Category Archives: Uncategorized

1910 Astronomy Textbook

Arthur Gron:

It found the book interesting because it’s reads like a popular introduction into astronomy but has some mathematics, to make the book feel more sub- stantive. Even out the outset of the book the author tries to quantify even the simplest things.
The number of stars visible to the unaided eye is very deceptive. To the superficial observer this number appears to run far into the thousands, but an actual count will show that a normal eye cannot see more than from 1,000 to 1,500 at any one time. And as we can see only one-half of the whole heavens at once, the total number of stars visible in both hemispheres will vary from 2,000 to 3,000, depending on the quality of the observer’s eye. (Page 3 and 4)
The book presents facts to make the reader feel more comfortable with as- tronomy.

An App Called Libby and the Surprisingly Big Business of Library E-books

Daniel Gross:

The sudden shift to e-books had enormous practical and financial implications, not only for OverDrive but for public libraries across the country. Libraries can buy print books in bulk from any seller that they choose, and, thanks to a legal principle called the first-sale doctrine, they have the right to lend those books to any number of readers free of charge. But the first-sale doctrine does not apply to digital content. For the most part, publishers do not sell their e-books or audiobooks to libraries—they sell digital distribution rights to third-party venders, such as OverDrive, and people like Steve Potash sell lending rights to libraries. These rights often have an expiration date, and they make library e-books “a lot more expensive, in general, than print books,” Michelle Jeske, who oversees Denver’s public-library system, told me. Digital content gives publishers more power over prices, because it allows them to treat libraries differently than they treat other kinds of buyers. Last year, the Denver Public Library increased its digital checkouts by more than sixty per cent, to 2.3 million, and spent about a third of its collections budget on digital content, up from twenty per cent the year before.

There are a handful of popular e-book venders, including Bibliotheca, Hoopla, Axis 360, and the nonprofit Digital Public Library of America. But OverDrive is the largest. It is the company behind the popular app Libby, which, as the Apple App Store puts it, “lets you log in to your local library to access ebooks, audiobooks, and magazines, all for the reasonable price of free.” The vast majority of OverDrive’s earnings come from markups on the digital content that it licenses to libraries and schools, which is to say that these earnings come largely from American taxes. As libraries and schools have transitioned to e-books, the company has skyrocketed in value. Rakuten, the maker of the Kobo e-reader, bought OverDrive for more than four hundred million dollars, in 2015. Last year, it sold the company to K.K.R., the private-equity firm made famous by the 1989 book “Barbarians at the Gate.” The details of the sale were not made public, but Rakuten reported a profit of “about $365.6 million.”

In the first days of the lockdown, the N.Y.P.L. experienced a spike in downloads, which lengthened the wait times for popular books. In response, it limited readers to three checkouts and three waitlist requests at a time, and it shifted almost all of its multimillion-dollar acquisitions budget to digital content. By the end of March, seventy-four per cent of U.S. libraries were reporting that they had expanded their digital offerings in response to coronavirus-related library closures. During a recent interview over Zoom (another digital service that proliferated during the pandemic), Potash recalled that OverDrive quickly redirected about a hundred employees, who would normally have been at trade shows, “to help support and fortify the increase in demand in digital.” He recalled a fellow-executive telling him, “E-books aren’t just ‘a thing’ now—they’re our only thing.”

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Judge approves lawsuit against Baltimore for letting anarchists destroy property, businesses during riots

Scott Davis:

The lawsuit, brought by 70 plaintiffs, mostly small business owners, has been stuck in the courts for four years, but Thursday’s ruling by U.S. District Judge Stephane Gallagher has cleared the way for the case to go in front of a jury.

The judge said the Maryland Riot Act obligates the city to protect residents and businesses during the unrest. In the ruling, she said the act requires the city to take action to prevent “theft, damage or destruction.”

Gallagher wrote:

“The City may ultimately be right that it acted reasonably as a matter of overall policy and prioritization, and a reasonable juror could certainly agree.

“However, a reasonable juror could also (and perhaps simultaneously) conclude that the City remains liable for the ensuing property damage arguably attributable to the ‘trade-off’ between more traditional anti-riot measures and the City’s policy decisions in April of 2015.”

Notes and Commentary on Free Speech at Princeton

John Londregan and Sergiu Klainerman:

The video/site includes a two-minute discourse in which classics professor Dan-el Padilla Peraltacharacterizes free speech as a “privilege,” rather than a right, and in which he disparages the speech of others with whom he disagrees as “masculine-ized bravado.” Padilla Peralta goes on to extol “free speech and intellectual discourse that is [sic] flexed to one specific aim, and that aim is the promotion of social justice, and an anti-racist social justice at that.”

While he is certainly entitled to his opinions, the absence of other perspectives on free speech suggests a jaundiced version of our fundamental commitment to free speech, codified in Princeton’s “Rights, Rules and Responsibilities” document.

Madison’s k-12 enrollment ethnic label commentary

Chris Rickert:

The Madison School District is considering whether to remove the word “Karen” from a section of its online student enrollment form where parents can identify their children’s ethnicity, apparently after some expressed concerns about its modern-day connotations.

But if it does, the district wouldn’t be able to collect information on more than 30 other ancestral groups, including Somali, Ecuadorian, Menominee and Nigerian.

“Karen” in the parlance of current American race relations has come to mean a demanding white woman blind to her own privilege and racism.

Think the woman who called police on a Black birdwatcher in New York City’s Central Park last year after he asked her to put her dog on a leash.

“Karen,” though, also refers to “a number of ethnic groupswith Tibetan-Central Asian origins” who speak 12 related but distinct languages, according to the London-based human rights group Minority Rights Group International. The group estimates there are some 4 million Karen (pronounced “kuh-REN”), mostly in Myanmar. An estimated 215,000 live in the U.S.

The word appears on an online district enrollment page that asks parents to check a box for their student’s ethnicity. Check the “Asian” box and a drop-down menu appears with boxes for “Chinese,” “Filipino,” Karen” and five other Asian groups, along with “unknown,” “other” and “decline to indicate.”

Similar drop-down menus appear for “Hispanic or Latino,” “American Indian or Alaska Native” and “Black or African American” (but not “White” or “Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander”).

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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

Apple to Delay on device iPhone scanning

Joanna Stern:

Apple Inc. said it plans to delay and make improvements to new iPhone software that aimed to identify and report collections of sexually exploitative images of children, a move that comes amid backlash from critics concerned about the erosion of privacy with their devices.

Apple said last month that it would introduce the software later this year through an iPhone update for U.S. users. It defended the software for many weeks. But in a brief statement Friday the company said it “decided to take additional time over the coming months to collect input and make improvements before releasing these critically important child safety features.”

How to study effectively

Paul Penn:

Another routine approach to study is to repeatedly reread sources. It’s not difficult to explain why students rely on this approach. If you read a piece of text repeatedly, that text will start to feel familiar. You will likely interpret this feeling of familiarity as progress. Unfortunately, this perception of progress is often illusory. It reflects a failure to consider a vital difference between study and exam conditions: things always seem easy when you have the answers in front of you. Inconveniently, most exams don’t allow you that luxury.

A reliance on passively rereading material when studying also reflects a more fundamental misconception about the nature of memory. We often view memory as being akin to a somewhat unreliable camera; not so much an SLR, more one of those Victorian jobbies – the kind that required 30 minutes of exposure to capture a portrait, during which time the subjects had to remain utterly still or else the photo would be ruined. This reproductive notion of memory lulls us into thinking that successfully remembering a source boils down to the amount of exposure we give it and that interacting with that source will likely only ‘interfere with the shot’. However, thinking of memory as if it worked like a recalcitrant camera is misleading and really unhelpful when you’re studying.

Civics: Exclusive: Amazon to remove more content that violates rules from cloud service, sources say

Sheila Dang:

It could turn Amazon, the leading cloud service provider worldwide with 40% market share according to research firm Gartner, into one of the world’s most powerful arbiters of content allowed on the internet, experts say.

Amazon made headlines in the Washington Post last week for shutting down a website hosted on AWS that featured propaganda from Islamic State that celebrated the suicide bombing that killed an estimated 170 Afghans and 13 U.S. troops in Kabul last Thursday. They did so after the news organization contacted Amazon, according to the Post.

How Ivy League diplomats sought to remake Afghanistan in Harvard’s image

Cockburn:

America hoped that with enough half-baked social engineering in the half of Afghanistan it controlled, it would eventually be rewarded with victory, and Afghanistan would become the Holland of the Hindu Kush. On Ivy League campuses, students are taught to decry ‘colonialism’, but the Ivy League diplomats who sought to remake Afghanistan in Harvard’s image were among the most ambitious practitioners of it in world history.

So, alongside the billions for bombs went hundreds of millions for gender studies in Afghanistan. According to US government reports, $787 million was spent on gender programs in Afghanistan, but that substantially understates the actual total, since gender goals were folded into practically every undertaking America made in the country.

A recent report from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) broke down the difficulties of the project. For starters, in both Dari and Pastho there are no words for ‘gender’. That makes sense, since the distinction between ‘sex’ and ‘gender’ was only invented by a sexually-abusive child psychiatrist in the 1960s, but evidently Americans were caught off-guard. Things didn’t improve from there. Under the US’s guidance, Afghanistan’s 2004 constitution set a 27 percent quota for women in the lower house — higher than the actual figure in America! A strategy that sometimes required having women represent provinces they had never actually been to. Remarkably, this experiment in ‘democracy’ created a government few were willing to fight for, let alone die for.

The initiatives piled up one after another. Do-gooders established a ‘National Masculinity Alliance’, so a few hundred Afghan men could talk about their ‘gender roles’ and ‘examine male attitudes that are harmful to women’.

Changes in Body Mass Index Among Children and Adolescents During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Susan J. Woolford, MD, MPH1, Margo Sidell, Xia Li:

The COVID-19 pandemic has been associated with weight gain among adults,1 but little is known about the weight of US children and adolescents. To evaluate pandemic-related changes in weight in school-aged youths, we compared the body mass index (BMI; calculated as weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared) of youths aged 5 to 17 years during the pandemic in 2020 to the same period before the pandemic in 2019.

How long can a democracy maintain emergency restrictions and still call itself a free country?

Conor Friedersdorf:

Before 2020, the idea of Australia all but forbidding its citizens from leaving the country, a restriction associated with Communist regimes, was unthinkable. Today, it is a widely accepted policy. “Australia’s borders are currently closed and international travel from Australia remains strictly controlled to help prevent the spread of COVID-19,” a government website declares. “International travel from Australia is only available if you are exempt or you have been granted an individual exemption.” The rule is enforced despite assurances on another government website, dedicated to setting forth Australia’s human-rights-treaty obligations, that the freedom to leave a country “cannot be made dependent on establishing a purpose or reason for leaving.”

The nation’s high court struck down a challenge to the country’s COVID-19 restrictions. “It may be accepted that the travel restrictions are harsh. It may also be accepted that they intrude upon individual rights,” it ruled. “But Parliament was aware of that.” Until last month, Australians who are residents of foreign countries were exempt from the rule so they could return to their residence. But the government tightened the restrictions further, trapping many of them in the country too.

