The Radical Faith of Harriet Tubman



Casey Cep:

“Combee” is one of two notable books out this year to wrestle with less familiar aspects of Tubman’s legacy. The other is “Night Flyer: Harriet Tubman and the Faith Dreams of a Free People” (Penguin Press), by Tiya Miles. Fields-Black conveys, in elaborate detail, what America’s Moses did to help abolish slavery; Miles addresses the far more elusive question of why she did it.

Neither “Combee” nor “Night Flyer” is a cradle-to-grave biography, though both Fields-Black and Miles are drawn to the cradle that Tubman’s father made for her, from the trunk of a sweet-gum tree. Born Araminta Ross, to Harriet Green and Benjamin Ross, around 1822, Tubman was first known as Minty. There were tender moments—she recalled being rocked in that hand-carved cradle—but her early years in Tidewater Maryland were filled mostly with physical torture and emotional terror.

Tubman was the fifth of nine children. Three of her sisters were sold and sent to the Deep South. Her parents were owned by two different families who separated them not long after her birth. While still a young girl, Tubman was taken away from her mother and forced to work as a maid, a nanny, a trapper, and a field hand. She was whipped constantly and regularly deprived of food and clothing. Short and frail, she was often debilitated by beatings and was once struck so hard with a two-pound iron weight that she suffered seizures for the rest of her life. What was never beaten out of her was an innate sense of liberty—the knowledge, self-evident to her, that God intended for her to be liberated from bondage, spiritually as well as literally. “God set the North Star in the heavens,” she said later. “He gave me the strength in my limbs; He meant I should be free.”

Tubman’s concept of freedom was not only hoped for, like faith; it was something she observed in the world around her. Like Frederick Douglass, born just a few towns away, Tubman saw the reality of liberation early, interacting with formerly enslaved people who had worked to buy their freedom or been manumitted by their owners. In Tubman’s lifetime, the Black population in Maryland was almost evenly divided between enslaved and free; the year before the Civil War started, the state had more free Black people than any other in the country. She married one of those free men, John Tubman, and after taking his name she took her mother’s, too.




K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Density backlash underway in Madison



Dave Cieslewicz:

The backlash is being led — or at least given voice — by the Cap Times along with former Mayor Paul Soglin, for whom that paper has always had something of a crush. Cap Times publisher Paul Fanlund has been writing about this, with especially sharp criticisms of the city, for the past few months. Soglin recently penned a stinging letter to the editor in the Wisconsin State Journal, accusing Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway and “her crowd” of “abusive” land use practices. That same week Fanlund weighed in again on the issue, this time lauding Soglin for agreeing with him. I have every reason to believe Soglin is moving toward yet another run for mayor in 2027 and he sees this as his ticket back into office. Never mind that planning for BRT and related land use strategies took place under his most recent administration.




Milwaukee School Board considers three candidates for interim superintendent



Rory Linnane:

The final candidates for the interim superintendent position are:

  • Eduardo Galvan, the district’s current acting superintendent, who has served as the district’s regional superintendent for the southwest region since 2018. Galvan has spent his entire career at MPS, beginning as a kindergarten teacher and working his way up as an assistant principal and principal.
  • Toni Dinkins, the district’s regional superintendent for the northwest region. She was previously the principal of MPS’ Samuel Clemens School.
  • Darrell Williams, who ran for the U.S. Senate in 2022 and now works for the state Department of Public Instruction as the assistant state superintendent for the Division for Libraries and Technology. He was previously appointed by Evers to be the administrator of Wisconsin Emergency Management and has prior experience in education, including serving as the interim superintendent for the School District of Beloit.

In compiling the finalists, the school board reviewed lists of potential candidates from the Wisconsin Association of School District Administrators, the Wisconsin Association of School Boards and the Council of Great City Schools.




CTU and the Chicago Mayor



Austin Berg:

This is great reporting on how the Chicago Teachers Union wields power directly through the office of Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson.

It cites a draft letter from Johnson to Senate President Don Harmon that was never sent. I’m posting that full letter here publicly for the first time. ⬇️

There is a key passage, absent from the final letter, that reveals how Johnson plans to attack selective enrollment schools in Chicago.




Civics: Inside FICO and the Credit Bureau Cartel



Matt Stoller:

The attorney in a country town is as much a businessman as the corporation counsel in a great metropolis. – William Jennings Bryan, 1896

The director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Rohit Chopra, coined the term ‘junk fee,’ and has begun restructuring how financial markets work, removing medical debt from credit reports, fostering competition in credit cards, and examining big tech’s entrance into payments. And yet, for ideological reasons, to many bankers, Chopra is a villain running a government agency full of bureaucratic demons, whose goal is to force them to do paperwork on behalf of nebulous ‘consumers.’ 

So it was a weird day last month when Chopra had a room full of mortgage bankers nodding their heads in furious agreement, and even angry at their own trade association for helping a monopoly take advantage of them. HousingWire’s James Kleimann and Sarah Wheeler were shocked, calling it “Must-See TV.”




Notes on Madison’s planned $607M tax & spending increase, outcomes?



Abbey Machtig:

At $607 million, the Madison School District’s pair of referendums set for November will be the second-largest ask of voters by a school district in Wisconsin history.

It comes in behind Racine’s $1 billion referendum, which passed in 2020 by only five votes. The dollar amount Madison is requesting has been described as “unprecedented” in district history by the Wisconsin Policy Forum — not to mention the tax impacts homeowners would see if both questions were approved.

Madison property owners are being asked to fork over a lot of money.

The Madison School District, however, is not alone in its increasing reliance on referendums to fill operating budget holes and to pay for new construction. Other Wisconsin school districts, including Madison suburbs, also have put a number of big referendums on ballots in recent years.

While the dollar amounts are significantly less than what Madison schools are requesting this fall, Madison’s population — estimated by the U.S. Census Bureau at about 280,000 — is significantly greater as well.

It’s hard to make direct comparisons of the tax implications of various referendums, including those Madison is proposing, over the years. Inflation, property values, population changes, and the fact that operating referendums frequently ramp up over a period of time all have an impact.

But for context, here’s a look at the large school referendums Madison and other Dane County voters have approved in recent years.

——-

Madison, meanwhile excels in unopposed school board elections.

Yet:

Madison taxpayers have long supported far above average K – 12 spending. Per student spending ranges from $22,633 to $29,827 depending on the spending number used (!)

Enrollment notes.

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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

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

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




Oklahoma State Superintendent Orders Bible Be Taught in Schools



Victoria Albert:

The Bible and Ten Commandments are cornerstones of Western civilization, Ryan Walters, Oklahoma’s state superintendent of public instruction, said in a memorandum. He said the decision was effective immediately.

“This is not merely an educational directive but a crucial step in ensuring our students grasp the core values and historical context of our country,” Walters, a Republican who was elected to the role in 2022, said in the memorandum. He noted the “substantial influence” that the Bible and Ten Commandments had on the country’s founders and the constitution.

Rachel Laser, president and chief executive of the nonprofit group Americans United for Separation of Church and State, called the decision a “transparent, unconstitutional effort to indoctrinate and religiously coerce public school students.”

“This is textbook Christian Nationalism: Walters is abusing the power of his public office to impose his religious beliefs on everyone else’s children,” Laser said in a statement.

The Oklahoma Education Association also criticized the decision, saying the order violates a state Supreme Court decision that gave school districts the right to choose which books were available in their classrooms.




Religious Charter School Is Unconstitutional, Oklahoma High Court Rules



Sara Randazzo and Matt Barnum:

Oklahoma’s highest court on Tuesday blocked the opening of what would have been the nation’s first religious charter school. The closely watched case is seen as the latest test of the boundary between church and state.

The ruling is being lauded by national charter-school leaders and those who resist any encroachment of religion into public education. It is a blow to religious conservatives who have laid the groundwork for religious charter schools for years.

“If you let one type of public school become religious, you can open the door to any type of public school becoming religious,” said Debbie Veney, a senior vice president at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, which has supported the legal battle against the school.

The legal fight isn’t over, as a lawyer for the school said the team will appeal the case to the Supreme Court. Hanging in the balance is the future of the charter school movement and whether a new source of public funding can go to support religious education.




K-12 tax & $pending climate: A Comprehensive Federal Budget Plan to Avert a Debt Crisis



Brian Riedl:

Annual budget deficits doubled to $2 trillion over 2022–23 and are headed toward $3 trillion a decade from now. Social Security and Medicare face a combined $124 trillion cash deficit over the next 30 years. The national debt is projected to soar past 165% of gross domestic product (GDP) within three decades—or as high as 300% of GDP if interest rates remain elevated and Congress extends expiring policies. At that point, interest costs could consume half to three-quarters of all federal tax revenues. Unless reforms are enacted, Washington’s escalating borrowing demands will come to overwhelm the capacity of financial markets to supply this much lending at plausible interest rates. When that event occurs, or even approaches, interest rates will soar and the federal government will not be able to pay its bills, with dire consequences for the U.S. economy.

In short, Washington is on a totally unsustainable fiscal path, and a debt crisis is coming.

There is a way to avert this debt crisis. However, lawmakers must act quickly to reform Social Security and Medicare, as every year 4 million more baby boomers retire into those programs, and the eventual cost of reform rises by trillions of dollars. This report presents a realistic, nonpartisan, and specific 30-year blueprint—each element of which is “scored” using data from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO)—to stabilize the national debt at the current 100% of GDP, and even reduce it eventually.

The fiscal consolidation in this report calls for trimming some Social Security and Medicare benefits for upper-income recipients. Some taxes would rise. Spending on defense would continue to fall as a share of the economy. In short, there is something in this blueprint for everyone to oppose. But letting the country plunge into a debt crisis would be far more painful than this blueprint’s reforms.




Wisconsin’s latest charter school haul much smaller than past years



Benjamin Yount:

Wisconsin is getting millions of dollars from the federal government to grow charter schools in the state, but the haul for 2024 is tens-of-millions of dollars less than in the past.

The Department of Public Instruction this week announced an $11.4 million grant to either open or expand charter schools across the state.

“The program provides awards for three purposes: planning and implementation subgrants for charter schools opening in fall 2025, implementation subgrants for charter schools that recently opened or will open in 2024, and subgrants to aid the expansion of existing high-quality charter schools,” DPI said in a statement. “The state’s program prioritizes quality schools serving educationally disadvantaged students.”

Quinton Klabon, senior research director with the Institute for Reforming Government, said it is important DPI support charter schools in Wisconsin.

——

More.




“Earn-as-you-learn instead of loans. Annual wages of up to $82,000 upon completion”



Kelly Meyerhofer:

The percentage of Wisconsin high school graduates going directly to college is plummeting. In 2022-23, it was less than 52%. That’s down about 10 percentage points from six years ago, according to state Department of Public Instruction data.

It’s a trend experts say could threaten Wisconsin’s economic competitiveness.

Michael Ramsey, another job fair attendee, graduated from high school last year and took a job at a local movie theater.

“I felt pressured to go to college because that’s what everyone does and what you need to ‘suceed in life’ or whatever,” Ramsey, 19, said. “But I just think college isn’t for me. The student loan thing — that worries me. I just don’t know how it works. And I just think there are better options right now, like the workforce.”

The non-college going trend has always existed, and tends to increase when the labor market is strong, said Rachel Burns, a senior policy analyst with the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association. But Burns thinks there’s more to the current dynamic than the robust economy.




The Pernicious Expansion of “Public Health”



Jeffrey Singer:

The US Public Health Service Commissioned Corps has come a long way since its inception in 1798 when Congress created the US Marine Hospital Service to care for sick and injured merchant seamen. This service evolved into a national marine hospital system staffed by a corps of physicians overseen by a Supervising Surgeon. In 1889, Congress formally named it the Commissioned Corps, a military branch administered by what eventually became renamed a Surgeon General.

Today, the Commission Corps is one of the eight uniformed services of the United States. It serves under the US Public Health Service, a US Department of Health and Human Services division. Its staff is sent to various federal agencies, including the Indian Health Service, the Food and Drug Administration, the Federal Bureau of Prisons, the Department of Homeland Security, and the State Department. Its mission is to “protect, promote, and advance the health and safety of our nation.”

In the 1980s, when Surgeon General C. Everett Koop embarked on an effort to make America a “smoke‐​free society by the year 2000,” it marked the beginning of an expanded role for the Surgeon General. Since Koop, Surgeons General have seen themselves as “the nation’s doctor.” They have influenced Congress to pass legislation on ever‐​expanding “health issues.” And because one can find a health angle for so many activities or substances that autonomous adults choose to engage in or consume, “public health policy” is bleeding into adults’ right to pursue happiness.

The latest example came yesterday when Surgeon General Vivek Murthy declared firearm violence a “public health crisis.” Murthy released an advisory stating, “Overall, deaths caused by guns rose to a three‐decade high in 2021, driven by increases in homicides and suicides.” He called on Congress to enact new gun regulations. Of course, lockdowns and the associated emotional stress and anxiety that resulted from the public health establishment’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic made 2021 an atypical year.

But, surely, someone on Murthy’s staff must have updated him that there was a 7.7 percent decline in gun violence from 2022 to 2023, according to the Gun Violence Archive. This is the largest annual decline since the Archive’s inception in 2014. And according to a report from the Center for American Progress, “preliminary data suggest that gun violence broadly trended down in 2023 across the United States, representing a historic decrease.” Did Murthy jump the gun when he declared gun violence a public health crisis by not putting the 2021 gun violence data in proper context?




Los Angeles School District Votes in Favor of Cellphone Ban



Sara Randazzo & Alyssa Lukpat:

The Los Angeles Unified School District voted Tuesday to ban cellphones during the entire school day, becoming the largest school system to take such a step in an era of concern about youth cellphone use and social-media addiction.

