diversity quotas”.

A quarter of UK men over 42 do not have children. When that is not by choice, regret can grow into pain

Amelia Hill:

Father’s Day is dangerous for Robert Nurden. Childless not through choice but, as he puts it, “complacency, bad luck, bad judgment”, he tries to stay indoors and ignore the family celebrations outside.

But one year, he went for a walk. “I met family after family. There were children everywhere,” he remembered. “It was terrible. Just so painful. So many ambushes and triggers for my anguish.”

There is very little research into men who have not had children, although that is beginning to change. Research by Dr Robin Hadley has found that 25% of men over 42 do not have children – 5% more than women of the same age group.

Half of the men who are not fathers but wanted to be describe a huge grief and isolation from society. Almost 40% have experienced depression and a quarter feel a deep anger.

Now 72, Nurden had a sheltered upbringing. Reaching adulthood, there was a lot he wanted to experience. “Having children was a very low priority. I was complacent: I just assumed it would happen,” he said.

K-12 Governance: Student Identity and Parents

College Fix summary:

CBS Colorado notes that while the JeffCo Public Schools district says it is “unclear” whether surveys about “preferred pronouns” are in violation of state law, it advised teachers against using them as lawsuits are ongoing.

Federal and state law forbid mandatory surveys that ask about kids’ “protected information,” and voluntary surveys must include a parent opt-out.

But an email from the Jefferson County Education Association told teachers that if they give such surveys, to make sure to they are pencil and paper … because “any digital records are more permanent and may be requested under federal law.”

The email also “encouraged” teachers to “make […] notations about students and not hold on to the documents.”

Curriculum Commentary; 1776 vs 1619 et al

Ray Carter:

An announcement that the state of Oklahoma has an “ongoing partnership” with PragerU to provide supplemental materials for history lessons in state schools has caused some officials and groups on the political left to have a social-media meltdown.

But many parents and teachers working on the front lines welcomed the news.

The website for PragerU says it is a nonprofit organization that promotes “American values through the creative use of educational videos that reach millions of people online,” and says its content provides “a free alternative to the dominant left-wing ideology in culture, media, and education. Whether you’re searching for a deeper understanding, a new perspective, or a way to get involved, PragerU helps people of all ages think and live better.”

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Ryan Walters recently announced that the state is partnering with PragerU to make its materials available to teachers, which appears to primarily consist of providing a link to Prager materials on the “social studies” page on the Oklahoma State Department of Education’s website.

Judd Legum and Rebecca Crosby:

Last Monday, the Pennridge School Board, located outside of Philadelphia, imposed a new social studies curriculum that will require teachers to incorporate lessons from the 1776 Curriculum, a controversial K-12 course of study developed by Hillsdale College, a private Christian institution that promotes right-wing ideologies.
The curriculum was developed in part by Jordan Adams, an educational consultant with no experience developing curricula for public schools. Adams launched his company, Vermilion Education, in March 2023. The Pennridge School Board hired Adams in April, paying $125 per hour for his services. The contract includes no limit on the number of hours, no specific deliverables, and no termination date.
Adams holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Hillsdale College and a master’s in humanities from another private conservative school, the University of Dallas. He does not hold any degrees in education. After graduating, Adams returned to Hillsdale College as an employee, where he promoted the 1776 Curriculum. On July 1, in a private presentation to Moms for Liberty, a far-right organization that pushes for changes in educational policy, Adams described himself as a “ the henhouse.” He bragged that “the right people are freaking out” about his contract with Pennridge Schools. As of a few months ago, Adams had no other public school clients.
Although Adams does not have the qualifications to write curriculum, it was revealed during a Pennridge School Board meeting on August 21 that Adams independently wrote aspects of the new social studies curricula.
Adams’ proposed curriculum faced opposition from several members of the Pennridge School Board and the district’s own academic experts. Jenna Vitale, the K-12 social studies supervisor, cited concerns in a recent school board meeting about the “age-appropriateness of the elementary curriculum [developed by Adams], highlighting… the lack of the appropriate history background for incoming fourth and fifth graders and the elimination of 19th century U.S. history from the secondary social studies curriculum.” Vitale also cited concerns about Adams’ proposal to shift the third-grade curriculum from a focus on Native Americans to “Colonial America.”

Grade inflation

Frederick Hess

America’s high schools have just endured a decade of dramatic grade inflation, according to a new study from ACT. This coincided with a decade of declining academic achievement, raising hard questions for those concerned about instructional rigor, inflated graduation rates, and the integrity of selective college admissions.

Between 2010 and 2022, there was evidence of steady grade inflation among high schoolers. During that period, even as the National Assessment of Educational Progress (the “Nation’s Report Card”) recorded steady declines in reading, math, and U.S. history achievement, student GPAs climbed steadily higher. The average adjusted GPA increased from 3.17 to 3.39 in English; from 3.02 to 3.32 in math; from 3.28 to 3.46 in social studies; and from 3.12 to 3.36 in science. In 2022, more than 89% of high schoolers received an A or a B in math, English, social studies, and science.

Protect the public from high-risk research on pathogens at UW-Madison lab

Justin B. Kinney and Richard H. Ebright

Laboratory accidents happen. They happen because scientists are human, and humans make mistakes. The overwhelming majority of scientific research is safe, and only a small fraction of laboratory accidents pose risks to the public. But accidents involving potential pandemic pathogens can have catastrophic consequences. Potential pandemic pathogens are viruses and bacteria that, if released, could cause a devastating pandemic.

A bill before the Wisconsin Legislature, Senate Bill 401, will protect the public from the most significant hazards of research on potential pandemic pathogens — without having significant costs or adverse impacts. The bill is commonsense legislation that deserves broad-based support.

SB 401 contains two important provisions.

The first provision will establish public transparency for research on potential pandemic pathogens. Currently, laboratories doing this research are not required to inform state or local governments about where the research is performed, which pathogens they possess or the potential public health impacts if a pathogen escapes. SB 401 will require these laboratories to provide this information to the state Department of Health Services.

Homeschooling Notes

Ted Balaker:

It’s back to school time, and for some of us that means back to home school. 

In recent years homeschooling has enjoyed a fairly well-publicized upswing. But the surge in interest has also sparked some narrow-minded backlash. Like the other areas I cover, education suffers from plenty of groupthink. 

My family of three is a homeschool family. My wife and I have one child, an eight-year-old son, and having an “only” makes homeschooling sometimes harder and sometimes easier. We live in an area where homeschooling is quite common, and being part of a larger community has been very helpful. 

We experimented with four different types of more traditional schooling and exposed ourselves to an array of less conventional models. After some back-and-forth between schooling and homeschooling (courtesy of California’s lockdowns), we settled on homeschooling as the best fit for our son. As much as we tout it, we’re not dogmatic. If we come across something better, we’ll switch. 

We’ve been lucky that the vast majority of our friends and family support our decision to homeschool. In general, the better they know us, the more supportive they are. That’s because they see that it’s working for our son. 

But we’ve also experienced some rather bewildered reactions. Such reactions typically come from people who have experienced nothing but traditional schooling. One person asked if our son had any friends, but nobody who knows him well would ask that. Although many worry that homeschooling hampers socialization, our experience has been quite the opposite.

A primer on large language models

Timothy Lee and Sean Trott:

When ChatGPT was introduced last fall, it sent shockwaves through the technology industry and the larger world. Machine learning researchers had been experimenting with large language models (LLMs) for a few years by that point, but the general public had not been paying close attention and didn’t realize how powerful they had become.

Today almost everyone has heard about LLMs, and tens of millions of people have tried them out. But, still, not very many people understand how they work.

If you know anything about this subject, you’ve probably heard that LLMs are trained to “predict the next word,” and that they require huge amounts of text to do this. But that tends to be where the explanation stops. The details of how they predict the next word is often treated as a deep mystery.

One reason for this is the unusual way these systems were developed. Conventional software is created by human programmers who give computers explicit, step-by-step instructions. In contrast, ChatGPT is built on a neural network that was trained using billions of words of ordinary language.

How can schools dig out from a generation’s worth of lost math progress?

Jackie Valley, Ariel Gilreath, Claire Bryan, Trisha Powell Crain, Maura Turcotte and Talia Richman:

“I don’t really like math but I kind of do,” James says. “It’s challenging but I like it.”

Across the country, schools are scrambling to get students caught up in math as post-pandemic test scores reveal the depth of kids’ missing skills. On average students’ math knowledge is about half a school year behind where it should be, according to education analysts.

Children lost ground on reading tests, too, but the math declines were particularly striking. Experts say virtual learning complicated math instruction, making it tricky for teachers to guide students over a screen or spot weaknesses in their problem-solving skills. Plus, parents were more likely to read with their children at home than practice math.

The result: Students’ math skills plummeted across the board, exacerbating racial and socioeconomic inequities in math performance that existed before the pandemic. And students aren’t bouncing back as quickly as educators hoped, supercharging worries about how they will fare as they enter high school and college-level math courses that rely on strong foundational knowledge.

Students had been making incremental progress on national math tests since 1990. But over the past year, data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, known as the “nation’s report card,” showed that fourth graders and eighth graders’ math scores slipped to the lowest levels in about 20 years.

“Another way to put it is that it’s a generation’s worth of progress lost,” says Andrew Ho, a professor at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education.

Yes, the pandemic-era school closures were a disaster

James Pethokoukis:

A brief reminder: Back in the summer of 2020, I tried to hammer home the point that preventing kids from going to school full-time and in-person during the coming school year would be a terrible idea with serious consequences for the kids and the country. School is more than just a place where younger students stay while their parents work, or a way for older students to get a certificate that helps them find better jobs. Deep economic research has shown that education really matters in helping kids grow into productive adults, including as workers in a complex, globalized economy. Those findings are seen to be as true today as when they were first identified in the 1950s. Indeed, a 2018 World Bank analysis shows the benefits increasing since 2000.

We now have a pretty good, albeit unsurprising, idea of the impact of the move to online learning and hybrid schedules. Here are some key takeaways from the Richmond Fed review:

  • “Learning progress slowed substantially in the U.S. during the pandemic.” According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, a test of U.S. eight graders, the average score of students rose by 20 points in the 30 years before the pandemic. But between 2019 and 2022, the average score went down by 8 points, which means that they lost almost half of what they had gained before.

Censorship and Facebook

Nancy Scola:

At those same moments, another set of advocacy groups was beginning to have conversations about where to go next. Among them was Sleeping Giants, a loose, semi-anonymous online collective that calls itself “a campaign to make bigotry and sexism less profitable.” The group had developed a reputation for taking down powerful targets with a fairly simple tactic: show their advertisers exactly what their ad dollars are supporting and quickly gin up, using social media, public pressure to get them to stop. Starting in 2016, the group had waged successful campaigns against Breitbart News and Bill O’Reilly.

Online Course: Encounter the Faith and Wisdom of C.S. Lewis


C.S. Lewis’s writings bring the great questions of the Christian faith to life. Through his imaginative and invigorating style, Lewis answers these questions in ways that are compelling to those outside Christianity and energizing to those within the Christian faith.

In this free, seven-lecture course, Professor Michael Ward—a leading scholar of C.S. Lewis—will explore Lewis’s:

Free Speech and Harvard

Sean Stevens

Simply put, Harvard has never performed well in FIRE’s College Free Speech Rankings, finishing below 75% of the schools surveyed in each of the past four years. 

In 2020, Harvard ranked 46 out of 55 schools. In 2021, it ranked 130 out of 154 schools. Last year, it ranked 170 out of 203 schools. And this year, Harvard completed its downward spiral in dramatic fashion, coming in dead last with the worst score ever: 0.00 out of a possible 100.00. This earns it the notorious distinction of being the only school ranked this year with an “Abysmal” speech climate.

What’s more, granting Harvard a score of 0.00 is generous. Its actual score is -10.69, more than six standard deviations below the average and more than two standard deviations below the second-to-last school in the rankings, its Ivy League counterpart, the University of Pennsylvania. (Penn obtained an overall score of 11.13.) 

