Category Archives: Uncategorized

Speaking of declining Madison K-12 enrollment & Eugenics

Rachel K. Jones, Jesse Philbin, Marielle Kirstein, Elizabeth Nash, Kimberley Lufkin:

According to new findings from Guttmacher’s latest Abortion Provider Census—the most comprehensive data collection effort on abortion provision in the United States—there were 8% more abortions in 2020 than in 2017.

Pam Belluck:

The uptick began in 2017, and as of 2020, one in five pregnancies, or 20.6 percent, ended in abortion, according to the report by the Guttmacher Institute, a research organization that supports abortion rights. In 2017, 18.4 percent of pregnancies ended in abortion.

The institute, which collects data by contacting every known abortion provider in the country, reported that the number of abortions increased to 930,160 in 2020, from 862,320 in 2017. The number increased in every region of the country: by 12 percent in the West, by 10 percent in the Midwest, by 8 percent in the South and by 2 percent in the Northeast.

Overall, the abortion rate rose in 2020 to 14.4 per 1,000 women ages 15 to 44 from 13.5 abortions per 1,000 women in 2017, a 7 percent increase, the report said

Linda Villarosa:

As young girls, the Relf sisters were sterilized without consent. What does the government owe them — and the thousands of other living victims?

Margaret Sanger & Eugenics.

Alabama Summer Reading Progam

Sydney Steidl

Alabama policymakers, in a state traditionally known for poor education outcomes, are actively working to increase literacy skills—especially in early education.

With Alabama typically falling behind other states in literacy, the pandemic only made matters worse. Research shows students at all grade levels lost ground. For example, in 2021 only about 18% of kindergartners had reached the physical, social-emotional, and literacy standards for their grade, and only two out of every three were assessed as prepared to begin schooling.

The state is currently focused on implementing the Alabama Literacy Act, which was passed in 2019. The goal is to bolster literacy and basic reading skills. The law requires school districts to provide programs and other strategies to raise struggling students to higher levels of literacy. 

One key element in the Literacy Act requires school districts to deliver a major boost for students during the summer. The requirement means Alabama school districts will provide summer literacy programs for students who need it. 

Alabama now offers summer camps focused on literacy. These camps offer students who are falling behind about 70 hours of extra instruction time, preparing them for the following school year and beyond through improving their foundational literacy skills.

Parents are worried kids don’t spend enough time outdoors: poll

Brooke Steinberg

Alaska, Arizona, Missouri, North Dakota and Wyoming parents are able to get their kids outside for an average of six hours a week.

Reasons parents encourage their children to play outside included getting fresh air (51 percent), taking a break from screen time (47 percent) and exercise (42 percent).

Of the parents surveyed, 75 percent said creating memories of playing outdoors with their children is a top priority. More than three-quarters agreed that most of their time growing up was spent playing outside, while just under three-quarters feel that kids in this generation don’t appreciate the outdoors as much as their generation.

Ancient seeds are the future for Lebanon’s crisis-hit farmers

Antonia Cundy:

In the fertile plains of the Bekaa valley, in eastern Lebanon, seven hectares of wheat stand tall under the sunshine. In one field, sprays of black florets cast a striking shadow over the golden ears; in another, the grains are long and thin, humped and yellow like an old camel’s tooth.

Unlike on many farms, where homogenous crops form a uniform mass, these wheat fields are diverse and visually distinctive because they have been grown at Buzuruna Juzuruna – a seed producer and sustainable farming school that cultivates heirloom seeds.

Buzuruna Juzuruna’s aim is to preserve and promote the use of ancient grains from the Shaam — the historic region along the Eastern Mediterranean coast . It has operated out of the small town of Saadnayel, in the Beqaa, since 2017.

And, as Lebanon has faced compounding crises — including a wheat shortage caused by the war in Ukraine, which supplies 80 per cent of the country’s imports of the grain— there has been a surge in demand for Buzuruna Juzuruna’s homegrown seeds and ecological methods.

Act 10 and ongoing political battles

Bill Lueders

The issue has come up in a different form before. In 2011 La Follette, at the direction of a Dane County judge, refused to publish the passed version of Act 10, the state law kneecapping public employee unions. The state Supreme Court, then as now dominated by conservatives, ruled that the judge had exceeded her jurisdiction in putting a hold on the law, meaning there was nothing to preclude La Follette from publishing the bill. Two years later, the Legislature passed a bill that stripped the secretary of state of the power to delay publication of new laws.

Loudenbeck’s campaign did not respond to an inquiry for this article asking whether she believes the statute cited by Schroeder gives the secretary of state legal authority to deny an election result by refusing to sign and whether she would have sought to use this authority to block the 2020 election result.

The third GOP contender for secretary of state on the Aug. 9 ballot, Daniel Schmidtka, also did not respond to the same query. He declares on his website that the “mission” of his campaign is “abolishing the Wisconsin Election Commission and returning oversight and certification of elections to the Secretary of State.”

Much more on Act 10, here.

Civics: Political Consequences of the Protestant Reformation, Part III

Frances Fukuyama:

The social contract establishing the state is an agreement on the part of citizens to give up their natural freedom to deprive others of their lives, in return for protection of their own rights. The horizon of politics was thereby lowered: instead of seeking the good life, as determined by religious doctrine, the modern state would seek merely to preserve life itself and relegate disputes over the good life to private life. Though Hobbes and Locke represented different sides in an enduring controversy between English liberals and conservatives, the conceptual distance separating them was not great. John Locke accepted Hobbes’ natural right framework, and argued that governments could also violate those rights, leading to a right on the part of citizens to resist governments that did not receive popular consent. Political legitimacy in liberal societies would henceforth be based on “consent of the governed.” Locke directly influenced Thomas Jefferson and the American Founding Fathers, who declared their independence from Britain on the basis of the protection of their rights to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

Liberalism originated in a pragmatic compromise between religious factions that understood that they would be better off settling for religious tolerance than seeking their maximal goals of a religiously grounded polity. But the stability of this system depended also on the emergence of ideas that legitimated a regime preserving individual rights. Individualism was deeply ingrained in English culture from well before the Reformation, but the Reformation’s emphasis on inner faith cemented the view that all human beings were autonomous agents who were subject to God’s grace as individuals. In later years the religious component underlying notions of agency would erode, but the individualism would remain as a foundational principle of modern Western civilization.

Civics: warrantless domestic surveillance

US DOJ:

According to court documents, Pena allegedly unlawfully used a law enforcement service operated by Securus Technologies Inc. (Securus) for personal reasons, including to obtain cell phone location information relating to multiple individuals with whom the defendant had personal relationships and their spouses. Pena obtained this information by uploading false and fraudulent documents to the Securus system and by certifying that those documents were official documents giving permission to obtain the relevant individuals’ cell phone location information. After this activity became known to law enforcement, Pena lied to law enforcement officials about his use of the Securus service for personal reasons, including to locate individuals with whom he was or had been in a personal relationship. Pena also drafted an affidavit in the name of one of these individuals and persuaded that individual to sign the affidavit, which falsely stated that the individual had given Pena unlimited access to all of that individual’s personal cell phone information at all times.

Ongoing spending increase discussions in the taxpayer supported Madison Schools (bricks & mortar vs people?), amidst declining enrollment

Scott Girard:

Board president Ali Muldrow, who has a conflict of interest in discussing teacher salaries as her husband is a teacher, commented only on the hourly workers’ pay rate Monday, but indicated she strongly supports an increase.