Intrastate travel within Australia is also severely restricted. And the government of South Australia, one of the country’s six states, developed and is now testing an app as Orwellian as any in the free world to enforce its quarantine rules. People in South Australia will be forced to download an app that combines facial recognition and geolocation. The state will text them at random times, and thereafter they will have 15 minutes to take a picture of their face in the location where they are supposed to be. Should they fail, the local police department will be sent to follow up in person. “We don’t tell them how often or when, on a random basis they have to reply within 15 minutes,” Premier Steven Marshall explained. “I think every South Australian should feel pretty proud that we are the national pilot for the home-based quarantine app.”

Other states also curtailed their citizens’ liberty in the name of safety. The state of Victoria announced a curfew and suspended its Parliament for key parts of the pandemic. “To put this in context, federal and state parliaments sat during both world wars and the Spanish Flu, and curfews have never been imposed,” the scholar John Lee observed in an article for the Brookings Institution. “In responding to a question about whether he had gone too far with respect to imposing a curfew (avoiding the question of why a curfew was needed when no other state had one), Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews replied: ‘it is not about human rights. It is about human life.’”

K-12 Tax & spending climate: Social Security trust funds now projected to run out of money sooner than expected due to Covid, Treasury says

Thomas Franck:

Senior administration officials said in a press briefing Tuesday afternoon that a spike in deaths among retirement-age Americans in 2020 helped keep the programs’ costs lower than projected. They added that the ultimate, long-term impact of the coronavirus is less clear as costs and revenues return to their extended forecasts.

Notes and Commentary on K-12 Curriculum

Goldwater Institute:

Schools are keeping parents in the dark

In too many of our nation’s classrooms, children are being taught that everything should be seen through the lens of race—a divisive and damaging worldview that negates the value of the individual. Instead of reading our country’s founding documents, students are being told that America was founded on fundamentally hateful and intolerant ideas. And they’re learning that the American Dream isn’t really for everyone.

To make matters worse, most parents are unaware that these are the kinds of lessons their kids are learning. While it’s easy for parents to go online to access schools’ financial data, student performance scores, graduation and dropout rates, enrollment processes, and more, there’s one area that remains shockingly opaque: the educational content kids are learning in America’s classrooms.

For parents, it’s just about impossible to know what lessons await their children when they go to school. And even though several states’ laws explicitly grant parents the right to review the content used in their children’s classroom, parents often have no practical way of exercising these rights, especially in advance of committing to a school for their child.

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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

No, the Evidence Does Not Support Racial ‘Affinity Spaces’ in Schools

Rick Hess:

In schooling, proponents of even suspect pedagogies and practices tend to insist that their preferred approach is “evidence-based.” This seems to be the case, yet again, in the debates swirling around “anti-racist” education. I’ve encountered many claims I find unconvincing, especially when they’re advanced by impassioned advocates who don’t seem to have thought all that much about what constitutes credible evidence. (For more on how I think about evidence, check out my Educational Leadership piecefrom earlier in the spring.)

This has been particularly noticeable when it comes to racial “affinity spaces” and the whole notion that public school systems should be comfortable separating students by race and ethnicity in order to address sensitive issues. Supporters routinely assert that there’s evidence to justify this practice, despite a startling lack of research actually supporting it (more on that in a moment).

For instance, Madison West High School, in Madison, Wisc., has hosted discussions in which students and parents were segregated into groups based on their race. This spring, after one such exercise, the local NBC affiliate published “Experts explain effects of affinity groups,” in which a district spokesperson, the high school principal, and a University of Wisconsin sociology professor all echoed the district’s contention that this is “a well established method.”

The convergence of many seemingly unrelated elements has produced an explosion of brainlessness

Lance Morrow:

Stupidity,” Jean Cocteau remarked, “is always amazing, no matter how used to it you become.”

We live in a golden age of stupidity. It is everywhere. President Biden’s conduct of the withdrawal from Afghanistan will be remembered as a defining stupidity of our time—one of many. The refusal of tens of millions of people to be vaccinated against the novel coronavirus will be analyzed as a textbook case of stupidity en masse. Stupid is as stupid does, or, in the case of vaccination, as it doesn’t do. Stupidity and irresponsibility are evil twins.

The slow-motion zombies’ assault on the Capitol on Jan. 6 was a fittingly stupid finale to the Trump years, which offered dueling stupidities: Buy one, get one free. The political parties became locked in a four-year drama of hysteria and mutually demeaning abuse. Every buffoonery of the president and his people was answered by an idiocy from the other side, which in its own style was just as sinister and just as clownish.

First-Ever Census Bureau Report Highlights Growing Childless Older Adult Population

Census.gov:

A new, first-ever report of its kind released today by the U.S. Census Bureau shows 15.2 million, nearly 1 in 6 (16.5%), adults age 55 and older are childless, and the levels of childlessness among older adults are expected to increase. The report Childless Older Americans: 2018 uses data from the 2018 Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) to examine the circumstances (socioeconomic status and demographic charac­teristics), potential caregiving and financial support from family and the community, and health and well-being of child­less older adults. The report also compares these characteristics to those of biological parents of the same age group.

In an irony only public radio could miss, “On the Media” hosts an hour on the perils of “free speech absolutism” without interviewing a defender of free speech.

Matt Taibbi:

The guests for NPR’s just-released On The Media episode about the dangers of free speech included Andrew Marantz, author of an article called, “Free Speech is Killing Us”; P.E. Moskowitz, author of “The Case Against Free Speech”; Susan Benesch, director of the “Dangerous Speech Project”; and Berkeley professor John Powell, whose contribution was to rip John Stuart Mill’s defense of free speech in On Liberty as “wrong.” 

That’s about right for NPR, which for years now has regularly congratulated itself for being a beacon of diversity while expunging every conceivable alternative point of view. 

I always liked Brooke Gladstone, but this episode of On The Media was shockingly dishonest. The show was a compendium of every neo-authoritarian argument for speech control one finds on Twitter, beginning with the blanket labeling of censorship critics as “speech absolutists” (most are not) and continuing with shameless revisions of the history of episodes like the ACLU’s mid-seventies defense of Nazi marchers at Skokie, Illinois. 

The essence of arguments made by all of NPR’s guests is that the modern conception of speech rights is based upon John Stuart Mill’s outdated conception of harm, which they summarized as saying, “My freedom to swing my fist ends at the tip of your nose.”

Because, they say, we now know that people can be harmed by something other than physical violence, Mill (whose thoughts NPR overlaid with harpsichord music, so we could be reminded how antiquated they are) was wrong, and we have to recalibrate our understanding of speech rights accordingly.

Are we sure we want the former dictating how the latter run their businesses?

Ben Thompson:

Government and Private Industry

That noted, I have to be honest: the prospect of new laws makes me increasingly nervous as well. I absolutely get the case that these platforms are powerful in a way that is deeply suspicious to Americans, and understand the impetus for new regulation, but for me the last two years have been an eye-opening experience about capacity and capability. We have witnessed the federal government, under two different administrations, fumble its way through a pandemic, while its supposedly most capable branch oversaw a disastrous withdrawl from a 20-year nation-building effort that collapsed in a matter of days. The tech industry, meanwhile, has kept the entire world economy running remote with hardly a hiccup, even as other private companies conceived of, tested, and distributed over a billion vaccines and counting. Are we sure we want the former dictating how the latter run their businesses?

China, meanwhile, is going in the opposite direction, taking seats on the board’s of the country’s most innovative companiesdriving out founders and killing IPOs, and even limiting when kids can play video games. The most favorable reading of China’s actions is that at least its state has demonstrated the capacity for action — witness how China has brought COVID under control within its borders — but that comes with a level of interference with fundamental freedoms that Americans will never tolerate, and still unanswered questions about just where innovation will come from when pleasing the government is every company’s top priority.

The appropriate response to this challenge — and China is absolutely a challenge — is to reject a top-down approach conducted via regulators with less capacity and greater encumbrances than Beijing, and instead let the tech industry and private companies generally continue to do what they do best: compete. This administration’s antitrust crusaders, unfortunately, don’t really get how markets work. This snippet from The Ezra Klein Show with Tim Wu, a National Economic Council member in charge of technology and competition policy, has stuck with me ever since I heard it in 2016; this was Wu’s takeaway from working in Silicon Valley for a silicon valley startup guilty of accounting fraud:

Notes and Commentary on Madison’s 2021-2022 “virtual school” plans

Scott Girard:

Madison Teachers Inc. president Michael Jones said earlier Tuesday the union was working with the district on staffing the program.

“The discussions for planning have been positive and we’re hopeful that we’ll have a model that’ll meet the needs of our kids, staff, and families,” Jones wrote to the Cap Times.

The district sent a letter to families that had applied Tuesday, explaining it had received “better than anticipated interest” in the program that “has far exceeded our predetermined enrollment limit.” It promised to let parents know if their student would be in the program by Wednesday — the day before the year begins for students in grades 4K, kindergarten, first, sixth, seventh, ninth and 10th.

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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

Civics: Former New York Times Reporter and Lockdown Sceptic Alex Berenson Banned From Twitter

Toby Young:

Leading lockdown sceptic Alex Berenson, a former New York Times science reporter, has been permanently suspended from Twitter following a tweet pointing out some of the limitations of the Covid vaccines last week. The New York Post has more.

Berenson’s account was banned Saturday after “repeated violations” of the rules, a Twitter spokesperson told NBC News in a statement.

Assessing the impact of an elite education

The Economist:

Sad Little Men: Private Schools and the Ruin of England. By Richard Beard. Harvill Secker; 288 pages; £16.99

AS ITS SUBTITLE promises, this book is an uncompromising denunciation of Britain’s private schools. They offer their charges a Faustian bargain, says Richard Beard: the tools of success (principally fluency and self-confidence) in return for emotional impoverishment. He knows whereof he speaks: in 1975 he was sent from home to a new life sleeping in dormitories and climbing hierarchies, much like David Cameron and Boris Johnson.

On China’s birthdate and economic conditions

George Soros:

The underlying cause is that China’s birth rate is much lower than the statistics indicate. The officially reported figure overstates the population by a significant amount. Xi inherited these demographics, but his attempts to change them have made matters worse.

Please use the sharing tools found via the share button at the top or side of articles. Copying articles to share with others is a breach of FT.com T&Cs and Copyright Policy. Email licensing@ft.com to buy additional rights. Subscribers may share up to 10 or 20 articles per month using the gift article service. More information can be found at https://www.ft.com/tour. https://www.ft.com/content/ecf7de34-e595-4814-9cbd-4a5119187330 One of the reasons why middle-class families are unwilling to have more than one child is that they want to make sure that their children will have a bright future. As a result, a large tutoring industry has grown up, dominated by Chinese companies backed by US investors. Such for-profit tutoring companies were recently banned from China and this became an important element in the sell-off in New York-listed Chinese companies and shell companies. 

Open Enrollment Might Just Be Inevitable

Jennifer Wagner:

EdChoice Fellow and longtime school choice advocate Matt Ladner has a solid new blog post over at the Fordham Institute about the future of open enrollment and the changing demographics of our nation, specifically lower birth rates and longer life expectancies.