This raises the question: Why did Harvard do so poorly? In light of its historically low ranking, the reasons are many.

“a clear picture of dangerously low confidence in truthfulness and trustworthiness of political-government representatives, the media, and the rule of law”

Ray Dalio:

It is an ominous picture because these conditions are classic symptoms of stage 5 of the internal order- disorder cycle, which is just before stage 6 which is when there are great internal conflicts—typically some form of civil war. That is because most people willingly follow rules and laws rather than fight for what they want only when they believe that the people overseeing the system are good and fair. Without these beliefs, they are inclined to fight for what they want and believe in. When that happens, terrible fighting ensues, and order is lost. Since we recognize how bad the trust in the system has become and the behaviors of certain people are, and we can imagine what that could lead to, perhaps we will take actions to improve things – like demand truthfulness and objectivity from politically elected officials and the media and reaffirm our commitment to the legal system to judge us. 

I thank all of you who gave me your assessments. I read many excellent comments and perspectives, the best of which I hope to share at some point. I invite those of you who haven’t read my piece, “Declines of Truth, Trust, and the Rule of Law Have Throughout History Led to, and Are Now Leading to, Disorder,” and/or haven’t shared your perspective on it to do so here

As you probably know from my study of history and observations of what is now happening, I believe that the five “Big Cycle” evolutionary forces—1) the financial/economic force, 2) the domestic order-disorder force, 3) the international order-disorder force 4) the nature-climate force, and the 5) technology force—have always interacted, and are now interacting, to make very big changes in the world order. I believe that it is critically important to understand and manage these changes well. In my book and YouTube video, I showed how these have worked over the last 500 years of history and in my posts and articles, I try to show how things are transpiring relative to the template explained in the book and the video. This most recent article was about the growing domestic disorder. The one before that was about the financial-economic force. The next one will probably be on the nature-climate force.

The Racial Achievement Gap and the War on Meritocracy: Lower standards for blacks means more mediocre teachers and doctors in black communities.The Racial Achievement Gap and the War on Meritocracy:

Jason Riley:

Yes, this is another September “back to school” column. My apologies. But someone needs to keep pointing out that our national debate over which books to allow in classrooms, or how to teach slavery to middle-schoolers, is far less consequential than the continuing inability of most youngsters to read or do math at grade level.

In Florida, where GOP governor and presidential candidate Ron DeSantis has taken lumps for a couple sentences in a 200-page black-history curriculum, only 39% of Miami-Dade County fourth-graders are proficient in reading, according to a Miami Herald report last year on standardized test results. By eighth grade the number drops to 31%, and math scores are just as bad. Who cares if kids have access to books by Toni Morrison or Jodi Picoult if most of them can’t comprehend the contents?

These dismal outcomes have persisted nationwide for decades, and the racial achievement gap is even more disturbing. The U.S. Education Department reported last year that in 2022 the average reading score for black fourth-graders in New York on the National Assessment of Educational Progress trailed that of white fourth graders by 29 points. This “performance gap was not significantly different from that in 1998,” the report added.

The progressive left’s response to these outcomes has been to wage war on meritocracy rather than focus on improving instruction. The goal is to eliminate gifted-and-talented middle-school programs, high-school entrance exams and the use of the SAT in college admissions. One defense of racial preferences in education for black students is that recipients, including those who go into teaching, are more likely to work in low-income minority communities after graduation. That’s true, but is it what economically disadvantaged students really need, more second-rate teachers?

Reducing Rigor: the battle over “gifted and advanced courses”

Jay Matthews:

There is a battle in American education over two loaded adjectives, “gifted” and “advanced.” It has raged behind the scenes for decades, but that may change.

The issue made an important appearance recently in a scholarly paper by a national panel of experts on education and other topicssome liberal, some conservative — that strongly argued we should get rid of “gifted” and replace it with “advanced.” Their reasoning provides an opportunity to assess where we are with school learning in America after decades of confusion about what works and what doesn’t.

Related: English 10.

Defunding K-12 classrooms and growing bureaucracy

Will Flanders:

Total staff in schools has increased since 2017. The number of full-time equivalents (FTEs) in Wisconsin schools has grown by 2.67% over this time frame, even as statewide enrollment declined by 3.6%.

Student-teacher ratios have declined across the state. Despite staffing shortages, the dramatic decline in student enrollment over the past five years resulted in student-teacher ratios declining from 14.60 to 13.67 over the past five years.

Teachers with Master’s Degrees do not improve student performance. Although teachers who have earned a Master’s degree receive higher pay, student proficiency is not higher in districts that have more teachers with Master’s degrees.

“Woke” positions are among the largest areas of growth.

While the absolute number of FTEs in these areas remains relatively low, the number of FTEs employed in connection with buzzwords like “Social-Emotional Behavioral Interventions/Support” and “Multicultural Education/Equity” are among the five fastest growing areas over the past five years.

Administrative staff varies extensively by district.

It is difficult to assess whether a district is investing taxpayer dollars wisely in staffing when administrative staff percentages vary drastically across the state. For example, about 47% of FTEs in Gibraltar School District were administrative—compared with about 8% in Shawano School District.

Meanwhile, Madison taxpayers have long supported substantial, well above average $pending – now greater than $25k per student!

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

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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

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

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

An attack on a UW Madison student

Kayla Huynh:

Students’ usual feelings of excitement toward the start of the school year have been marred by anxiety after an unknown number of assailants brutally attacked a University of Wisconsin-Madison student downtown Sunday.   

At the university’s convocation event Tuesday, marking the beginning of thousands of incoming students’ college careers, Chancellor Jennifer Mnookin said it wasn’t the start of the school year she had hoped for. 

Days before UW-Madison’s start of the fall semester, a student was hospitalized after she was brutally attacked and sexually assaulted. 

The woman, whose name has not been released to the news media, was found along the 500 block of West Wilson Street around 3:20 a.m. Sunday, according to the Madison Police Department incident report. A person living in the area called the police after noticing the victim was severely beaten. 

“I know there are so many of us in this room — and your parents and families — (who) are feeling anger and grief and anxiety,” Mnookin told incoming students at the convocation. 

“You may also be wondering if you can feel safe here,” she said. “The answer is mostly yes. Madison is generally quite a safe city, but no place is completely safe, including Madison.”

Mnookin directed students to the Dean of Students Office for resources and support regarding the incident. But incoming freshman Jisela Marquez said she wished the chancellor had gone into more detail. Some students, she said, would have found it helpful to hear about SAFEwalk, a walking companionship program that runs in the evenings until 1 a.m.

School district pays $100,000 to settle suit saying it supported secret transitioning of student

Andrew Campa:

A Monterey County school district has settled a lawsuit that alleged middle school staff “convinced” a student to identify first as bisexual and then as transgender, without informing the 11-year-old’s mother. 

The Spreckels Union School District, which encompasses an elementary and middle school in the Salinas area, paid nearly $100,000 to a Monterey County mother and daughter over an alleged violation of the parent’s 14th Amendment right to raise her child.

The settlement, agreed to in mid-June and approved by a federal judge Aug. 3, brings an end to the legal action pursued by Jessica Konen and her daughter Alicia, who went by the initials A.G.

Americans Are Losing Faith in the Value of College. Whose Fault Is That?

Paul Tough:

In the fall of 2009, 70 percent of that year’s crop of high school graduates did in fact go straight to college. That was the highest percentage ever, and the collegegoing rate stayed near that elevated level for the next few years. The motivation of these students was largely financial. The 2008 recession devastated many of the industries that for decades provided good jobs for less-educated workers, and a college degree had become a particularly valuable commodity in the American labor market. The typical American with a bachelor’s degree (and no further credential) was earning about two-thirds more than the typical high school grad, a financial advantage about twice as large as the one a college degree produced a generation earlier. College seemed like a reliable runway to a life of comfort and affluence. 

A decade later, Americans’ feelings about higher education have turned sharply negative. The percentage of young adults who said that a college degree is very important fell to 41 percent from 74 percent. Only about a third of Americans now say they have a lot of confidence in higher education. Among young Americans in Generation Z, 45 percent say that a high school diploma is all you need today to “ensure financial security.” And in contrast to the college-focused parents of a decade ago, now almost half of American parents say they’d prefer that their children not enroll in a four-year college.

The numbers on campus have shifted as well. In the fall of 2010, there were more than 18 million undergraduates enrolled in colleges and universities across the United States. That figure has been falling ever since, dipping below 15.5 million undergrads in 2021. As recently as 2016, 70 percent of high school graduates were still going straight to college; now the figure is 62 percent. 

Outside the United States, meanwhile, higher education is more popular than ever. Our global allies and competitors have spent the last couple of decades racing to raise their national levels of educational attainment. In Britain, the number of current undergraduates has risen since 2016 by 12 percent. (Over the same period, the American figure fell by 8 percent.) In Canada, 67 percent of adults between 25 and 34 are graduates of a two- or four-year college, about 15 percentage points higher than the current American attainment rate. 

Britain and Canada are not the outliers on this point; we are. On average, countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development have increased their college-degree attainment rate among young adults by more than 20 percentage points since 2000, and 11 of those countries now have better-educated labor forces than we do, including not only economic powerhouses like Japan and South Korea and Britain but also smaller competitors like the Netherlands, Ireland and Switzerland. Americans have turned away from college at the same time that students in the rest of the world have been flocking to campus. Why? What changed in the last decade to make a college education — and higher education as an institution — so unappealing to so many Americans?

“but The New York Times is determined to make the “swirl of uncertainty, confusion and misinformation” more “opaque and bewildering.”

Ann Althouse

As this article — and every other article on this subject — points out, the Supreme Court’s opinion explicitly says it shouldn’t be “construed as prohibiting universities from considering an applicant’s discussion of how race affected his or her life, be it through discrimination, inspiration or otherwise.”

By clouding the question, the NYT burdens non-white applicants, who shouldn’t have to feel they might be doing something wrong by discussing their race. But clouding the question is part of critiquing the Court, and that is, apparently, the priority.

Ontario Teachers’ fund acquires UK wealth manager 7IM

Harriet Agnew and Arjun Neil Alim:

The Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan has agreed to buy UK wealth manager Seven Investment Management, as one of Canada’s biggest investors bets on a sector that is rapidly consolidating.

OTPP is acquiring 7IM, which was founded in 2002 and manages about $21bn in assets, from Caledonia Investments, the companies said on Tuesday. The deal gives 7IM an enterprise value of about £450mn, according to people familiar with the matter.

The move by OTPP comes as wealth and asset managers are bulking up amid rising costs and downward pressure on fees. However, Iñaki Echave, senior managing director at OTPP, said the fund had spent three years looking to buy a UK wealth manager, pointing to several potential tailwinds for the sector.

“Further flows will be supported by pension reforms, wealth advisors are having increased demand and demographic trends mean the government will continue incentivising savings,” he said.

Following the deal, OTPP will own 90 per cent of the business with 7IM’s management holding the rest. 7IM was bought eight years ago by Caledonia, an investment trust linked to the Cayzer family that made its fortune in the shipping business. Caledonia’s stake in 7IM was valued at £187mn as of March 31.

Curious, context free school choice commentary

Ruth Conniff:

Still, the inequities among public schools in richer and poorer property tax districts are nothing compared to the existential threat to public education from a parallel system of publicly funded private schools that has been nurtured and promoted by a national network of right-wing think tanks, well funded lobbyists and anti-government ideologues.

For decades, Wisconsin has been at the epicenter of the movement to privatize education, pushed by the Milwaukee-based Bradley Foundation, a mega-wealthy conservative foundation and early backer of Milwaukee’s first-in-the-nation school voucher program. That program has expanded from fewer than 350 students when it launched in 1990 to 52,000 Wisconsin students using school vouchers today.