“I’m really deeply vested in our ability to substantially shift how we’re compensating hourly wage workers,” Muldrow said. “I’d really like to see our board get behind as great of an increase as possible so that folks are making a living wage when they are SEAs, when they are security assistants, when they are secretaries.”

“We have the largest single, one-time source of funding coming into the district that we’re being asked to spend in a very short timeframe,” MacPherson said. “You get the money once and once you spend it, it’s gone.”

That makes counting on it for operational funds that will repeat year after year — like a salary increase — dangerous, he and others said.

“Figuring out how to balance the desire and the need to support staff with being fiscally responsible for the budget years that are coming down the road is a really difficult balance,” board member Christina Gomez Schmidt said. “We really don’t know what increase (in the next state budget) we’re going to get.”

Madison plans to create 55 new support staff positions for schools…

Mandates, closed schools and Dane County Madison Public Health.

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”

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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.

No When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?

The price of “transactional cities”

Joel Kotkin:

Overall, these cities tend to have some of the worst inequality of any location, an urban model very different to the Jane Jacobs conception of a city that does not “lure the middle class” but creates one. Indeed, as the transactional city reached its apogee, the opportunity horizon for working- and middle-class families dimmed. In 1970, half of the city of Chicago was middle income; today, according to a 2019 University of Illinoisstudy, that number is down to 16 percent. Meanwhile, the percentage of poor people has risen from 42 to 62 percent.

San Francisco, the urban center that gained most from the technological revolution, epitomizes the final stages of the transactional city. It is now the country’s costliest city and anchors a region with the smallest middle class among the 52 Metropolitan Statistical Areas with over a million people. Inequality grew most rapidly there over the last decade, reports the Brookings Institution, as techies moved into tough urban areas like the Tenderloin. A city of enormous wealth has become bifurcated, plagued by mass homelessness and petty crime, while the middle-class family heads toward extinction. San Francisco has lost 31,000 home-owning families in the last decade, a trend that accelerated during the pandemic.

The current crop of urban leaders has only made things worse. In recent years, some city officials seem to have become tolerant of—and even willing to embrace—disorder. At the height of the 2020 urban riots, even the planning community favored “defunding” the police. Efforts to reduce policing have, unsurprisingly, been accompanied by rising crime in places like Chicago, Washington, DC, Minneapolis, New York, Seattle, and Los Angeles. Perhaps most remarkable has been the deterioration of tech-rich San Francisco, where tolerance of deviant behavior has helped to create a city with more drug addicts than high school students, and so much feces on the street that one website has created a “poop map.” Homeless encampments can also be found throughout Los Angeles, with a particular concentration along the beach, in inner city parks, and most famously in the downtown “skid row” area, the conditions of which a UN official last year compared to those of Syrian refugee camps.

Demographer Wendell Cox estimates that the percentage of households with children between the ages of five and 17 was nearly three times higher in suburbs or exurbs than in or near the urban core. Urban school districts are imploding as the number of young people growing up in core cities has declined.San Francisco, for example, is home to more dogs than children under 19, while Seattle boasts more households with cats than two-legged offspring.

Berkeley set to put staff vaccine mandate on hold, rescind student vax-or-test rule

Ally Markovich

With statewide vaccine mandates no longer in sight, Berkeley Unified will likely walk back its own vaccine policies, postponing a vaccine mandate for district employees and rescinding a vaccine-or-test rule for students.

The two policy changes are expected to be approved at Wednesday’s school board meeting. The board reviewed the policies at a June 1 meeting and they have been added to the consent calendar, which means the board will most likely approve them without a vote. 

This fall, Gov. Gavin Newsom said California students would soon have to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to attend school. Many districts, including BUSD, designed policies in step with California’s. Now that talk of a vaccine mandate has stalled, BUSD joins several districts, including Oakland Unified, in walking back their policies.

BUSD’s vaccine-or-test policy took effect in January, requiring students to get vaccinated or tested weekly for the coronavirus. The policy was designed as an “on-ramp” for the California student vaccine mandate, which was scheduled to take effect in January or July, pending full vaccine approval by the FDA.

In April, the California Department of Public Health announced that a vaccine mandate would take effect “no sooner” than July 1, 2023. On the same day, a state senator dropped a bill requiring students to be vaccinated and eliminating a personal belief exemption in the process.

Schools and air quality

Liz Szabo:

Many schools in California and nationwide were in dire need of upgrades — burdened by leaking pipes, mold, and antiquated heating systems — long before the pandemic drew attention to the importance of indoor ventilation in reducing the spread of infectious disease.

The average U.S. school building is 50 years old, and many schools date back more than a century.

So, one might assume school districts across the nation would welcome the opportunity created by billions of dollars in federal COVID-relief money available to upgrade heating and air-conditioning systems and improve air quality and filtration in K-12 schools.

But a report released this month from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found most U.S. public schools have made no major investments in improving indoor ventilation and filtration since the start of the pandemic. Instead, the most frequently reported strategies to improve airflow and reduce COVID risk were notably low-budget, such as relocating classroom activities outdoors and opening windows and doors, if considered safe.

The CDC report, based on a representative sample of the nation’s public schools, found that fewer than 40% had replaced or upgraded their HVAC systems since the start of the pandemic. Even fewer were using high-efficiency particulate air, or HEPA, filters in classrooms (28%), or fans to increase the effectiveness of having windows open (37%).

Over $200K being spent on drag queen shows at NYC schools, records show

Mary Kay Linge and Jon Levine:

New York is showering taxpayer funds on a group that sends drag queens into city schools — often without parental knowledge or consent — even as parents in other states protest increasingly aggressive efforts to expose kids to gender-bending performers.

Last month alone, Drag Story Hour NYC — a nonprofit whose outrageously cross-dressed performers interact with kids as young as 3 — earned $46,000 from city contracts for appearances at public schools, street festivals, and libraries, city records show.

Since January, the group has organized 49 drag programs in 34 public elementary, middle, and high schools, it boasted on its website, with appearances in all five boroughs.

“I can’t believe this. I am shocked,” said public school mom and state Assembly candidate Helen Qiu, whose 11-year-old son attends a Manhattan middle school. “I would be furious if he was exposed without my consent. This is not part of the curriculum.”

Stanford’s War on Social Life

Ginevra Davis:

It is hard to imagine someone at Stanford building an island anymore. In fact, it is hard to imagine them building anything. The campus culture has changed.

Today, most of the organizations JP remembers from Stanford are gone. The Kappa Alpha boys have been kicked out of their old house. Lake Lagunita was closed to student activities in 2001, ostensibly to protect an endangered salamander that had taken up residence in the artificial waters. Eventually, Stanford let the lake go dry. JP claims you can still see his island though, now a patch of elevated ground in a dry, dusty basin.

Stanford’s new social order offers a peek into the bureaucrat’s vision for America. It is a world without risk, genuine difference, or the kind of group connection that makes teenage boys want to rent bulldozers and build islands. It is a world largely without unencumbered joy; without the kind of cultural specificity that makes college, or the rest of life, particularly interesting.