Los Angeles, like many districts, currently has a policy prohibiting phone use during class time while allowing devices during lunchtime and breaks. Implementation has varied from classroom to classroom, and teachers find it difficult to police without consistent consequences.

The move by the Los Angeles school board, which voted 5 to 2 in favor of the ban, clears the way for school leaders to create a policy on how to ban devices that would take effect by January. The extent of the ban could vary by grade level, the board said.

The district, the nation’s second largest, will consider physically locking phones away in lockers or pouches, an approach being taken by an increasing number of schools and districts across the country. Other schools that banned smartphones have given students Light Phones, which have only calling and texting features.




Too much tolerance is destroying the peace



Matthew Crawford:

The city has been super understanding of Mr Hudson’s need to do his thing. To watch the bodycam footage of the cop who pulled him over is to get a window onto Blue America, 2024. It is like watching a Hindu farmer trying to coax a sacred cow out of a rice paddy, without laying hands on it, speakin harshly to it, or otherwise running afoul of the Brahmins who insist on the cow’s protected status. The cop is real chummy. “Remember the last time I pulled you over?” He tries to ingratiate himself with the entitled twat by informing him that he is an ASE certified master mechanic, as well as a policeman. It appears to be an attempt to establish common ground: I can appreciate your car. Essentially he offers a change of jurisdiction, from that of the public authority to that of a shared subculture.




$190 billion in federal relief raised achievement — but not very much



Joanne Jacobs:

“The per-dollar returns of ESSER, the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund, measure up poorly in comparison with those of previously studied efforts to boost achievement,” writes Mahnken.

“The impact was small,” said Dan Goldhaber, the lead author of the Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research (CALDER) study. “Only 20% of ESSER money was even earmarked for learning loss, and I don’t think there was a lot of oversight of whether that 20% was well spent.”

The Education Recovery Scorecard, led by Stanford sociologist Sean Reardon and Harvard economist Thomas Kane, found very similar results.

High-poverty districts that got significantly more funding per student showed stronger gains, said Goldhaber. But there was no attempt to track what kinds of spending were correlated with higher performance. “There are pretty big differences across states and districts in the degree of catch-up,” and we don’t know why.




Confidentiality in the Face of Pervasive Surveillance:A Threat Model and Problem Statement



IETF:

Abstract

Since the initial revelations of pervasive surveillance in 2013, several classes of attacks on Internet communications have been discovered. In this document, we develop a threat model that describes these attacks on Internet confidentiality. We assume an attacker that is interested in undetected, indiscriminate eavesdropping. The threat model is based on published, verified attacks.

Status of This Memo

This document is not an Internet Standards Track specification; it is published for informational purposes.

This document is a product of the Internet Architecture Board (IAB) and represents information that the IAB has deemed valuable to provide for permanent record. It represents the consensus of the Internet Architecture Board (IAB). Documents approved for publication by the IAB are not a candidate for any l l level of Internet
Standard; see Section 2 of RFC 5741.

Information about the current status of this document, any errata, and how to provide feedback on it may be obtained at




What a database of more than a thousand dismissive literature reviews can tell us



Richard Phelps:

I was once required to testify in a court case. My lawyer gave me a few pieces of advice, but he repeated one several times, which may be why I remember it. “Never say never,” he said. Or, conversely, never say always. Declarations of absolutes present opposing attorneys too wide an opening. They need to identify only a single example to contradict. In trial courts, one cannot get away with making reckless absolutist claims unchallenged.

In academic scholarship, however, it happens all the time.

Meet the dismissive literature review, in which an author at the beginning of a journal article declares the published research literature on the topic either nonexistent or so poor in quality that all of it is … dismissible. Typically, no evidence supports the claim. You’ve seen the claims yourself (e.g., “little previous research has, …” “few studies have looked at …,” “there is no research on …,” etc.). With one type of dismissive review — a firstness claim — authors boldly declare themselves to be the first in the history of the world to study a particular topic (as in, “this is the first study of …”).

In academia, declarations of a void in the research literature are rarely challenged. As long as a few unknowing, uncaring, or otherwise cooperative reviewers and editors let the statement slide, it passes unimpeded into the world of scholarship and becomes what I call a dismissive literature review. No one with a self or public interest in countering the claim is offered an opportunity to challenge.

The size of my collection of such reviews surpassed 1,000 some time ago, despite its limitation to a single, relatively small topic — U.S. education policy — and a small proportion of researchers in that field sometimes labeled “celebrity scholars.” Those are researchers blessed with public relations offices and information dissemination budgets supporting the promotion of their brand (think government-funded research centers, think tanks, the most prestigious universities).

The Malfunction of US Education Policy: Elite Misinformation, Disinformation, and Selfishness Roman & Littlefield, 188 pages.




Civics: On The Democrat Party, the legacy media and Biden/Rice/Obama/Harris



Balajj:

Recall that after the Democrat primary ended on June 8, Obama very consciously put Biden on stage, let him stumble and mumble, and then held his hand[10] to usher him off stage.

That was the act of a savvy politician: Obama was ostensibly appearing with Biden to help him, but was really there to help finish him. He intentionally ushered the old man off in that way to visibly (but deniably) show the world how powerless the “most powerful man in the world” was.

That primed his team for an intra-party contest, and foreshadowed what just happened. The Party put Biden on stage for the debate, let him stumble and mumble, and is now very firmly ushering him off stage.

So, as often happens these days, internet “conspiracy theory” anticipated the regime’s now-consensus reality. Solzhenitsyn[11] put it well: we knew that they were lying, they knew that they were lying, they even knew that we knew they were lying…but they were still lying.

It suited the Democrat Party to lie, to keep an aged and infirm man as their nominal head, just as it suited the Communist Party to have Andropov and Chernenko[12] in nominal command towards the end of the Soviet era. With no one man in charge, each Party apparatchik can quietly loot the public blind, while letting the walking corpse take the public blame.

——

In short: Biden is only the nominee because they lied about his senility.

——

The network state.

“We need to be more honest in our reporting on Biden”

Ann Althouse:

Meanwhile, he is the President of the United States, and he will be for 7 more months. That’s the immediate emergency. Beyond that, I want responsibility. Shine a light on those who covered for him and who faked surprise last night. How did Democratic Party characters communicate with CNN and how did the CNN panel hit the ground running, all on the same page, all with such intensity? I want to know. So untrustworthy! More.

Bill Ackman:

And yes, someone needs to take the Democratic leadership behind the woodshed.

The question to ask is:

Who is actually running the country?

No one will call the question because the 25th amendment says that the next in line is the Vice President.

Left wing media have had total and complete access to the president, his staff, and his administration.

They all knew, but they told you otherwise. They outright lied to you.

When Robert Hur, the special counsel who deposed the president, said that the president was not fit to stand trial and therefore chose not to bring charges, the media described him as a tool of the Republican Party and character assassinated him.

Via John Robb:

‘Imagine you were an investor in a company or a board member, and you walk into your board meeting and realize the CEO hasn’t shown up to work in for two years and really just the VPs have been running amok and doing whatever they wanted. You’d know at that point that anything a committee runs is inefficient, wasteful, and almost kleptocratic. So, essentially, you would expect the company to have been looted the entire time.’ @naval

——

That debate was yet another ding to the legitimacy of the government and the media.

They both told us everything was fine with Joe and that social media was lying.

Matt Taibbi:

Whoa. Murder on the CNN Express continued around a table of analysts who’ve been telling us for years that Joe Biden is a fit president. Each now echoed King. “The panic that I am hearing from Democrats is not like anything that I have heard,” concurred Abby Phillip. “They are now seeing a President… they do not necessarily believe can do this for another four years.” Barack Obama’s right hand David Axelrod said: “I can’t argue with either of them about how Democratic leaders are reacting.” Van Jones, playing the schmaltz role, offeredtearfully, “I love Joe Biden,” but “We’re going to want to see him consider taking a different course now.”

On MSNBC, whose brand is more hysteric loyalism, Joy Reid read the same script:

Bari Weiss:

Dean Phillips’s entire campaign was based on the observation that Biden was too old for the job. I texted Phillips and asked him if he wanted to comment on tonight. “Gandhi said to speak only when it improves upon the silence,” he texted back.

Two-:

Rarely are so many lies dispelled in a single moment. Rarely are so many people exposed as liars and sycophants. Last night’s debate was a watershed on both counts.

The debate was not just a catastrophe for President Biden. And boy—oy—was it ever.

But it was more than that. It was a catastrophe for an entire class of experts, journalists, and pundits, who have, since 2020, insisted that Biden was sharp as a tack, on top of his game, basically doing handstands while peppering his staff with tough questions about care for migrant children and aid to Ukraine.

Anyone who committed the sin of using their own eyes on the 46th president was accused, variously, of being Trumpers; MAGA cult members who don’t want American democracy to survive; ageists; or just dummies easily duped by “disinformation,” “misinformation,” “fake news,” and, most recently, “cheapfakes.”

Chris Arnade:

Legacy media went out of its way to ignore the issue to the point of reputation ruining absurdity. Including outright lying.

Now look where that got them. Complete utter idiots. That’s what they are.

Axios:

Former First Lady Michelle Obama privately has expressed frustration over how the Biden family largely exiled her close friend Kathleen Buhle after Buhle’s messy divorce from Hunter Biden, two people familiar with the relationship told Axios.

Why it matters: The family tensions — and the former first lady’s disdain for partisan politics — are partly why one of the Democrats’ most popular voices hasn’t campaigned for President Biden‘s re-election, the sources said, even as former President Obama has been a willing surrogate.

Via Glenn Greenwald:

Paul Krugman, NYT, 2/12/24 (l.):

Biden “is in full possession of his faculties — completely lucid and with excellent grasp of detail.” Just has a “stutter.”

Krugman, today (r.):

Biden should “step aside in favor of Harris.”

How do these people not puke looking at a mirror?

Darren Beattie:

This is not to say that there under no circumstances will be an effort to replace Biden. There could very well be, and it is more likely now than it was a week ago, though the likelihood of them actually replacing him is far less than people imagine even now. All of the steps and hurdles involved in replacing him would be uncertain and have their own risks, and give the public the impression of chaos that has to be weighed against the negative public impression of Biden’s cognitive condition.

——-

But instead, such allies are missing. That’s no surprise, because he’s not the one who controls the Rules Committee.

Vivek:

Ask yourself this too: who is actually running this country? Do you honestly believe Joe Biden is in charge? Is the “deep state” a conspiracy theory, or is it a reality hiding in plain sight?

Orwell

“The party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command. His heart sank as he thought of the enormous power arrayed against him, the ease with which any Party intellectual would overthrow him in debate, the subtle arguments which he would not be able to understand, much less answer. And yet he was in the right! They were wrong and he was right.”

George Orwell

Teddy:

Joe Biden’s next three fundraising events during a critical 48-hour period for this campaign.

As she says, you can’t just invent new laws to punish those you hate most, as was done here:

This was always a weird and creepy photograph, not to mention her boastful tweet.

Gaslighting the American people. Suddenly the media is complaining that the Biden WH covered-up, gaslit and lied about Biden’s cognitive incapacity.

Ann Althouse quoting Maureen Dowd:

“Jill Biden, lacking the detachment of a Melania and enjoying the role of first lady more, has been pushing — and shielding — her husband…”
“… beyond a reasonable point. After Thursday’s embarrassing debate performance, she exhorted the crowd and played teacher to a prized student: ‘You did a great job! You answered every question! You knew all the facts!’ This, to the guy who controls the nuclear codes…. The Democratic strategist Paul Begala… explained on CNN: ‘The first Democratic politician to call on Biden to step down, it’s going to end their career… None of them are going to say, ‘Hey, let me step forward and knife Julius Caesar.’ Biden is a beloved man in the Democratic Party.’… James Carville… told me Biden should call former Presidents Clinton and Obama to the White House and decide on five Democratic stars to address their convention in August…. Carville said the president should give a July 4 speech announcing he will let the next generation of Democratic leaders bloom…. And what if Joe and Jill cling on? In reply, Carville quoted… That which can’t continue, won’t.”

More history:

n 1919, President Woodrow Wilson was incapacitated by a stroke. Immediately thereafter, his wife Edith took control

David Remnick:

For the President to insist on remaining the Democratic candidate would be an act not only of self-delusion but of national endangerment.

Finally. Too.




Civics: IRS ‘Sincerely Apologizes To Ken Griffin And Thousands Of Other Taxpayers Whose Personal Information Was Leaked To The Press’



Dealbook:

The Internal Revenue Service has offered a rare public apology for a data leak that revealed the tax return details of Ken Griffin, the billionaire investor, and thousands of other affluent taxpayers.

The statement appears to draw a line under a legal battle. Griffin, the Citadel founder, sued the government in 2022 to force the agency to acknowledge its mistakes and to improve data security. The sides settled, and the I.R.S. published its apology yesterday.

A recap: Charles Littlejohn, an I.R.S. contractor, obtained the tax details of Griffin and others, including Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk, and disclosed them to ProPublica, which published the findings in a series of articles. Littlejohn, who was also accused of leaking Donald Trump’s tax documents to The Times, was sentenced to five years in prison in January.

The I.R.S. acknowledged internal failures. Littlejohn “violated the terms of his contract and betrayed the trust that the American people place in the I.R.S. to safeguard their sensitive information,” the agency said. The I.R.S. added it had “made substantial investments in its data security to strengthen its safeguarding of taxpayer information.”

Griffin said that it was “an outcome that will better protect American taxpayers and that will ultimately benefit all Americans.”

——

More.

Former IRS Contractor Sentenced for Disclosing Tax Return Information to News Organizations




How a College Dropout Changed What We Know About the U.S. Economy



Justin Lahart:

The man whose thinking helped change our understanding of the American labor market lives in perpetual motion. If he isn’t working, he’s disassembling a broken kitchen mixer, or teaching himself how to splice rope, or listening to podcasts at double speed while doing the workout routine he calls his “seven-minute twerkout.”