This year school privatization advocates scored a huge victory when Democratic Gov. Tony Evers, a longtime ally of public schools, agreed to a budget bargain that includes a historic bump in the amount of tax money per pupil Wisconsinites spend on private school vouchers. The rate went up from $8,399 to $9,874 for K-8 students and from $9,405 to $12,368 for high schoolers.

Not only is the amount of money taxpayers spend on private education increasing, in just a couple of years all enrollment caps come off the school choice program. We are on our way to becoming an all-voucher system. 

This makes no sense, especially since, over the last 33 years, the school voucher experiment has failed to produce better outcomes in reading and math than regular public schools.


Meanwhile, Madison taxpayers have long supported substantial, well above average $pending – now greater than $25k per student!

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

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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

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

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

Starting next year, 529 investors will have more flexibility in rolling leftover money into Roth IRAs

Leonard Sloane:

The potential boost to young people’s ability to save for retirement, meanwhile, is another benefit of the rule change. “This is a very valuable tool and an opportunity for young people to start a Roth IRA,” says Ian Berger, an IRA analyst at Ed Slott & Co., a tax consulting firm in Rockville Centre, N.Y. “But beware of the restrictions,” Berger adds.

First, the Roth IRA must be in the name of the beneficiary, not the owner of the 529 account (if the two are different). There also is a lifetime maximum amount, $35,000, that can be transferred to the Roth from the 529.

Another restriction: The 529 plan must have been open for more than 15 years. And rollover funds cannot include any contributions to the 529 account and earnings on those contributions made in the previous five years.

Rollovers, moreover, are subject to the annual Roth IRA contribution limit. While the 2024 limit has not yet been announced, the limit this year is $6,500. So it would take a number of years before being able to take full advantage of the $35,000 rollover allowance. Of course, the 529 plan beneficiary must have compensation in the year of the rollover at least equal to the amount transferred.

The War on Free Speech

Mark Steyn:

~And so in 2023 the Danish Government plans to re-introduce blasphemy laws – but for the incoming state religion. And it barely makes the papers.

Frustrated Danes burn Korans because what else can you do? The gradual but remorseless Islamization of European societies would seem unlikely to end well. But what options do you have if you’re minded to disagree? You can’t talk about it, honestly, on British or Continental TV or radio. You can vote for anti-immigration parties, but, even if they win, nothing significant ever seems to happen. So a couple of blokes burn Korans – and the establishment reacts by further insulating Islam from the rough-and-tumble of free societies.

I have profound admiration for all those who have resisted the grim retreat into darkness these last two decades: Flemming Rose, the commissioning editor at Jyllands-Posten; the late Kurt Westergaard and the other cartoonists; Lars and Katrine and Marie; and all the dead and vanished across the Continent. But it is a lonely business: as I said way back in 2005, when the cartoon controversy was front-page news but the cartoons themselves weren’t, if Le Monde and The New York Times and Der Spiegel had simply reported this as they would any other story, that would have been an effective response: they can’t kill us all. But, because the only other publications to re-print the Motoons were Charlie Hebdo and my own magazine in Canada The Western Standard, they were able instead to silence us one by one.

To the point where, less than two decades later, a European country introducing an Islamic blasphemy law isn’t even a story at all.

“Because we had a literacy rate for African-American students that was in the low 20th percentile, and the school still got an A from the grading system in the state.”

Wall Street Journal:

Tina Descovich found herself surrounded by “Muslim dads.” The scene was a school-board meeting late last year in Dearborn, Mich. Local parents were angry about sex-themed books at the school library, which they regarded as “pornography.”

After chatting with Ms. Descovich for a few minutes, a Dearborn dad realized she was a founder of Moms for Liberty, a nonprofit parents’ rights group that came into being on Jan. 1, 2021. He shook his head and told her she didn’t “seem like a racist at all.”

“That’s because I’m not,” she replied.

With its dogged focus on school reform, hostility to teachers unions and opposition to Covid shutdowns and mandates, the group is hated on the left and typecast as far-right—or worse—by much of the media. I speak with Ms. Descovich, a 49-year-old mother of five, at Moms for Liberty’s headquarters here, between Miami and Jacksonville. Seated with her is Tiffany Justice, 44, the group’s co-founder and a mother of four. The modest office has no external signage to identify its occupants. Both women have received such a deluge of threats—by email, voicemail and even handwritten letters—that there’s a deputy at the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office whose main job is to review each one. “Someone calling himself Satan writes to me every week,” Ms. Descovich says wryly. “He lives in Denver.”

A more influential antagonist is the Southern Poverty Law Center. The SPLC, founded in 1971, has a storied history of fighting the Ku Klux Klan via civil lawsuits and cooperation with law enforcement. The media uncritically describe it as a civil-rights group, even though in recent decades its has shifted its focus to smearing conservative organizations as hate groups.

In June it labeled Moms for Liberty as “extremist” and “antigovernment.” It stated in a report titled “The Year in Hate and Extremism 2022” that the organization’s “primary goals” are to “fuel right-wing hysteria and to make the world a less comfortable or safe place” for students who are “Black, LGBTQ or who come from LGBTQ families.”


“The reading proficiency rates we have in America right now pose the greatest national-security threat of anything for the future of this country.

“Middle and high school teachers aren’t expecting to have to teach kids how to read,” Albro said.

Heather Hollingsworth:

Beyond third grade, fewer teachers each year know how to help students who are lacking key foundational reading skills, said Elizabeth Albro, an executive at the U.S. Department of Education’s independent research arm, the Institute of Education Sciences.

Nationally, students suffered deep learning setbacks in reading and math during the pandemic. Last year’s third-graders, the kids who were in kindergarten when the pandemic started, lost more ground in reading than kids in older grades and were slower to catch up. With federal pandemic relief money, school systems added class time, brought on tutors, trained teachers in phonics instruction and found other ways to offer extra support to struggling readers.

But even after several years of recovery, an analysis of last year’s test scores by NWEA found that the average student would need the equivalent of 4.1 additional months of instruction to catch up to pre-COVID reading levels.
The one bright spot was for incoming fourth-graders, who made above-average gains and would need about two months of additional reading instruction to catch up. Karyn Lewis, who leads a team of education policy researchers at NWEA, described them as “a little bit less worse off.”

K-12 tax & spending climate: tax revenues grow, but $pending grows faster

Jeff Stein:

From August 2022 to this July, the federal government spent roughly $6.7 trillion while bringing in roughly $4.5 trillion. That represents a total increase in spending of 16 percent relative to last year and a 7 percent decrease in revenue, according to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.

The deficit fell dramatically the year before in large part because of the expiration of trillions in emergency covid aid approved during the Trump and Biden administrations. But even as covid spending continued to fall this year, other factors pushed overall spending up.

Think you can tame the national debt? Play our budget game.

The Treasury Department is also on track to take in substantially less in new revenue this year, in part because of the stock market’s slump last year. In 2021, amid a cryptocurrency bubble and an explosion in housing prices driven by rock-bottom interest rates, investors recorded huge gains that led them to pay capital gains taxes at record levels. But then the bubble burst, leading to a sharp drop in capital gains tax revenue. Automatic adjustments to the tax brackets to account for inflation also reduced tax obligations for many Americans, resulting in less incoming revenue relative to last year.

Then a number of other spending increases contributed to the rising deficit — Social Security payments increased because they are indexed to inflation; the government spent more on education, veterans benefits and health care; and the bipartisan infrastructure law, as well as the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act, started sending billions of dollars out from the government’s accounts.

Experts are fiercely divided on the extent to which the higher deficit amounts to a pressing problem for the economy.

Federal tax receipt and spending data.

‘The Singular Cruelty of America Toward Children’

James Freeman:

The best way to prevent politicians and bureaucrats from ever again inflicting on American kids the learning losses, social isolation and staggering financial burden of the Covid lockdowns is to ensure a just reckoning for the destruction they caused. Perhaps this is beginning to happen.

John Fensterwald reports in the Bakersfield Californian:

This fall, in a courtroom in Oakland, lawyers will reexamine the pandemic’s impact on K-12 schools in California — a subject many people might prefer to forget about but can’t because, like COVID itself, the effects are inescapable.
The state of California defends itself over accusations that it mishandled remote learning during COVID, starting in the spring of 2020, and then failed to alleviate the harm its most vulnerable children experienced then and still experience.
Alameda County Superior Court Judge Brad Seligman denied the state’s request to dismiss the case outright earlier this month. There’s no dispute that low-income students of color, in particular, had less access to remote learning during the nine-plus months they learned from home, Seligman wrote in a 12-page ruling. The question that needs answering, he said, is whether the state’s level of response is so insufficient that it violated the children’s right to an equal opportunity for an education under California’s constitution.
The case is Cayla J. v. the State of California, the State Board of Education, the California Department of Education, and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond. Cayla J., a Black 8-year-old twin in third grade in Oakland when the lawsuit was filed in November 2020, is the lead of 15 unnamed student plaintiffs from Oakland and Los Angeles. The trial is scheduled to begin Nov. 13.
Of course the California government has responded to the lawsuit with a spirit of good faith and a commitment to transparency.

Just kidding. The editorial board of the San Diego Union-Tribune writes:

State education officials didn’t just reject the idea they bore any blame for the nightmares faced by many students in Los Angeles and Oakland. They threatened Stanford Graduate School of Education professor Thomas Dee — and other education researchers given access to state data — with legal action if they provided information used in this or any lawsuit deemed “adverse” to the California Department of Education.
To insist that researchers can only use school data in a way that is neutral or makes the department look good is perverse and antithetical to what should be the goals of public education. Had such policies been in place 20 years ago, they could have kept the lid on perhaps the worst scandal in the history of public schools in California: the 2005 report by Harvard researchers that credibly alleged the state had for years knowingly exaggerated graduation rates, especially among Latino and Black students, by relying on what was plainly “misleading and inaccurate” information.
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Thankfully, on Aug. 17, the EdSource website reported that the state had mostly backed away from its threats against Dee and others. But given state officials’ history, there is simply no reason to believe this resulted from a realization the threats were wrong. Instead, they were embarrassed by the optics of the flap.

It would be nice if the entire lockdown regime led by Gov. Gavin Newsom (D., Calif.) and other similarly reckless governors nationwide could be put on trial. It might be useful to have officials acknowledge under oath just how small the Covid risks to children really were—and also how small the benefits of societal shutdowns turned out to be, especially in light of titanic costs. But Judge Brad Seligman’s order denying the California government’s motion for summary judgment suggests that the issue in his court is the way California educators implemented the destructive lockdown, not the decision to impose it:

This case does not address any overarching claims about state’s response to the COVID epidemic, nor the closures of schools that were the result of emergency orders. This case is also likewise not about historic inequities suffered by students of color or lower socio-economic means. The narrow focus of this case targets the period of time when the schools were physically closed and learning was available only remotely.

Related: Taxpayer supported Dane County Madison Public Health mandates & closed schools.

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

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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

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

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

A state challenge to a school gender-identity policy shows how ideologues think families can’t be trusted with their own children.

Allysia Finley:

Remember Hillary Clinton’s line that it takes a village to raise a child? Now the left is trying to exile parents from the village. Consider its crusade against minority parents in Chino, Calif., a predominantly minority working-class community east of Los Angeles.

Last week California Attorney General Rob Bonta sued the Chino Valley Unified School Board of Education over its new policy—adopted by a 4-1 vote at a July 20 meeting—that requires schools to inform parents if their child requests to use a name different from that on his birth certificate or to be referred to by opposite-sex or nonstandard pronouns. A district spokesperson says the policy provides an exception requiring staff to notify Child Protective Services and law enforcement if “the student is in danger or has been abused, injured, or neglected due to their parent or guardian knowing of their preferred gender identity.”

Tony Thurmond, California’s state superintendent of schools, declared at the public meeting: “The policy you consider tonight may not only fall outside of privacy laws but may put our students at risk.” That’s false, but Mr. Bonta makes the same arguments in his lawsuit.