Using his home state of Arizona as “the demographic canary in America’s coal mine,” Ladner makes a compelling case that three main factors — the pre-pandemic baby bust; an increase in homeschooling and microschooling; and new and improved school choice policies — are driving toward a potentially unpleasant conclusion for those folks who’ve high-tailed it to the suburbs to access high-quality public schools:

The upshot of this is that many suburban districts are going to find themselves short of students, which means that many may lower the drawbridge to allow in open enrollment transfers to avoid closure. When this happened in Arizona, the choice knob got turned to “11.” Almost all Arizona districts participate in open enrollment now, even the fancy suburban ones.

Though it’s not a policy we focus on in our advocacy efforts, I’m a broken record when it comes to the issue of open enrollment and how we talk about school choice.

Even those who staunchly defend traditional public education can see that there are severe economic and racial inequities baked into the system when it comes to urban versus suburban schools. (Don’t believe me? Take three minutes and watch this video on the history of redlining featuring 50CAN’s Derrell Bradford.)

Those inequities, of course, are the result of assigning schools to families based on where they live, not what they need, and funding those schools in many states using property tax dollars.

Civics: Australia: Unprecedented surveillance bill rushed through parliament in 24 hours.

Tutanota:

The Australian government has been moving towards a surveillance state for some years already. Now they are putting the nail in the coffin with an unprecedented surveillance bill that allows the police to hack your device, collect or delete your data, and take over your social media accounts; without sufficient safeguards to prevent abuse of these new powers.

This month the Australian government has passed a sweeping surveillance bill, worse than any similar legislation in any other five eye country.

The Surveillance Legislation Amendment (Identify and Disrupt) Bill 2020 gives the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) three new powers for dealing with online crime:

Our most dazzling self-taught students may find college admission difficult

jay Matthew’s:

Question: How did the famous comedy duo of Mike Nichols and Elaine May get together?

Answer: They were brilliant teens who read everything but disdained academic requirements. Both went to the University of Chicago because they were told it was the only top college willing to admit students such as Nichols, who hadn’t taken the SAT, or May, who had no high school diploma.Jay Mathews is an education columnist for The Washington Post, his employer for nearly 50 years. He created the annual Challenge Index rankings of high schools and has written nine books.

We’re not even at a breaking point anymore. We’re broken.

Dan Sinker:

It was two weeks, originally. Who couldn’t do two weeks with the kids at home? Two weeks to bend the curve. It was simple.

Then it was two months—because nothing bent—and, well, we did two weeks and that went okay, so two months would be doable, right? Right?

And then it was summer, and kids are always home in the summer, so how was that different? Sure, we can’t go anywhere, but we’ll just do a little more TV, a little more iPad, a little more of everything we’re already doing. Besides, school is just around the corner and finally they’ll go back.

Except they didn’t. Instead it was a year in limbo: school on stuttering Zoom, school in person and then back home again for quarantine, school all the time and none of the time. No part of it was good, for kids or parents, but most parts of it were safe, and somehow, impossibly, we made it through a full year. It was hell, but we did it. We did it.

Notes on Open Enrollment

Matthew Ladner:

In the process, Arizona districts became choice operators themselves. Scottsdale Unified, for example, currently has about a fifth of their students coming into the district through open enrollment. The key to spurring open enrollment wasn’t laws. It was incentives. The bureaucracies needed the money, and as some suburban districts got more active in open enrollment, it created competitive pressure on other districts to do the same.

A majority of Phoenix area students do not attend their zip-code-assigned school. District open enrollment students outnumber charter students almost two to one, despite Arizona having the largest charter school enrollment. Perhaps not coincidentally, during all of this, data collected by Stanford University sociologist Sean F. Reardon showed that Arizona students ranked firstin academic gains between 2008 and 2018. They learned more per year of schooling during this period than any other state and had strong growth across multiple subgroups.

So what does this have to do with your state? Events seem to be conspiring to crack open suburban districts for open enrollment broadly. First, there was a national baby bust going on before Covid-19. Worst still, a survey by the Guttmacher Institute found that one-third of American women polled in late April and early May wanted to delay childbearing or have fewer children because of the pandemic. This will pinch enrollment.

Second, the pandemic has seen a gigantic increase in homeschool enrollment and the creation of an entirely new micro-school sector. Tyton Partners created a panel study of American families to estimate national enrollment trends. Figure 1 below presents its estimates for fall 2021.

Mom is stripped of parenting time over refusal to get COVID-19 vaccine

Melissa Klein:

A Chicago mom says a judge has forbid her from seeing her 11-year-old son because she is not vaccinated against COVID-19.

“I miss my son more than anything. It’s been very difficult. I haven’t seen him since Aug. 10,” Rebecca Firlit told FOX 32 News in Chicago.

The unusual move came during a court hearing about child support issues in front of Cook County Judge James Shapiro, according to the report.

Firlit shares custody of her son with her ex-husband.

The judge, unprompted, asked about Firlit’s vaccination status. He then stripped her of parenting time when she said she refused to get the shot.

She says she’s reacted badly to vaccinations in the past and is appealing the judge’s ruling, according to the station.

The American Bar Association Attacks Academic Freedom

National Review:

The Standards Committee of the American Bar Association has recommended, as a condition of accreditation for American law schools, “requiring law schools to provide education on bias, crosscultural competency, and racism.” It suggests employing “guest lectures or trainings by experts in the areas of bias, cross-cultural competency, and racism,” a proposal that envisions money flowing into the pockets of Robin DiAngelo, Ibram X. Kendi, and their ilk. The ABA also proposes “setting and publishing goals related to diversity and inclusion” in faculty hiring and student admissions. These proposals are unsubtle code for the kinds of racialist, Marxist-influenced ideology and racial quotas that undermine the promise of equal justice under law.

Given that it is all but impossible to practice law in the United States without graduating from an ABA-accredited school, the adoption of these proposals would amount to government-backed mandates, especially as applied to the nation’s many state-run law schools. Some of them are likely illegal, as they involve the promotion of race-conscious hiring and admissions and the invasion of the academic freedom of graduate-level university professional schools. The ABA blew by a number of critical comments by prominent scholars of varying political stripes warning of this.

Even aside from the legal challenges, what the ABA’s move reflects is that the Left is still on the offensive in culture-war fights to control educational curricula, with, in this case, the longer-term objective being the corruption of the legal system itself. Except perhaps in the scale of the ambition that this particular project reveals, this ought not really to be news, unless you have listened only to left-wing critics of efforts by Republicans and conservatives to fight back against critical race theory and other leftist efforts at political indoctrination of students. Here, too, every legal means should be on the table to resist these proposals. The goal of that resistance should not be to dictate an orthodoxy, but to prevent the enforcement of one.

Critical Thinking

Joanne Jacobs:

Parents fear their children will be told they are oppressors or victims because of the color of their skin.

Banning ideas or ideologies is a bad idea, argue Robert Pondiscio and Tracey Schirra of the American Enterprise Institute. They suggest a “teacher code of conduct” on how to discuss multiple sides of controversial topics.

After all, an essential goal in any classroom is cultivating the ability to analyze, discuss, and debate contentious issues civilly, from multiple perspectives. The teacher’s job is to ensure those perspectives are presented fairly and to observe a dispassionate professionalism, allowing students to decide what they think for themselves, without teachers putting a thumb on the scale.

Some teachers “may insist critical race theory is unassailable truth, not merely one lens among many through which well-educated people can view and discuss American history and culture,” Pondiscio and Schirra write. “But common sense suggests that a diverse and plural nation contains diverse and plural viewpoints.”

Public school teachers shouldn’t be preachers, they write.

Do we trust true believers to understand the difference between their strongly held views and The Truth?

Boys in Custody and the Women Who Abuse Them

Joaquin Sapien:

The phenomenon — a particularly unexamined corner of the nation’s long-troubled juvenile justice system – presents an array of challenges for those concerned about better protecting young people in custody: encouraging male teens to understand such sex is, in fact, a crime, that it is never really consensual, and that its long term effects can be seriously harmful; requiring corrections officials to stop blaming the young boys and meaningfully punish the female staffers; and establishing standards of conduct meant to end the abuse.

“Many corrections leaders continue to minimize this abuse, arguing that it’s the kids who are manipulating the staff, that these boys are asking for it,” said Lovisa Stannow, executive director of the California-based nonprofit Just Detention International, which advocates for the elimination of prison rape. “That’s simply not good enough.”

The Justice Department first discovered the startling form of abuse in 2010, when it surveyed more than 9,000 youngsters living in juvenile halls and group homes. More than 10 percent of the respondents said they’d been sexually abused by staff and 92 percent said their abuser was female.

In the last three years, the numbers haven’t changed much. 

The Justice Department released its second reportlast month, and this time researchers surveyed more than 8,700 juveniles housed in 326 facilities across the country. In all, the facilities house more than 18,000 juveniles, representing about one quarter of the nation’s total number of youngsters living in detention centers.

“It’s OK that our babies may not have learned all their times tables. They learned resilience…”; “how are you going to recall me?”

Mike Antonucci:

Here are a few of the more pungent quotes from Myart-Cruz:

  • “There is no such thing as learning loss. Our kids didn’t lose anything. It’s OK that our babies may not have learned all their times tables. They learned resilience. They learned survival. They learned critical-thinking skills. They know the difference between a riot and a protest. They know the words insurrection and coup.”
  • “It is not radical to ask for ethnic studies. It is not radical to ask for childcare. It’s not radical to ask for police-free schools so that students don’t feel criminalized. That is not radical; that’s just fact.”
  • “Education is political. People don’t want to say that, but it is.”
  • “Reopening schools without…a broader improvement of schools will be unsafe and will only deepen…racial and class inequalities.”
  • “You can recall the Governor. You can recall the school board. But how are you going to recall me?”

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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

The Pandemic’s Youth Mental-Health Crisis Swamps Schools, Community Programs

Andrew Peterson:

JR Dzubak was breaking up a fistfight between a group of high-school boys in July when he had a moment of doubt. What if he wasn’t doing enough?

The chief executive of a Boys & Girls Club in Los Angeles County has spent the past 18 months watching the pandemic wreak havoc on the mental health of his club’s children. When more kids returned to the club in person in the spring many seemed listless and distracted, says Mr. Dzubak, who, at 50, has worked for the Boys & Girls Clubs since he was a 16-year-old counselor in training. Children sat by themselves or in small groups. Some kids acted out, cursing and shoving each other.

The club’s counselors have reported that more the children and teens are having suicidal thoughts. A few began cutting themselves.

Mr. Dzubak hired a “Kindness Director” to teach the children ways to improve their mood, such as practicing yoga and identifying things they are grateful for. He installed a big blue couch in the game room of the main clubhouse where youngsters could immediately find an adult to talk with.

More than forty years of academic feminism died in the sands of Afghanistan.

Sumantra Maitra:

There were no Hollywood “I got this sis” girlboss videos, or “empowered” bands of amazons on daredevil missions to save women and children from those misogynist dinosaurs. The best we got was an open letter from Kate Winslet and Amanda Gorman, and a half-hearted Jacinda Ardern begging the Taliban to honour women’s rights, who now as the legitimate government of Afghanistan , in an ironic twist of liberal institutionalism, will have a seat on the UN Commission on the status of women. There should ideally be whole study groups at universities on this. Empowerment, it turns out, is only a corporate buzzword synonymous with protection, often by hard men with guns from another set of hard men with guns. A benevolent form of patriarchy defending against a malevolent form of patriarchy. Real power is power, it turns out. Or remains.