David Autor cut a peripatetic path through most of his 20s as a college dropout and self-taught mechanic, before he stumbled into economics.

“I fell into it assbackwards,” he said.

Today, his work is helping shape how the White House is approaching the biggest labor issues from responding to the threat of a “China Shock 2.0” to thinking about the economic impacts of artificial intelligence.

Autor has shown how the rise of the computer was hurting middle-class jobs. He sounded the alarm that workers in the South were getting pulverized by Chinese imports, years before Donald Trump was elected president, playing off this fear.

Now, Autor’s research has taken an unexpectedly optimistic turn: He has shown how, after the pandemic struck, low-wage workers have started catching up. He holds a hopeful view of AI, arguing that it could help low-skilled workers.

“To me, the labor market is the central institution of any society,” said Autor, 60 years old. “The fastest way to improve people’s welfare is to improve the labor market.”




Recent birth counts point to rapidly shrinking school enrollment in Milwaukee



John Johnson:

Many things affect a school (or district’s) enrollment, but the most important is simply how many children live there.

In Milwaukee, recent birth trends point to a future of dwindling class sizes, beginning in elementary school and working their way up through the higher grades. Absent a spike in the birth rate or a big change in migration, the three sectors—district, charter, and private—will find themselves fighting over a shrinking pie.

Across the 1990s, the number of babies born fell by 13%. Then, the trend stabilized, even growing slightly, until the Great Recession. 773 fewer babies were born in 2010 than 2009, and annual declines continued after that. From 2009 to 2019, the number of births fell by 17%.

The COVID-19 pandemic caused a drop in births similar to the Great Recession a decade prior. Births fell by 540 in 2020, 439 in 2021, and 358 in 2022. Losses stabilized in 2023, when the preliminary count shows 7,905 births, still 14% lower than prior to the pandemic.

——-

Abortion notes.

Commentary




“those who successfully completed a college degree are the most deserving of trillions in welfare?”



Palmer Luckey:

“Forgiving” the debt of college graduates is one of the most regressive tax schemes imaginable.

As a group, college graduates tend to be healthier, wealthier, happier, and more racially homogenous. To use the language of the left, they are privileged. Our country cannot provide unlimited welfare – there are limits to economic surplus, and printing money is another regressive scheme that most devalues the assets of those who can bear it least.




I Went to Trade School During Law School. It Left Me Stunned



Darnell Epps

While several of my peers at Yale pursued joint JD/MBA degrees, I decided to wed my Doctor of Law with a diploma in manufacturing technology and machining. …

At the time, I was working as an entrepreneur-in-residence with a venture capital firm and exploring ways to use software to provide well-paid jobs to people in low-income neighborhoods. I believed that many Americans struggling in the labor market could benefit from well-paid jobs that didn’t require a college degree. Determined to understand the skills employers were seeking, I decided to enroll at Lincoln Tech myself. …

My graduating class at Yale seemed poised to produce dozens of “Big Law” attorneys, while Lincoln Tech would graduate just two machinists. I was stunned. Although I love the law, both as a profession and as a tool for social change, I also know that lawyers are better at billing clients than building and maintaining our nation’s critical infrastructure. …

My Yale-to-Lincoln Tech path has reaffirmed my belief in the untapped potential of skilled trades. It has shown me that the future of American prosperity depends not only on lawyers and executives but also on machinists, welders and all skilled tradespeople who are the backbone of our economy. But we must reshape the narrative around skilled trades and foster a cultural appreciation for these essential careers. …

——

More.




“The same justifications we’ve used to restrict conservative speech are being used to silence us on Palestine. We need a different approach”



TASCHA SHAHRIARI-PARSASHARE

Shortly before Eghbariah’s article was scheduled to go live, our journal’s president made the unprecedented decision to delay and ultimately block the piece. After hours of debate, a majority of our editors voted to sustain that decision.

25 of my fellow editors and I publicly objected. Two of my peers resigned. And yet, we were unable to prevent a group of smart, mostly liberal law students from engaging in what struck me as a clear act of censorship. 

Why? As I and others have discussed elsewhere, some editors worried about losing offers from prestigious law firms or having their “names and faces plastered on billboard trucks around campus accusing them of being Hamas supporters.” Others, who didn’t like Eghbariah’s conclusions, harped on any imperfection they could find—either in his essay or in the solicitation and editing process—despite overlooking comparable flaws in past blog essays.

The great War on Terror cop-out, standing — which killed cases like Clapper v. Amnesty Internationaland ACLU v. NSA — reared its head again. In the last two decades we’ve gotten used to the problem of legal challenges to new government programs being shot down precisely because their secret nature makes collecting evidence or showing standing or injury difficult, and Murthy proved no different. 

I’m not going to lie. It’s a bummer. For plaintiffs like Drs. Jay Bhattacharya and Aaron Kheriaty, for their lawyers and the Attorneys General of Louisiana and Missouri who brought the case, and for those of us who worked on the related Twitter Files stories, this is certainly a disappointment. Given that the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security reportedly resumed contact with Internet platforms after oral arguments in this case in March led them to expect a favorable ruling, it’s logical to assume the Big Brothering will now resume in earnest.




Further Audits of the taxpayer funded Milwaukee k-12 District



Corrinne Hess:

We had asked that the governor use the Audit Bureau, but he’s decided to go on a different path. That doesn’t mean we can’t pursue it as well. The more eyes looking at what happened to prevent problems going forward, the better.” 

As of Thursday, the MPS audit was not listed as one of the nine audits in progress or planned on the LAB website. 

Sen. Duey Stroebel, R-Cedarburg, said it’s “incredibly troubling that the state Department of Public Instruction knew that MPS was late on reporting their finances months ago, but waited until after the $252 million MPS referendum narrowly passed to release this information to the public.”

DPI said the state first became aware in late March that MPS may have submitted incorrect data that led to the state giving the district more money than it should have.

State Superintendent Jill Underly told WISN’s UPFront on June 23, DPI did not realize how bad it was until late April. At that time, DPI began daily meetings with MPS officials, Underly said. 

Stroebel said what is happening at MPS is concerning because the district’s actions could affect schools across the state. 

“I’ve already heard from a number of constituents, including school district employees in my district, who are concerned about how this crisis at MPS will impact their school’s finances,” Stroebel said. 




“Newsrooms have grown detached from their mission,”



Mark Judge:

Referencing one of those semi-regular and boring reports about the state of journalism, Noonan concludes with this:

What was really striking was there was no mention, not one, of the thrill of the chase, of getting the story—of journalism itself. It was all about the guck and mess, not the mission, and made them look like news bureaucrats, joyless grinds, self-infatuated bores.

Growing up with a father who was an editor at National Geographic, as well as with older brothers who introduced me to Hunter Thompson, Joan Didion, and Tom Wolfe, to me journalism always meant that someone went out and found something cool to write about. Yes, there were columnists like George F. Will and Maureen Dowd who formulated opinions from their armchairs, but the main thrill of journalism was entering the world of a writer who had pursued and delivered a story. Even the movie critics and cultural writers found stories by exploring their subjects, and filled their reviews with insights and wisdom that came from long years of experience.

On the same day Noonan’s essay appeared at the Journal, movie critic Ty Burr published a beautiful eulogy for Donald Sutherland in The Washington Post. “I’ve always said that a movie critic who only knows about movies isn’t going to be very useful,” Burr once said,” that critics should know about life, because you’re really writing about life through the lens of the movies.” 

It’s a long way down from that to Taylor Lorenz.

Knowledgeable and wise, Burr’s piece could not have been written by a younger journalist. It reveals a writer who learned his craft through experience and earned his place by virtue of merit, not nepotism or politics. Burr was a movie programmer for HBO in the 1980s, so he became an expert in his subject through immersion. In his great book Gods Like Us: On Movie Stardom and Modern Fame, Burr wrote:

——

Matt Taibbi, one of the last working journalists in the west.




Civics: The Supreme Court Punts on Censorship



Matt Taibbi:

Standing and the related “traceability” issue doom Murthy v. Missouri, as the Supreme Court votes 6-3 to kick the Internet censorship can down the road

The Supreme Court today punted on Internet censorship, sending free speech advocates back to the drawing board while Joe Biden’s White House celebrated. 

“The Supreme Court’s decision,” said White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, “helps ensure the Biden administration can continue our important work with technology companies to protect the safety and security of the American people.”

That “important work,” of course, includes White House officials sending emails to companies like Facebook, with notes saying things like “Wanted to flag the below tweet and am wondering if we can get moving on having it removed ASAP.” The Supreme Court sidestepped ruling on the constitutionality of this kind of behavior in the Murthy v. Missouri case with one blunt sentence: “Neither the individual nor the state plaintiffs have established Article III standing to seek an injunction against any defendant.”

Jonathan Adler:

In a 6-3 decision authored by Justice Barrett, the Supreme Court concluded that none of the plaintiffs in Murthy v. Missouri had Article III standing to seek an injunction barring federal officials from seeking to influence content-moderation decisions on social media platforms. While the decision divided the Court, and Justice Alito wrote a lengthy dissent (joined by Justices Gorsuch and Thomas), Murthy appears to be a narrow decision, though one that sends a message to lower courts and litigants.

Here is Justice Barrett’s summary of the opinion:

Ilya Somin:

The plaintiffs in this case are people who allege that federal agencies (particularly the White House, the Surgeon General, and the CDC) pressured social media firms like Facebook and Twitter to bar posts about the Covid pandemic, vaccines, and some other issues, which the agencies regarded as harmful “misinformation.” The plaintiffs argue some of their posts were taken down or barred as a result. The lower courts ruled in favor of the plaintiffs on some of their claims, because they found extensive evidence that federal agencies did not just engage in persuasive “jawboning,” but threatened the social media firms with coercion, if they refused to comply. As the Fifth Circuit decision in the case put it:




Civics: Law enforcement is spying on thousands of Americans’ mail, records show



Drew Harwell:

The U.S. Postal Service has shared information from thousands of Americans’ letters and packages with law enforcement every year for the past decade, conveying the names, addresses and other details from the outside of boxes and envelopes without requiring a court order.


Postal inspectors say they fulfill such requests only when mail monitoring can help find a fugitive or investigate a crime. But a decade’s worth of records, provided exclusively to The Washington Post in response to a congressional probe, show Postal Service officials have received more than 60,000 requests from federal agents and police officers since 2015, and that they rarely say no.




Lawyers’ Committee Opposes New Draft of American Privacy Rights Act, Urges Representatives to Vote No



www:

The latest version of APRA does not sufficiently protect our rights. By removing previously agreed upon bipartisan language that would address data-driven discrimination and require AI impact assessments, the new draft of APRA fails to address the core purpose of privacy: to ensure that who we are cannot be used against us unfairly. This is unacceptable.

A privacy bill is not a comprehensive privacy bill without civil rights. Over and over again, we have seen how many of the worst harms from tech companies’ exploitative data practices disproportionately affect Black people and other people of color. A privacy law that does not account for discrimination is a house with no foundation. 

Passing comprehensive privacy legislation would be a major public good–but APRA no longer can be called comprehensive. Civil rights guardrails are essential for consumer trust in a system that allows companies to collect and use personal data without consent. The new draft strips out anti-discrimination protections, AI impact assessment requirements, and the ability to opt-out of AI decision-making for major economic opportunities like housing and credit. We cannot abide a regime that would perpetuate, in the words of Dr. Ruha Benjamin, a form of ‘Jim Code’: ‘the employment of new technologies that reflect and reproduce existing inequities.’




MEI



Paige Mclauflin:

Critics of corporate diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives are latching on to a new initialism dubiously similar to DEI. Meet “MEI,” short for “merit, excellence, and intelligence,” and coined by Alexandr Wang, cofounder and CEO of Scale AI, a startup valued at $4 billion that provides companies with labeled data used to train artificial intelligence models. “MEI,” according to a blog post authored by Wang, represents a “hiring principle” that ensures one “[hires] only the best person for the job.”

Hiring based on merit has benefited Scale, Wang argued, as the company landed opportunities like partnerships with OpenAI and the Department of Defense. And the startup will continue to take this approach instead of “pick[ing] winners and losers based on someone being the ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ race, gender, and so on,” Wang added.

“We hire only the best person for the job, we seek out and demand excellence, and we unapologetically prefer people who are very smart,” Wang wrote. (Scale AI declined Fortune’s requests for comment.) “We treat everyone as an individual. We do not unfairly stereotype, tokenize, or otherwise treat anyone as a member of a demographic group rather than as an individual.”

Wang’s post garnered praise from several business leaders, including billionaire Elon Musk, Sequoia partner Shaun Maguire, and Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong, all of whom have previously criticized corporate DEI programs.




Civics: “In reality, prosecutors use all kinds of criteria to determine who gets prosecuted and who doesn’t”



Tom Knighton:

Sometimes, that’s informed by the DA’s politics. A conservative “tough on crime” type might prosecute someone that a more liberal DA would let walk, for example.

But again, as long as the defendant’s politics don’t play into things, I don’t have an issue with that. District attorneys are voted on, after all, and people deserve what they vote for.

In Manhattan, however, DA Alvin Bragg isn’t trying to be subtle. He’s blatantly allowing his politics to expressly determine who gets prosecuted and who doesn’t.

For example, we all know about Trump’s prosecution for a crime that makes absolutely no sense. Bragg distorted the law and likely only got a conviction because of an equally biased judge. The idea that an internal accounting error, at worst, is fraud was stupid beyond belief.

Then there’s the flip side, where now people feel betrayed by Bragg over who he didn’t prosecute.

Dozens of protesters swarmed Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office buildingMonday to rip him for nixing charges against members of the anti-Israel mob that attacked Columbia University — calling the move “a betrayal.”

The demonstrators said that letting many of the rampaging protesters off scot-free sets “a strikingly dangerous precedent” — and called on the US Department of Justice to investigate and prosecute the crimes if the lefty DA won’t.