The attorney general contends, among other things, that Chino Valley’s policy violates students’ putative right to “informational privacy” under the state constitution. Under this novel legal theory, teachers wouldn’t be able to notify parents of misbehavior or bullying. Report cards would be unconstitutional too.

Liberals claim Chino Valley’s policy was driven by right-wing bigots, but the district is by no stretch a conservative bastion. Republicans make up only about a third of voters, and only 12% of students are white. The policy was spurred by parents of all colors and political stripes who complained that school employees were encouraging their children to adopt opposite-sex identities.

Civics: Own Your Own Government Surveillance Van

Bruce Schneier:

A used government surveillance van is for sale in Chicago:

So how was this van turned into a mobile spying center? Well, let’s start with how it has more LCD monitors than a Counterstrike LAN party. They can be used to monitor any of six different video inputs including a videoscope camera. A videoscope and a borescope are very similar as they’re both cameras on the ends of optical fibers, so the same tech you’d use to inspect cylinder walls is also useful for surveillance. Kind of cool, right? Multiple Sony DVD-based video recorders store footage captured by cameras, audio recorders by high-end equipment brand Marantz capture sounds, and time and date generators sync gathered media up for accurate analysis. Circling back around to audio, this van features seven different audio inputs including a body wire channel.

Reviving Racial Preferences in California


In particular there’s been an awakening among Asian-Americans who have learned they are the most likely victims of substituting race for merit. Asian-Americans were crucial to keeping the ban on race preferences in 2020, and they are better organized today. They are also backed by public opinion: In June a Pew Research survey reported that “by more than two-to-one, Americans say considering race and ethnicity makes college admissions less fair than more fair.”

The Supreme Court’s June decision in Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard also means that an exception to the state’s constitutional ban on racial preferences would likely be struck down in federal court. But it’s ridiculous that California has to have this fight all over again.

This is an exercise in bad faith. Voters have made clear they don’t want racial preferences, and the courts say they are illegal. Let’s hope Californians let their legislators know they’ll hold them accountable at the voting booth if they insist on going through with it.

The First 3-Year Degree Programs Win Approval

Josh Moody:

By eliminating electives, BYU-Idaho will bring five three-year programs online in April: applied business management, family and human services, software development, applied health, and professional studies. Ensign will offer two such programs: communication and information technology. Both institutions are owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and operated by the Church Educational System.

The Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities approved the seven programs—each of which requires between 90 and 94 credit hours instead of the standard 120—at its June meeting and sent a formal approval letter late last month.Most Popular Stories

Now BYU-Idaho and Ensign College are advancing a rare concept in the higher education world. The two institutions are the first among a dozen participants in a three-year degree pilot program to win accreditor approval, sparking hope for other colleges that intend to bring similar proposals before their respective accreditors at some point in the future.

Unions Aren’t the Answer

dave cieslewicz

The point is that labor is not synonymous with unions, a fact that you could easily miss with all the coverage of union Labor Day picnics. Consider these facts provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

  • Only 10% of American workers are union members. 
  • That’s down by half since 1983 when one-in-five workers belonged to a union. 
  • Only 6% of private sector employees is in a union.
  • A third of all public sector employees are unionized. 
  • The image of union members that persists is a guy in a hard hat or a coal miner, but the reality is cop, a firefighter or a teacher. Those are the most prominent unionized occupations.

University Of Toronto Law School Returns Undisclosed $450,000 Gift From Amazon

Paul Caron:

The University of Toronto and its law faculty are returning a US$450,000 donation from Amazon following The Logic’s reporting that the gift went undisclosed and unreported to academics and students.

“The Faculty of Law upheld the University’s firm commitment to academic freedom, institutional autonomy and integrity. Nonetheless, we acknowledge the important questions raised about the lack of full transparency pertaining to the gift, and the perception of external influence on our academic activities,” wrote law dean Jutta

in a statement published on the university website.  “For that reason, I have decided, together with [U of T] President [Meric] Gertler, to return the gift to Amazon.”

The university has also pledged to publicly disclose all future philanthropic donations from corporations. 

Brunnée’s statement was also shared with the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT), the organization representing 72,000 university academics and staff across the country. The CAUT was considering censuring the university as a result of the donation, which it said was “a serious violation of basic standards of academic integrity and academic freedom.” CAUT executive director David Robinson had a meeting with Gertler on Tuesday afternoon regarding the donation.

History and the New York Times

James Freeman:

Why do so many media folk who constantly warn that our form of government is under attack also constantly promote misleading attacks on our form of government? This week the opinion editors of the
New York Times
, who seem to care more about particular, arbitrarily selected “democratic norms” than about democracy itself, published an ill-informed case against our constitutional republic and the entire concept of voting.

The Times published contributor Adam Grant, an organizational psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, who writes:

On the eve of the first debate of the 2024 presidential race, trust in government is rivaling historic lows. Officials have been working hard to safeguard elections and assure citizens of their integrity. But if we want public office to have integrity, we might be better off eliminating elections altogether.
If you think that sounds anti-democratic, think again. The ancient Greeks invented democracy, and in Athens many government officials were selected through sortition — a random lottery from a pool of candidates. In the United States, we already use a version of a lottery to select jurors. What if we did the same with mayors, governors, legislators, justices and even presidents?

Having claimed the authority of the ancient Athenians, the psychologist then goes on to make various claims about the alleged virtues of disenfranchising the entire American electorate.

Some readers may wonder why the Times called on Mr. Grant for this assignment. Were all of Penn’s historians away for the summer? Let’s hope that at least a few of them have been reacting with horror at this slipshod justification for shoving U.S. voters out of the political process.

Dating Roundup #1: This Is Why You’re Still Single

Zvi Moshowitz

Assuming as Alexander does that the No Response are the 0s above, this says that almost no currently single people, less than 20%, go on multiple first dates in a year. 

I am not saying that dating is easy or that I found it to be easy. I will go ahead and say it is not once-a-year level hard for most people to find worthwhile first dates. 

What I especially find curious is that one is the most popular response rather than zero. It would make sense to me that the answer is frequently zero dates, because you are not trying and aren’t ‘date ready’ in various senses. What’s super weird is that the vast majority did go on the one first date, but mostly they didn’t go on a second, and only half of those went on a third. It is as if people are capable of getting a date, then they go on one and recoil in ‘oh no not that again’ horror for about a year, then repeat the cycle? Or their friends set them up every year or so because it’s been too long, or something? None of that makes sense to me.

Alternatively, what the data is also saying is that getting a first date is indeed the primary barrier to finding a relationship. If you went on four or more first dates in the past year, which is one every three months or ~1% of nights, then it is highly unlikely you are single.

Controversy erupts in Jefferson County after the teachers union tells educators to destroy evidence of student surveys regarding gender identity

Shaun Boyd:

Some parents in Jefferson County say teachers are breaking state and federal laws and their union is helping them get away with it.

At issue are student surveys about gender identity. While the school district says it’s unclear whether surveys about students’ preferred pronouns are illegal, there are several lawsuits regarding the issue. So, administrators told teachers – just don’t go there.

The teachers union told them something else. An email from Jefferson County Education Association (JCEA) to teachers says, “if you do a questionnaire, please make it a paper and pencil activity – any digital records are more permanent and may be requested under federal law.” 

The union also encouraged teachers to “make your notations about students and not hold on to the documents.”

Denice Crawford, who has three kids in the school district, says she was encouraged when the district sent an email to all employees before the school year started reminding them state and federal law prohibits mandatory surveys that ask kids about protected information and even voluntary surveys, it said, are illegal unless parents can opt out.

When her son came home with a survey asking about his gender identity she was more than surprised.

One year in a struggling British state school

Jennifer Williams:

Ministers imposed local lockdowns on Oldham on and off through 2020, in an attempt to quell the spread of disease. As a result, more face-to-face school hours were lost in the area than elsewhere in the country. Potts discovered that some children had begun riding around on the Greater Manchester tram network, using its free WiFi to do their homework. When that service was switched off, they moved to McDonald’s.

Then, as the pandemic abated, the cost of living crisis and rising inflation bore down on the same families. School attendance levels were poor. Some kids started turning up late, telling teachers they couldn’t afford to ride the bus. The school had to step in in the case of one exam-age pupil who had been working so many hours a week it broke the law.

But the jam kids presented a particular challenge. At first, the staff at Newman rang the parents of the students who had been turning up without lunch money, to investigate. Eventually, Potts decided the school would begin absorbing the cost of feeding the extra pupils, seating them in a separate classroom to avoid the indignity of the queue.

There is something reminiscent of military precision to Potts’s controlled demeanour. As he moves through Newman’s corridors, he orders children to tuck in their shirts or tie their shoelaces. His manner with the kids is not brusque but brisk, as if he is reminding them of a standard they’ve mutually agreed to uphold. In his office, I’d noticed a copy of Soul Fuel for Young Explorers, a best-selling, adventure-themed devotional written by the explorer Bear Grylls. Before he was a teacher, Potts was indeed briefly in the army and still serves as a volunteer cadet. He is a born problem-solver.

“the condescension oozing from liberal elites is even more off-putting”

Dave Cieslewicz

In an August 30th piece, liberal New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof laments liberal disdain for Anthony’s song. Kristof writes: “Liberals are properly attentive to racial injustice, but have a blind spot about class, driven in part by unfair stereotypes that members of the white working class are invariably bigots. In fact, you can’t think seriously about inequality in America without contemplating race, but that’s also true of class. And as the Harvard professor Michael Sandel has noted, one of the last acceptable prejudices is disdain for the less educated… It’s partly this condescension that has driven many working-class voters, initially white voters and more recently brown and Black ones as well, into the arms of conservative politicians who would shaft them even more. If we’re going to achieve a more progressive agenda, then we need to win elections — and that means respecting workers rather than scorning them, insulting their faith and casually dismissing them as bigots. If we believe in empathy, let’s show some.”

State Governments & Censorship

Paul Taske:

For example, California presents its Age-Appropriate Design Code as a privacy regulation. Yet, the law imposes obligations on websites to deploy algorithms, designs, and features in a certain way or face fines. Of course, algorithms, features, and designs are the means by which websites develop, display, and disseminate speech

Arkansas contends that its Social Media Safety Act regulates social media as a “place.” Arkansas seeks to keep minors out of this place just like it restricts their access to bars and casinos. But there is a fundamental distinction between social media and a bar or casino. Social media sites are speech sites. They are designed to facilitate the creation, consumption, and distribution of speech. Bars and casinos, by contrast, are not. 

When challenged, both Arkansas and California refused to concede that their laws are censorial. In fact, California boldly proclaimed that its law has “nothing to do with speech.” In both cases, the government’s entire position depends on courts ignoring reality and the crucial role algorithms and social media play in creating, curating, and disseminating online speech. Fortunately, courts are not so naive.

A new madison school amidst declining enrollment

Abbey Machtig:

The Madison School District bought the land for $6.4 million and construction was estimated to cost about $25 million, financed by a 2020 facilities referendum. Landscaping and playground construction at Southside Elementary are continuing, according to the district website.

The school serves an especially diverse population. Of the students in the area, 81% are from low-income households, 89% are students of color and 50% are English learners, according to district data from February. The school’s location at the center of the community “provides one of the best walking options available,” according to the district. 

Mullen said attendance was an ongoing issue at Allis: If students missed the bus, they often had to miss school altogether that day. 

Having a school closer to home will also create more opportunities for families to meet face to face with educators and see their students’ school, she said.

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

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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

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

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

“why, in these times of unprecedented material prosperity and security, are so many people unhappy and depressed?”

John Hindraker:

Poll data suggest that many young people, in particular, live in fear of global warming. But in this case, knowledge is power, or at least sanity. Bjorn Lomborg highlights a study that finds knowledge about the climate is inversely correlated to climate change anxiety:

Study shows that

people who possess 𝗺𝗼𝗿𝗲 overall environmental knowledge or climate-specific knowledge experience 𝗹𝗲𝘀𝘀 climate change anxiety

(and less knowledge, more anxiety)

Can we go back to educating our kids instead of scaring them?