Practically all social science theories on counter-insurgency failed in Afghanistan. Twenty years of the military-NGO complex, panels after panels about the benefits of starting girls schools in Helmand, trillions of dollars in endowments, entire university departments, grants, scholarships, and several hundreds of theoretical papers later, it appears the only way to end an insurgency is not by winning hearts and minds,but by decimating the male population mercilessly and installing warlords; unless one is willing to occupy the land for over three hundred years in a hope of organic change from within that is, roughly the time it took from the last of the Greater Mughals to Nehru. There is something grimly comic in noting that the people who would have woke strokes just on hearing the Raj being praised are also, habitually, those keening at the West “abandoning” Afghanistan.

The Russians stabilised Chechnya, not by teaching Tolstoy but by killing Chechens and installing pro-Kremlin warlords. The Sri Lankans committed war crimes on a genocidal scale but managed to end the LTTE (Tamil Tigers) threat for good. One can debate the morality of these actions, or the fact that Afghanistan is at all strategically that important to us, the way Chechnya is to Russia, or Jaffna is to Sri Lanka. But the end result is in favour of amoral realpolitik. Speaking of Hannibal, Niccolò Machiavelli wrote in The Prince that there were no dissensions within the multi-ethnic subjects manning his army. “This arose from nothing else than his inhuman cruelty, which, with his boundless valour, made him revered and terrible in the sight of his soldiers, but without that cruelty, his other virtues were not sufficient to produce this effect”. Observing the collapse of the Afghan army facing the Taliban, it was Machiavelli 1, Pentagon 0.

Complete 3rd Grade Math Problems

STEM Hacks

Leo’s third grade class got to try a Noyce Foundation math worksheet [1] the other day. They didn’t fare so well, but I gotta tell you, some of the problems are REALLY hard! In fact, one of them is NP-Hard! Now, I’m sure that there must be a trick to this problem, but I wasn’t able to see it in the couple of minutes that I thought about it. In fact, Leo even recognized that it’s NP-Hard; He told me the day of the quiz that they had given out an NP-Complete problem! (In fact, if you look closely at the page, you’ll see that he wrote “NP Compleite” (Sic 🙂 ) diagonally across the picture:

Notes and Commentary on Madison Area Catholic schools (no outcome data, however)

Chris Rickert:

Enrollment has dropped by about 75 students at a prominent Madison Catholic church’s school amid questions about the new principal’s connections to a controversial Cross Plains priest and whether the school would require masks to guard against a resurgent COVID-19 pandemic.

The dust-up is the latest source of tension in Dane County’s Catholic community, where more liberal-leaning rank-and-file Catholics have at times been at odds with a more conservative Diocese of Madison leadership, most notably former Bishop Robert Morlino, who died in 2018.

St. Maria Goretti parish on Madison’s Southwest Side has seen its membership slip by more than 200 people to about 6,700 since the Rev. Monsignor Mike Burke stepped down from full-time ministry in 2017. He was ultimately replaced in 2019 by the Rev. Scott Emerson, who some at the parish see as trying to impose a more traditional approach to Mass, including moving toward using only male altar servers in some cases and getting rid of contemporary music.

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

Commentary on “free” K-12 school lunches

Rory Linnane:

“As we get back to whatever you want to believe normal means, we have decisions to make,” Joseph Como, president of the school board, said in a meeting. “I would say this is part of normalization.”

Board member Karin Rajnicek said the free program made it easy for families to “become spoiled.” Darren Clark, assistant superintendent for business services, said he feared there would be a “slow addiction” to the service.

Reflections On Elite Education: In A Just World, Would The College I Teach At Exist?

Jonny Thakar:

Swarthmore College, where I have taught for the last four years, is run pretty democratically as a result of its Quaker heritage, to the point where any erosion of faculty governance is still noticed and lamented even if the most important decisions seem to be out of our hands. Much of the work is trivial but slow. … Whether professors’ time is best devoted to such Solomonic inquiries is a question I have not yet seen raised — this is what faculty governance looks like, apparently, and in any case nobody forces you to show up.

The problem with not showing up, of course, is that sometimes important things do get debated, and every so often they even get decided. … Something about the setting encourages melodrama and grandstanding, not to mention a tendency toward digression that can make concentration, especially via Zoom, seem like a mark of sainthood. A lot has to do with the internal logic of this kind of gathering; everyone has a right to speak, but it’s first-come-first-served and some were born with their hands up. But if people jump up to speak (as I sometimes do) or if they feel compelled to enter a comment in the chat, it’s generally because they care deeply, not only about the issue at hand but also about the underlying question of what Swarthmore stands for. It is this question, unresolved and for the most part unposed, that is the ultimate source of conflict.

Everything hinges on a tension that is constitutive to the college itself, given its history and self-conception. The official mission statement reads as follows:

Swarthmore College provides learners of diverse backgrounds a transformative liberal-arts education grounded in rigorous intellectual inquiry and empowers all who share in our community to flourish and contribute to a better world.

Public Schools Are Failing Black Students With Dyslexia: One Grandmother’s Story

KALW:

Geraldine Robinson stepped proudly onto the stage and stated her name. What she said next was an understatement: “I am a fightin’ grandmother.” 

Robinson, 65, is a devout and joyful Christian who’s now raising three of her grandchildren. She’s been a relentless advocate for two of them in particular. And, she told the audience, the stakes are high: “I am fighting for their life.” 

On this fall evening in 2019, the crowd gathered to celebrate the 40th anniversary of a disability rights nonprofit — and honor this Oakland matriarch. Her grandson and his younger sister showed early signs of dyslexia. 

“About 30 years ago, I had two sons that had dyslexia,” Robinson said, her voice rising. “So I knew some of the signs.”

Science has taught us a lot since then about what exactly dyslexia is and isn’t. The neurobiological learning disorder affects the brain’s ability to match letters with their shapes and sounds. It impacts reading, writing and sometimes speech. And it runs in families. So Robinson talked to the kids’ teachers.

Civics: on the US “ideological rot”

Zoe Strimpel:

Weiss stresses that the battle will be long. When her friends complain to her in secret that there isn’t “a single university left where I would send my child”, she asks: “what are you going to do to fix it? Are you going to keep your mouth shut and just shove them off to the prep school circuit that will ultimately get them into Yale, where they’re going to be surrounded by this world-view that you say you hate?”. 

Weiss has no children yet, but if she does: “I don’t want my child to go to Yale or Harvard”. Should they shun university altogether she’d be “thrilled… I have never felt further removed in my life from the pedigreed, prestigious, elitist universe. I think it is actively damaging the country.”

Weiss says that too many people still seem content to label the woke Left a lunatic fringe, or simply call for a return to “classical liberalism”. But yodelling for a liberal consensus – just the sort of thing my friends and I do in north London kitchens – is “insufficient for the present moment… you need to understand how that failed and how that failed so many people,” she says. Failure to do so is what got Trump elected, and has allowed extremes on both sides to balloon.

Lowell got rid of competitive admissions. New data shows how that’s impacted the school’s diversity

Emma Talley:

But opponents argue the move is hurting Asian American students and taking away a springboard to achievement for low-income families. Opponents also charge that it was done without proper public input and that the school was already diverse.

Attorney Harmeet Dhillon, a critic of the new admissions policy, noted that before the change Lowell’s student body was 82% non-white.

The board’s problem is not underrepresentation, it is “a perceived over-representation of a community of color the Board disfavors — Asian Americans,” she wrote in a 14-page letter to the board after its decision in March.

Other opponents of the move, who filed a lawsuit over it in April, said the board’s February vote violated the state’s open meetings law by fast-tracking the issue and failing to gain proper public input.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: “plus an unusual degree of economic freedom and affordability”

Joel Kotkin:

There’s an adage in Texas about a braggart being someone who’s “all hat and no cattle.” But you can’t say that about “Big D,” rapidly emerging as the de facto capital of the American Heartland. The DFW metroplex is now home to 24 Fortune 500 company headquarters, trailing only New York and Chicago; 40 years ago, the region had fewer than five. DFW’s economy has grown markedly faster than those of its three largest rivals (New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago), and it has come through the Covid-19 pandemic with less employment loss than any other metro among the nation’s 12 largest.

Population, too, has surged almost three times faster than the average for the nation’s 50 largest metros. Much of this growth has come from net domestic migration: among America’s top 20 metros, DFW boasts the fourth-highest rate of net inbound migration (including millennials), and the area has experienced a massive surge in its foreign-born population. Demographers project that DFW will reach 10 million people sometime in the 2030s, surpassing Chicago to become America’s third-largest metro area.

Today, Dallas is pulling away economically from the nation’s long-established urban centers because of a distinctive policy orientation: growth-friendly, with lighter-touch business regulation and lower taxes than longtime urban centers in the Northeast, the Midwest, or California. Only four of the 53 U.S. metros with more than 1 million people outperform DFW on an index of economic freedom measuring tax levels, government spending, and labor rules developed by economists at SMU’s Bridwell Institute for Economic Freedom. Likewise, only five of these metros have more growth-friendly land-use rules, based on a data set compiled by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School

According to a study by the Urban Reform Institute, black and Hispanic residents do better in terms of income, homeownership rates, and overall living standards in DFW than in most other U.S. metros, and they’ve voted with their feet.

Civics: Google Report Shows ‘Reverse Warrants’ Are Swiftly Becoming Law Enforcement’s Go-To Investigative Tool

Tim Cushing:

But, if this report is any indication, geofence warrants aren’t going away. It’s up to legislators to change that. And until legislators are willing to ban or restrict use of these warrants, it’s up to the courts to thoroughly vet these requests that burden hundreds of people with a presumption of guilt until the thousands of data points gathered by a third party can exonerate them.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Baltimore Might Be Liable for Riot Damage to Businesses

Eugene Volokh:

A federal court so holds, applying Maryland’s Riot Act, and quoting the Mayor’s famous line that the City “gave those who wished to destroy space to do that.”

From Chae Bros. Limited Ltd. Co. v. Mayor & City Council of Baltimore, decided yesterday by Judge Stephanie A. Gallagher (D. Md.):

Plaintiffs, consisting primarily of small businesses, small business owners, and property owners in Baltimore City, seek to recover for damages suffered during the civil unrest that occurred after the arrest and subsequent death of Freddie Gray in April, 2015….

Maryland’s Riot Act provides that “if a structure or personal property is stolen, damaged, or destroyed in a riot, the injured party may recover actual damages sustained in a civil action against the county or municipal corporation of the State in which the riot occurred.” However, the county or municipal corporation is not liable unless it:

Canada: Under 65 Excess Mortality exceeds Covid-19 Deaths

Statistics Canada:

To understand both the direct and indirect consequences of the pandemic, it is important to measure excess mortality, which occurs when there are more deaths during a period of time than what would have been expected for that period. It should be noted that, even without a pandemic, there is always some year-to-year variation in the number of people who die in a given week. This means that the number of expected deaths should fall within a certain range of values. There is evidence of excess mortality when the number of weekly deaths is consistently higher than what is expected, and even more so when numbers exceed the expected range over consecutive weeks.