The Rise and Fall of 8th Grade Algebra



Chad Aldeman:

Algebra is a gateway toward more advanced mathematics courses, and passing the course in 8th grade is a strong predictor of future college success. All students can be math solvers, but students need opportunities to prove it.

Unfortunately, schools have been limiting opportunities for students to take Algebra in 8th grade, and it shows up in a remarkable graph of the national data.

In 1986, for example, 16% of American 13-year-olds were taking Algebra. After two decades of steady gains, that figure hit an all-time high of 34% in 2012.

But then it started to fall. By the 2022-23 school year, the percentage of 13-year-olds enrolled in Algebra had fallen back to 24%.




Unused school buildings and choice



WILL

The News: The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) has prepared a legal action against the Marinette School District for unlawfully wasting taxpayer dollars on an unused, vacant school building that is no longer operational. Despite being offered the asking price for the property, the Marinette School District has refused to sell it to a small Catholic school stating they do not want “competition.”

However, keeping the property vacant damages the community by misusing tax dollars on maintenance, and the building has become a crime magnet. WILL is urging the school district to do what’s best for taxpayers, property owners, and students and sell the property.

The Quotes: WILL Associate Counsel, Lauren Greuel, stated, “The school district ought to prioritize the safety and concerns of the public before their own. By not selling this vacant building, residents, taxpayers, and property owners are on the hook for lower land values and rising crime rates. The school district’s actions are a complete slap in the face to the community.”

Cheryl Sporie, the St. Thomas Aquinas Board of Trustee Chair who offered full price, remarked, “It is unfortunate the school district utterly refuses to work with us despite our fair and reasonable offer. We are not trying to take business away from them, we are simply trying to provide a better service for the students in this community already enrolled in our school.”




Beyond Academic Sectarianism



Steven M. Teles

More conspicuously than at any time in living memory, elite higher education has found itself in the political crosshairs. Who could have predicted a year ago that the presidents of the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard would, in quick succession, be thrown out of a job after less than two years in office between them? Or that presidents of other elite universities would be holding on by the skin of their teeth?

While these and other university leaders’ responses to the Hamas attack on Israel lit the fire, the dry tinder for a political assault on our most prestigious universities has been sitting around for some time. What started in Philadelphia and Cambridge will not stop there.

Those who sense more than a whiff of political opportunism and anti-intellectualism in this assault are not mistaken. But the public’s impression that American higher education has grown increasingly closed minded is undeniably correct. Indeed, concerns about the ideological drift of the university are no longer limited to conservatives, but now include some left-leaning faculty who worry that higher education has become, in the words of Princeton professor Gregory Conti, “sectarian.”

This mounting sectarianism manifests itself in various aspects of the university, including the scope of debate within and outside the classroom, the growth of campus administration, and the tenor of student life. For a professor like myself, the character of the professoriate is the most salient aspect. And where conservative faculty are concerned, the facts are beyond dispute: Their numbers are low and continue to fall.




Supreme Court sort of rules in favor of taxpayer funded censorship, via standing



NCLA:

“Today, the U.S. Supreme Court voted 6-3 to vacate a historic preliminary injunction granted by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in the case of Murthy v. Missouri, finding that the Respondents protected by the injunction lacked standing to support injunctive (that is, future) relief. The injunction had barred officials from the White House, CDC, FBI, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), and the Surgeon General’s office from encouraging social media platforms to censor constitutionally protected speech. Representing Drs. Jayanta Bhattacharya, Martin Kulldorff, and Aaron Kheriaty, and Ms. Jill Hines, the New Civil Liberties Alliance is disappointed by this dramatic shrinking of Americans’ First Amendment rights. The Court today protected the government’s ability to censor truthful speech that opposed the government’s false and manipulative narratives on multiple aspects of the Covid-19 pandemic, including our clients’ true statements challenging government falsehoods about natural immunity, vaccine efficacy, masking, the origins of the Wuhan virus, and many other topics.”

——

More.

Ann Althouse:

The case is decided on the threshold issue of standing, so the majority does not reach the merits of the First Amendment question. The plaintiffs were seeking prospective relief, so they needed a concrete and particularized injury that would be redressable by that form of relief. Past injury is not enough:

Commentary.

Glenn Greenwald:

The SupCt today, by a 6-3 vote, reversed that, but not — as pro-Dem pundits imply — because they approved, only because they said plaintiffs lack standing to bring the case.

Alex Berenson:

Fact check: true.

And the details in the SC ruling actually HELP Berenson v Biden. Standing is particularized, and I have the particulars.

Blog:

The ruling leaves Berenson v Biden, my own lawsuit against White House and Pfizer officials over their 2021 conspiracy to force me off Twitter, as the only serious remaining challenge to the Biden administration’s censorship.

For Berenson v Biden, which I filed last year in federal court in Manhattan, the ruling is far more positive than it may first seem.

And:

Imagine a SpaceX director and a Trump operative had conspired to censor reporting on Twitter on SpaceX safety problems. The elite media would (rightly) report every detail.

This conduct is the same – but it’s the mRNAs and Biden, media pets, so it faces a blackout…

Nicole Shanahan:

In July 2021, a senior Pfizer board member met with a top White House operative to stifle criticism of the Covid vaccines, a discovery made public through the Twitter-Pfizer Files earlier this year. In the wake of these revelations, I interviewed @MelissaMcAtee92, a longtime Pfizer employee turned whistleblower. She shared with me what compelled her to come forward. Her actions exemplify true courage—we need more individuals like Melissa in the world.




Investigates Immigration Crisis in the City of Whitewater 



IRG:

Over 400 obtained records suggest significant strain on local resources for the City of Whitewater after arrival of over 1,000 migrants from Central America 

Delafield, WI – Today, the Institute for Reforming Government (IRG) released a new report after an investigation into how America’s broken immigration system has placed crushing burdens on  a small Wisconsin City. This report is the most comprehensive review explaining how the arrival of migrants has drained resources in this small City, most acutely in the areas of education and public safety.

What Happened: Starting in early 2022, a gradual increase of migrants from Central America arrived in the City of Whitewater, and through no fault of their own, the City was unprepared to manage the influx of migrants.  According to the over 400 records obtained by IRG, City officials believe that the combination of a surplus of student housing during COVID-19, ample employment opportunities from local farms and manufacturers, and the identification of family members already residing in Whitewater made the City a magnet for immigrant families.

Why it Matters: All told from 2022 – 2023, the City estimates at least 1,000 migrants from Central America quietly established themselves in the sleepy college town of 15,000.

WCVB:

Healey’s office said the goal is for state personnel to make connections with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Joint Task Force-North, non-governmental organizations and families to educate them about the lack of shelter availability in Massachusetts.

“This trip is an important opportunity to meet with families arriving in the U.S. and the organizations that work with them at the border to make sure they have accurate information about the lack of shelter space in Massachusetts,” said Rice.

While the state emergency shelter system is at full capacity, Healey’s administration said that record numbers of immigrant families continue to arrive in Boston.




Elite misinformation is an underrated problem: Important institutions are too eager to mislead people



Matthew Ygelsias:

And I think erroneous ideas that are perpetrated by mainstream institutions — what I’m going to call “elite misinformation” — are a really big deal in an underrated way. 

I don’t want to rehash this in detail, because it’s been well covered recently, but a good example of this sort of misinformation is the narrative about a huge rise in maternal mortality in the United States. Because as a growing chorus of critics has been pointing out, this increase was largely the mechanical result of a change in counting methods, not in the public health situation. That’s bad, but what’s really shocking, as I learned from Jerusalem Demsas, is that key actors are totally unapologetic about sowing confusion:

Christopher M. Zahn, the interim CEO of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, wrote a lengthy statement in response, arguing that “reducing the U.S. maternal mortality crisis to ‘overestimation’” is “irresponsible and minimizes the many lives lost and the families that have been deeply affected.” Why? Because it “would be an unfortunate setback to see all the hard work of health care professionals, policy makers, patient advocates, and other stakeholders be undermined.” Rather than pointing out any major methodological flaw in the paper, Zahn’s statement expresses the concern that it could undermine the laudable goal of improving maternal health.

This strikes me as a shortsighted and pernicious way to think about the purpose of communicating with the public. And yet, people are out here saying it in public! 

The case of the mystery fossil fuel subsidy

Years ago, when I didn’t cover climate and energy topics at all, I floated the idea of a piece making the point that not only were carbon tax proposals politically toxic, but all these various schemes to subsidize clean energy seemed like a relatively inefficient way to reduce fossil fuel use. Wouldn’t it be better to just get global governments to cut their massive subsidies for fossil fuel use first?

After all, I’d seen lots of stories with headlines like this:




University of Minnesota retracts pioneering studies on stem cells, Alzheimer’s disease



Jeremy Olson

Years after questions were raised about their integrity, two of the University of Minnesota’s highest-profile scientific discoveries have been retracted in one week — one that offered hope over the therapeutic potential of stem cells and another that offered a promising path toward treating Alzheimer’s disease.

The studies are more than a decade old and in some respects superseded by other discoveries in their fields. But the retractions of the Alzheimer’s paper on Monday and the stem cell paper on June 17 are setbacks for an institution that has been fighting to move up the U.S. rankings in academic reputation and federal research dollars.

Both studies were published in the prestigious journal Nature and collectively have been cited nearly 7,000 times in other papers, studies and articles. Researchers worldwide were using these papers to support their work years after they had been disputed.




More Madness in Madison Schools



Dave Cieslewicz

A student at Madison’s La Follette High School comes to school with a handgun and two magazines of ammo in his backpack. When Madison police show up to arrest him, a security guard and other staff members harass the cops. In another incident at the school, a student (perhaps the same one — he hasn’t been identified) brings a handgun to school. The cops arrive to arrest him and two staff members claim falsely to be his guardians in an effort to stop him from being arrested or prosecuted. 

In that first incident this spring, the security guard yelled at an assistant principal for having called the police. “We’re supposed to be protecting kids!” he charged. Madisonians might be justified in responding, “say what again?” This is a security guard. Call me crazy, but it seems to me that protecting kids would suggest that, I don’t know, maybe you remove the kid with the gun and ammo in his backpack.

This is insane and the insanity begins at the top with the Madison School Board. That ideologically rigid group sees enforcement of simple, common sense safety and discipline measures as aiding in an alleged “school to prison pipeline.” So, those staff members were simply carrying out the ideological madness they hear from the very top.




No computers. Keep books. Seattle library network outage nears a month



David Gutman:

The library and its 27 branches continue to struggle through a ransomware attack that has disabled its networks, rendered its hundreds of public computers useless and turned its normal operations upside down.

Book checkouts are being done by spreadsheet. Column A: the library user’s account number. Column B: the book’s bar code number. The low-tech inventory will be integrated with the library’s normal account system at some future, unknown date.

With its computer networks down, the library has no way to check books back into its system, making it more convenient for everyone if you just hold onto your books for a little while. In normal times, the library says it loans out more than 1.1 million books and other items each month.

You can search the library’s catalog, but only from home, or from your phone, not from any of the computer terminals in libraries.




The Triumph of Counting and Scripting



Allison Pugh.

Erin Nash was a hospital chaplain whose job was to be with people in some of their worst moments, praying, holding hands, even singing with them. Shadowing her on her rounds, I watched as she managed to create brief peaceful moments with suffering patients and their families again and again, making temporary sanctuary between the thin blue medical curtains despite the buzzing alarms, fluorescent lighting, and constant stream of footsteps on the linoleum floors nearby.

I was surprised to learn that in addition to consoling the bereaved and calming the anxious, Erin (the names in this piece have been changed) had to fill out three separate charts—including the standard electronic health records system that many clinicians use—for every person she visited. She even carried around a cheat sheet to help her remember the codes, murmuring, under her breath, “Asking for a prayer is a resource, family together is a resource,” while she hunted and pecked at the keyboard. Nobody was being billed for Erin’s work, so why was she charting in triplicate?




Civics: fake news, legacy media and elections



Scott Adams:

BTW, Jake Tapper, cohost of the upcoming debate, knows the Fine People Hoax is a hoax. I explained it to him. And soon after, he noted on air that Trump had disavowed the racists at the event. I suspect he is about to change history.




On education, the proof (or lack thereof) is in the pudding



Tom Knighton:

I didn’t start out to hit education three days in a row like this, but when stories drop in your lap, sometimes you have to adjust fire and move forward.

On Wednesday, I addressed a proposal as to why homeschooling should be regulated and then took issue with a lot of teachers, particularly with regard to their demand for more and more money and more benefits.

But here’s the thing, if public school teachers were good at their jobs, I don’t think I’d say much. In far too many cases, though, they’re not. There are exceptions, but as a whole, we don’t see metrics screaming to us that our educational system is working as intended.

And we now have yet another example of just how bad it is. Ostensibly about learning loss following COVID, I think there’s a bigger issue at play here.

Key findings from the most recent school year available (2021-2022) include:

◼ In 2022, Only 26% of eighth graders were at or above proficient in math, much worse than before the pandemic (33% in 2019).

◼ Less than a third of fourth graders (32%) were at or above proficient in reading, two percentage points lower than right before the pandemic (34% in 2019).

◼ Thirty percent of all students (14.7 million students) were chronically absent, nearly double pre-pandemic rates (16% in 2018–19, the final school year fully unaffected by COVID). Two out of three students attended schools plagued by chronic absence.




“The Justice Department tries to silence and imprison whistleblowers who expose the barbarism of transgender medicine”



Madeleine Rowley

According to a letter written by Haim’s lawyers, Assistant U.S. Attorney Tina Ansari admitted that she hadn’t reviewed the purported evidence against Haim and was instead relying on what FBI agents told her. In the same discussion, Ansari insisted that the documents Haim sent to Rufo included children’s names, but nothing in the documents Rufo saw identified any individuals. All were redacted. The prosecutor then asked Haim to admit wrongdoing, telling him that he should apologize to the families of the children who received transgender medical interventions at TCH if he wanted her to help him avoid a felony prosecution. When this tactic failed, Ansari intimated that the families would sue if she didn’t bring criminal charges.