— Bjorn Lomborg (@BjornLomborg) August 31, 2023

That makes sense, obviously. We might say that it is one instance of a broader proposition: the more one knows about any subject, the less likely one is to swallow liberal propaganda on that issue.

fake digital personas and the online world

Sophie Culpepper:

Since September 2022, just before the U.S. midterm elections, Spring has maintained social media accounts that correspond to five different “voter profiles” she developed using Pew Research Center data:

  • Larry, a “faith and flag” conservative, is a 71-year-old white retired insurance broker living in Oneonta, Alabama.
  • Britney, a 50-year-old white school secretary living in Texas, is a Populist Right voter.
  • Gabriela, a 44-year-old Hispanic nanny living in Florida, is a “stressed sideliner” who is not that interested in politics.
  • Michael, a 61-year-old Black protestant and a teacher in Milwaukee, is a “Democratic mainstay.”
  • Emma, a 25-year-old graphic designer who lives in New York City with her girlfriend, is a Progressive Left voter.

Each character’s accounts are confined to a single phone to avoid contaminating Spring’s findings. The reporter maintains accounts with computer-generated profile photos on a range of platforms — Facebook, Instagram, Twitter (now X), TikTok, and YouTube — and, essentially, lurks. She likes posts, but the accounts are all private and are not “messaging people or commenting on stuff,” she said. “They’re very much passive social media users to an extent — so all I have to do is feed the algorithm: watch content, like content, follow content. But they’re not deceiving people in any way.”

No human remains found 2 years after claims of ‘mass graves’ in Canada

Dana Kennedy:

After two years of horror stories about the alleged mass graves of Indigenous children at residential schools across Canada, a series of recent excavations at suspected sites has turned up no human remains. 

Some academics and politicians say it’s further evidence that the stories are unproven.

Minegoziibe Anishinabe, a group of indigenous people also known as Pine Creek First Nation, excavated 14 sites in the basement of Our Lady of Seven Sorrows Catholic Church near the Pine Creek Residential School in Manitoba during four weeks this summer.

The so-called “anomalies” were first detected using ground-penetrating radar, but on Aug. 18, Chief Derek Nepinak of remote Pine Creek Indian Reserve said no remains were found. 

He also referred to the effort as the “initial excavation,” leading some who were skeptical of the original claims to think even more are planned. 

“I don’t like to use the word hoax because it’s too strong but there are also too many falsehoods circulating about this issue with no evidence,” Jacques Rouillard, a professor emeritus in the Department of History at the Université de Montréal, told The Post Wednesday.

The case against right-wing racialism.

Christopher Rufo:

In recent years, I have devoted considerable time to exposing the radical Left’s politics of “whiteness,” which posits that white identity, culture, and power are irredeemably oppressive and must be “abolished” in favor of alternative modes of being. “Whiteness” represents the metaphysical essence of left-wing race politics: an irreducible force of evil, a master synonym for racism, oppression, inequality, and suffocating bourgeois norms; anything saturated with its properties can be automatically categorized and condemned. In practice, the politics of whiteness has translated into the demonization of European-Americans in primary school curricula, the performance of elaborate “white privilege” rituals in the workplace, and outright segregation in many public institutions. All of it is done to solve “the problem of whiteness.”

Some pushback has resulted. In the years following the 2020 Black Lives Matter riots, conservatives have exposed the poisonous politics of left-wing racialism, shutting down some of the bureaucracies that push it and proposing a reaffirmation of the ideal of colorblind equality. Unfortunately, some on the right would snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, preferring instead to adopt the basic framework of identity politics and simply reverse its polarity. Dismayingly, a sentiment is rising in some corners of conservative politics that the answer to left-wing identity politics is right-wing identity politics.

Why Shoplifting Is Now De Facto Legal In California


Google “Shoplifting in San Francisco” and you will find more than 100,000 hits. And you will find lots of YouTube videos, where you can watch a single thief, or an entire gang, walk into an SF Walgreens or CVS and empty the shelves. Most walk in, go about their pilfering, and then walk out, though at least one thief rode their bike into the store and departed the same way, carefully navigating their two-wheeler down a narrow aisle.

We probably shouldn’t call it shoplifting anymore, since that term connotes the idea of a person trying to conceal their crime. In San Francisco, there is no attempt to conceal theft, and there is almost never any effort by store employees, including security personnel, to confront the thieves. The most they do is record the thefts with their cell phones.

Why is shoplifting so rampant? Because state law holds that stealing merchandise worth $950 or less is just a misdemeanor, which means that law enforcement probably won’t bother to investigate, and if they do, prosecutors will let it go.

After Rise In Adjunct Faculty Of Color From 9.52% To 9.59%, ABA Finds Baylor Back In Compliance With Accreditation Diversity Standard

Paul Caron:

At its August 17-18, 2023, meeting, the Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar of the American Bar Association (the “Council”) considered the status of Baylor University School of Law (the “Law School”).

In accordance with Rule 11(a)(1), the Council concluded that the information provided by the Law School was sufficient to demonstrate compliance with Standard 206(b), with respect to part-time faculty. Accordingly, the Council removed the requirements of the specific remedial actions imposed on the Law School and cancelled the Rule 17 hearing in accordance with Rule 20(d).

Baylor University School of Law remains an approved law school.

ABA Journal, 1 of 3 Law Schools Dinged For Diversity Standard Demonstrates Compliance:

The Baylor University School of Law has demonstrated compliance with an accreditation standard requiring that schools demonstrate “concrete action” showing a commitment to having a diverse and inclusive faculty and staff. …

According to the law school’s Standard 509 Information Report, 9.59% of the part-time faculty were people of color. Based on data from the prior year’s report, 9.52% of the part-time faculty were people of color. …

The algorithm that blew up Italy’s school system

by Pierluigi Bizzini

Italy has a problem with teachers. The number of teachers on short-term contracts across pre-school and high-school education has doubled in six years. Of a total of 907,929 teachers in the 2020/2021 school year, one in five had a short-term contract, up from one in nine in 2015. Moreover, recruitment is not keeping pace with schools’ need for teachers, thus leaving hundreds of classroom positions vacant which is affecting the educational progress of students all over Italy.

Since 2012, several governments have tried to fix the school system and one administration introduced an algorithm. In summer 2020, during the Conte Bis government, the former Minister of Education Lucia Azzolina introduced the GPS algorithm for schools, a digitised and automatic procedure that would simplify and improve teacher recruitment. The algorithm rests on two rankings. The first is the Graduatorie Provinciali per le Supplenze (GPS) specifically designed for substitute teachers. The second is the Graduatorie Provinciali a Esaurimento (GAE) which is for teachers holding a teaching qualification. The algorithm evaluates teachers’ CVs and cross-references their preferences for location and class with schools’ vacancies. If there is a match, a provisional assignment is triggered, but the algorithm continues to assess other candidates. If it finds another matching candidate with a higher score, that second candidate moves into the lead. The process continues until the algorithm has assessed all potential matches and selected the best possible candidate for the role.

West Virginia University Banked on Growth. It Backfired.

Melissa Korn and Kris Maher:

West Virginia University’s student population has been shrinking for years. Its proclivity to spend money has not.

Now facing a $45 million budget deficit, administrators have proposed eliminating dozens of programs, including the mathematics Ph.D. and the entire world languages department. Students staged a spirited protest on campus last week, and faculty are pleading with the school’s governing board to reject the recommended cuts.

West Virginia reflects a broader pattern of flagship schools increasing expenditures far faster than they did enrollment, as detailed in a recent Wall Street Journal investigation. The proposed cuts have caused concern over the direction of education in the state, among the nation’s poorest, and the school’s role as a steppingstone for local students into the global economy.

University President E. Gordon Gee and current and former members of the board blame the institution’s financial challenges on the pandemic and state funding cuts, as well as competition and demographic changes.

A review of university financial records, however, shows that its spending habits and expansion plans set it on a path to instability.

Gee said in 2014 that the university, which at the time enrolled about 33,000 full- and part-time students across its three campuses and online, should grow to 40,000. That would require new investments.

Censorship: Apple’s Decision to Kill Its CSAM Photo-Scanning Tool Sparks Fresh Controversy

Lily May Newman:

In December, Apple said that it was killing an effort to design a privacy-preserving iCloud photo-scanning tool for detecting child sexual abuse material (CSAM) on the platform. Originally announced in August 2021, the project had been controversial since its inception. Apple had first paused it that September in response to concerns from digital rights groups and researchers that such a tool would inevitably be abused and exploited to compromise the privacy and security of all iCloud users. This week, a new child safety group known as Heat Initiative told Apple that it is organizing a campaign to demand that the company “detect, report, and remove” child sexual abuse material from iCloud and offer more tools for users to report CSAM to the company. 

Today, in a rare move, Apple responded to Heat Initiative, outlining its reasons for abandoning the development of its iCloud CSAM scanning feature and instead focusing on a set of on-device tools and resources for users known collectively as Communication Safety features. The company’s response to Heat Initiative, which Apple shared with WIRED this morning, offers a rare look not just at its rationale for pivoting to Communication Safety, but at its broader views on creating mechanisms to circumvent user privacy protections, such as encryption, to monitor data. This stance is relevant to the encryption debate more broadly, especially as countries like the United Kingdom weigh passing laws that would require tech companies to be able to access user data to comply with law enforcement requests.

“Child sexual abuse material is abhorrent and we are committed to breaking the chain of coercion and influence that makes children susceptible to it,” Erik Neuenschwander, Apple’s director of user privacy and child safety, wrote in the company’s response to Heat Initiative. He added, though, that after collaborating with an array of privacy and security researchers, digital rights groups, and child safety advocates, the company concluded that it could not proceed with development of a CSAM-scanning mechanism, even one built specifically to preserve privacy.

“Scanning every user’s privately stored iCloud data would create new threat vectors for data thieves to find and exploit,” Neuenschwander wrote. “It would also inject the potential for a slippery slope of unintended consequences. Scanning for one type of content, for instance, opens the door for bulk surveillance and could create a desire to search other encrypted messaging systems across content types.”

Politics, teacher unions and taxpayer $pending

Scott Girard:

NEA President Becky Pringle and AFT President Randi Weingarten both spoke at the event as well, thanking the educators for their work and building excitement as the school year approaches. Baldwin thanked both of those leaders for their efforts on behalf of teachers.

“In the face of repeated attacks on organized labor in states like Wisconsin, AFT and NEA keep showing up to do the work on behalf of their membership,” she said.

Verona Area School District Superintendent Tremayne Clardy, a former Madison Metropolitan School District administrator, said he believed Biden chose Verona as her destination Thursday because the district has started to become a model “for true collaboration between teachers unions and administration.”

“We work collaboratively because we want the same thing, we want our kids to thrive, we want our students to have the best experience possible,” Clardy said. “When we come to the table and we work collaboratively to do that, that’s when the partnership works best and it’s absolutely fabulous.”

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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

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

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

Massive school satisfaction gap pits parents against everyone else

April Rubin:

Americans en masse are dissatisfied with the country’s schools. But parents feel pretty good about their own kids’ education.

Why it matters: A divide between parents with first-hand experience of U.S. schools and the rest of the country has gotten worse since the onset of the pandemic and a rise in political polarization.

What’s happening: 76% of parents believe their K-12 students are receiving a quality education, according to new data from an annual Gallup survey.

  • But just 36% of adults overall said they were satisfied with K-12 education in the country

US Copyright Office wants to hear what people think about AI and copyright

Emilia David:

The US Copyright Office is opening a public comment period around AI and copyright issues beginning August 30th as the agency figures out how to approach the subject. 