While we sometimes observe excess mortality that is consistent with the number of deaths attributed to COVID-19, data reveal that indirect consequences of the pandemic are also having a significant impact on the number of excess deaths in Canada, particularly among younger Canadians. Based on the newly updated provisional dataset released today from the Canadian Vital Statistics Death Database, from the end of March 2020 to the beginning of April 2021, an estimated 62,203 deaths were reported among Canadians aged 0 to 64. This represents 5,535 more deaths than expected were there no pandemic, after accounting for changes in the population such as aging. Over the same period, 1,380 COVID-19 deaths have been attributed to the same age group (those younger than 65), suggesting that the excess mortality is, in large part, related to other factors such as increases in the number deaths attributed to causes associated with substance use and misuse, including unintentional (accidental) poisonings and diseases and conditions related to alcohol consumption.

Notes and Commentary on Facebook’s Transparency Report

Matthew Ingram:

Just after the report was published, the Times revealed that a previous version had been shelved, because it showed one of the top links on the site was to a story that said a doctor died from the COVID-19 vaccine, a report from the Chicago Tribune that was circulated widely by anti-vaccination groups and pages. Facebook said this piece of data was left out because it was still tweaking the way in which its systems reported views of content—housecleaning, a Facebook spokesman called it—but the fact that the only post that got removed was a story that became hugely popular with anti-vax disinformation groups seemed more than a little suspicious, especially since Facebook has been the subject ofsome harsh criticism from President Joe Biden about exactly this kind of content.

Many taxpayer supported K-12 School Districts use Facebook (and instagram) services, including Madison.

Civics: South Australia Trials App To Monitor Quarantine Compliance Through Facial Recognition and Geolocation

Caldron pool:

Around 50 South Australian residents have installed the new Home Quarantine SA app as part of the trial which will assist the government in monitoring compliance with the state’s mandatory isolation requirements.

iTnews reports: “The app will allow trial participants to ‘confirm their location with regular check-ins’ through a live face check-in feature that uses facial recognition and location verification.”

Individuals will be sent random location checks which they will be required to respond to within a 15-minute time frame to prove they are at their registered quarantine address by showing their face alongside current geolocation data.

SA Premier Steven Marshall said if the trial proves successful the app could provide “more options for home quarantine for returned South Australians.”

“many states that send data to the agency can’t determine how many of their hospitalized Covid patients had been vaccinated, Politico has found, making it hard to assess how dangerous breakthrough infections can be”

Zeynep Tufekci:

Why this stumbling in the fog? It may seem like we’re drowning in data: Dashboards and charts are everywhere. However, not all data is equal in its power to illuminate, and worse, sometimes it can even be misleading.

Few things have been as lacking in clarity as the risks for children. Testing in schools is haphazard, follow-up reporting is poor and data on hospitalization of children appears to be unreliable, even if those cases are rare. The Food and Drug Administration has asked thatvaccine trials for children aged 5 to 11 be expanded, which is wise, but why weren’t they bigger to begin with?

While the pandemic has produced many fine examples of research and meticulous data collection, we are still lacking in detailed and systematic data on cases, contact-tracing, breakthrough infections and vaccine efficacy over time, as well as randomized trials of interventions like boosters. This has left us playing catch-up with emerging threats like the Delta variant and has left policymakers struggling to make timely decisions in a manner that inspires confidence.

To see the dangers of insufficient data and the powers of appropriate data, consider the case of dexamethasone, an inexpensive generic corticosteroid drug.

In the early days of the pandemic, doctors were warned against using it to treat Covid patients. The limited literature from SARS and MERS — illnesses related to Covid — suggested that steroids, which suppress the immune system, would harm rather than help Covid patients.

Milwaukee Public Schools’ Geometry Teacher Required Students to Disclose Vaccine Status

Katherine Spitz:

It has been brought to our attention that a geometry teacher at Rufus King High School, Kara Grier, issued a survey on the first day of classes asking students about their vaccination status and demanding that those who were not vaccinated provide the teacher with reasons why they are not. The teacher specifically designated this as a “required” question using a red asterisk, meaning that the survey would not be considered “completed” unless the question was answered:

Mechanisms of airborne transmission

Chia C. Wang, Kimberly A. Prather,, Josué Sznitman, Jose L. Jimenez, Seema S. Lakdawala, Zeynep Tufekci, Linsey C. Marr:

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted controversies and unknowns about how respiratory pathogens spread between hosts. Traditionally, it was thought that respiratory pathogens spread between people through large droplets produced in coughs and through contact with contaminated surfaces (fomites). However, several respiratory pathogens are known to spread through small respiratory aerosols, which can float and travel in air flows, infecting people who inhale them at short and long distances from the infected person. Wang et al.review recent advances in understanding airborne transmission gained from studying the spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infections and other respiratory pathogens. The authors suggest that airborne transmission may be the dominant form of transmission for several respiratory pathogens, including SARS-CoV-2, and that further understanding of the mechanisms underlying infection from the airborne route will better inform mitigation measures.

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

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

Molly Beck and Madeline Heim:

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

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

Channel3000:

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

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

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

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

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

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

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Assembly against private school forced closure.

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

The All-Seeing “i”: Apple Just Declared War on Your Privacy

Edward Snowden:

Having read thousands upon thousands of remarks on this growing scandal, it has become clear to me that many understand it doesn’t matter, but few if any have been willing to actually say it. Speaking candidly, if that’s still allowed, that’s the way it always goes when someone of institutional significance launches a campaign to defend an indefensible intrusion into our private spaces. They make a mad dash to the supposed high ground, from which they speak in low, solemn tones about their moral mission before fervently invoking the dread spectre of the Four Horsemen of the Infopocalypse, warning that only a dubious amulet—or suspicious software update—can save us from the most threatening members of our species.

Suddenly, everybody with a principled objection is forced to preface their concern with apologetic throat-clearing and the establishment of bonafides: I lost a friend when the towers came down, however… As a parent, I understand this is a real problem, but…

Most Influential Books for Programmers

Chhantyal:

  1. Code Complete (2nd edition) by Steve McConnell
  2. The Pragmatic Programmer by Andrew Hunt and David Thomas
  3. Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs by Sussman and Abelson (free ebook)
  4. The C Programming Language by Brian Kernighan and Dennis Ritchie
  5. Introduction to Algorithms by Cormen, Leiserson, Rivest & Stein
  6. Design Patterns by the Gang of Four
  7. Refactoring: Improving the Design of Existing Code by Martin Fowler
  8. The Mythical Man Month by Fred Brooks
  9. The Art of Computer Programming by Donald Knuth
  10. Compilers: Principles, Techniques and Tools by Alfred V. Aho, Ravi Sethi and Jeffrey D. Ullman
  11. Gödel, Escher, Bach by Douglas Hofstadter
  12. Clean Code: A Handbook of Agile Software Craftsmanship by Robert C. Martin
  13. Effective C++ by Scott Meyers

$1,663,883,934: 2019 NEA & Affiliate Income

Mike Antonucci:

The combined annual incomes of the National Education Association and its state affiliates as of Aug. 31, 2019, was $1,663,883,934. That was an increase of $45,727 from the previous year, or 0.003 percent.

That’s not to say there was no effect whatsoever. Thirty-one state affiliates lost members that year, and 24 saw a reduction in revenues. But there is no consistent correlation between membership levels or revenues and states where there were either #RedforEd protests or agency fee laws.

All the financial information comes from the unions’ annual disclosure reports for the Internal Revenue Service detailing their income and expenditures. These are public records, but the pandemic created a long delay before the IRS made many of them available.

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Mission vs Organization: Ohio edition

Anna Staver & Grace Deng:

Maybe the parents don’t want kids coming from outside the district. Maybe the schools are worried about test scores. Or maybe they see a single, African American parent and make assumptions about her family without knowing the full picture.

School choice advocates agree with Brittman. And that’s why they want to mandate open enrollment across Ohio.

“If people want to see systematic racism at work look at the map of districts that do and don’t allow it,” Center for Christian Virtue President Aaron Baer said. “It is the most racist policy in Ohio, and it is perpetuated by the public school system.”

COVID-19 and Home Literacy Environment Consent Form

Harvard school Of Education

Why is this research being conducted?

This study examines the impact of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19; also called SARS-CoV-2) pandemic on literacy environment in the home. We are looking for parents with children under the age of 11 to complete this one-time questionnaire. We expect about 750 adults to participate in this study.

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

Civics: “One part of the U.S. government uses group members’ work; another describes them as criminals”

Jacob Silverman:

Of all the transparency organizations, hackers, whistleblowers, and leakers that have emerged since WikiLeaks stopped publishing data in December 2018 (before resuming in August), ­­DDoSecrets stands apart, not just for its collaborative discipline, technical sophistication, and a wide network of sources, but also for its lack of ego and aggressive commitment to transparency. That alchemical combination doesn’t mean the group is without internal disagreements or public criticism—indeed, its growing prominence and willingness to push the envelope of what it publishes seem to earn the organization enemies wherever it goes: In February, Gab CEO Andrew Torba said that “mentally ill tranny demon hackers” were attacking his company—an absurd description that DDoSecrets members, many of whom are trans or queer, have reappropriated. (Emma Best, perhaps the collective’s most prominent representative, briefly added the phrase “Demon Hacker” to their display name on Twitter.)

In the murky world of hacked and leaked materials, which often contain personal or sensitive information, DDoSecrets has had to grapple with thorny questions: What should be published? Who can the group trust? And how can transparency work survive when tech companies are ready to cooperate with government investigators in preserving official secrecy and criminalizing investigative journalism? Distributed Denial of Secrets is still figuring that out.

Judge freezes UC Berkeley’s student enrollment at 2020-21 levels

Francis Dinkelspiel:

An Alameda County judge has ordered UC Berkeley to freeze its enrollment at 2020-21 levels going forward until the university redoes a supplemental environmental impact report (SEIR) for a complex on Hearst Avenue that includes housing and a new academic building for the Goldman School of Public Policy. The freeze will take effect in 2022-23.

The order to freeze enrollment comes a little more than a month after Judge Brad Seligman ruled that UC Berkeley abused its discretion when it failed to study the impacts of increasing its enrollment by 33.7%, or 11,285 students, from 2005 to 2020. That was just one of the deficiencies in the supplemental environmental impact report for what is called the Upper Hearst Project, the judge ruled.

Students from San Diego County school district stranded in Afghanistan

Karen Pearlman:

At least 24 students from the Cajon Valley Union School District in El Cajon and 16 parents are stranded in Afghanistan after taking a summer trip abroad.

They are among thousands of individuals waiting to leave the country amid political unrest caused by the U.S. military pullout after 20 years of occupation. The U.S. government is accelerating efforts to rescue Americans as the Taliban takes over the country.

Cajon Valley Supt. David Miyashiro told school district board members via text message Tuesday that he and other Cajon Valley staff met virtually with U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Bonsall) and his staff about the situation.

Miyashiro said that the families are on special visas for U.S. military service and that the Department of Defense considers them allies. He said that the district was able to provide information on the families and that government officials are working to locate the children and their families. He said he was encouraged by the assistance.