Since 2013, Stanford’s administration has executed a top-to-bottom destruction of student social life. Driven by a fear of uncontrollable student spontaneity and a desire to enforce equity on campus, a growing administrative bureaucracy has destroyed almost all of Stanford’s distinctive student culture.

What happened at Stanford is a cultural revolution on the scale of a two-mile college campus. In less than a decade, Stanford’s administration eviscerated a hundred years of undergraduate culture and social groups. They ended decades-old traditions. They drove student groups out of their houses. They scraped names off buildings. They went after long-established hubs of student life, like fraternities and cultural theme houses. In place of it all, Stanford erected a homogenous housing system that sorts new students into perfectly equitable groups named with letters and numbers. All social distinction is gone.

Sweden’s open school policy: , “not a single child died, and teachers were not at elevated risk for severe COVID-19.”

Alex Gutentag:

The collapse of educational pathways and structures has had a particularly brutal effect on the poorest students, who can least afford to have their schooling disrupted. High-poverty schools had the lowest levels of in-person instruction, causing low-income students to fall even further behind their more affluent peers. The entirely foreseeable ways in which bad COVID-19 policy choices exacerbated inequality perversely led many public school systems to try to hide their mistakes by dismantling programs for gifted and talented students along with entrance tests and other standardized testing regimens—piling on more bad policy choices that deprive economically disadvantaged students of opportunity.

The available numbers tell a worrying story of educational slippage that is likely to keep large numbers of kids from acquiring the basic skills, both intellectual and social, that they will need to hold decent jobs. Recent test scores have dramatically declined, with one report finding that in districts offering distance learning, the decline in passing rates for math was 10.1 percentage points greater than in districts that offered in-person instruction. In Maryland, 85% of students now are not proficient in math, and in Baltimore the figure is 93%. Michigan, Washington, and other states have found dramatic declines in their test scores. In Los Angeles, the decline has been worse for younger students, with 60% of third and fourth graders not meeting English standards compared to 40% of 11th graders. Overall, the youngest children were most profoundly impacted by lockdowns and school disruptions, and some of them now lack basic life skills.

Civics: “Loudoun County commonwealth’s attorney Buta Biberaj misled court in order to ‘sell’ plea bargain”, judge says

Josh Christenson:

A Virginia judge has kicked a George Soros-funded prosecutor off a case involving potentially a dozen burglaries in multiple counties, saying the prosecutor’s office had concealed criminal records to “sell” a plea bargain.

Loudoun County circuit court judge James Plowman said the office of Commonwealth’s Attorney Buta Biberaj (D.) was “deliberately misleading the Court and the public” about “a possible 12 burglary crime spree spanning 4 counties over 10 days.” In a plea agreement, Biberaj’s office failed to note the offender had recently pleaded guilty to felonies and had pending charges and prior convictions as a minor, according to Plowman. Fox 5 on Saturday first reported on the judge’s order to remove Biberaj from the case.

“The Commonwealth is deliberately misleading the Court, and the public, in an effort to ‘sell’ the plea agreement for some reason that has yet to be explained,” Plowman wrote in his order.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: inflation and millennials

Derek Thompson:

It was as if Silicon Valley had made a secret pact to subsidize the lifestyles of urban Millennials. As I pointed out three years ago, if you woke up on a Casper mattress, worked out with a Peloton, Ubered to a WeWork, ordered on DoorDash for lunch, took a Lyft home, and ordered dinner through Postmates only to realize your partner had already started on a Blue Apron meal, your household had, in one day, interacted with eight unprofitable companies that collectively lost about $15 billion in one year.

An interview with Madison’s Cherokee Middle School Principle – and recent Secondary Principal of the Year award winner

Scott Girard:

One of the biggest things was how we co-created our equity vision. That was a huge piece of it, having our families, our students and our staff really lean in, look at our data, both numerical (and) looking at our interviews with our families, especially families who have not been included in school decisions before, students who have not been. Then we created our equity vision, which is, “In order to grow academically and professionally, community members will create a just and antiracist school where we all feel safe, seen, heard and connected.” It wasn’t something that we just set aside, but we really dove in. The first thing everybody wanted to do was define what antiracism meant to us.

The other piece was understanding what antiracist practice includes is really having high expectations for all kids, and then giving kids what they need. We really started leaning into a schoolwide reading culture and a data culture. We had all this data, and we hadn’t really dug into it in the past to see why we are here for certain demographic groups and what we need to do differently as teachers and as principals. Our kids, they come with gifts, but what do we need to do differently? So we really changed our approaches in the classroom and created lessons that are more culturally responsive, but also giving kids small group instruction, which wasn’t really happening here before.

Mandates, closed schools and Dane County Madison Public Health.

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”

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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.

No When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?

Protection and Waning of Natural and Hybrid Immunity to SARS-CoV-2

Yair Goldberg, Micha Mandel, Yinon M. Bar-On, Omri Bodenheimer:

Among persons who had been previously infected with SARS-CoV-2 (regardless of whether they had received any dose of vaccine or whether they had received one dose before or after infection), protection against reinfection decreased as the time increased since the last immunity-conferring event; however, this protection was higher than that conferred after the same time had elapsed since receipt of a second dose of vaccine among previously uninfected persons. A single dose of vaccine after infection reinforced protection against reinfection.

Most childless cities: Madison is in the mix

Susie Nielson

The overall number of San Franciscans under 18 actually grew by about 5,700 people since the last census count in 2010. But the adult population grew faster — hence the decrease in the proportion of kids. Whereas the city’s adult population grew by 9%, the number of youths grew by just 5.3%. Overall, the city’s population grew by about 8.5% from 2010 to 2020.

San Francisco’s drop in percentage youth population was actually less extreme than the rest of the Bay Area. All nine counties in the region saw a drop in youths as a share of population, and many counties saw these drops after decades of stability or growth.

Napa County saw the biggest decrease since 2010, from just over 23% to 20%. Contra Costa, which has the greatest share of youths of any Bay Area county as of 2020, dropped over two percentage points from nearly 25% to under 23%.

“Expert” idiocy on teaching kids to read

Robert Pondiscio:

Calkins’s work mostly disregards this fundamental insight, focusing students’ attention in the mirror instead of out the window. For low-income kids who are less likely to grow up in language-rich homes and don’t have the same opportunities for enrichment as affluent kids, the opportunity costs of Calkins’s “philosophy” are incalculable. Endless hours of class time that could be building knowledge and vocabulary are squandered.

I witnessed this daily in my South Bronx elementary school, where fewer than 20 percent of students passed state reading tests. I never had a single student unable to read words printed on a page. When they were reading and writing about topics they knew—the Calkins method—students did well. But when asked to read about unfamiliar topics on state tests, they often struggled. They read it, but they didn’t get. One principal I worked under attributed our low scores to “test anxiety,” but that wasn’t the problem. Their education was all mirrors and no windows.

It is well that Calkins has finally seen the light on phonics, however begrudgingly. But her approach commits even greater sins, particularly against low-income children, that phonics alone can’t fix.

Mandates, closed schools and Dane County Madison Public Health.

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”

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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.

No When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?