As announced in the Federal Register, the agency wants to answer three main questions: how AI models should use copyrighted data in training; whether AI-generated material can be copyrighted even without a human involved; and how copyright liability would work with AI. It also wants comments around AI possibly violating publicity rights but noted these are not technically copyright issues. The Copyright Office said if AI does mimic voices, likenesses, or art styles, it may impact state-mandated rules around publicity and unfair competition laws. 

Written comments are due on October 18th, and replies must be submitted to the Copyright Office by November 15th. 

The copyright status of AI training data and the output of generative AI tools has become a hot topic for politicians, artists, authors, and even civil rights groups, making it a potential testing ground for coming AI regulation. The Copyright Office says that “over the past several years, the Office has begun to receive applications to register works containing AI-generated material.” It may use the comments to inform how it decides to grant copyright in the future.

Civics: Owners of electric cars don’t pay gasoline taxes, so Michigan considers tracking them with GPS.Civics:

John Miller:

The lyrics of the 1981 song “Red Barchetta” by the Canadian rock band Rush describe the thrill of racing a vintage roadster in a future when driving is illegal. “I commit my weekly crime,” sings vocalist Geddy Lee, in an era governed by “the motor law” and policed by “a gleaming alloy air car.” That dystopian vision seems a faraway fantasy, but motorists in Michigan may think of it when they learn about a state plan to use Global Positioning System devices to track mileage and tax drivers based on road usage.

Michigan’s new state budget, which Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed on July 31, authorizes spending $5 million on a survey to gauge consumer attitudes about the concept. The answer officials receive probably will depend on the wording of the question. If they want to avoid a libertarian freak-out, they should try something other than “Do you want Big Brother in your passenger seat?” Debate over the proposal will test the public’s tolerance of surveillance technology—and foreshadow an even more contentious dispute over the freedom to drive.

Budget officials around the country have worried for years that the rise of electric vehicles will lead to fewer drivers paying traditional gasoline taxes, which are often devoted to road construction and repair. In Michigan, a report sponsored by county governments found that the state already has lost $50 million in taxes that electric-car owners didn’t pay at the pump between 2019 and 2021. That’s only a fraction of the roughly $1.5 billion that Michigan collects annually from fuel taxes, but the losses could climb to $470 million by 2030, when perhaps a quarter of all vehicles plug in for their power.

If electric vehicles render gasoline taxes obsolete, states will have to figure out new ways to fill potholes and resurface roads. Funds could come from general revenue, though people with short commutes will end up subsidizing the travel of those who spend long hours behind the wheel.

University System of Georgia no longer requiring diversity essay for jobs

Vanessa McCray:

Georgia’s public universities can no longer require job applicants to submit a diversity statement, prompting schools to revise faculty hiring practices.According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the University System of Georgia in July issued a new employee recruitment policy barring such statements, typically one-to-two-page documents in which applicants describe their understanding of diversity and detail experiences and goals related to advancing it. Another revised human resources policy states that mandatory employee training cannot include diversity statements.The University System pointed to language approved in the spring by the Georgia Board of Regents as the trigger for the prohibition.“The Board of Regents in April released a statement of principles regarding academic freedom and freedom of expression that, among other things, affirmed that the University System of Georgia values the diversity of intellectual thought and expression among students and faculty as well as the need for faculty to be unburdened by ideological tests, affirmations and oaths,” the system said in a statement in response to questions from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.Georgia’s new language around hiring comes amid broader questioning of campus diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts.The Georgia Professional Standards Commission earlier this year removed references to “diversity” and “equity” from its rules that guide colleges that train prospective teachers, saying such terms are “ambiguous.”This summer, Chancellor Sonny Perdue produced a report detailing millions of dollars of spending on DEI salaries and programs after Lt. Gov. Burt Jones asked how much such efforts cost Georgia’s 26 public colleges and universities. Jones has voiced concern about using taxpayer dollars to promote “divisive concepts like DEI.”Two-thirds of University System instructional faculty members are white, compared to 45% of all students, according to fall 2022 data.

Professor’s Claim That She Was Fired for Objecting to Superiors About Mask Mandate Can Go Forward

Eugene Volokh:

From Griffin v. University of Maine System, decided Aug. 16 by Chief Judge Jon Levy (D. Me.):

Plaintiff Patricia Griffin’s employment as a [tenured] Professor of Marketing at the University of Southern Maine was terminated by the University of Maine System … in September 2021…. Griffin asserts that her termination was unlawful retaliation for her having spoken out against the University’s facemask and vaccination policies adopted in response to the COVID-19 pandemic….

On August 18, 2021, in preparation for the University’s fall semester, the Chancellor of the University of Maine System announced a mandatory mask policy (the “Policy”). On August 24, Griffin participated in a luncheon meeting via Zoom at which Cummings was a speaker. She alleges that during the event, [University President Glenn Cummings] did not wear a mask. On the same day, Griffin sent an email to the Dean of the College of Management and Human Service pertaining to the University’s recently implemented mask and vaccine policies. The email reads in pertinent part:

I first want to say how much I love teaching at [the University of Southern Maine] as well as working with such a great faculty. It really has been the highlight of my career and I owe a lot to you for sticking with me. The reason for this email is because I have been following the science, data, and evidence regarding SARS-CoV-2 and searching for anything that will support wearing a mask while indoors as well as vaccinating an entire school population as the optimal method for stopping the transmission of the virus. The reality is that my research has found no evidence to support these measures. I wanted to share the information I gathered and relied upon when making my decision regarding these mandates before the start of classes next Monday to see that my decisions are science, evidence, and data based. However, I do not want to cause any issues, especially for you, if I come to campus on Monday morning to teach my one face to face class so I wanted to give you enough time.

Griffin attached a separate letter to her email, also addressed to the Dean, summarizing the results of her research on the effectiveness of mask mandates and vaccines. She concluded the letter as follows:

Tips for Wisconsin students to establish regular attendance in the new school year

AnnMarie Hilton:

Districts across Wisconsin saw students struggle with regular attendance in the years after transitioning back from virtual learning during the pandemic.

There’s a plethora of reasons why a student may miss school, but mental health has increasingly become a barrier to students showing up each day.

Almost half of high schoolers in the Appleton Area School District were chronically absent meaning they missed at least 10% of school — about 18 days — in the 2021-22 school year. That number improved significantly last year, but the district said attendance is still a priority.

For the 2021-22 school year, almost 23% — roughly a quarter — of all students statewide were chronically absent, according to the most current data from the state Department of Public Instruction.

WVU cuts classes, not overhead

Don Surber:

When the public votes down a school tax levy, the protocol is for the school superintendent to threaten to eliminate sports and shutter schools. Then the school boards hold levy elections until the public finally passes one. Then the school board and its superintendent go on their merry way and back to ignoring the public.

Where do you think Mel Brooks came up with the idea of Sheriff Bart holding himself hostage in Blazing Saddles?

The Sheriff Bart model applies to higher education, which faces cutbacks as fewer young Americans are enrolling in college because people with degrees have flooded the job market. 

E. Gordon Gee, president of West Virginia University, is following the Sheriff Bart playbook by stripping away $45 million worth of programs — including the entire world languages program — as he overspent the budget and must trim just under 4% of the school’s $1.2 billion budget.

School choice triumph: Report card analysis shows voucher schools out-perform public schools

Nicholas Kelly:

Education was a big winner of a bipartisan agreement in the recently enacted state budget. Public schools will receive an increase of more than $1 billion. Per pupil spending for Wisconsin’s private school choice programs will grow by $2,000 to $3,000 per student. 

Even after these historic funding increases, state payments to schools in the parental choice programs will still be less than 70 percent of the funding per student that public schools receive.

With the substantial new education spending, what’s the bang for the buck? What’s the return to Wisconsin taxpayers from their investments in public schools and the parental choice programs? At School Choice Wisconsin, we wanted to find out.

Our approach relied on publicly available data at the Department of Public Instruction’s website. To measure results, we used DPI Report Cards, which provide a comprehensive assessment of how the agency ranks public schools and schools in the choice programs. To measure funds invested, we used DPI data on per pupil public school revenue and state payments for pupils in the choice programs.

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

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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

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

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

Notes on the University of Wisconsin’s Budget

David Blaska:

Not even cows are sacred in Wisconsin, anymore. They’re being blamed for global climate change and funky ground water. But at least three sacred cows remain: The Packers, deer hunting season, and — among progressives — the University of Wisconsin. 

Dare question UW system spending and you are labeled a poor man south of Richmond. Who can’t sing. And fodder for progressive enemies lists. 

“GOP leaders saw fit to cut yet another $32 million from the system because it supports diversity and equity programs. At least we now know who the real con artists are,” Dave Zweifel condemns at The Capital Times.  Um, teaching that “downplaying white advantage” is racist, as DEI guru Robin DiAngelo instructs, is NOT teaching history, black or white.

Others might credit Wisconsin Republicans for making college more affordable. After all, they did freeze tuition the past 10 years — not that Dane County’s progressive voice would ever divulge.

Yes, the pandemic-era school closures were a disaster

James Pethokoukis:

A brief reminder: Back in the summer of 2020, I tried to hammer home the point that preventing kids from going to school full-time and in-person during the coming school year would be a terrible idea with serious consequences for the kids and the country. School is more than just a place where younger students stay while their parents work, or a way for older students to get a certificate that helps them find better jobs. Deep economic research has shown that education really matters in helping kids grow into productive adults, including as workers in a complex, globalized economy. Those findings are seen to be as true today as when they were first identified in the 1950s. Indeed, a 2018 World Bank analysis shows the benefits increasing since 2000.

We now have a pretty good, albeit unsurprising, idea of the impact of the move to online learning and hybrid schedules. Here are some key takeaways from the Richmond Fed review:

  • “Learning progress slowed substantially in the U.S. during the pandemic.” According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, a test of U.S. eight graders, the average score of students rose by 20 points in the 30 years before the pandemic. But between 2019 and 2022, the average score went down by 8 points, which means that they lost almost half of what they had gained before. 

Related: Dane County Madison Public Health mandates: cost & benefit?

America’s highest-achieving students are disproportionately Asian. Let’s not be afraid to investigate why.

Michael J. Petrilli and Amber M. Northern, Ph.D.

A revealing 2022 study of Harvard admissions found a “substantial penalty against Asian American applicants relative to their white counterparts.” Scholars estimated that, given that the overall admissions rate for Asian American applicants at Harvard was around 5 percent, removing what amounted to a handicap would increase their admissions chances by at least 19 percent.

What’s more, the researchers took on a surprisingly candid tone when noting the differences between the Asian and White applicant pool:

While it is widely understood that Asian American applicants are academically stronger than whites, it is startling just how much stronger they are. During the period we analyze, there were 42 percent more white applicants than Asian American applicants overall. Yet, among those who were in the top 10 percent of applicants based on grades and test scores, Asian American applicants outnumbered white applicants by more than 45 percent.

Startling indeed.

Findings from Fordham’s new study, Excellence Gaps by Race and Socioeconomic Status, reminded us of this eye-popping imbalance. Authored by Fordham’s Meredith Coffey and Adam Tyner, the report digs into how race and socioeconomic status (SES) interact to shape academic “excellence gaps”—disparities in performance among groups of students achieving at the highest levels.

Sweden during the Pandemic: Pariah or Paragon?

Johan Norberg:

Sweden was different during the pandemic, stubbornly staying open as other countries shut down borders, schools, restaurants, and workplaces. This choice created a massive interest in Sweden, and never before have the foreign media reported so much about the country. Many outsiders saw it as a reckless experiment with people’s lives. In April 2020 President Donald Trump declared that “Sweden is paying heavily for its decision not to lockdown.”1 In the New York Times, Sweden’s laissez faire approach was described as “the world’s cautionary tale” and in the same pages Sweden was described as a “pariah state.”2

There remains a popular perception in the rest of the world that Sweden’s strategy resulted in a human disaster, and many people think that Swedish decisionmakers came to regret the strategy and, in the end, adopted lockdown policies similar to those in other countries. This paper dispels those unwarranted assumptions, describes Sweden’s actual pandemic policy, explains why the country followed that course, and presents what we know about the results so far.