Roger Severino, vice president of domestic policy for the Heritage Foundation and a former HIPAA regulator at the Department of Health and Human Services, called Haim’s prosecution “outrageous.” As Severino notes, Haim blew the whistle in good faith in a state “where it’s illegal to do these experimental surgeries on minors.” (In September 2023, Texas attorney general Ken Paxton announced that SB 14, a new law banning gender-transition procedures for minors in Texas, had gone into effect.)

Ansari’s zeal to prosecute Haim is especially strange, given her lack of knowledge of HIPAA law, as noted in a letter from Haim’s lawyers. In the past, Ansari has prosecuted cases involving doctors who falsified patient-care documents to receive higher insurance payouts, a health-center owner who scammed Medicare out of millions based on fraudulent claims, and a pharmacist who submitted false claims to Tricare and other federal insurance programs while pocketing $22 million. Yet she moved to indict Haim in this case, despite his having no profit motive, and despite the Texas Attorney General’s Office declining to act on the case for six months.

Dan Epstein, vice president of America First Legal, a conservative public-interest law group, calls the Haim indictment an overreach of epic proportions. “The fact that Texas state attorneys decided not to bring action on this case says that there wasn’t much public concern over it,” Epstein said. “This is a policy matter, and as a prosecutor if you’re enforcing legal policy and statute, you have to exercise some level of discretion.”

Paragraph 19 of the indictment alleges that Haim’s disclosures to Rufo resulted in “financial loss” to TCH, and that Haim blew the whistle out of “malicious intent.” Haim, for his part, observes that he swore an oath to “do no harm” and believed he had a duty to disclose alleged TCH’s secret gender clinic to prevent further harm to children undergoing procedures for which there is a lack of long-term evidence of efficacy (or safety).




The Surgeon General Is Wrong. Social Media Doesn’t Need Warning Labels



Mike Masnick

Warning: Reading this article may cause you to question the Surgeon General’s reliance on feelings over science.

In 1982, then-U.S. Surgeon General Dr. C. Everett Koop said video games could be hazardous to children and warned of kids becoming “addicted” to them, causing problems for their “body and soul.”

This warning was not based on any actual science or evidence, but it kicked off decades of moral panic and fearmongering over the supposed risks of video games and children. This culminated in the Supreme Court rejecting a California law to require labeling of video games and restrict kids’ access to them, deeming it unconstitutional.

Studies have repeatedly debunked the claim that video games make kids more violent. Indeed, a recent Stanford meta-study of dozens of previous studies on kids and video games found no evidence of a connection between video games and violence. The researchers noted that if there was any correlation, it seemed to come from the public believing the unproven claims of a connection because politicians kept insisting it must be there.




Higher Pay Won’t Solve Teachers’ Problems



By Robert Pondiscio

When I reflect on my time in the classroom, I don’t think about my paycheck, the staffing, or
the per‐pupil funding at my school, which seemed quite generous. Instead, I think about the
impediments that stood—and still stand—in the way of teachers being successful.

Teaching is the easiest job in the world to do poorly, but the hardest one to do well. And make
no mistake, the vast majority of our four million full‐time teachers deeply want to do it well. So
let me say at the outset that no one should begrudge paying hard‐working teachers more, but
we should be clear‐eyed about our reasons for doing so. We work in the service of children. If
our hope is that improving teacher pay will improve student outcomes, then we will likely be
disappointed. Higher pay does not make a hard job easier to perform. It lifts no burden off a
teacher’s shoulders, nor does it add hours to a teacher’s day.




Amid financial scandals, Milwaukee K-12 system to delay Carmen charter school eviction



WILL

The News: In an agenda posted last week, the Milwaukee Public School (MPS) Board indicated that they will delay their plans to evict two Carmen Charter Schools campuses from their buildings until October 2024. The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) and other education advocates have previously stated that evicting the charter school would be bad for students and Milwaukee taxpayers alike.

With the MPS Board set to delay consideration of evicting Carmen Schools until October, WILL released a new analysis today that highlights the unfeasibility of one Board Member’s claims that a new home can be found for Carmen students. Low-occupancy and vacant buildings in MPS are located primarily on the northside of the city—far from where Carmen’s students reside on the southside. No single southside school has the space to accommodate the 1,138 students that would be displaced by this proposed eviction.

The Quote: WILL Research Director, Will Flanders, noted, “MPS should avoid another disaster and completely drop its plans to evict Carmen Charter. Not only would it be a huge negative for families and MPS’s finances, evicting this charter school is simply unfeasible and nothing more than an ideological attack on parental choice.”




47 candidates (!) file for Chicago school board elections



Nader Issa

The window for hopefuls to submit their minimum 1,000 signatures to get on the ballot closed Monday afternoon with more than two dozen final-day submissions wrapping up the week-long process that kicked off the elections.

Chicago’s first-ever school board elections will feature 47 candidates vying for 10 seats, a number surpassing most expectations and including parents, former teachers and principals, nonprofit workers and a rapper.

The window for hopefuls to submit their minimum 1,000 signatures to get on the ballot closed Monday afternoon with more than two dozen final-day submissions wrapping up the week-long process that kicked off the elections.

Carmen Gioiosa beat the clock to file her paperwork in District 4 along the north lakefront, where six people are battling it out. The former high school Italian teacher and Chicago Public Schools central office administrator said she was still collecting signatures Monday morning.

——-

Madison, meanwhile excels in unopposed school board elections.

Yet:

Madison taxpayers have long supported far above average K – 12 spending. Per student spending ranges from $22,633 to $29,827 depending on the spending number used (!)

Enrollment notes.

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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

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

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




Delong Middle School student makes history winning the first Wisconsin Civics Bee: “focused on the flaws of the education system”



Jeremy Wall 

When Rya Mousavi saw a poster for Wisconsin’s first civics bee, she had an idea.

“My teacher just had a poster on the board and I talked to her about it. She kind of introduced me to the civics bee and I thought it was a good opportunity,” said Mousavi

An opportunity to improve her community. The civics bee is a competition hosted by the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce Foundation in which middle schoolers from across the state share ideas to improve their communities and answer civics questions. 

Contestants are asked to pick a topic to write about. Mousavi focused on the flaws of the education system. She says school systems nationwide, including the Eau Claire Area School District, don’t meet the diverse needs of all students

“We’re really not able to make the most out of all the time, we have to learn and a lot of that is because of issues to the system. There’s a lot we can do to improve the system. I believe we have the resources,” Mousavi said.

——

Madison taxpayers have long supported far above average K – 12 spending. Per student spending ranges from $22,633 to $29,827 depending on the spending number used (!)

Enrollment notes.

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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

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

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




Notes on Madison’s planned K-12 tax & $pending increase referendum (enrollment data?)



Abbey Machtig

Administrators are recommending Sennett Middle School and Cherokee Heights Middle School be replaced with new buildings. The same goes for several combined schools that share the same location: Shabazz City High and Sherman Middle; Black Hawk Middle and Gompers Elementary; Toki Middle and Orchard Ridge Elementary.

The district would also renovate Anana and Crestwood elementary schools, bringing the total cost of construction to $507 million.

It’s not clear exactly where the new schools would be located. New schools could be built on empty fields next door to some of the existing buildings, according to board materials.

Meanwhile, money from the operating referendum could be spent on things like staff salaries and educational programming. The district has not provided details on exactly what the $100 million will buy.

….

In the preliminary budget, spending would total $581 million, about $10 million less than last school year. With COVID-19 pandemic relief aid winding down, the district is getting significantly less money from federal sources.

The district plans to add more than 100 full-time equivalent positions in 2025. Most of the additions will be at the classroom level, with more teachers and education assistant positions added back to schools.

——

Kayla Huynh:

If voters approve of the school district’s two measures, MMSD officials estimate an owner of an average-value home in Madison would see a $1,376 increase on their property tax bills by 2028. That could be on top of hundreds of dollars annually for a city property tax increase.

If the operating budget referendum fails, the district’s starting budget would still include 107 new full-time positions. It would also retain 111 positions previously funded by federal pandemic relief aid, the Policy Forum said.

The number of administrators would stay nearly the same, but the district would add more teachers, educational assistants and mental health support staff. Many of the teacher resources would go toward the 4-year-old kindergarten and kindergarten through first grade programs.

Total staff for the school district would be the equivalent of 4,192 full-time employees — the largest number of district staff since at least 2013, the Policy Forum said.

Madison taxpayers have long supported far above average K – 12 spending. Per student spending ranges from $22,633 to $29,827 depending on the spending number used (!)

Enrollment notes.

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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

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

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




The Woke Capture of Charter Schools



Jay Greene, PhD, Ian Kingsbury and Jason Bedrick:

School choice should empower parents to obtain an education for their own children that is consistent with their values. This is occurring well with private school choice, but with charter school choice it is falling short. Regulatory and philanthropic constraints need to be minimized for charter schools so they can better align with the value preferences of parents. Ultimately, states should adopt universal private school choice to avoid a binary option for families of charter schools that may not be aligned with their values or district public schools that are frequently unaligned and unsafe and academically ineffective.
KEY TAKEAWAYS

Charter schools may become less well aligned with the value preferences of local parents if heavy regulations force them to please state authorizers over parents.

Additionally, charter schools can stray from parental values if they are overly dependent on left-wing national philanthropies to subsidize their operations.

Regulatory and donor capture of charter schools must be reduced so that school choice is more responsive to parental preferences.




Litigation over taxpayer student loan bailouts



Politico:

A pair of federal judges on Monday halted key parts of President Joe Biden’s new student loan repayment program, imperiling the administration’s plan to lower monthly payments and erase student debt for millions of Americans ahead of the November election.

The two court rulings, in response to lawsuits filed by Republican-led states, prohibit the Education Department from moving ahead with major provisions of Biden’s SAVE loan repayment program. The decisions prevent the Biden administration from further reducing the monthly payments of millions of borrowers as planned in July or canceling more debt under the program.




NYC launching new learning tool to help kids conquer ‘fear of math’ in public schools next fall



Aneeta Bhole

The Big Apple is trying out a new equation to help boost sagging math scores.

City officials unveiled a new public school math curriculum Monday aimed at helping students overcome their “fear of math” by emphasizing open-ended discussions.

“Students develop a fear of math from the earliest grades, and we have kids who will say, ‘I’m not a math person… but even worse than that we have teachers who say ‘I’m not a math person,’” Schools Chancellor David Banks said.

——-

More:

Math forum.




Gender Lies About Girls And Women Now Go Far Beyond Sports



Erika Sanzi

Boys keep winning the girls’ events in track and field. Female athletes are losing opportunities to qualify and to win as they watch their male peers, who identify as female, blow past them in races and win meets. This past season, we saw five males who identify as female win state titles in Maine, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Oregon and Washington. No matter how many times we hear from gender activists and even elected officials in the Democratic party that “this isn’t happening,” when we see post-pubescent males standing atop the podium to receive their medal for winning a girls’ event, we know that it clearly is happening. 

These boys who identify as girls did not violate the rules — all of them competed within state policies that explicitly allow natal males to enter the girls’ events based on their self-declared gender identity. According to the Independent Council on Women’s Sports, or ICONS, at least three other male-born athletes didn’t win but competed at the girls’ track-and-field championships in Connecticut, Hawaii and Washington.

In April of 2023, The Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act passed in the House of Representatives without a single vote from the Democrats. 




The Case for Not Sanitizing Fairy Tales



Haley Stewart:

During Flannery O’Connor’s childhood, the future author had a creative way of weeding out any unsatisfactory playmates who had been chosen by her mother as respectable society. O’Connor would read Grimms’ Fairy Tales aloud to her guests. Some were too frightened by the stories to ever return to the O’Connor house in Savannah (which suited their hostess just fine). Any girl who loved the fairy tales passed young O’Connor’s test. A kindred spirit had been found.

Classic fairy tales aren’t for the faint of heart. It’s not hard to see their influence on O’Connor’s disturbing and shocking southern gothic fiction that includes such horrors as serial killers waiting by the side of rural roads, ready to murder selfish grandmothers. The stories compiled by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm include their fair share of violence and twisted crimes: men who chop young women up into pieces, a father who lusts after his own daughter, and many, many characters who make deals with the devil himself. Today children are often only familiar with sanitized versions of the Grimm Brothers’ stories.




“Why Don’t U.S. Medical Schools Produce More Doctors?”



Jay Greene:

To become a board-certified and licensed doctor in the United States, one must complete medical school and then be placed in a residency program for at least one year of clinical training. In 1981, only 9 percent of medical residents came from foreign medical schools.1National Resident Matching Program, “Match Data & Report Archives,” https://www.nrmp.org/match-data-analytics/archives/ (accessed May 4, 2024). In 2024, 25 percent of medical residents came from abroad. That is, a quarter of the people becoming doctors in the U.S. obtained their medical education abroad.

Of course, there are many skilled and caring physicians working in the U.S. who attended medical school in other countries. They are not at fault for wanting to become doctors and serving patients in the United States. But a system for producing doctors that favors foreign-trained doctors while blocking qualified Americans is strange and problematic.