Martin Luther and literacy

Joseph Henrich

No, it was a religious mutation in the Sixteenth CenturyAfter bubbling up periodically in prior centuries, the belief that every person should read and interpret the Bible for themselves began to rapidly diffuse across Europe with the eruption of the Protestant Reformation, marked in 1517 by Martin Luther’s delivery of his famous ninety-five theses. Protestants came to believe that both boys and girls had to study the Bible for themselves to better know their God. In the wake of the spread of Protestantism, the literacy rates in the newly reforming populations in Britain, Sweden, and the Netherlands surged past more cosmopolitan places like Italy and France. Motivated by eternal salvation, parents and leaders made sure the children learned to read.

The sharpest test of this idea comes from work in economics, led by Sascha Becker and Ludger Woessmann. The historical record, including Luther’s own descriptions, suggest that within the German context, Protestantism diffused out from Luther’s base in Wittenberg (Saxony). Using data on literacy and schooling rates in nineteenth-century Prussia, Becker and Woessmann first show that counties with more Protestants (relative to Catholics) had higher rates of both literacy and schooling. So, there’s a correlation. Then, taking advantage of the historical diffusion from Wittenberg, they show that for every 100-km traveled from Wittenberg, the percentage of Protestants in a county dropped by 10%. Then, with a little statistical razzle-dazzle, this patterning allows them to extract the slice of the variation in Protestantism that was, in a sense, caused by the Reformation’s ripples as they spread outward from the epicenter in Wittenberg. Finally, they show that having more Protestants does indeed cause higher rates of literacy and schooling. All-Protestant counties had literacy rates nearly 20 percentage points higher than all-Catholic counties. Subsequent work focusing on the Swiss Reformation, where the epicenters were Zurich and Geneva, reveals strikingly similar patterns.

The Protestant impact on literacy and education can still be observed today in the differential impact of Protestant vs. Catholic missions in Africa and India. In Africa, regions with early Protestant missions at the beginning of the Twentieth Century (now long gone) are associated with literacy rates that are about 16 percentage points higher, on average, than those associated with Catholic missions. In some analyses, Catholics have no impact on literacy at all unless they faced direct competition for souls from Protestant missions. These impacts can also be found in early twentieth-century China.

The notion of universal, state-funded schooling has its roots in religious ideals. As early as 1524, Martin Luther not only emphasized the need for parents to ensure their children’s literacy but also placed the responsibility for creating schools on secular governments. This religiously inspired drive for public schools helped make Prussia a model for public education, which was later copied by countries like Britain and the U.S.

When the Reformation reached Scotland in 1560, John Knox and his fellow reformers called for free public education for the poor and justified this with the need for everyone to acquire the skills to better know God. Having placed the burden for delivering schooling on the government, the world’s first local school tax was established in 1633 CE and strengthened in 1646 CE. This early experiment in universal education may have mid-wifed the Scottish Enlightenment, which produced intellectual luminaries ranging from David Hume to Adam Smith. A century later, the early intellectual dominance of this tiny region inspired France’s Voltaire to write, “we look to Scotland for all our ideas of civilization.” Voltaire, who grew up in a region controlled by Huguenots (French Calvinists), was educated in Jesuit schools, along with other Enlightenment luminaries like Diderot and Condorcet. Rousseau, for his part, likely learned to read from his Calvinist father in the Protestant city-state of Geneva.

Children and Social Media

Chris Griswold:

That young children were working under dangerous conditions in a cotton mill was not unusual. In 1870, there were about 765,000 American workers between the ages of 10 and 15. Some ardent reformers objected, but the mainstream view held that child labor was inevitable, economically and socially valuable, and none of the government’s business to regulate.

The subject matter of child-welfare debates changes over time as technological progress presents new challenges, but the contours remain eerily fixed. On one side stands the well-being of children; on the other, a range of economic interests and ideological commitments that insist on deference. Child labor’s prevalence in the 19th century was a consequence of that era’s industrial revolution, which obviated traditional agriculture’s demand for size and muscle. Much smaller bodies could operate industrial machines — an innovation that afforded a new opportunity for converting childhood into economic surplus.

A look at Taxpayer Supported Federal Agency Governance

Ryan TracyFollow and Andrew Ackerman:

Mr. Chopra showed his extraordinary reach last fall in the days after he ended his FTC stint, when the FTC’s Ms. Khan announced a new policy designed to deter legally questionable corporate mergers.

The twist: He cast the deciding vote even though he had left the commission. He had read an obscure provision of FTC bylaws that he said allowed his vote to stay valid for weeks after leaving. Republicans decried the use of a “zombie” vote, but the policy stood.

Around that time, Jelena McWilliams, the FDIC’s then-chairwoman, invited Mr. Chopra to that agency’s dining room for a welcome lunch. Appointed by President Donald Trump, she had about two years left on her term. Mr. Chopra brought a bottle of bourbon as a gift, said people familiar with the meeting—and news Ms. McWilliams didn’t expect.

Rating Higher Ed by Economic Mobility

Michael Itzkowitz:

We are in dire need of a completely different approach to assessing institutions of higher education. Instead of prioritizing reputation and selectivity, we propose a new rating system known as the Economic Mobility Index (EMI) that attempts to answer the question: “If the primary purpose of postsecondary education is supposed to be to catalyze an increase in economic mobility, which schools are succeeding in that goal?” The following analysis is designed to give policymakers, researchers, and consumers a better way to assess which colleges are delivering on that promise for low- and moderate-income students—and which ones are falling woefully short.

Creating an Economic Mobility Index

To assess the degree of economic mobility that institutions of higher education provide, we examined which schools enroll the highest proportion of students from low- and moderate-backgrounds AND provide them with a strong return on their educational investment. This index builds upon previous rounds of research focused on generational mobility, most notably Harvard economist Raj Chetty’s inter-generational mobility studies comparing students’ post-enrollment incomes to those of their parents.4

Our first step in creating the EMI was to determine the return on investment that the average low-income student obtains from attending a particular institution of higher education. To do this, we use our Price-to-Earnings Premium (PEP) metric that looks at the time it takes students to recoup their educational costs based off the earnings boost they obtain by attending an institution. In particular, we looked at the PEP for low-income students, defined as those whose families make $30,000 or less upon their enrollment in college. The data show that many institutions provide low-income students enough of an earnings premium that allows them to pay down their higher education costs within five years or less. However, others show these students unable to pay down their costs even fifty years later—or worse—provide no return on their educational investment whatsoever.

Notes on freedom of speech at Horace Mann

Ryan Finley:

A perfect example would be the equality versus equity comparison. Every junior and senior is well acquainted with this cartoon graphic; the school makes sure of it in Seminar on Identity. For those who are not familiar with it, spectators of different heights watch a baseball game from behind a fence. On one side, labeled “Equality,” each spectator stands on a box of similar size. As a result, only the tallest can see the game. On the other side, labeled “Equity,” the shorter spectators are supplied with appropriately sized boxes so that everyone can watch the game from an equal vantage point. As the tallest spectator can see over the fence without a box, they receive none. Everyone is exposed to the graphic at some point during their HM education and told to recognize the inherent superiority of the equity model. In other words, equity is taught as a moral imperative.

The gravity of the graphic’s message is easy to miss. When it’s displayed to students, the struggle between the two choices is made cartoonishly simple, literally. The choice of equity seems so plainly obvious that if you argue for equality, it appears as if you are an elitist who doesn’t want people without certain resources to enjoy their lives. There is never any dynamic discussion on the real effects of either choice. Equality and equity are philosophies on access, but the real pros and cons of choosing one over the other, details which are decidedly complex and unable to be reduced to childish cartoons, are practically ignored. When the principle of the sports game is applied to the real world, it proposes either a rejection of meritocracy, or a denial that it exists in the first place. This approach gets students bogged down in a false impression of simplicity, leading to such conclusions on meritocracy that frequently include: the system is broken, unable to be reformed, rotten to the core, and deserving of demolition.