Related: Waiting for a deep dive into the costs and benefits of taxpayer supported Dane County Madison Public Health mandates.

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

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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

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

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

K-12 tax & spending climate: It’s hard to grow your way out of debt


Julien Acalin and Laurence M. Ball write,

The fall in the U.S. public debt/GDP ratio from 106% in 1946 to 23% in 1974 is often attributed to high rates of economic growth. This paper examines the roles of three other factors: primary budget surpluses, surprise inflation, and pegged interest rates before the Fed-Treasury Accord of 1951. Our central result is a simulation of the path that the debt/GDP ratio would have followed with primary budget balance and without the distortions in real interest rates caused by surprise inflation and the pre-Accord peg. In this counterfactual, debt/GDP declines only to 74% in 1974, not 23% as in actual history. Moreover, the ratio starts rising again in 1980 and in 2022 it is 84%. These findings imply that, over the last 76 years, only a small amount of debt reduction has been achieved through growth rates that exceed undistorted interest rates.

Pointer from Tyler Cowen.

Oy. Their conclusion is correct, but nobody needed to use an opaque simulation model to get there. Thirteen years ago, I explained it using a simple table.

One point that stands out is that the years of dramatic reductions in the ratio of debt to GDP were years in which the United States ran primary surpluses. The only other chapter in history where the debt to GDP was reduced was the Inflation Shock. Even then, it was not reduced by much, and this chapter was followed by the Bond Market Vigilantes chapter, in which investors punished the government for its prior inflationary transgressions.

In short, there is no precedent for reducing the ratio of debt to GDP by simply growing our way out of it. Instead, policy choices must be made in order to restore a primary surplus.

Some of my essays have stood the test of time, but only I remember them. That is one example.

Reducing admission standards at CalTech

Teresa Watanabe:

Kimberly Miranda is the brainy daughter of Guatemalan immigrants and the first in her family to attend college. But she almost didn’t make it to the California Institute of Technology.

Her Redwood City school didn’t offer algebra in eighth grade, which threw her off the progression of high school math classes leading to calculus — a long-standing Caltech admission requirement. Miranda managed to double up on math courses in sophomore year to reach calculus as a senior, but not all students have the wherewithal — or support — to take that path. 

And scores of students don’t even have that chance, because more than one-third of the nation’s high schools don’t offer calculus, and many also lack physics and chemistry classes, two other Caltech admission requirements. For years, the institute, a global powerhouse of science, technology, engineering and math education, fielded hundreds of calls each year from distraught students and parents about the issue. But Caltech held firm, making no exceptions, even for “absolutely astounding” applicants, as one faculty member put it. 

Now Caltech, in the name of equity, is shifting gears. In a groundbreaking step, the campus announced Thursday that it will drop admission requirements for calculus, physics and chemistry courses for students who don’t have access to them and offer alternative paths to prove mastery of the material. 

“Brilliant students exist in every single part of this world and in every single community, and this idea that families have to choose the future of their kids and where they’re going to go for college based on their ZIP Code seemed so unfair,” said Ashley Pallie, Caltech’s executive director of undergraduate admissions. “We need to continue opening this door of opportunity.”

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Leaving High Tax States

Andria Cheng:

The recent departures of some major investment firms from New York have resulted in nearly $1 trillion in combined assets under management that are no longer based in the largest U.S. city, according to a new report.

And New York isn’t alone. California investment firms decamping to other states over the past several years, with Texas as the top destination, also managed nearly $1 trillion in combined assets.

Around 158 companies managing $993 billion in assets, including AllianceBernstein and Elliott Management, moved their headquarters out of New York to states including Florida and Tennessee from the first quarter of 2020 to early 2023, according to a Bloomberg study of corporate filings from more than 17,000 firms since the end of 2019. New York alone accounted for 56 of the 104 financial services firms that moved to Florida in that time, the study found.

A Sperm Donor Chases a Role in the Lives of the 96 Children He Fathered

Amy Dockser Marcus:

Dylan Stone-Miller took a 9,000-mile road trip this summer to see some of his 96 children.

Emotionally, logistically, in all ways, it is complicated for the kids, their families and for Stone-Miller, a prolific 32-year-old sperm donor. His road trip is part of a larger odyssey—to figure out how he fits in the lives of the boys and girls he fathered in absentia. It began three years ago, when he first saw a photo of one of his biological children, a toddler named Harper who had his blue eyes and his sister’s blond curls. He got tears, he recalled, and unexpected feelings of kinship.

“I think of her as my first child,” Stone-Miller said. He met Harper when she was 3 and decided he wanted to foster relationships with as many of the children as possible. He quit his job as a software engineer and has funded his quest with savings. So far, Stone-Miller has met 25 of his biological children. Because tracking progeny from a donor isn’t always reliable, “I will never know for sure how many children I have,” he said.

Stone-Miller’s mission is itself an accident of birth, springing from the unforeseen union of in vitro fertilization, the internet and low-cost DNA testing. Together, these disparate advances have made it possible to find biological fathers who in the past were kept largely anonymous by sperm banks.

Months after Stone-Miller and his wife split up in 2020, a stranger messaged him. “I really hope you don’t feel violated in any way, but it’s Canadian Thanksgiving and I wanted to tell you how grateful my family is to you,” wrote Alicia Bowes, one of Harper’s two mothers. She had tracked Stone-Miller through social media and clues from his donor file, including his first name and his father’s occupation as a forensic psychologist.

Visualize Algorithms


In VisuAlgo, you can use your own input for any algorithm instead of using only the provided sample inputs. This is one of the key feature of VisuAlgo. Try the graph drawing feature in these 9 graph-related visualizations: Graph DS, DFS/BFS, MST, SSSP, Max Flow, Matching, MVC, Steiner Tree, and TSP. You can also click tag ‘graph’ in any of these 9 graph-related visualization boxes or type in ‘graph’ in the search box.

Notes on “Math Circles”


After about 7 months of math circles with a group of 7- turning 8-year-old boys and girls, I decided to take a break to breathe and reflect on what worked and what didn’t.

It’s interesting how big a gulf there is between what math topic you think will be interesting to a 7-year-old and what actually captures their attention. Let me start by giving some examples of things I thoughtwould catch their interest but flopped.

Commentary on Covid mandates and learning loss

Douglas Harris

Contrary to popular belief, COVID-19 has only caused a 2% drop in public school enrollments nationally. Some of the latest evidence also suggests no drop at all in cities like Detroit and New York City that were heavily criticized for staying remote so long. By comparison, there was a 15% decline during the mid-1970s-1980s without a pandemic (due mainly to demographic shifts). That’s a real seismic shift—seven times larger than the COVID-19 drop.

Projected enrollments will likely drop by more than two percent in the coming years due to declining birth rates and immigration. Looking at the trend line in district enrollments ten years from now, we may barely notice the COVID-19 years.

In fact, what’s most remarkable is how little COVID-19 altered public school enrollments. Every child in the country was forced out of their school buildings for a time. Parents became more familiar and experienced with the many online tools that allow students to learn from home, and some shopped around for alternatives. If ever there was a chance to reconsider, this was it. Yet, the best analyses suggest only 372,000 students switched to homeschooling or private schools—out of 50 million nationally.

Critics might argue that few switched schools due to a lack of good alternatives, but polls show high satisfaction with public schools during the pandemic. One poll showed 78% of families were satisfied with how public schools handled the pandemic; in another, the figure was 80%.

No, the public school enrollment drop was not seismic. The real concern ought to be that some students might have left, never to return to any form of schooling.

K-12 Tax + Spending climate: Goodbye Bathtub and Living Room. America’s Homes Are Shrinking.


The share of new home projects priced below $400,000 has declined in nearly every major home-building metro since 2018, according to Livabl by Zonda. For entry-level buyers across the nation, the cost of owning a home increased 72% from February 2020 to May 2023, according to an analysis by John Burns Research and Consulting that estimates monthly payments, maintenance and other costs of ownership.

And the smaller floor plans usually mean that buyers are getting less space for their dollar. Lower list prices might make the overall price cheaper, but buyers are still paying more a square foot, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Inflation-adjusted cost a square foot increased about 2.5% on average between 2012 and 2020. In both 2021 and 2022, it increased nearly 4%, according to John Burns Research and Consulting.

‘It is my job to be a voice for everyone who is too afraid,’ lacrosse coach says

Micaiah Bilger:

A head coach investigated by her liberal college for questioning transgender swimmer Lia Thomas’ victories spoke out in a new short documentary.

“It is my job to be a voice for everyone who is too afraid, who needs to keep their job,” Oberlin College lacrosse coach Kim Russell said in the eight-minute video produced by the Independent Women’s Forum, a conservative policy institute.

🆕BREAKING: Head Women’s Lacrosse Coach at Oberlin College is breaking her silence in an @IWF documentary after being “burned at the stake” for her support of single-sex sports & speaking out against allowing men in women’s sports.

— Independent Women’s Forum (@IWF) August 29, 2023

“It is scientific that biologically males and females are different,” Russell said in the documentary. “I don’t believe biological males should be in women’s locker rooms. Where is the MeToo movement? What happened to that?” she continued.

Kansas City schools rent homes to teachers starting at $400 a month to recruit more amid a national shortage

Christian Robles:

Alexandria Millet found a way to sharply cut her rent this year and move closer to her job at Central High School in Kansas City, Mo.—live in a duplex built to house teachers.

A 10th-grade English and journalism instructor, Millet, 24 years old, now pays $400 a month to live with two other teachers in a home provided through a partnership between Kansas City Public Schools and Teachers Like Me, a nonprofit building housing to help recruit Black teachers.

KCPS is one of several school districts across the country—in urban and rural areas from California to West Virginia and Florida—that are trying to use affordable housing to hire and retain teachers amid a nationwide shortage of both. The efforts join state and federal programs that have for years provided teachers grants and down payment assistance to purchase homes.

“Not having to pay high rent and having a program that supports you specifically in terms of housing” made it easier to stay in Kansas City, Millet said, as she wanted to do after working there a year as an AmeriCorps volunteer.

The low-cost housing “made it come together,” said Millet, who is from Milwaukee. She earns about $48,000 a year in a metropolitan area with a typical monthly apartment rent of $1,437 in July, according to Zillow estimates.

Teachers Like Me opened its first duplex in February and has plans to house up to 25 teachers, said Trinity Davis, the organization’s founder and a former Kansas City school administrator.

Civics: Why establishment knives are out for Elon Musk

Glenn Reynolds:

More establishment-connected companies, like Boeing and United Launch Alliance, have suffered various technical issues that leave them essentially incapable of doing half what SpaceX does, despite much higher prices.

I can’t help but feel that Musk’s sheer effectiveness, in comparison to establishment failures on everything from COVID to Afghanistan to China, serves as a constant reproach.

Even the bid to “rein him in” is failing. 

The effort to end-run his ownership of Twitter with Threads, a product of Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta, has been a flop.

And as an exposé, so is the Farrow piece.

Through it we learn that although Musk was happy to make his Starlink satellite Internet service available to Ukraine when that country was invaded, he was uncomfortable seeing it turned into a backbone of the war effort.

He also had the temerity to ask to be paid, though other suppliers to Ukraine — Raytheon, say — were not providing product gratis.

Now it’s lawyer time, with the Justice Department suing SpaceX for not hiring immigrants and refugees, though US law bans disclosing technical information relating to rockets and space to non-US citizens.

Musk tweeted: “SpaceX was told repeatedly that hiring anyone who was not a permanent resident of the United States would violate international arms trafficking law, which would be a criminal offense. We couldn’t even hire Canadian citizens, despite Canada being part of NORAD!”

Nobody’s perfect.