“We’re spending more, and we’re steering the money where people say they want it to go. It just hasn’t worked”

Freddie deBoer:

Do school expenditures determine student performance? Are our educational gaps resource gaps? I would have thought that I could confidently answer with a no and not be challenged, at this point. People have regressed spending by countries, states, and districts on outcome metrics for a long time, and they pretty much universally show that there is no relationship between spending and success as defined in traditional terms. Neither countries that spend more nor states that spend more consistently outperform their stingier counterparts. We haven’t been able to make real causal statements, but in education we almost never can, nor is it easy to do so at the scales we’re talking about here. Perhaps the most commonly-cited review comes from the Hoover Institution’s Eric Hanushek1, who is a zealous advocate of teacher quality measures (and their nastier consequences) and who since the 1980s has been a loud voice saying that we can’t spend our way out of our problems. In the intervening decades this view has become the conventional wisdom. But lately, there’s been a growing sense that it’s wrong.

I doubt that anyone would object to the claim that the United States has been trying to spend its way out of educational inequality for decades. Though you sometimes hear, absurdly, that we are “defunding” education, we are spending as much as we ever have, in inflation-adjusted dollars, and that is significantly more than we spent for the great bulk of the history of public education. And this funding increase has been steered in dominant majorities towards “need,” which means poorer schools and disproportionately higher-minority schools2. It’s typical for left-leaning people to lament that poor districts are broadly underfunded relative to others, but it’s hard to justify this belief. Part of the perception problem is that people are operating in a local-spending dominant mindset, when that reality doesn’t really exist anymore.

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

Meritocracy without Virtue

Joanne Jacobs:

Is meritocracy, like the ancien regime in the 18th century, heading for the guillotine?,” asks Kay S. Hymowitz in a review of Adrian Wooldridge’s The Aristocracy of Talent: How Meritocracy Made the Modern World.

Meritocracy is a radical idea, Wooldridge argues.

The idea that rulers should be the most worthy, not the sons and grandsons of the powerful, was first advanced by Plato. The guardians of his Republic — “men of gold” — would be those “with natural talents, pedigree be damned,” Hymowitz writes.

“The only other proto-meritocratic social order came from Asia” where the Chinese allowed those who passed a series of exams to become mandarins serving the emperor (who inherited the title).

Elsewhere, nobles or church elders sometimes helped “a few exceptional low-born strivers” rise to prominence, Woodridge notes. The nobles needed smart bureaucrats to do the work. (I highly recommend Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall trilogy on Thomas Cromwell, a blacksmith’s son who became one of the most powerful men in England under Henry VIII.)

Should Your Web History Impact Your Credit Score? The IMF Thinks So

Joel Hruska

The rise of the internet permits the use of new types of nonfinancial customer data, such as browsing histories and online shopping behavior of individuals, or customer ratings for online vendors.

The literature suggests that such non-financial data are valuable for financial decision making. Berg et al. (2019) show that easy-to-collect information such as the so-called “digital footprint” (email provider, mobile carrier, operating system, etc.) performs as well as traditional credit scores in assessing borrower risk. Moreover, there are complementarities between financial and non-financial data: combining credit scores and digital footprint further improves loan default predictions. Accordingly, the incorporation of non-financial data can lead to significant efficiency gains in financial intermediation.

James Loewen, Author Of ‘Lies My Teacher Told Me,’ Dies At 79

Ashish Valentine:

James Loewen, a renowned sociologist, public educator and racial justice activist, died on Thursday, Aug. 19, 2021, at Suburban Hospital in Bethesda, Md. He was the author of several books, including the best-seller Lies My Teacher Told Me. He was 79. 

His death was confirmed by Stephen Berrey, a peer and professor of American culture and history at the University of Michigan. He says Loewen had been diagnosed with bladder cancer about two years ago.

Loewen was born Feb. 6, 1942, in Decatur, Ill., and based his career on dispelling commonly held myths about racial progress in American history. His goal was to give the public historical tools that he hoped would help people achieve concrete change towards racial justice in the present. 

Loewen told NPR’s Gene Demby in an interview in 2018 that he decided to write his first high school text about race and history when he asked a class of students at Tougaloo College, a historically Black university near Jackson, Miss., what they knew about Reconstruction.

Park Slope school has lost a third of its students since pandemic, principal says

Selim Algar:

“Sadly, since the onset of the pandemic, our school roster has declined by 120 students who have left our school,” Garraway wrote.  “We will miss them!  Due to the drastic decline in our numbers, our budget to pay teacher salaries was drastically reduced.”

The school had 345 kids in 2018-2019, the school year before the pandemic hit, and is slated to enroll around just 225 students this upcoming year, according to the principal’s note.

PS 118’s kindergarten enrollment has plunged by more than 50 percent over the last two years, going from 76 in 2019 to just 37 last year.

School sources said some families have abandoned the city outright while others are opting for local parochial or private schools with consistent full-time schooling.

The University of Wisconsin has apparently done Black people a favor. It lifted away a rock.

John McWhorter:

And a crude performance at that. The students essentially demanded that an irrational, prescientific kind of fear — that a person can be meaningfully injured by the dead — be accepted as insight. They imply that the rock’s denotation of racism is akin to a Confederate statue’s denotation of the same, neglecting the glaringly obvious matter of degree here — as in, imagine pulling down a statue upon finding that the person memorialized had uttered a single racist thing once in his or her life.

We are to pretend these students are engaged in something called critique. Interesting, though, that the root of that word, “krei,” originally referred to making distinctions, as did the root of the word science as in knowledge. These students are implying instead that on race matters, the advanced way is to resist distinguishing.

The philosopher George Santayana analyzed criticism as “dividing the immortal from the mortal part of the soul,” as in isolating for posterity that which is true, essential. These students’ critique suggests, among other things, that something that hurts you makes you weaker. Is that really what we want to classify as truth — essence? How can the same people who would lustily insist that Black people are strong get behind having a rock removed from their sight because of something some boob wrote about it some 100 years ago?

The true fault here lies with the school’s administration, whose deer tails popped up as they bolted into the forest, out of a fear of going against the commandments of what we today call antiracism, which apparently includes treating Black people as simpletons and thinking of it as reckoning.

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

“the governor’s appointees are lowering educational standards for all children”

Michael Shellenberger:

Rather than address racial disparities the governor’s appointees are lowering educational standards for all children. Most nations, including developing ones like Zimbabwe, require students to have three or more years of algebra, and require students seeking science and technology careers to have five. But the governor’s appointees on the State Board of Education’s Instructional Quality Commission recently recommended that public school students should take the same math classes in middle school through their sophomore year of high school instead of allowing high-achieving students to take advanced or even traditional math courses starting in the sixth grade.

People rightly worry about the cost, but there is plenty of money. California has the highest income tax, highest gasoline tax, and highest sales tax in the United States. It spends significantly more than other states on homelessness and mental illness. We have a $80 billion budget surplus. And yet we have the worst outcomes.

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

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

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

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

“the governor’s appointees are lowering educational standards for all children”

Michael Shellenbergersschsh

Rather than address racial disparities the governor’s appointees are lowering educational standards for all children. Most nations, including developing ones like Zimbabwe, require students to have three or more years of algebra, and require students seeking science and technology careers to have five. But the governor’s appointees on the State Board of Education’s Instructional Quality Commission recently recommended that public school students should take the same math classes in middle school through their sophomore year of high school instead of allowing high-achieving students to take advanced or even traditional math courses starting in the sixth grade.

People rightly worry about the cost, but there is plenty of money. California has the highest income tax, highest gasoline tax, and highest sales tax in the United States. It spends significantly more than other states on homelessness and mental illness. We have a $80 billion budget surplus. And yet we have the worst outcomes.

Mandates and Masks Commentary

Emily Files

Hamilton Superintendent Paul Mielke believes his district is following CDC recommendations.

“It still came across as a ‘recommend’ and we are strongly recommending [masks,]” Mielke says. “So we’re actually matching their language. If they would have said schools should mandate, we would have looked at that.”

Still, Mielke says the masking decision was one of the hardest he’s had to make. He usually favors local control. But this situation puts him in an awkward position.

“People feel very strongly both ways on this, so I think no matter what decision we would have made, we would have had some families looking at other options, educationally,” Mielke says. “That’s why we tried to come up with an in-between.”

The compromise he came up with was to put a “trigger” in place to require masks if community case numbers reach a certain level. As the more contagious delta variant circulates, the Hamilton district and most other school districts already have a high amount of COVID transmissionwithin their boundaries.

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

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

Molly Beck and Madeline Heim:

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

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

Channel3000:

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

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

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

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

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

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

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Assembly against private school forced closure.

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

Keeping Fear Alive

John Tierney:

Throughout the pandemic, American political and public-health leaders have been following Rahm Emanuel’s classic dictum for power-seeking officials: “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.” Now they’ve adopted a corollary: you never want a crisis to end.

So they are prolonging the national misery instead of easing it, which could be done with a few simple strategies. Explain to the public that the virus will never disappear but is no longer a mortal threat to the vast majority of Americans. Encourage the minority still at risk to get vaccinated by honestly discussing who is in jeopardy and what scientists have learned about infections. Promote treatments proven to prevent infection and speed recovery while avoiding unproven treatments and mandates that cause collateral damage and generate mistrust. Above all, make it clear to Americans that we finally have reason to celebrate: what once seemed an unprecedented danger is now just one of many pathogens that we know how to live with.

But the nation’s crisismongers aren’t about to relinquish their hold over the public, so they’ve set new goals that are as unachievable as they are unnecessary and harmful. Making vaccines available to every American adult is no longer sufficient; now the crisis cannot end until the entire population has been vaccinated. Instead of focusing efforts on vaccinating the vulnerable, officials obsess on compelling universal obedience, even if that means squandering vaccines on people who already have acquired natural immunity or are at minimal risk of serious illness.

The same progressives who regularly denounce “systemic racism” and “Western imperialism” are now enforcing policies that disproportionately punish minorities and the poor, both in the United States (the majority of black teenagers and young adults in New York have been banished from much of public life by the city’s new vaccine-passport policy) and in the rest of the world.

civics: Beware state surveillance of your lives – governments can change for the worse

John Naughton:

Which brings us back to my conversation with that former cabinet minister. At the root of his invincible complacency that it was OK for the state to monitor citizens – and to build and maintain databases of very sensitive information about them – was that it would all happen under legally accountable oversight. Underpinning that was confidence in the permanency of liberal democracy as a rock-solid system of governance. What we have learned since Snowden is that it’s actually much more fragile than we realised and that it depends on political leaders who respect norms and conventions (what Peter Hennessy famously called the “good chap” theory of governance). Those comfortable assumptions were exploded by Trump in 2016 and by Boris Johnson in 2019. And anyone who still believes the state can be trusted to respect the privacy of its citizens (or, in the case of the UK, its subjects) simply hasn’t been paying attention to what’s been going on.

Civics: “geofence warrants”

Zack Whittaker:

But critics have argued that geofence warrants are unconstitutional because the authorities compel Google to turn over data on everyone else who was in the same geographic area.