Unlearning “wokeness”

Sam Adler- Bell:

Explaining precisely why left activists have adopted these self-destructive habits is beyond the remit of this short column. But the two main culprits are the obvious ones. The first is social media, where it is infinitely easier — more satisfying and algorithmically rewarding — to imaginatively signal affiliation with those who already share your values than try to convince anyone who doesn’t.

The second is the university. Conservatives resent elite universities for churning out well-credentialed radicals. And they do, to an extent. Elite college graduates with left-wing values go on to run liberal nonprofits, staff Democratic campaigns, work in media, and become middle managers in the corporate world. Right-wingers envy this privilege, imagining that an indoctrinated managerial elite has taken control of the country’s commanding heights. But they overstate the case. The class interests of the Ivy-educated tend to reassert themselves when they accumulate power. And when college-educated radicals speak for the left, they tend to speak in the language of “wokeness” — precisely as I have defined it — with distorting and destructive effects.

This is due, in part, to the peculiar history of 20th-century campus radicalism. The victories of student activists in the 1970s onward — in creating departments and new curricula through which radical thought could be studied and taught — were pyrrhic. Conceived as beachheads in a broader war against capitalist society, radical departments became sepulchers for radical thought: places where wild ideas could be quarantined from the challenge of convincing anyone outside to believe them.

Teachers Math & TikTok

Kaya Yurieff:

Sixth graders at Polly Ryon Middle School in Richmond, Tex., clamored to get into a certain math class at the beginning of the last school year. That’s not because they’d heard rumors that the class was easy or that they’d get to watch a lot of movies between lessons. The reason: The class was taught by Deidre Kelly, a teacher with 1.5 million TikTok followers.

“Usually the kids before they even come to this school know who I am. They’re excited to see me,” Kelly, 34, said. “They’ll say they’re starstruck. I’m like, ‘I am just a teacher. I am so normal.’”

Kelly’s TikTok account is full of math-focused videos with tips and tricks for adding fractions, subtracting integers and multiplying by 8. She often stands in front of her classroom’s whiteboard, usually with a trending (but appropriate) TikTok song playing in the background. Sprinkled between educational videos are sponsored clips that Kelly films for advertisers such as Mastercard’s Girls4Tech STEM education program and fast-food chain Sonic’s donation campaign for local school projects.

Civics: The Recall of San Francisco’s District Attorney

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Perhaps the biggest impact from the Boudin recall — both politically and practically — is the loss of the most popular scapegoat for frustrations over crime in San Francisco. Removing an easy target of blame could lead to more scrutiny of the San Francisco Police Department, which “solves fewer crimes despite larger staffing per city resident and costs per area patrolled” compared with other California jurisdictions, according to a March report from the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice. Boudin repeatedly argued during the campaign that district attorneys can only bring charges when police make arrests. The San Francisco Police Department’s arrest rates have been decreasing for years.

Civics: What is a woman?

Matt Taibbi:

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Which brings us to Matt Walsh’s new movie, What is a Woman?, simultaneously the most talked-about and most ignored documentary in the world. The movie, which tries and fails to get trans activists, academics, and medical professionals to offer a definition of womanhood, is both trending and more or less totally un-reviewed. The most prominent outlets who’ve admitted to watching it have names like the Christian Post and Spectator Australia, despite a 96% audience rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The film is narrated by Walsh and distributed by Ben Shapiro’s conservative Daily Wire, which is crucial to understanding why it will be a success even if — especially if — no mainstream reviewers touch it.

UW-Milwaukee prof involved in scheme defrauding grad students

Kelly Meyerhofer:

The case prompted UWM to make many changes, including increased communication to its roughly 4,400 graduate students and additional training to help employees recognize and flag potential fraud. It also underscored the financial vulnerability of graduate students enrolled at UWM, where only about 22% receive assistantships that cover the cost of their tuition. For comparison, at UW-Madison, 71% of doctoral students and 27% of master’s students hold assistantships that qualify them for tuition remission.

UWM’s 2021 investigation into Yu, released to the Journal Sentinel under the state’s public records law, offers new insight on the case. The university was alerted to potential problems when employees noticed “suspicious activity” related to one of Liu’s research grants. Yu was a co-leader of her husband’s project.

From at least 2014 through 2018, UWM records indicate, Liu sent letters to several students who had applied for admission to the civil and environmental engineering program. He used UWM letterhead and the fictitious name “Ian Wyatt” in the letters, which promised prospective students that tuition would be covered and paid work with him provided if they sent payments of more than $31,000 per year to the “Wisconsin International Education Foundation.”

The foundation’s office address matched the couple’s home address in Mequon, the report said.

Liu and Yu, who also worked in the civil and environmental engineering department, then set up fake gifts and grants as a mechanism to pay the students’ tuition and their work stipends, according to the report. Investigators linked Liu to the fictitious entities because his UWM email address was listed as the recovery email address for a limited liability company funding one of the fake gifts.

An Economist appointed at the taxpayer supported US Dept of Education

US Department of Education Press Release

Across the Department, staff are already using sophisticated data analyses and experimentation to inform policy and improve operations. As Chief Economist, Jordan will work with experts in the Office of the Chief Data Officer, the Institute for Education Sciences, Budget Service, and Federal Student Aid to:

  1. Provide the best-possible analysis and advice to guide real-time policymaking;
  2. Conduct rigorous research to further key elements of the Department’s learning agenda;
  3. Build a culture of experimentation, including partnerships with leading social science researchers to pilot-test new ways to serve students and borrowers; and
  4. Serve as a liaison to the research community so that leading researchers’ insights and evidence inform our agenda and we can work together to build the evidence and research base on how best to strengthen education.

Jordan is the perfect person to define and carry out the role of Chief Economist. An economist from Teachers College at Columbia University, his research has focused on the nexus between education and the labor market and how government policy can promote socioeconomic mobility. He has worked with higher education systems and state governments to develop data infrastructure and research partnerships to support data-driven decision making—a focus of this Administration. And he’s experienced in bringing rigorous data analysis and evidence to crafting policy at the highest levels of government. As Chief Economist of President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, he contributed to the development of policies to promote higher education access and accountability, and led the interagency team developing data for Department’s College Scorecard initiative.

Why does the Education Department need an Economist?

God and man at Yale, continued

Theodore Roosevelt Malloch:

The only thing lacking is intellectual diversity, as leftism has become the agreed creed, not the Hebrew Bible that’s etched into the original college seal.

Many readers will recall when billionaire-philanthropist Lee Bass in 1990 gave his alma mater $20 million to establish a program studying Western civilization. The problem? Bass wanted the program to portray the West in a postive light. Yale couldn’t abide such a condition and returned the money in 1995, claiming the center wouldn’t be academic enough for the school’s notably leftist faculty. 

My story is equally wicked.

I left the board at Yale in 2002, just before a dean was charged with embezzling funds from their accounts to pay for such things as his daughter’s education—at Harvard, of all places—and padding his own pocketbook. The story broke in the New York Times, and all hell broke loose. This deed occurred at Berkeley Divinity School—a school that no longer believed in an omnipotent God who created heaven and earth.