Notes on declining law school demand

Michael Simkovich:

[L]aw school deans’ discussions about ways of continuing affirmative action after the ban are providing fodder to conservative media organizations who are attempting to depict academic institutions as lawless, duplicitous, and hostile to poor whites (and Asians).  Most law professors and most deans probably don’t regularly read such publications, and so are unaware of them. I only became aware of the criticism after a friend sent the information to me.

But many people apparently do read these sites, and their talking points often spread to mainstream media organizations with a broader reach.  That’s what happened in the 2010s, when the Cato Institute’s Walter Olson’s “School for Misrule” depicted law schools as far left organizations that emphasized ideological indoctrination over nuts-and-bolts legal education and left their students heavily indebted and unprepared to practice law.  Olson’s criticisms, and similar criticisms from others—though wildly underestimating the economic benefits of legal education, both in ordinary times and during recessions—set off a flurry of mainstream media criticism of law schools that went on for years.

Media attacks, and law schools’ belated, at times clumsy, and often uncoordinated responses to them, ultimately led law school applications to fall off a cliff from which they have never recovered.

In 2004, 105,000 prospective JD’s applied to law school. By 2010, it was 91,000, and by 2016 it had fallen to 57,000.  As of 2022, it has recovered only slightly to 64,000, still down 42 percent since 2010. …

While it’s hard to know precisely what is driving the decline in interest in law school, it seems plausible that the criticism—that law schools place too much of an emphasis on political indoctrination and not enough on preparing all of their students for professional and financial success—has resonated with prospective students. …


Biden Rewrites the History of Covid School Closings

Wall Street Journal:

President Biden welcomed students at Eliot-Hine Middle School in Washington, D.C., back to class on Monday. He also gave them a lesson in irony as he lamented pandemic learning loss caused by his teachers union allies.

“The hardest thing is to come back after three months of not doing any work, not doing any homework, and all of a sudden you got a lot to make—everybody has a lot to catch up on from the end of the last year,” Mr. Biden told students. Imagine how much harder it is for them to catch up after “learning”—i.e., staring at screens—at home for a year.

Perhaps sensing parents’ continued anger over the Covid school shutdowns, the Administration is trying to claim credit for reopening them. “When President Biden took office, less than half of K-12 students were going to school in person,” the White House said. “Today, thanks to the President’s swift actions and historic investments, every school in America is open safely for in-person instruction.”

What an achievement—three and a half years after the start of the pandemic, all schools are open. The Administration omits that its own Centers for Disease Control and Prevention took dictation from union chief Randi Weingarten for its reopening guidelines. Those guidelines gave unions in urban school districts like Chicago cover to delay the return to full in-person learning.

“the government long ago realized it can abuse the barely regulated info-hoovering user tracking system we’ve built to avoid having to get warrants”

Karl Bode:

There’s simply no meaningful incentive for reform. 

None of this is helped by the fact that an ad-based, wealth-obsessed tech press is financially incentivized to prioritize engagement clickbait (billionaire cage matches! Poorly-made blockchain-based ape art will change the world!), over nuance and deeper analysis. A media ecosystem owned by billionaires that seems to have an ever-dwindling interest in meaningfully challenging money, power, or the status quo. 

The result of our collective superficiality isn’t hard to find when looking at the tech knowledge of the broader public. A recent Pew survey of 5,101 U.S. adults found that 80 percent of Americans know that Elon Musk now owns Tesla and Twitter, but just 23 percent were aware that the United States lacks a meaningful privacy law addressing how companies can use the data they collect:

Google Removes ‘Pirate’ URLs from Users’ Privately Saved Links

Ernesto Van der Sar

Search Takedowns Affect Saved URLs

A few hours ago, Eddie Roosenmaallen shared an email from Google, notifying him that a link had been removed from his Google Saved collection because it violates Google’s policy. 

The reason cited for the removal is the “downstream impact”, as the URL in question is “blocked by Google Search”.

“The following saved item in one of your collections was determined to violate Google’s policy. As a result, the item will be moderated..,” Google writes, pointing out a defunct KickassTorrents domain as the problem.

Reflecting on 17 years leading UW-La Crosse

Kelly Meyerhofer:

Joe Gow, the longest-serving current chancellor in the University of Wisconsin System, announced plans Wednesday to step down as leader of UW-La Crosse at the end of the 2023-24 school year.

Gow, 62, will transition to a faculty role after more than 17 years leading the 9,400-student campus.

Enrollment at UW-La Crosse last fall was slightly larger than when Gow started in 2007, a remarkable feat for the chancellor of a regional campus at a time when fewer students are available to recruit and an increasing share of them are opting out of four-year college degrees.

The university’s finances are also stronger than most other regional UW campuses, finishing the 2023 fiscal year without a deficit.

“It’s a team effort, of course,” Gow told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “If I’ve been successful at anything, the main thing I’ve done is getting the right people into the right leadership positions to make things happen.”

Mores on legacy school media coverage

Alexander Russo:

As for the quality of the coverage, I’m not going to Monday-morning quarterback other people’s coverage of what they did in the moment. There were lots of times I thought, “This is this is so short. I want to know more about what happened here.” But there has been a real effort to write about Shaker and race over the years. Sure, with the benefit of time, we can all look back and­­­ say, “Well, maybe you missed this piece, or you missed that piece,” but I’m not going do that. I am grateful for what we have in terms of the historic record.

I’m not going to Monday-morning quarterback other people’s coverage… I am grateful for what we have.

Part of what you were doing with this book was going back and re-reporting your own reporting —

LM: I would say building on it. I wouldn’t necessarily say re-reporting it.

Ok, building on. Was there anything that you learned that was new or different from what you found in 2019?

LM: I think the 2019 story holds up very well. I don’t think there’s anything that is substantively different. I think that I just go much deeper. The story was centered on a particular controversy around a teacher and a Black student in her AP English class. I was able to tell a much fuller story — learning more about how and why things unfolded as they did, and frankly including more of what I already knew but didn’t have space for even in what was by any measure a long newspaper story.

China and the U.S. are collecting the same proportion of their populations’ DNA profiles — and the FBI wants to double its budget to get even more.

Ken Klippenstein

The FBI has amassed 21.7 million DNA profiles — equivalent to about 7 percent of the U.S. population — according to Bureau data reviewed by The Intercept.

The FBI aims to nearly double its current $56.7 million budget for dealing with its DNA catalog with an additional $53.1 million, according to its budget request for fiscal year 2024. “The requested resources will allow the FBI to process the rapidly increasing number of DNA samples collected by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security,” the appeal for an increase says.

“When we’re talking about rapid expansion like this, it’s getting us ever closer to a universal DNA database.”

In an April 2023 statement submitted to Congress to explain the budget request, FBI Director Christopher Wray cited several factors that had “significantly expanded the DNA processing requirements of the FBI.” He said the FBI collected around 90,000 samples a month — “over 10 times the historical sample volume” — and expected that number to swell to about 120,000 a month, totaling about 1.5 million new DNA samples a year. (The FBI declined to comment.)

The staggering increases are raising questions among civil liberties advocates.

Grade Inflation: What Goes Up Must Come Down

Aden Barton:

Here’s a quotation from one of Harvard’s many committees. Try to guess the year it was written.

“Grades A and B are sometimes given too readily — Grade A for work of no very high merit, and Grade B for work not far above mediocrity … One of the chief obstacles to raising the standards of the degree is the readiness with which insincere students gain passable grades by sham work.”

This is from the “Committee on Raising the Standard” in 1894. Ever since letter grades at Harvard were established, perhaps as early as 1883 according to school archives, there’s been concern around the way they’re distributed.

There’s still a lot of talk around Harvard’s grade inflation problem today. It’s hardly a surprise to anyone who studies or teaches here that grades have risen over time. But grade inflation is inextricably linked to a worse problem, one that is seldom discussed: grade compression, where GPAs stop increasing and instead stabilize in the 3.8 to 4.0 range.

To understand grade compression, we first need to understand grade inflation. Looking at a graph of student GPAs since 1889 is sort of like looking at a graph of Harvard’s endowment: It only goes up. In 1950, when Harvey Mansfield was but a freshman at Harvard, the average GPA was estimated at 2.55. Now, it’s much closer to 3.80. Keep in mind these numbers are estimated from Crimson surveys that represent only a part of the student body, combined with third-party analyses of Harvard records, so try to focus on the long-term trend rather than specific GPA averages at any point in time.

Civics: Taxpayer funded “censorship industrial complex”

Pete McGinnis

Welcome to the Censorship Industrial Complex. It’s rather like the old “military industrial complex,” which was shorthand for the military, private companies, and academia working together to achieve U.S. battlefield dominance, with the R&D funded by the government that buys the final product.

But the censorship industrial complex builds algorithms, not bombers. The players aren’t Raytheon and Boeing, but social media companies, tech startups, and universities and their institutes. The foes to be dominated are American citizens whose opinions diverge from government narratives on issues ranging from COVID-19 responses to electoral fraud to transgenderism.

When first exposed a few months ago, many of the actors and their media defenders perversely claimed that they, as private entities, were acting out of concern for “democracy” and exercising their own First Amendment rights.

However, the records and correspondence of an advisory committee to an obscure government agency tell a different story. The Functional Government Initiative (FGI) has obtained through a public records request documents of the Cybersecurity Advisory Committee of the U.S. Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA). The committee was composed of academics and tech company officials working with government personnel in a much closer relationship than either they or the media want to admit. Several advisory committee members who appear throughout the documents as quasi-federal actors are among those loudly protesting that they were private actors when censoring lawful American speech (e.g., Kate Starbird, Vijaya Gadde, Alex Stamos).

University is more than just a springboard to a job

Emma Jacobs:

As school leavers around the world get ready to pack saucepans and pencil cases for their first term at university, the perennial debate about the value of a degree has been sharpened by a number of employers announcing their jobs no longer require a degree. The cereal and snacks group Kellogg made its move in June. This summer, Rishi Sunak, UK prime minister, announced a crackdown on “rip-off degrees”. “Too many students,” he said, “are being sold a university education that won’t get them a decent job at the end of it.”

Yet degrees do tend to boost earnings. According to the UK’s Institute for Fiscal Studies, a think-tank, male graduates will be £130,000 better off over their careers (after subtracting taxes and student loan repayments) — women will be £100,000 wealthier.

Universities can be a powerful driver of social mobility. Another study by the IFS found that those on free school meals who went to university were almost four times more likely to be in the highest 20 per cent of earners at 30 than those who did not. Sarah Atkinson, chief executive of the Social Mobility Foundation, says: “Beyond the financial stability this can bring, a university can open access to important networks that can provide a life-long career advantage.”

Salaries are a crude metric, says Charlie Ball, senior consultant in labour market intelligence at Jisc, a UK-based non-profit technology provider. “It is effectively an external arbiter imposing its own value on workers.” When graduates were asked about satisfaction, the overwhelming majority felt they were in a meaningful job.

Chromebooks Were Once a Good Deal for Schools. Now They’re Becoming E-Waste.

Nicole Nguyen:

Low-price, easy-to-use Chromebooks were once a boon to cost-conscious schools. Educators say the simple laptops are no longer a good deal.

Models have shot up in price in the past four years. Constant repairs add to the cost. Google imposes expiration dates, even if the hardware still works. This year, Google ceases support for 13 models. Next year, 51 models will expire.

These surging costs are presenting a predicament for anyone who runs a school and wants to educate children. Some administrators say they are throwing precious funding at a product that just doesn’t last long enough. Doubling the lifespan of Chromebooks could save public schools—and taxpayers—an estimated $1.8 billion, according to U.S. PIRG, a public-interest research group that analyzed Chromebook data.

Chromebooks have no second life. When they expire, they become e-waste. By contrast, Macs and PCs can run apps even after their native software is no longer supported. They can even be repurposed into Chromebook-like devices.

Death dates

During the pandemic, schools rushed to buy Chromebooks and other devices for remote learning. Chromebook sales slumped after in-person classes resumed.