The primary reason for the huge increase in foreign-trained doctors is simply that there are too few U.S. medical schools2Unless otherwise noted, the term “U.S. medical school” includes both those trained in allopathic schools that grant MD degrees and osteopathic schools that grant doctor of osteopathic medicine (DO) degrees. training too few students. There is no shortage of people applying to U.S. medical schools. In fact, it is getting significantly more difficult to get into medical schools. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, there were 62,443 applicants to allopathic (doctor of medicine (MD)-granting) medical schools in 2021, of whom 23,711 were admitted.3Association of American Medical Colleges, “2021 Fall Applicant, Matriculant, and Enrollment Data Tables,” https://www.aamc.org/media/57761​/download?attachment (accessed on May 3, 2024). This acceptance rate of 38 percent is down from 46 percent in 2011 and 52 percent in 2002. If U.S. medical schools had the same acceptance rate in 2024 as they had in 2002, the current percentage of medical residents that would need to be filled by foreign medical students would be 9 percent—the same as it was in 1981.

The reason that the percentage of doctors imported from abroad has skyrocketed from 9 percent to 25 percent between 1981 and 2024 is that U.S. medical schools have simply failed to keep up with the increased demand for medical services by not expanding the number of doctors they train. It was a policy choice to import significantly more foreign-educated doctors rather than train more in the U.S. That policy choice was enforced by monopoly control over the accreditation of U.S. medical schools, which hindered new entrants and forced the U.S. health care system to look abroad for doctors.




Veracity and the “ai” space



Tim Marchman

Earlier this week, WIRED published a storyabout the AI-powered search startup Perplexity, which Forbes has accused of plagiarism. In it, my colleague Dhruv Mehrotra and I reported that the company was surreptitiously scraping, using crawlers to visit and download parts of websites from which developers had tried to block it, in violation of its own publicly stated policy of honoring the Robots Exclusion Protocol.

Our findings, as well as those of the developer Robb Knight, identified a specific IP address almost certainly linked to Perplexity and not listed in its public IP range, which we observed scraping test sites in apparent response to prompts given to the company’s public-facing chatbot. According to server logs, that same IP visited properties belonging to Condé Nast, the media company that owns WIRED, at least 822 times in the past three months—likely a significant undercount, because the company retains only a small portion of its records.

We also reported that the chatbot was bullshitting, in the technical sense. In one experiment, it generated text about a girl following a trail of mushrooms when asked to summarize the content of a website that its agent did not, according to server logs, attempt to access.




Civics: Governance and elections



Victor Davis Hanson

Most Americans believe it is unhinged to deliberately destroy the border and allow 10 million illegal aliens to enter the country without background audits, means of support, any claims to legal residency, and definable skills. And worse still, why would federal authorities be ordered to release repeat violent felons who have gone on to commit horrendous crimes against American citizens?

Equally perplexing to most Americans is borrowing $1 trillion every 90 days and paying 5-5.5% interest on the near $36 trillion in ballooning national debt. Serving that debt at current interest exceeds the size of the annual defense budget and may soon top $1 trillion in interest costs, or more than 13% of the budget.

Why would the United States suspend military aid to Israel as it tries to destroy the Hamas architects of the October 7 massacres? Why would it lift sanctions on a terrorist Iran? Why would it suppress Israel’s response to Iran’s missile attack on the Jewish homeland? Why would it prevent Israel from stockpiling key munitions as it prepares to deal with the existential threats posed by Hezbollah?

Why would the Biden administration cancel key pipeline projects and put vast swaths of federal lands rich in oil and gas off limits to production, even as it further drains the strategic petroleum reserve? Why not pump rather than drain our own oil from strategic stockpiles?

Why would the Biden White House’s counsel’s office meet with Nathan Wade, the former paramour chief prosecutor in the Fani Willis Fulton County prosecution of Donald Trump? Why would the third-ranking prosecutor in the Biden Justice Department step down to lead Alvin Bragg’s Manhattan prosecution of Donald Trump? Why would the Biden Justice Department under Attorney General Merrick Garland select Jack Smith as a special prosecutor of Donald Trump—given his past failures as a special counsel and known political biases?

Nihilism only explains so much. A better explanation is that the Biden administration and its handlers knew that there was a good chance that most of their policies would prove unpopular and might even jeopardize Biden’s reelection.

——

More.




“The best news reporter in town is up with a story today that ought to get heads rolling in our public school district”



David Blaska:

but probably won’t because — Forget it, Jake, it’s Madison WI!

School employees harassed police as they arrested an 18-year-old student criminal for carrying a loaded weapon inside La Follette high school, according to the most excellent report from Chris Rickert of the WI State Journal, made after an open records request. 

One Kyshawn M. Bankston had a Glock 9 mm handgun, two magazines with rounds in them, a scale and an empty plastic bag that had contained marijuana, police say. The young scholar lunged for that gun as police moved to arrest him. (Their police report)

——-

Madison taxpayers have long supported far above average K – 12 spending. Per student spending ranges from $22,633 to $29,827 depending on the spending number used (!)

Enrollment notes.

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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

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

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




A month after bombshell letter, what we know about how a crisis quietly spiraled at the Milwaukee K-12 District



Rory Linnane:

“They painted a picture that on the outside looked like there was improvement being made,” Zombor said. “You believe them, because they’re the experts.” Now, Zombor said, she’s frustrated that the picture they painted seems to be “very different from what was happening in reality.”

In January, Chason said he was temporarily blocked from accessing the district’s financial information. That happened shortly after the publication of a recorded conversation between Chason and former school board member Aisha Carr, in which Chason explained how he felt administrators had made questionable budget maneuvers. Chason said he hadn’t consented to being recorded.

In March, after Chason regained access to information, he sent school board members a memo about ongoing problems in the finance office: staff had failed to submit information that Baker Tilly needed for the latest audit, and the district had therefore missed deadlines with DPI. 

In response, Posley told board members March 22 that MPS had updated DPI about the audit and was solving problems. He didn’t mention that at that point, DPI was having weekly meetings with MPS staff about the late reports.

——

More.




‘We could’ve pushed harder’: State superintendent discusses MPS fiscal mess, changes state will make in response



By: A.J. Bayatpour

Wisconsin’s top education official said in an interview Friday the state Department of Public Instruction (DPI) is considering changes to how it handles districts falling behind on their financial reporting. 

The policy revisions would largely be in response to a fiscal crisis Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) is now facing. The state’s biggest district is now nine months late on turning in audited versions of last year’s finances. 

Beyond that, MPS’ data from the previous year was inaccurate, leading to overpayments to the district. To make up for those dollars, DPI officials estimate they’ll end up deducting between $35 million and $50 million from MPS’ general state aid for the 2024-25 school year.

State Superintendent Jill Underly said she first was alerted to MPS’ financial mess in late April. She said, at that time, DPI officials were not alarmed by that seven-month delay.




Madison’s K-12 Governance: recent calendar activity



With the arrival of our latest K-12 Superintendent, I thought readers might have interest in recent calendar activity. On 4 June, 2024, I made a public records request of the taxpayer funded Madison School District:

“digital copy of Superintendent Joe Gothard’s calendar from his first meetings (April?) through 4 June, 2024.

In addition, I write to request the same for Nichelle Nichols, Board President from 1 January 2024 to 4 June, 2024.

Digital screenshots of these requests in png or jpg format are fine.”

I received the response today. Nichelle Nichols and Joe Gothard.

Superintendent Gothard’s May to June weekly calendar screens:

——

2013: What will be different, this time? 2019: Jennifer Cheatham and the Madison Experience

Madison taxpayers have long supported far above average K – 12 spending. Per student spending ranges from $22,633 to $29,827 depending on the spending number used (!)

Enrollment notes.

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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

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

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




What a fight over $1.9 million in pay says about training for veteran teachers



Liz Bowie and Kristen Griffith

City school administrators began seeing teachers submitting 60 course credits — the equivalent of two master’s degrees — from Idaho State University this year to get an increase in pay. To the human resources department, this looked fishy.

How could a full-time teacher have enough time in one year to do the course work to earn 60 graduate credits? So they looked at Idaho State’s online professional development classes and realized that they cost just $55 a course and didn’t take long to complete.

“These are self-paced videos that you click through,” said Emily Nielson, the city school system’s chief human capital officer. She said there’s no requirement to write papers or do assignments, just multiple-choice assessments.

Translating those credits into the city teachers’ current contract meant that teachers who amassed 60 course credits could up their pay by $15,000 to $20,000 a year, depending on where they are on the teaching ladder. The salary bumps were estimated to cost the school system about $1.9 million this year, but Nielson said she expects the amount to go up because teachers have until June 30 to submit their credits.

——-

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




Delving into ChatGPT usage in academic writing through excess vocabulary



Dmitry Kobak, Rita González Márquez, Emőke-Ágnes Horvát, Jan Lausej

Recent large language models (LLMs) can generate and revise text with human-level performance, and have been widely commercialized in systems like ChatGPT. These models come with clear limitations: they can produce inaccurate information, reinforce existing biases, and be easily misused. Yet, many scientists have been using them to assist their scholarly writing. How wide-spread is LLM usage in the academic literature currently? To answer this question, we use an unbiased, large-scale approach, free from any assumptions on academic LLM usage. We study vocabulary changes in 14 million PubMed abstracts from 2010-2024, and show how the appearance of LLMs led to an abrupt increase in the frequency of certain style words. Our analysis based on excess words usage suggests that at least 10% of 2024 abstracts were processed with LLMs. This lower bound differed across disciplines, countries, and journals, and was as high as 30% for some PubMed sub-corpora. We show that the appearance of LLM-based writing assistants has had an unprecedented impact in the scientific literature, surpassing the effect of major world events such as the Covid pandemic.




California Will Teach Kids Anything Except How to Read



Daniel Buck:

Everyone benefits from exemplars. We all need models to mimic and follow. In the policy realm that means states, legislatures and governors who pass policies and reforms that materially improve the lives of their residents.

We also need cautionary tales, clear examples of mistakes and pitfalls to avoid. On education, California has stepped into that role. Any aspiring policymaker looking for guidance on sensible education reform should take a glance at Sacramento over the past half-decade and do exactly the opposite.

Most recently, under pressure from teachers unions, the Legislature killed a bill introduced by Democratic Assemblywoman Blanca Rubio that would have mandated the teaching of phonics. The bill had the support of both the state-level parent-teacher association and the NAACP—and rightly so. A mountain of research going back to the 1950s vindicates phonics as the best way to teach young children to read.

The nation’s schools have had something of a reckoning in the past few years: Millions of children struggled to read because schools followed pseudoscientific theories about early literacy. Now at least a generation more will suffer the same fate in California.

In an open letter to Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi, the California teachers union bristled at the “top down, statewide mandate” approach of this bill. But the teachers unions are happy to see California impose curricular, instructional and ideological mandates in other realms.

The state’s top-down sex education framework clocks in at 746 pages of material, curricula, assessments, grading recommendations and instructional requirements. The state compels teachers to tell kindergartners that children in “kindergarten and even younger have identified as transgender” and that biological sex is completely divorced from “gender identity.”




Commentary on Madison’s Latest K-12 Superintendent



“Mildred & Hands”:

He certainly has his work cut out for him. Gothard is being thrust into a likely $600 million referendum campaign this fall that won’t be easy to pass. Inflation and soaring housing costs have soured many voters on tax hikes. Advocates will need to show taxpayers in a clear and specific way what they are getting for their money. How will outcomes for children improve?

The district must retrain elementary teachers in reading instruction that emphasizes phonics. State officials have mandated the strategy, based on research showing better results. But they aren’t giving Gothard’s district additional resources for the considerable effort (?).

Madison taxpayers have long supported far above average K – 12 spending. Per student spending ranges from $22,633 to $29,827 depending on the spending number used (!)

Enrollment notes.

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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

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

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




Schools Will Have to Start Closing Again



Michael Petrilli:

So now many places have too few students for the schools, thousands of which will have to be permanently closed in coming years. Postponing the inevitable only makes the process more expensive by wasting scarce tax dollars on half-empty buildings and unneeded principals, gym teachers and attendance clerks.

Whereas leaders on the left were eager to close schools during the pandemic, they are allergic to doing so now. Teachers unions worry that their members will lose jobs, and the social-justice crowd fears that minorities will be disproportionately affected by closings.

But there’s no way to avoid them. Schools have been adding teachers and other staff for decades, even more so when Covid relief dollars poured in. That’s no longer sustainable, and it will be impossible not to close lots of schools in heavily black and Hispanic neighborhoods, given demographic shifts. Many parents have already voted with their feet, either through school-choice programs or by leaving cities altogether.

Officials should meet this challenge head on, using data to identify schools with a history of lackluster academic achievement and putting them on the chopping block. The best outcome is for affected students to end up in better schools than they attend now. They should get priority for enrollment at high-performance campuses nearby, including charter and private schools.

Meanwhile, Madison – Wisconsin Policy Forum:

However, the middle schools in particular have low rates of utilization because of declining enrollment, with Sennett, Sherman, Toki, and Black Hawk middle schools all operating at or between 45% and 56% of their capacity. With enrollment currently projected to fall further in the next several years, MMSD officials and voters may wish to consider whether all of these schools will be used for many years to come or whether it makes sense to explore consolidating two middle school buildings to avoid at least one of the construction projects




A New Way to Hire Great Faculty



Jacob Howland:

We learned about the complexities and mysteries of artificial intelligence, the uses of innovative statistical analyses that could improve policing, and the Confucian roots of Xi’s totalitarianism. We discussed the early modern origins of ideological movements, Milton’s translation of Homeric epic into a Christian drama of rebellion and salvation, and Moby Dick’s critical analysis of corporatism. We explored the religious roots of modern politics and the influence of Hebraic constitutionalism on the Founding Fathers. We reflected on Shakespeare’s dialectical examination of politics in his Roman dramas.

This was no academic conference. It was a job interview.

When you are an upstart university building a faculty from scratch, you have the privilege to get creative.Faculty searches often take months to fill even one position. They are specialized and sequestered by department. But when you are an upstart university tasked with building a faculty from scratch in a matter of months, you have the privilege to get creative.

The University of Austin (UATX) had two dozen employees when the state of Texas authorized us to operate as a university in November 2023. By the time our inaugural class of 100 students matriculates in September we will have effectively doubled in size. The lessons we learned along the way will benefit any institution of higher learning.