When I received a large multimillion-dollar grant followed by two smaller ones, I urgently needed to find a university at which to place the funds and conduct the research. At our house, Yale was number one—Lux et Veritas. My son, a world-renowned, all-Ivy rower, was a Yalie and into the secret society lore as well as the prestige of wearing the big Y on the blue shirt. He had so many victories in rowing we used the multiple t-shirts from his opponents to wash and dry our cars.

Imagine that! Exiled to the Persian Gulf because you are a conservative at Yale. That’s how the system works nowadays.

There is no intellectual diversity. It is leftism or else. When Yale got $4 billion to open a non-degree granting campus in Singapore, the faculty voted 99 percent to turn the money down because the Asian economic powerhouse had an “authoritarian regime.” But Yale’s then-president, Rick Levin, took the money anyway.

My research at Yale was on (good) virtuous companies. The idea that companies might be “good” upset a lot of people who believed especially all big businesses were basically evil. I only taught two courses at the graduate level with the management crowd and Ph.D. students on “Virtue and Business.” One student who took the classes actually asked, in all seriousness, “what is virtue?” He had never before encountered the term.

Only behind closed doors and certainly not in the classroom could we openly discuss ideas—which used to be the very basis of any university. Today the basis of that purported education is simply and blatantly: indoctrination. Debunk everything, deconstruct reality, make everything about race, rid the students of the diseases of religion and class and, for God’s sake (Oh, there is no God, I forgot), by all means, redistribute the wealth (which, of course, was ill-gotten).

One does not impose personal autonomy, which is the secret of America’s real and lasting power.

What distinguished the United States from England were three crucial things: the lack of a feudal class structure that dominated Great Britain down into the 20th century; an extensive virgin territory for applying it (the Louisiana Purchase); and, most especially, the opportunity for a multitude of dissenting Protestant sects, Catholics, and Jews to engage the new world with a religious fervor largely absent from the feudalistic state churches of Europe. It is important to remember how many of the original settlers were from dissenting protestant sects such as the Puritans, Methodists, Baptists, and Quakers.

Oversight scarce as billions in COVID aid poured into California schools

Robert Lewis & Joe Hong:

A CalMatters investigation found that schools had wildly different approaches to stimulus spending — from laptops to shade structures to an ice cream truck. No centralized database exists to show the public exactly where the money went. 

When the pandemic closed schools in March 2020 – abruptly ending classes and stranding children and working parents – leaders in Washington and Sacramento scrambled to provide relief.

The result was a series of stimulus measures that allocated $33.5 billion in state and federal funds to California’s K-12 schools to address the devastation of the pandemic. It was a staggering amount of one-time funding for the state’s cash-strapped schools, equal to a third of all the money they got the year before the pandemic. 

Imagine your boss giving you a check equal to four months of your salary and telling you to spend it quickly or risk giving it back. For schools, this was money for things like laptops, air filters and mental health counselors – money to help kids.

But much of the funding has come with limited oversight and little transparency, according to a CalMatters investigation. No centralized state or federal database exists to show how schools have spent this money. And data from the districts’ quarterly spending reportsprovided to the state are so broad as to be virtually useless in tracking this COVID relief money.

Oversight scarce as billions in COVID aid poured into California schools

Robert Lewis & Joe Hong:

A CalMatters investigation found that schools had wildly different approaches to stimulus spending — from laptops to shade structures to an ice cream truck. No centralized database exists to show the public exactly where the money went. 

When the pandemic closed schools in March 2020 – abruptly ending classes and stranding children and working parents – leaders in Washington and Sacramento scrambled to provide relief.

The result was a series of stimulus measures that allocated $33.5 billion in state and federal funds to California’s K-12 schools to address the devastation of the pandemic. It was a staggering amount of one-time funding for the state’s cash-strapped schools, equal to a third of all the money they got the year before the pandemic. 

Imagine your boss giving you a check equal to four months of your salary and telling you to spend it quickly or risk giving it back. For schools, this was money for things like laptops, air filters and mental health counselors – money to help kids.

But much of the funding has come with limited oversight and little transparency, according to a CalMatters investigation. No centralized state or federal database exists to show how schools have spent this money. And data from the districts’ quarterly spending reportsprovided to the state are so broad as to be virtually useless in tracking this COVID relief money.

Oversight scarce as billions in COVID aid poured into California schools

Robert Lewis & Joe Hong:

A CalMatters investigation found that schools had wildly different approaches to stimulus spending — from laptops to shade structures to an ice cream truck. No centralized database exists to show the public exactly where the money went. 

When the pandemic closed schools in March 2020 – abruptly ending classes and stranding children and working parents – leaders in Washington and Sacramento scrambled to provide relief.

The result was a series of stimulus measures that allocated $33.5 billion in state and federal funds to California’s K-12 schools to address the devastation of the pandemic. It was a staggering amount of one-time funding for the state’s cash-strapped schools, equal to a third of all the money they got the year before the pandemic. 

Imagine your boss giving you a check equal to four months of your salary and telling you to spend it quickly or risk giving it back. For schools, this was money for things like laptops, air filters and mental health counselors – money to help kids.

But much of the funding has come with limited oversight and little transparency, according to a CalMatters investigation. No centralized state or federal database exists to show how schools have spent this money. And data from the districts’ quarterly spending reportsprovided to the state are so broad as to be virtually useless in tracking this COVID relief money.

Can Education be Standardized? Evidence from Kenya

Guthrie Gray-Lobe, Anthony Keats, Michael Kremer, Isaac Mbiti, Owen Ozier

We examine the impact of enrolling in schools that employ a highly-standardized approach to education, using random variation from a large nationwide scholarship program. Bridge International Academies not only delivers highly detailed lesson guides to teachers using tablet computers, it also standardizes systems for daily teacher monitoring and feedback, school construction, and financial management. At the time of the study, Bridge operated over 400 private schools serving more than 100,000 pupils. It hired teachers with less formal education and experience than public school teachers, paid them less, and had more working hours per week. Enrolling at Bridge for two years increased test scores by 0.89 additional equivalent years of schooling (EYS) for primary school pupils and by 1.48 EYS for pre-primary pupils. These effects are in the 99th percentile of effects found for at-scale programs studied in a recent survey. Enrolling at Bridge reduced both dispersion in test scores and grade repetition. Test score results do not seem to be driven by rote memorization or by income effects of the scholarship.

Kane’s Free High School Data Science Bootcamp

David Kane:

Kane’s Free High School Data Science Bootcamp will run from Tuesday, June 1st through Thursday, June 24th. The expected workload is 13 hours per week: 2.5 hours in class with Harvard Preceptor David Kane, lecturing live at around 8:00 PM EDT and 10.5 hours of work completed by students on their own. By the end of this bootcamp, students will be able to do basic data science! The course covers the first three weeks or so in Kane’s introductory data science class, Gov 1005: Data.

There are no prerequisites. The programming language we will be using is R. You must have a computer with R, RStudio and Git installed.

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Introduction: Whose Present? Which History?