Worse, these warrants have been known to ensnare entirely innocent people

TechCrunch reported earlier this year that Minneapolis police used a geofence warrant to identify individuals accused of sparking violence in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd last year. One person on the ground who was filming and documenting the protests had his location data requested by police for being close to the violence. NBC News reported last year how one Gainesville, Fla. resident whose information was given by Google to police investigating a burglary was able to prove his innocence thanks to an app on his phone that tracked his fitness activity.

Although the courts have yet to deliberate widely on the legality of geofence warrants, some states are drafting laws to push back against them. New York lawmakers proposed a bill last year that would ban geofence warrants in the state amid fears that police could use these warrants to target protesters — as what happened in Minneapolis.

Cahn, who helped introduce the New York bill last year, said the newly released data will “help spur lawmakers to outlaw the technology.”

The hand gestures that last longer than spoken languages

William Park:

Perhaps because we do not have equivalent cultural idioms, “speak” seems to work. In real conversations between a negotiator and person in crisis, when the negotiator says “speak” (“I wanna come down and I wanna speak to you…”) they get their desired response. In some cases, the person in crisis interrupts the negotiator to begin talking. Despite being near-synonyms, one word is loaded with context that makes it ineffective in these scenarios, while the other is free of those associations.

Being willing

Mediators have also found power in words to turn around someone who is disengaged. These professional facilitators might assist in business negotiations, family grievances or disputes between neighbours. They are experts in making sure conversations reach as positive a conclusion as possible. In the UK, for example, all people in child custody disputes must first attempt to reach an agreement through a family mediation service.

K—12 Governance Priorities & Effectiveness

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

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

Molly Beck and Madeline Heim:

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

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

Channel3000:

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

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

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

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

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

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

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Assembly against private school forced closure.

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

“Dozens of people whose initial tests showed them to be COVID-positive have been retested twice and all but one of those have turned out to be negative.”

Rice University:

Over 90% of the positive infections came from a single test provider; three-quarters of the positive tests were from people who reported no symptoms; the positive results were widely scattered across various groups in our population, with only one potential cluster that seemed more likely to be associated with their proximity to a particular testing location; and over 90% of the reported infections were for people who were fully vaccinated.

We then reviewed the detailed data and noted some very unusual patterns in the results that suggested there was a possible issue with a testing provider rather than a broader campus outbreak. When we consulted with that provider, we learned that they had begun using a different protocol than they had previously used at Rice, resulting in significant differences in how test results are decided. This change in testing protocol had not been disclosed to Rice. We asked that they immediately revert to their prior testing protocol and they have done so.

An analysis of PDK poll data shows that evangelicals and non-evangelicals are not so far apart in their opinions about religion in their local schools — except when race and ideology get involved.

Marilyn Anderson Rhames:

Overall, 31% of all K-12 parents were frustrated by the pressure to fit in or conform in the public school where their oldest child attends. However, evangelical Christian parents were no more frustrated than their non-evangelical counterparts. Frustration over having to conform to the secularism of public schools was also not statistically different for white evangelical Christians compared to evangelicals of color (which includes Black, Latinx, Asian, and biracial groups). Race did, however, have some association with frustration about pressure to fit in, with Black parents, overall, 12 percentage points less likely to be frustrated about such pressure than white parents.

Religious bias

Only 8% of all K-12 parents thought religious bias was a problem in the public school that their oldest child attends. Considering the headline-making culture wars and litigation that have taken place between evangelical Christians and public school administrators involving such issues as school prayer and religious clubs, one might assume that evangelicals made up the majority of that 8%. Surprisingly, however, evangelical parents were no more frustrated by religious bias in public schools than were non-evangelical parents. This was true for parents on all points of the ideological spectrum; that is, extremely conservative, moderate, and extremely liberal parents were all statistically identical to each other as it pertained to their perceptions of religious bias in public schools.

Parents with a high school education or less, however, were 5.4 percentage points more likely than more educated parents to be frustrated by religious bias in public schools. The cause of this is unknown; perhaps less educated parents feel misunderstood more often in academic settings and see their religious beliefs as a factor in that disconnection.

As US Schools Prioritize Diversity Over Merit, China Is Becoming the World’s STEM Leader

Percy Deift, Svetlana Jitomirskaya, and Sergiu Klainerman:

All three of us are mathematicians who came to the United States as young immigrants, having been attracted by the unmatched quality and openness of American universities. We came, as many others before and after, with nothing more than a good education and a strong desire to succeed. As David Hilbert famously said, “Mathematics knows no races or geographic boundaries; for mathematics, the cultural world is one country.” Having built our careers in US academia, we are proud to call ourselves American mathematicians.

The United States has been dominant in the mathematical sciences since the mass exodus of European scientists in the 1930s. Because mathematics is the basis of science—as well as virtually all major technological advances, including scientific computing, climate modelling, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, and robotics—US leadership in math has supplied our country with an enormous strategic advantage. But for various reasons, three of which we set out below, the United States is now at risk of losing that dominant position.

First, and most obvious, is the deplorable state of our K-12 math education system. Far too few American public-school children are prepared for careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). This leaves us increasingly dependent on a constant inflow of foreign talent, especially from mainland China, Taiwan, South Korea, and India. In a 2015 survey conducted by the Council of Graduate Schools and the Graduate Record Examinations Board, about 55 percent of all participating graduate students in mathematics, computer sciences, and engineering at US schools were found to be foreign nationals. In 2017, the National Foundation for American Policy estimated that international students accounted for 81 percent of full-time graduate students in electrical engineering at U.S. universities; and 79 percent of full-time graduate students in computer science.

Pandemic Learning: Large Increase In Virtual Charter And Homeschooling Enrollment Raises Questions

Steven Potter:

A new report from the Wisconsin Policy Forum found huge increases in student enrollment in virtual charter and homeschooling last year. We discuss what that means for students, parents and school districts.

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

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

Molly Beck and Madeline Heim:

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

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

Channel3000:

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

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

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

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

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

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

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Assembly against private school forced closure.

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

George Mason Univ. Caves to NCLA’s Lawsuit over Vaccine Mandate, Grants Prof. Medical Exemption

New Civil Liberties Alliance:

Strangely, despite solid scientific evidence, GMU continues to refuse to recognize that Covid-19 vaccination is medically unnecessary for ALL students, faculty, and staff with naturally acquired immunity demonstrated with antibody testing. At times GMU officials have appeared to deny that such a thing as naturally acquired immunity exists. This refusal is particularly odd, as the efficacy of the very vaccines GMU wishes to mandate are measured against levels of natural immunity acquired by those who have recovered from Covid-19.  For this reason, NCLA continues to explore litigation against GMU. We also welcome hearing from others on public-university campuses in Virginia—particularly tenured faculty—who have naturally acquired immunity backed by antibody testing and whose schools are similarly disregarding the scientific facts surrounding naturally acquired immunity.

NCLA filed Professor Zywicki’s complaint in the Eastern District of Virginia on August 3, 2021, challenging GMU’s “reopening policy.” The policy, announced June 28, requires all faculty and staff members, including those who can demonstrate natural immunity through recovery from a prior Covid-19 infection, to disclose their vaccination status as “a prerequisite for eligibility for any merit pay increases,” unless they obtain a religious or medical exemption. On July 22, GMU emailed the policy to students and employees and threatened disciplinary action—including termination of employment—against any who do not comply with the vaccine mandate. The university’s website describing its vaccination policy reiterated this threat.

A Big Study About Honesty Turns Out To Be Based On Fake Data

Stephanie Lee:

A landmark study that endorsed a simple way to curb cheating is going to be retracted nearly a decade later after a group of scientists found that it relied on faked data.

According to the 2012 paper, when people signed an honesty declaration at the beginning of a form, rather than the end, they were less likely to lie. A seemingly cheap and effective method to fight fraud, it was adopted by at least one insurance company, tested by government agencies around the world, and taught to corporate executives. It made a splash among academics, who cited it in their own research more than 400 times.

The paper also bolstered the reputations of two of its authors — Max Bazerman, a professor of business administration at Harvard Business School, and Dan Ariely, a psychologist and behavioral economist at Duke University — as leaders in the study of decision-making, irrationality, and unethical behavior. Ariely, a frequent TED Talk speaker and a Wall Street Journal advice columnist, cited the study in lectures and in his New York Times bestseller The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone — Especially Ourselves.

Years later, he and his coauthors found that follow-up experiments did not show the same reduction in dishonest behavior. But more recently, a group of outside sleuths scrutinized the original paper’s underlying data and stumbled upon a bigger problem: One of its main experiments was faked “beyond any shadow of a doubt,” three academics wrote in a post on their blog, Data Colada, on Tuesday.

The researchers who published the study all agree that its data appear to be fraudulent and have requested that the journal, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, retract it. But it’s still unclear who made up the data or why — and four of the five authors said they played no part in collecting the data for the test in question.

Machine learning’s crumbling foundations; Doing ‘data science’ with bad data.

Cory Doctorow:

“schools that went strictly remote experienced a 42 percent increase in disenrollment….”

NY Times:

An analysis by N.W.E.A., a nonprofit that provides academic assessments, for example, found that Latino third graders scored 17 percentile points lower in math in the spring of 2021, compared to the typical achievements of Latino third graders in the spring of 2019. The decline was 15 percentile points for Black students and 14 percentile points for Native American students, compared with similar students in the past. As Sarah Mervosh of The New York Times describes the situation, the pandemic amplified disadvantages rooted in racial and socioeconomic inequality, transforming an educational gap into a gulf.

A sobering report by the consulting firm McKinsey sounds a similar alarm. Among other things, it notes that the pandemic has widened existing opportunity and achievement gaps and made high schoolers more likely to drop out. As the authors say: “The fallout from the pandemic threatens to depress this generation’s prospects and constrict their opportunities far into adulthood. The ripple effects may undermine their chances of attending college and ultimately finding a fulfilling job that enables them to support a family.” Unless steps are taken to fill the pandemic learning gap, the authors say, these people will earn less over their lifetimes. The impact on the U.S. economy could range from $128 billion to $188 billion every year as the cohort enters the work force.

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

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

Molly Beck and Madeline Heim:

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

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

Channel3000:

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

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

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

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

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

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

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Assembly against private school forced closure.

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

Civics: The case against a man accused of murder has been thrown out by a judge after prosecutors withdrew disputed evidence of an AI-identified gunshot sound.

Katyanna Quach

Prosecutors said ShotSpotter picked up a gunshot sound where Williams was seen on surveillance camera footage in his car, putting it all forward as proof that Williams shot Herring right there and then. Police did not cite a motive, had no eyewitnesses, and did not find the gun used in the attack. Williams did have a criminal history, though, having served time for attempted murder, robbery, and discharging a firearm when he was younger, and said he had turned his life around significantly since. He was grilled by detectives, and booked.

Crucially, Williams’ lawyers – public defenders Lisa Boughton and Brendan Max – said records showed that ShotSpotter actually initially picked up what sounded like a firework a mile away, and this was later reclassified by ShotSpotter staff to be a gunshot at the intersection where and when Williams was seen on camera. ShotSpotter strongly insisted it had not improperly altered any data to favor the police’s case, and said that regardless of the initial real-time alert, its evidence of the gunshot was the result of follow-up forensic analysis, which was submitted to the courts.