Tiny and terrifying: Why some feel threatened by Wisconsin’s parental choice programs



Patrick Mcilheran:

In Madison, where the possibility of school choice arrived 23 years after Milwaukee, there are six private schools in the choice program that Smith calls “vouchers,” and those six schools enrolled 655 choice students in the school year just ended. The Madison Metropolitan School District, in comparison, has about 25,000 students.

Big ask

Perhaps Madison families will see some of the growth common elsewhere. Independent private schools in the city of Milwaukee educated about 29,000 children using choice grants last year, and those in Racine educated about 4,000. Nearly 19,000 kids throughout the rest of Wisconsin used choice grants.

Several more Madison schools have been cleared by state regulators to join the choice program in fall, including a second one to offer high school grades. This likely will be a blessing to Madison families looking for an alternative to a school district where, by the state’s most recent figures, only 41% of the students had been taught to read at grade level or better. By contrast, Madison’s largest private school in the choice program, Abundant Life Christian School, got 73% of its students to grade level or better in reading. 

Why Senator Smith regards this as “failing” is baffling.

When families take their children to Abundant Life or other independent options, $10,237 of state aid will follow each one, or $12,731 if they’re high schoolers — the entirety of taxpayers’ outlay. 

By contrast, in the most recent state figures, Madison Metropolitan School District spent a total of $17,944 per child in taxpayer money.

What’s more, the district may ask voters in November for another $600 million in spending, overriding the taxpayer-protecting limits set in law. The proposal would add $1,378 to the property taxes of a typical Madison home. The district says its budget is in dire straits because it used temporary pandemic aid for permanent expenses. It could have to cut its $589 million budget by about $2 million, or 0.4%.

——-

Madison taxpayers have long supported far above average K – 12 spending. Per student spending ranges from $22,633 to $29,827 depending on the spending number used (!)

Enrollment notes.

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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

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

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




The Chat Control regulations aims to combat sexual violence against children. In this blog post we explain why the draft is a threat to fundamental rights.



www.

The EU Commission has presented a draft regulation that is to lay down rules for preventing and combating sexual violence against children (Chat Control Regulation). The planned regulation raises such significant fundamental rights concerns that the GFF is joining the debate while the draft is still being deliberated at EU level. The most important points of criticism at a glance.

——-

More.




“Security staff are in the wrong job if they object to arresting armed students.”



David Blaska

The so-called “security staff” at La Follette high school put up a hissy fit when police carted off an 18-year-old student found with weapons of mass destruction in his backpack. (“We’re supposed to protect kids here” — from police!) The newspaper quotes the school principal, who caught hell from the “security staff,” to say: 

“We have amazing employees of color who were watching a student of color going into the system. They were, and are, heartbroken” and “raw emotions and feelings surfaced. …. Their hearts were in the right place.” — Principal Mat (one T) Thompson, quoted here.

That kind of Woke blibber blabber surfaces raw emotions and feelings in this correspondent but he does not want to go all Proud Boy on the schools. Instead, we offer defeated school board candidate David Blaska’s response to rightly concerned Madison parents and taxpayers: 

—-

Madison taxpayers have long supported far above average K – 12 spending. Per student spending ranges from $22,633 to $29,827 depending on the spending number used (!)

Enrollment notes.

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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

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

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




Non-accountability at the taxpayer funded Wisconsin DPI



Matt Smith:

The thing is, we pushed to make this public,” Wisconsin state superintendent Jill Underly said on financial crisis in Milwaukee Public Schools: “When it comes to our, you know, the community is informed, we can do better. And we are looking at ways to make that more transparent”

——

Brian Fraley:

Get a load of this load.

Current DPI Superintendent Underly tries to take credit for bringing MPS woes to light. DPI knew MPS reporting was a mess, district was over subsidized and the state would be clawing back funds. But they withheld this knowledge until after the referendum passed.

Notes and links on Jill Underly




Notes on Madison K-12 Governance and outcomes



David Blaska

Contrast that with a public school system here in Madison in which so-called safety monitors try to prevent police from removing pistol-packing pupils from the hallways of La Follette high school in the name of diversity, equity, and inclusion. (Read & Weep!) 

In the spirit of transparency, our new superintendent of schools gave an interview to our favorite local morning newspaper in which he manages to talk much and say little. Asked about Jennifer Cheatham’s Behavior Education Plan, however, Joe Gothard acknowledges:

“People would like to support a complete upheaval and change… but I haven’t been directed by the board and I certainly haven’t heard it as a priority.”

Blaska’s Bottom Line #1And you won’t hear it as a priority if you’re a new hire who reports to the likes of school board members Ali Muldrow, Savion Castro, and their allies at Progressive Dane and Freedom Inc.! 

Blaska’s Bonus Bottom Line: As we told Dave Zweifel of The Capital Times in the last thrilling episode, not exposing students to Woke ideology is a feature, not a bug.

——

More:

My old boss at The Capital TimesDave Zweifel kvetches that “the school choice program is no longer limited to that altruistic approach championed by Thompson in 1990,” that being limiting participation to the poorest of the poor. Dave, you were opposed to Tommy’s altruistic approach even in 1990! BTW: The program is still income-limited.

Another supposed fly in the ointment, Dave sez, is that voucher schools can prevent students from being exposed (Dave’s word) or subjected (Blaska’s word) to Woke ideology. That’s a feature, not a bug, Dave. He writes:

Since the days of Thomas Jefferson, America provided public education to its citizens. 

Still does, thanks to the voucher program! No mention of Milwaukee’s scandalous public schools, which do NOT provide public education to its citizens.

——

Madison taxpayers have long supported far above average K – 12 spending. Per student spending ranges from $22,633 to $29,827 depending on the spending number used (!)

Enrollment notes.

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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

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

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




Education policy: some international perspectives



Daisy Christodoulou

At No More Marking, we’re based in the UK, but we run English-language writing assessments in a number of different countries.

There are some interesting cross-national trends in education at the moment in favour of the science of learning, phonics instruction and knowledge-rich curriculums. 

In this post I’ll do a quick survey of what’s happening in various parts of the UK, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States.




New Milwaukee Acting Superintendent takes rudder of badly leaking ship



Terry Falk:

After the resignation of Milwaukee Public School superintendent Keith Posley, Galvan, the MPS Regional Superintendent for the Southwest Region, was chosen by the school board to fill the vacancy — first as a day-to-day superintendent on June 3, and then to acting superintendent on June 17. The board needed someone with the authority to begin filling vacancies primarily in the central finance positions of the school district. Given the lack of financial expertise left in the district and the pressure by Wisconsin’s Department of Public Instruction on MPS to get its house in order and file eight months of overdue reports, the district needed a leader who could make decisions on a longer term-basis than day-to-day. The board gave Galvan that authority.




Civics: “The (Bezos) Washington Post Does Not Want to Be Saved. Does It Deserve to Be?”



Jeffrey Blehar:

During the Spring and Autumn period of ancient China (ca. 470 B.C.), the kingdom of Yue was ruled by one Goujian, whose infamy preceded him in combat, quite literally: Yue’s most devoted warriors would march forward from the front ranks, stand before the opposing army on the battlefield, and demonstrate their implacable fearlessness by chopping off their own heads. The newsroom at the Washington Post may be getting there soon in its rebellion against self-control (they’re running out of better options), but not quite yet – first, the platoon has decided to frag its commanding officers instead.

For morale is low among the troops, my friends: The Post has lost half its readership since the heyday of “The Resistance” and Democracy Dying in Darkness. Now it is apparently dying of boredom, and it’s a war of attrition: The Post lost $77 million last year to go with all those missing eyeballs, and if the tone of their Gaza coverage in recent months is anything to go by, those readership numbers aren’t pulling out of their nosedive anytime soon.

The Washington Post has lost its way, as all can see. The sports section is a ghost of its former glory, local coverage of the DC/Maryland/Virginia area has become nearly nonexistent, their foreign coverage is written by interchangeable pro-Hamas bots, and even their national political coverage – so long the moneymaker during the high liberal dudgeon of the Trump administration – has sunk into tired predictability. (They retain a fairly interesting op-ed page, to be fair.)

——

“Zero mention of their quite recent illegal immigration into the US, anywhere in the article.”




K-12 Tax & $pending climate: How California’s Paradise Become Our Purgatory



Victor Davis Hanson

Governor Gavin Newsom enjoyed a recent $98 billion budget surplus—gifted from multibillion-dollar federal COVID-19 subsidies, the highest income and gas taxes in the nation, and among the country’s steepest sales and property taxes.

Yet in a year, he turned it into a growing $45 billion budget deficit.

At a time of an over-regulated, overtaxed, and sputtering economy, Newsom spent lavishly on new entitlements, illegal immigrants, and untried and inefficient green projects.

Newsom was endowed with two of the wettest years in recent California history. Yet he and radical environmentalists squandered the water bounty—as snowmelts and runoff long designated for agricultural irrigation were drained from aqueducts and reservoirs to flow out to sea.

Newsom transferred millions of dollars designated by a voter referendum to build dams and aqueducts for water storage and instead blew up four historic dams on the Klamath River. For decades, these now-destroyed scenic lakes provided clean, green hydroelectric power, irrigation storage, flood control, and recreation.

California hosts one-third of the nation’s welfare recipients. Over a fifth of the population lives below the property line. Nearly half the nation’s homeless sleep on the streets of its major cities.




Welcome to America’s Racialized Medical Schools



John Sailer:

From the highest offices of the state down to the smallest local bureaucracies, DEI now pervades almost all levels of American society. And while it was once thought that the fringe racial theories that animate the DEI agenda could be confined to small liberal arts campuses, it is clear that is no longer the case.

Increasingly, medical schools and schools of public health are enthusiastically embracing the values of DEI and instituting far-reaching policies to demonstrate their commitments to the cause. To many in the universities and perhaps in the country at large, these values sound benign—merely an invitation to treat everyone fairly. In practice, however, DEI policies often promote a narrow set of ideological views that elevate race and gender to matters of supreme importance.

That ideology is exemplified by a research methodology called “public health critical race praxis” (PHCRP)—designed, as the name suggests, to apply critical race theory to the field of public health—which asserts that “the ubiquity of racism, not its absence, characterizes society’s normal state.” In practice, PHCRP involves embracing sweeping claims about the primacy of racialization, guided by statements like “socially constructed racial categories are the bases for ordering society.”

These race-first imperatives have now come to influence the research priorities of major institutions. Perhaps no better case study exists than that of the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), an institution devoted exclusively to the medical sciences, and one of the top recipients of federal grants from the National Institutes of Health. Last May, UCSF took the unprecedented step of creating a separate Task Force on Equity and Anti-Racism in Research, which proceeded to make dozens of recommendations.




Board repeatedly denied records on copyright basis, suit says



Annalise Gilbert:

Miranda Stovall’s lawsuit against her local Kentucky school board in June transformed a national debate over parental access to education into a copyright dispute when the district invoked the rights of a Pearson PLCsubsidiary to reject her request for a copy of a mental health survey administered to students.

Stovall learned that her child and others in grades 6 to 12 would receive a ‘Mental Health Screener,’ so in January 2023 she submitted a public records request for a copy of the survey, according to her complaint. But the board denied the request, only offering her to inspect the survey in person. Not because of student confidentiality or health privacy, but due to the copyright protections of education giant Pearson.

School boards have been increasingly thrust into public view as they respond to parents seeking to control the content their children are exposed to at school. A Missouri school district in May was sued by two parents who claimed it thwarted their public record requests for a “Hook-Up Topical Survey” emailed to students by a staff member. The case followed legislationintroduced by Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) in January “protecting the right of parents” by acknowledging parents’ rights to “direct” the education of their children.




Sen. Roger Marshall is demanding a full audit of FOIA requests at the National Institutes of Health.



Mark Tapscott:

“We would strongly encourage Congress to require exactly what Senator Marshall is proposing—at a minimum. Let’s find out which agencies are the worst actors and hold their leadership accountable,” Open the Books President Adam Andrzejewski told The Epoch Times.

“While the FOIA sets a vision for government transparency and lays out obligations for the feds, there’s really no enforcement mechanism attached. … Beyond audits, we need consequences.”

Mr. Andrzejewski’s nonprofit watchdog organization has filed more than 50,000 FOIA requests in recent years. The late Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) was chairman of Mr. Andrzejewski’s group.




Ongoing Madison Property tax base expansion



Allison Garfield:

….demolishing the two single-family homes and one two-family home currently on the property.

The development will include 138 units, plus parking for 143 cars underground and 25 outdoor spots. The building will stand about 36 feet high with a combination of light brown-colored brick and gray fiber cement siding. Patios and balconies are proposed for all of the units.

Kevin Firchow with the city’s planning and economic development department told the Cap Times that on Friday a group had submitted an appeal of the Plan Commission’s initial approval for the project on June 10. That appeal will go to City Council in the coming weeks for final action, which could affect approval for the project.




Speaking of growing debt: “Throughout history, nations that blithely piled up their obligations have eventually met unhappy ends”



Gerald Seib:

America is cruising into an uncharted sea of federal debt, with a public seemingly untroubled by the stark numbers and a government seemingly incapable of turning them around.

In the presidential race, there’s not much partisan difference or advantage on this subject. Donald Trump and President Biden have overseen similar additions to the nation’s accumulated debt—in the range of $7 trillion in each case—during their terms. The national response to both has been, by and large, to look the other way.

History, however, offers some cautionary notes about the consequences of swimming in debt. Over the centuries and across the globe, nations and empires that blithely piled up debt have, sooner or later, met unhappy ends.