Daniel Steinmetz-Jenkins

There can be little doubt that the history profession is experiencing a turn to the pre- sent. The post-2016 “crisis of democracy” has only dramatized it. Long-standing anx- ieties over presentism have crumbled under the weight of recent events.1 They have proven little match for Brexit, Trump, the rise of strongmen in the world writ large, racial injustice, and the pandemic. The turn to the present, however, is at times marked by undeniable provincialism—one that consistently offers a narrow perspec- tive for understanding new and emerging global realities. Some historians, for instance, have taken on the role of liberal watchmen ready to strike the tocsin against suspected fascism, but they regularly do so by focusing on Europe’s fascist past of the 1930s to explain the contemporary order.2 Or consider the economic crisis brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. In the search for solutions, scholars proved quick to make historical comparisons to the great war economies of World Wars I and II, but appeared little bothered by the possibility that taking inspiration from Europe’s age of extremes might “lead us to look for enemies and scapegoats.”3

K-12 Governance Climate: recent Elections

Andrew Sullivan:

Elite imposition of the new social justice religion — indoctrinating children in the precepts and premises of critical race and gender theory — has also met ferocious backlash as parents began to absorb what their kids were being taught: that America is a uniquely evil country based forever on white supremacy; that your race is the most important thing about you; that biological sex must be replaced by socially constructed genders of near-infinite number; and that all this needs to be taught in kindergarten. Yes, some of this was politically exploited or hyped by the right. But if you think there is no there there in this concern about schooling, you’re dreaming.

Across the country, school boards are thereby in turmoil, with those supporting less ideological education on the march. On the question of trans rights, there is broad support for inclusion — but most Americans are understandably uncomfortable with pre-pubescent kids having irreversible sex changes, and with trans women competing with women in sports. For which those normies are called “hateful.”

And many people have now experienced firsthand what happens to a workplace when crusades for “social justice” trump every other value. The Washington Post this week was convulsed by public infighting — initiated by a reporter, Felicia Sonmez, whose crusade to dismantle the “oppressive systems” she endures at the WaPo went on for a week of public name-calling, vitriol, and victim-mongering. As a professed victim of sexism, Sonmez felt fully justified in destroying any shred of civility or decorum — because she assumed she couldn’t be punished. The same applies to the unethical journalism of Taylor Lorenz, another social justice warrior at the WaPo.

One city (charter) schools changed teacher work week: 4 days

Chris Rickert:

The free charter school is required to meet minimum instructional hour requirements contained in state law, which Davis said the school exceeds because its school day runs from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and its year from Sept. 1 to July 31, longer than most traditional public schools. The school will continue to exceed those minimums under the new schedule, he said.

It’s not clear what other traditional public, public charter or private schools in the state’s voucher program might have similar alternative staff schedules or are planning for them.

Nearby Oconomowoc High School changed their teaching and compensation model nearly 10 years ago.

Commentary on the politics of foreign students

Tommy Benghazi

OPT is a 12-month, temporary employment programthat foreign college students can participate in either pre- or post-graduation. There is a 24-month extension for foreign students who completed a Science, Technology, Engineering, or Mathematics (STEM) degree that brings the visa duration to 3 years. Additionally, if an OPT participant is waiting on a decision to be made on an H-1B visa, they can stay for another 6 months. This brings the total OPT work period to a maximum of 42 months before the new Biden rule is implemented. When that comes into effect, the maximum extension will be 54 months.

The top companies who hire OPT students are tech and consulting companies. However, these jobs are not measly internships. Most are highly sought after jobs that Americans want. How many foreign STEM graduates do you think take jobs that American college graduates won’t do? The answer is zero, and if you think that the vast majority of these workers will leave the country after their OPT has expired, you are mistaken. Biden’s rule gives them another year, and many will just overstay their visas anyways. In fact, there are nearly as many visa overstays in the US as there are illegal border crossings.

Biden’s new Ministry of Truth would assure you that OPT is a compassionate way to attract the best and the brightest students from foreign countries as a temporary way of culturally enriching our workforce and investing sorely needed human capital into our STEM jobs. This narrative is the dismissive equivalent of the old, “they are taking jobs that no Americans will do! Shut up and like it!” The reality is that companies employ OPT workers over similarly qualified American workers because they are subsidized to do so by our government and no labor standards exist for OPT.

K-12 tax & spending climate: 8.6% inflation

BLS.Gov:

The all items index increased 8.6 percent for the 12 months ending May, the largest 12-month
increase since the period ending December 1981. The all items less food and energy index rose
6.0 percent over the last 12 months. The energy index rose 34.6 percent over the last year, the
largest 12-month increase since the period ending September 2005. The food index increased 10.1
percent for the 12-months ending May, the first increase of 10 percent or more since the period
ending March 1981.

Advocating Merit Based Admissions

Alan M. Dershowitz:

The Supreme Court, in its next term, will render a decision in Students for Fair Admissions Inc. v. President & Fellows of Harvard College, which will determine the legality of Harvard’s race-based affirmative-action program. The plaintiffs claim that, by creating a floor for certain racial and ethnic groups in its admissions, Harvard created a ceiling for Asian-Americans. The result is that Asian-Americans who are academically qualified become victims of discrimination.

If the court rules in favor of the plaintiffs, as many experts believe it will, Harvard and many universities around the country will have to continue their quests for increased racial diversity without violating the specific terms of the decision.

The time has come, however, for universities to abandon their efforts to achieve superficial, artificial diversity based on race. The coming decision would provide American schools with an opportunity to develop admission criteria based on academic achievement and potential—while abolishing such non-merit-based criteria as legacy status, athletics, geography and other nonacademic preferences. There would be resistance to getting rid of these advantages, but it could be done.

I believe the result of a merit-based policy would be more meaningful diversity. The result of such a policy would likely give way to more political, ideological, geographic, religious and other types of diversity that are at least as relevant to the educational mission of the university as race and ethnicity. I certainly am not asking for a return to “the good old days” of WASP dominance—those days were anything but good—but I am asking for an approach rarely attempted by American universities: pure meritocracy.

Spending spree: Oversight scarce as billions in COVID aid poured into California schools

Robert Lewis and Joe Hong:

When the pandemic closed schools in March 2020 – abruptly ending classes and stranding children and working parents – leaders in Washington and Sacramento scrambled to provide relief.

The result was a series of stimulus measures that allocated $33.5 billion in state and federal funds to California’s K-12 schools to address the devastation of the pandemic. It was a staggering amount of one-time funding for the state’s cash-strapped schools, equal to a third of all the money they got the year before the pandemic. 

Imagine your boss giving you a check equal to four months of your salary and telling you to spend it quickly or risk giving it back. For schools, this was money for things like laptops, air filters and mental health counselors – money to help kids.

Civics: The Answer to Physician Misinformation is NOT More Physician Oversight

Paul Thacker:

This of course, is laughable. We have plenty of evidence that medical boards are incapable of regulating physician behavior simply by looking at the history of drug scandals in America, none of which could have occurred without the complicity of corrupt doctors—few if any of whom were later sanctioned by their own profession.

Anyone notice a medical board going after Duke University’s Dr. Ralph Snyderman for aiding the Sacklers’ opioid scheme and helping spread disinformation that these highly addictive drugs are NOT…highly addictive?

Of course not. Snyderman built up Duke University into the 3rd most prestigious medical school in the States. Despite spreading disinformation about opioids that killed tens of thousands of Americans, he’s obviously a great doctor.