Fear of COVID-19 in Kids Is Getting Ahead of the Data

Lucy McBride:

A recent peer-reviewed study in Britain of nearly 260,000 children (1,700 of whom showed symptoms) reminds us that for most kids, a coronavirus infection will manifest as the common cold—if anything. Also reassuring is that only 4.4 percent of children diagnosed with COVID-19 in this study had symptoms after 28 days (and 1.8 percent after 56 days). Probably not surprising to any parent, about 1 percent of kids in this study who had upper-respiratory symptoms and tested negative for COVID-19 also had lingering symptoms at 56 days—a reminder that COVID-19 is only one potential cause for a child’s malaise.

Abundant evidence indicates that coronavirus transmissions rates in schools are roughly equal to or less than those of the surrounding community. In other words, educational settings are not inherently dangerous for younger children. This should reassure parents and policy makers who are nervous about sending them back to the classroom.

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

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

Molly Beck and Madeline Heim:

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

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

Channel3000:

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

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

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

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

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

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

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Assembly against private school forced closure.

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

The purge of Asian American students at Thomas Jefferson High School has begun

Asra Nomani & Erin Wilcox:

It was clear that the new standards were aimed at a particular result: dramatically reducing the number of qualified Asian American students admitted to TJ. In response, a multicultural coalition of concerned parents and families came together to combat the new racist standards. These brave parents held protests in front of the school, carrying signs written in Hindi, Bengali and Chinese. We warned that the slippery new standards were not only designed to actively discriminate against Asian American students, but would also end up watering down the school’s long-standing commitment to achievement through hard work and merit.

One coalition member, Himanshu Verma, an immigrant from India, TJ dad and founder of a data analytics firm, crunched the demographic data and projected the revised standards would lead to a drastic decrease in Asian American students admitted to TJ. He was correct. School district officials announced that, as a result of their new admissions system, they slashed the percentage of Asian students admitted to TJ to 54 percent this year from 73 percent last year. The percentage of Blacks and Hispanics increased — as it did for White students.

Despite $22.7 billion pension shortfall, Chicago Public Schools to add 2,000 employees –

Ted Dabrowski and John Klingner

The fiscal insanity at Chicago Public Schools continues. Officials there plan to hire another 2,000 part-time and full-time workers this coming school year, never mind the district has racked up the biggest pension debt of any school district in the country. Moody’s already puts CPS’ pension shortfall at $22.8 billion, more than any other school district in the country.* More workers mean more salaries and even more pension debts. 

To make matters more insane, those same officials warn the school district could lose up to 100,000 students this coming school year – about 29% of the district total – as a result of the multi-pronged crises facing Chicago. Those student losses would be on top of the 95,000 the district already lost between 2000 and 2021.

It’s madness any way you slice the numbers, making it clear Mayor Lori Lightfoot and city leaders either don’t understand or don’t care about Chicago’s finances.

A March 2019 Moody’s report laid out for Lightfoot just what a mess she was inheriting when she took over as Mayor. That report showed City of Chicago debts consumed more of city revenues than any other major city in the country, by far. About 32% of the city’s budget was consumed by fixed costs including debt repayments, retiree health obligations and pension contributions – and 57 percent when Moody’s added in the additional amounts Chicago should have been contributing to pensions, called the tread water gap, simply to keep its debts from getting larger that year.

The Science of Masking Kids at School Remains Uncertain

David Zweig:

Many of America’s peer nations around the world — including the U.K., Ireland, all of Scandinavia, France, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and Italy — have exempted kids, with varying age cutoffs, from wearing masks in classrooms. Conspicuously, there’s no evidence of more outbreaks in schools in those countries relative to schools in the U.S., where the solid majority of kids wore masks for an entire academic year and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. These countries, along with the World Health Organization, whose child-masking guidance differs substantially from the CDC’s recommendations, have explicitly recognized that the decision to mask students carries with it potential academic and social harms for children and may lack a clear benefit. To date, the highly transmissible Delta variant has not led them to change this calculus. (Many experts I spoke with told me that while the Delta variant represents a major and concerning new development in the Covid pandemic, it probably shouldn’t change our thinking on a mask requirement for schools.)

Here in the United States, the message looks different. On July 9, a little more than a month after the study was published, the CDC released updated guidance for schools, including the recommendation that masks should be worn indoors by all individuals (age 2 and older) who are not fully vaccinated. Ten days later, the American Academy of Pediatrics took the guidance a step further and said that everyone in school over age 2 should wear masks, regardless of vaccination status. (The CDC later matched the AAP’s guidance.)

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

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

Molly Beck and Madeline Heim:

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

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

Channel3000:

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

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

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

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

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

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

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Assembly against private school forced closure.

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

Cutting Through the Noise on COVID-19 and Vaccines

Will Flanders and Rick Esenberg:

In the modern information environment, it is challenging to find any source of objective information. On no issue is this more true than with the COVID-19 pandemic. On one side are those wedded to “the science” until it disagrees with their preconceived notions about what policy ought to be. On the other side are those who, rightfully skeptical of government, reject most all information that makes the case that COVID-19 is still a major problem. We are a polarized country and the most engaged people tend not to want to hear – or reward – nuance. But there are times when a rigorous examination of the facts compels a nuanced conclusion. Let’s take a look at the most recent COVID numbers in Wisconsin.

  1. Vaccines DO provide protection

Some have noted that the data shows coronavirus rates are increasing most rapidly among the vaccinated. This is true, but what does it mean? It is still the unvaccinated that are driving the continuance of the pandemic. Recently, the Department of Health Services put out a chart that shows the rate of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths among the vaccinated and unvaccinated cohorts in the state. That chart is reproduced below.

The Assault on Empiricism

Wilfred Reilly:

A remarkable aspect of today’s culture war debates, across a whole range of topics, is the fact that many massively popular positions bear no resemblance to measurable truth. Many core claims of Black Lives Matter (BLM), the “systemic racism” school of sociological thought, the Stop AAPI (Asian American Pacific Islander) Hate movement, and, for that matter, QAnon and election fraud devotees on the political right, don’t gel at all with empirical facts. Often this is no accident. Many activists and a surprising number of academics and media figures seem to have returned to the ancient idea that truth is relative, and hard data of the Bureau of Justice Statistics variety are less valuable than individual “lived experience.” Others, so far as I can tell, simply lie to facilitate personal or political goals. The trend is a dangerous one: People who fear nonexistent demons are also likely to propose costly and unnecessary witch hunts. In the face of the new Hounds of God, empiricism must again be defended.

It is simply not debatable that the claims of many popular modern movements are far removed from reality. BLM’s contentions about a near-genocide of African Americans directed by police may be the best example of this. To give only two famous examples out of dozens, Black Trans Lives Matter activist Cherno Biko stated on prime-time television in 2015 that an innocent Black person is “murdered” by American police “every 28 hours,” while star attorney Benjamin Crump hinted at an even higher total in a 2019 book he titled Open Season: The Legalized Genocide of Colored People.

These sorts of claims have become conventional wisdom on the political left. A well-run and large-N study from the Skeptic Research Center in February 2021 found that 54% of Americans who “identify as very liberal” believe that the average number of unarmed Black men killed annually by U.S. police is somewhere between “about 1,000” and “more than 10,000.” A major empirical survey conducted by the political scientist Eric Kaufman in April 2021 found that 80% of African Americans and 60% of educated white liberals believethat more young Black men die annually at the hands of police than in car wrecks.

On “elite overproduction”

Robin Hanson:

Here is my related hypothesis: we now put more weight on many smaller lower-noise status markers, instead of fewer bigger noisier markers. In particular, we put more weight on markers of connections to statusful people and institutions.

For example, early in ancient empires, many rose in status via winning military battles, or perhaps by building new trading regimes. But later in such empires, status was counted more in terms of your connections to other statusful people. Which led to neglect of military success, and thus empire collapse.

So early on, ambitious soldiers tried to figure out how to win battles, and to get involved in promising battles. But it was hard to guess just how to do this, and outcomes were noisy functions of efforts. So no one could be very sure of their future status, or with whom to associate to gain status. But later on, ambitious soldiers would need to come from the right family, and make good new social connections. So they worked to make sure they wore the right clothes, went to the right events, flattered the right people, joined the right groups, and so on. In this world, they could more easily see who was higher status.

The politics of literacy

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

Oklahoma mom of 11 rescues members of Afghan all-girls robotics team

Patrick Reilly:

An Oklahoma mother of 11 flew to Afghanistan earlier this month to rescue 10 members of the country’s all-girls robotics team, and is hoping to save more as the Taliban takes power in Kabul.

Allyson Reneau, a 60-year old Harvard graduate with a Masters degree in international relations and US space policy, took it upon herself to try and save members of the Afghan Girls Robotic Team, according to NBC.

She flew into Qatar on Aug. 9 after making a “Hail Mary” call to a former roommate at the US Embassy there to help get the girls from the advancing Taliban, known for their oppressive treatment of women.

Reneau had been in contact with the team — made of girls ages 16 to 18 — since 2019 when she worked on the board of directors for Explore Mars and met the girls when they attended the organization’s annual Humans to Mars conference.

The team was hailed in Western media as the future of the war-ravaged country, as well as a shining example of how women’s rights had improved after the US invaded following 9/11.

Crisis has been with the modern humanities since their inception.

Merve Emre and Len Gutkin:

That the academic humanities have been in “crisis” since the 2007-9 recession is a piece of received wisdom that The Chronicle, along with academic journals like Profession and national newspapers like The New York Times, has had a hand in consolidating. And no one would deny that hiring has been severely constrained — in some fields, all but eliminated — over the last decade or so. But at its most provocative, crisis talk goes beyond a jobs report; it is concerned, for better or for worse, with questions of meaning, legitimacy, and mission. 

In Permanent Crisis, just out from the University of Chicago Press, Paul Reitter and Chad Wellmon, professors of German, respectively, at Ohio State University and the University of Virginia, suggest that today’s preoccupation with crisis in the humanities is historically and conceptually overdetermined, less a response to current material realities than baked into the modern humanities’ self-conception. For the authors’ purposes, the humanities in their current institutional form are a product of the German-language universities of the late 18th and early 19th centuries, rather than the terminus of a lineage from the Renaissance or antiquity. Germanophone humanists established a set of binaries that continue to structure the modern humanities, “pitting the utilitarian, technical, and vocational rationality of the sciences against the disinterested, liberal, and critical humanities.”

Perhaps the earliest articulation of this worldview appeared in Friedrich Schiller’s 1789 University of Jena lecture, “What Is Universal History and Why Study It?” As Reitter and Wellmon summarize, Schiller “used the study of history to consider a … threat facing the university: an instrumental and utilitarian relationship to education and knowledge among students — and faculty.” Against the so-called Brotgelehrter — which Reitter and Wellmon translate as “careerist scholar” — Schiller counterpoised the truly “philosophical mind.” Put schematically: The human sciences would become the repository for a set of idealist impulses thought to countervail the alienating rationality of industrial modernity.

We talked recently with Reitter and Wellmon about the history of crisis talk, the lessons of Max Weber, the humanities outside the university, and whether the current crisis might truly be different from past ones, after all. This discussion has been edited for length and clarity.