Historian Niall Ferguson recently invoked what he calls his own personal law of history: “Any great power that spends more on debt service (interest payments on the national debt) than on defense will not stay great for very long. True of Habsburg Spain, true of ancien régime France, true of the Ottoman Empire, true of the British Empire, this law is about to be put to the test by the U.S. beginning this very year.” Indeed, the Congressional Budget Office projects that, in part because of rising interest rates, the federal government will spend $892 billion during the current fiscal year for interest payments on the accumulated national debt of $28 trillion—meaning that interest payments now surpass the amount spent on defense and nearly match spending on Medicare.

——

Commentary.

——

Substantial Madison K-12 tax and $pending increase plans




Virginia Hislop receives a master’s degree in the 2024 diploma ceremony at the age of 105.



By Olivia Peterkin

It’s been a minute since Virginia “Ginger” Hislop was a student at Stanford Graduate School of Education (GSE).

When she started at the GSE in 1936 — then the Stanford University School of Education — her plan was to get her bachelor’s of education, which she did in 1940, and obtain her master’s of education so she could teach, which she started directly after.

The goal: to help grow and provide opportunities for young minds by following in the footsteps of her grandmother, who taught in Kansas before the Civil War, and her Aunt Nora, who was the principal of a school in West Los Angeles, and pursue the field of education.

However, just after completing her coursework and just before turning in her final thesis, her then-boyfriend George Hislop AB ’41, a GSE student in Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC), got called in to serve during World War II, prompting the pair to get married and Virginia Hislop to leave campus before graduating.




Lab wars: Inside one Democrat’s 20-year crusade to save the world from Anthony Fauci — Part 1: 2001-2014



Leon Wolf:

What most people did not know, though, was that for years, Fauci had been dogged by a very different sort of doctor — a researcher from Rutgers University who shunned the camera and preferred to keep his opinions in print. A man who made it clear with his appearance and his mannerisms that he never wanted to be an activist. A registered Democrat who supported Biden to the point of putting a Biden sign in his front yard, Ebright had always been convinced of one simple thing that he viewed to be above the petty fray of partisan politics: the government should not be spending our tax dollars to fund dangerous research on making viruses more deadly. 

For years, Ebright and Fauci carried out a silent war, waged in print, visible mostly only to members of the small community of research scientists who conduct serious chemical and biological research. Over and over again the same refrain played out: Ebright warned the public that this research was making the public less safe, and Fauci insisted it was making the public more safe. 

As we know now, Ebright was almost certainly right. However, it has taken four years — thanks to the concerted efforts of Fauci and his team — for the public to slowly come around to that realization. 

But to understand where we are, it is first necessary to understand how we got here. 

++++++++++++++++++++++++

Countless ink, both real and digital, has been spent examining Fauci’s every move taken since those fateful early days in 2020. Relatively little has been spent examining Fauci’s actions priorto 2020.

“[Dick Cheney] found one agency and one person willing to take that role… he found Anthony Fauci.”

Those actions, which are still largely shrouded in obscurity, may turn out to have been far more consequential than anything Fauci has done since he first appeared at the infamous press conference with former President Trump. You see, for the last two decades, Fauci has been by far the most important defender of what might be fairly called a bioweapons research program that the public now knows — albeit imperfectly — as “gain-of-function” research.

The U.S. government started the ball rolling on this dangerous research in the waning days of 2001. As you may recall, the al-Qaeda attacks of 9/11 were followed almost immediately by a series of high-profile anthrax attacks, in which prominent individuals in the U.S. were mailed envelopes with suspicious white powder that later tested positive for anthrax.




Tiny beauty: how I make scientific art from behind the microscope



Steve Gschmeissner:

Cheese fungus, head lice, human sperm, a bee eye, a microplastic bobble: scientific photographer Steve Gschmeissner has imaged them all under the probing lens of a scanning electron microscope (SEM). In his colourized electron micrographs, faecal bacteria resemble thin spaghetti, silica-walled diatoms look like cubes of breakfast cereal and a segmented tardigrade resembles a curled-up, tubby piglet. 

Gschmeissner, who has been imaging microbes, cancer cells and invertebrates for about 50 years, has crafted an extraordinary array of more than 10,000 SEM images, some of which have been featured in Nature.

He spoke to Nature about the importance of scientific images, looking at imploding cancer cells and the miniature world he found on a rotten rasp




Hired Milwaukee K-12 financial consultant says two key problems led to financial crisis



By: A.J. Bayatpour:

In an interview Thursday with CBS 58, Gray said his review of what went wrong begins with the district’s use of financial reporting software that doesn’t fit with the system used by the state Department of Financial Instruction (DPI). 

While other districts have transitioned to newer software that allows those districts to feed financial data directly to the DPI, Gray said MPS’ software requires financial staffers to plug numbers into a spreadsheet, then re-enter them into the DPI’s system.

“When information goes on a spreadsheet, all it takes is one calculation to throw the whole thing off,” Gray said.

Gray said one of his final suggestions for MPS will be updating its internal software to a system that better aligns with what the state uses. Even then, Gray said that transition could take two years to complete, and it’ll be especially arduous for MPS because those updates will affect the more than 100 schools across Wisconsin’s biggest district.

Beyond the reporting system, Gray said staffing is the other major challenge. MPS’ corrective action plan noted the district hopes to have another 12 staffers in its finance office than it currently has.

——

More:




Censorship and Amazon books



Rep Jim Jordan:

We knew that @Amazon censored books because of pressure from the Biden @WhiteHouse.

Now we know which books:

–Children’s Books
–Books for Parents
–Books critical of Big Pharma




Who’s responsible for our accountability problem?



Tim Harford:

I was recently scheduled to present my Cautionary Tales podcast live on stage as a curtainraiser for a podcast conference. Talented voice actors, live sound effects and even a trombone would weave a dramatic soundscape for a full house. There was only one problem. Nobody seemed to have the authority to let me in.

The people issuing conference passes wouldn’t give me one — not unreasonably, since I wasn’t attending the conference proper and hadn’t registered to do so. They advised that I speak to “that lady there”. That lady there seemed puzzled: the conference wouldn’t officially open until tomorrow, so I didn’t need a pass. Just walk in, she said. The security guard had a different view. He had been given strict instructions that nobody gets in without a pass. Talk to the conference team, he told me. Nothing to do with us, they said — talk to security.

I realised I was facing what the writer Dan Davies has named an “accountability sink”, in which it was somehow nobody’s fault. In his recent book The Unaccountability Machine, Davies explains the basic logic of an accountability sink: decision-making power is removed from individuals you might want to shout at, and made instead by an algorithm or some distant committee both ignorant of and immune to your

Rick Esenberg:

Bureaucrats may want to do good things, but, like everyone else, they will tend to put their own interests first. Since they don’t face the same market discipline as private actors, things like this happen and they just say “sorry.”




The New York congressman appears to have plagiarized parts of his Ed.D. dissertation.



Christopher Rufo and Luke Rosiak:

Jamaal Bowman, the controversial New York congressman, often appeals to his work as a former school principal and his Ed.D. in education as the basis for his policy positions.

But, according to our analysis, Bowman’s primary academic work—his 2019 dissertation, “Community Schools: The Perceptions and Practices that Foster Broad-Based Collaboration amongst leaders with the Community School Ecosystem”—is riddled with basic errors, failures of logic, and multiple instances of plagiarism. (Bowman did not return a request for comment.)

Bowman has boasted about the paper on social media and considers it formative to his political orientation. When asked recently his political views, Bowman said, “I identify as an educator, and as a Black man in America. But my policies align with those of a socialist, so I guess that makes me a socialist.”

The dissertation, which Bowman completed at Manhattanville College, says that “Black, Latinx, and poor White children have been historically oppressed throughout American history,” and as recompense makes an argument for “community schools,” a concept developed by the Brazilian Marxist pedagogist Paulo Freire, in which schools would be expanded to provide full-time government services for every aspect of society, including for adults.

His research consisted primarily of the “qualitative” variety, with Bowman interviewing 13 school administrators, activists, and parents. Each was immediately placed in a demographic box and assigned the role of oppressor or oppressed. For example, Bowman wrote that “Ms. Melendez, a parent leader at Manny Ramirez High School, was born in the Dominican Republican [sic]” and is a true member of the New York community, while “Ms. Warren, who identified racially as White, discussed being very aware of being ‘a visitor in someone else [sic] community all the time.’”




Arvind, longtime MIT professor and prolific computer scientist, dies at 77



Adam Zewe:

Arvind Mithal, the Charles W. and Jennifer C. Johnson Professor in Computer Science and Engineering at MIT, head of the faculty of computer science in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS), and a pillar of the MIT community, died on June 17. Arvind, who went by the mononym, was 77 years old.

A prolific researcher who led the Computation Structures Group in the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), Arvind served on the MIT faculty for nearly five decades.

“He was beloved by countless people across the MIT community and around the world who were inspired by his intellectual brilliance and zest for life,” President Sally Kornbluth wrote in a letter to the MIT community today.

As a scientist, Arvind was well known for important contributions to dataflow computing, which seeks to optimize the flow of data to take advantage of parallelism, achieving faster and more efficient computation.

In the last 25 years, his research interests broadened to include developing techniques and tools for formal modeling, high-level synthesis, and formal verification of complex digital devices like microprocessors and hardware accelerators, as well as memory models and cache coherence protocols for parallel computing architectures and programming languages.




Wisconsin School districts must use screener in 4K through third grade under Act 20



DPI:

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction is announcing NCS Pearson was selected to supply the statewide reading readiness screener under the requirements of 2023 Wisconsin Act 20.

Bids for the universal screener were evaluated by Department of Administration experts following state procurement rules. The DPI will need to negotiate a final contract before July 15, 2024, with NCS Pearson that will include details about assessment administration, accommodations and accessibility options, trainings for teachers and administrators, and testing windows. These details will be announced before the beginning of the 2024-2025 school year.

“Having an equitable universal screener in place is another important step forward in addressing the unique needs of Wisconsin’s youngest learners,” DPI Office of Literacy Director Dr. Barb Novak said. “As the department continues working with schools and districts across the state on implementing the requirements of Act 20, this screener will help educators in understanding each student’s literacy-related strengths and needs. It is critical that we continue coming together to achieve our goal of ensuring every child can read effectively and successfully.”

——

More.




Civics & Covid: Review of DoD Funds Provided to the People’s Republic of China and Associated Affiliates for Research Activities or Any Foreign Countries for the Enhancement of Pathogens of Pandemic Potential (Report No. DODIG‑2024‑099)



Dept of Defense Inspector General:

The purpose of this management advisory is to inform Congress and DoD leadership of the results of our review required in response to Public Law 118‑31, “National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2024,” section 252, “Audit to Identify Diversion of Department of Defense Funding to China’s Research Labs.

Section 252 of the FY 2024 NDAA requires that the DoD Inspector General submit a report to the congressional defense committees within 180 days of December 22, 2023. The legislation requires a report on the amount of Federal funds awarded by the DoD, directly or indirectly, through grants, contracts, subgrants, subcontracts, or any other type of agreement or collaboration, to Chinese research labs or to fund research or experiments in China or other foreign countries that could have reasonably resulted in the enhancement of pathogens of pandemic potential, from 2014 through 2023. In addition, the legislation specifically named Chinese government entities, affiliates, and one government contractor, as being part of the study.

——

Commentary.




Substantial Madison K-12 tax and $pending increase plans



Kayla Huynh

One question on the ballot would ask voters for $100 million over the next four school years to increase spending on staff salaries and education programs. The second would ask for $507 million to renovate or replace seven aging elementary and middle schools.

The two referendums would be “unprecedented in size and scope in district history,” according to an analysis from the nonpartisan Wisconsin Policy Forum released today.

As school district leaders consider the referendums, Madison city leaders also are weighing a property tax referendum of their own on the same ballot.

That would mark the first time Madison voters are asked to consider property tax referendums from both the school district and the city.

If voters approve of the school district’s two measures, MMSD officials estimate an owner of an average-value home in Madison would see a $1,376 increase on their property tax bills by 2028. That could be on top of hundreds of dollars annually for a city property tax increase.

——

Wisconsin Policy Forum (achievement?)

Another set of points for referendum voters to consider is how MMSD funding compares to other districts in Dane County and around Wisconsin. In short, the district’s revenue limit and related aid of $15,435 per student is already relatively high compared to other districts, and the referendum would accentuate that.

….

However, the middle schools in particular have low rates of utilization because of declining enrollment, with Sennett, Sherman, Toki, and Black Hawk middle schools all operating at or between 45% and 56% of their capacity. With enrollment currently projected to fall further in the next several years, MMSD officials and voters may wish to consider whether all of these schools will be used for many years to come or whether it makes sense to explore consolidating two middle school buildings to avoid at least one of the construction projects.

They may wish to engage in a similar discussion about elementary schools as well, though those facilities generally have at least somewhat higher utilization rates.

That would be the largest number of MMSD staff since at least 2013 despite the fact that enrollment is essentially at its lowest point over that period.

Sarah Lehr:

But Stein said the latest proposals are historic in size.

“This would be both from the capital and the operating side, the largest referendum questions that have ever been put to (MMSD) voters,” he said. “So certainly, this is a bigger ask than voters have ever had from the district in the past.”

Stein says Madison is contending with financial headwinds, including state-imposed limits on fundraising and waning pandemic aid. 

He also noted that money from a tax referendum approved by MMSD voters in 2020 is drying up.

Last year, Madison’s school board approved employee raises between 5.5 and 10 percent, which cost an extra $12 million in the current fiscal year. MMSD’s proposed budget for 2025 would add more than 100 full-time equivalent staff positions, and could also include additional raises.

It remains to be seen how many of those positions will be filled in a hot labor market, and Stein noted that vacancies could help patch up the budget shortfall.

“All school districts have been facing challenges from employee turnover (and) from rising inflation costs that have put pressure on their labor costs,” he said.

Madison taxpayers have long supported far above average K – 12 spending. Per student spending ranges from $22,633 to $29,827 depending on the spending number used (!)

Enrollment notes.

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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

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

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