The NEJM’s essay writers were most exercised about physicians spreading COVID-19 vaccine misinformation. Not because they have any special insight about COVID-19, vaccines, or misinformation, but because everyone in medicine today knows that the most important thing to get exercised about is COVID-19 vaccine misinformation:

On July 29, 2021, the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB), the umbrella organization of state and territorial licensing boards, issued a policy statement that “Physicians who generate and spread COVID-19 vaccine misinformation or disinformation are risking disciplinary action by state medical boards, including the suspension or revocation of their medical license.”

Why America Doesn’t Trust the CDC

Marty Makary:

People don’t trust the CDC. Here’s one example illustrating why. Two weeks ago, with no outcomes data on COVID-19 booster shots for 5-to-11-year-olds, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) vigorously recommended the booster for all 24 million American children in that age group. The CDC cited a small Pfizer study of 140 children that showed boosters elevated their antibody levels—an outcome known to be transitory.

When that study concluded, a Pfizer spokesperson said it did not determine the efficacy of the booster in the 5-to-11-year-olds. But that didn’t matter to the CDC. Seemingly hoping for a different answer, the agency put the matter before its own kangaroo court of curated experts, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP).

I listened to the meeting, and couldn’t believe what I heard. At times, the committee members sounded like a group of marketing executives. Dr. Beth Bell of the University of Washington said “what we really need to do is to be as consistent and clear and simple as possible,” pointing out that the committee needed “a consistent recommendation which is simple.”

Other committee members similarly emphasized the importance of a universal booster message that applies to all age groups. Dr. David Kimberlin, editor of the American Academy of Pediatrics Red Book, speaking on his own behalf, said “Americans are yearning for, are crying out for a simpler way for looking at this pandemic.” He suggested that not recommending boosters for young children would create confusion that “could also bleed over to 12-to-17-year-olds, and even the adult population.”

A fresh approach to social mobility

gov.uk

What actually is going on?

Despite the popular narrative, it’s not true that social mobility is getting worse on all counts. In reality the picture is complex. On some measures it is doing better than others, and on some – such as occupational mobility – it has been fairly stable for decades

There have been big changes in the economy, as the service industry has grown. In the latter part of the twentieth century, the occupational structure shifted considerably – creating more white-collar than blue-collar jobs. So more people were able to move “up” the occupational hierarchy compared to their parents.

But more recently, while we are still generating professional and managerial jobs, the rate has slowed. There are fewer people born into families who have routine and manual occupations, and more born into families with professional and managerial jobs. There is competition from those wishing to “move up” at the same time as more people being “at risk” of moving down. This is often referred to as the problem of “less room at the top”, which makes it look like social mobility is worsening when it might not be.

Of course, occupational mobility is only one aspect. There is less consensus about mobility in income and in other things like housing or wealth.

Given this evidence, we need to stop presenting social mobility in this way. For some people it feeds the view that the country is less open to talent than it has been in the past. There are clearly areas where we need to improve, but there are also areas where we are doing relatively well. As usual, the truth is more complex.

Those born nearer to the top have advantages over those born nearer to the bottom. But we need to be careful about moving from this general observation to the conclusion that nobody has agency, or that the gaps and disparities between the “disadvantaged” and everyone else are set in stone.

We need a more analytical approach if we want to understand what is going on.

Boston School Reform Plans

Max Larkin:

With takeover threats in the air, state officials have made clear that they expect brisk and broad improvement in the Boston Public Schools in problem areas identified in a recent report, including fuller inclusion of students with disabilities, more punctual school buses and safer, cleaner school buildings.

But in the two competing draft plans for achieving reforms, the state itself is cast in very different roles. Commissioner Jeff Riley’s initial May 20 draft imagines his agency — the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education — primarily as overseer and enforcer, while Boston Mayor Michelle Wu asks for DESE’s “partnership” and “support” in her counter-proposal from May 25.

Advocating Governance change: Europe edition

Josef Aschbacher:

It is the one that if we don’t get widespread buy-in and risk-tolerance fast, then the other priorities become quite irrelevant. This of course applies to projects or programmes that one may consider in the NewSpace domain. Having said that, there will always be domains where the commercial sector has no interest to invest and where projects will follow the more traditional space project development scheme. I would put high precision, cutting edge, long-term missions with fundamental technology development needs into this category, like BepiColombo, Aeolus, or Mars Sample Return.

But in many other domains, where technology is more mature and markets ready to pay for services or information, industry has completely changed its approach and has become very pro-active in co-developing and/or co-funding space projects. I have seen many incredibly encouraging examples where this is happening right now. 

When I look at the European space sector, I see a huge talent base, with many engineers and scientists having incredibly innovative ideas which they want to bring to fruition. I would claim that Europe’s human resource excellence is unique world-wide with some of the brightest talents among them. Where Europe is weak though is easy access to funding and speed in implementing projects. Lower readiness to take risk is often linked to these deficits. 

The overall European space economy could be at risk if Europe doesn’t respond to this evolution. Let’s take for instance the case of European-bred start-up Spire, founded by three Europeans educated in Europe. Spire was created 8 years ago, ultimately choosing Silicon Valley over Europe due to lack of substantial financial funding opportunities here but has in the meantime expanded very impressively and was listed at the NYSE just last month. According to market expectations the company may be valued at up to 1.6B US$, with more than 200M US$ of new cash to invest. As much as I am happy about this success for Spire and for space in general, I regret that the financial backing has been made primarily by Silicon Valley investors (I said primarily – not totally).

New private Physical Education fund for Madison K-12 students

Scott Girard:

That model would be similar to the foundation’s Teacher Support Network fund, which helps provide school supplies for staff to help them avoid spending their own money on needs. Stensland said the Play Every Day initiative grew out of the work on the support network, as they heard from staff about the “other needs” at schools, including physical education equipment.

Giving each school its own budget to spend helps avoid the foundation needing to identify what needs are there.

“I’m not going to come in and decide every school must need 500 basketballs,” she said. “We could do that, we could source things and deliver them but maybe they don’t need that, maybe they need something else. We want to give every school that agency, that decision making power to use the funds that their school community needs the most.”

Matthews, once again pointing to his soccer experience while in school, said that he has developed friendships while in the NBA with stars like Luka Dončić and Giannis Antetokounmpo through a mutual interest in the game.

“anti-meritocratic, oriented away from standardized tests, gifted and talented programs and test-in elite schools”

Ruy Teixeira:

Finally, there is perhaps the key issue for many Asian voters: education. It is difficult to overestimate how important education is to Asian voters, who see it as the key tool for upward mobility—a tool that even the poorest Asian parents can take advantage of. But Democrats have become increasingly associated with an approach to schooling that seems anti-meritocratic, oriented away from standardized tests, gifted and talented programs and test-in elite schools—all areas where Asian children have excelled.

This of course was a huge issue in San Francisco, where the School Board pushed this approach up to and including replacing the rigorous entrance test for the famed Lowell School with a lottery. That move, combined with the School Board’s bizarre obsession with an “anti-racist” school renaming project even as schools remained closed and students suffered, angered Asian parents and others so much that they took the lead in successfully recalling three of the ringleaders of this approach, a clear precursor to the current recall.

So Democrats are hemorrhaging support among Asian voters, alienating other nonwhite voters with their lax approach to public safety and losing many formerly loyal white liberals and moderates who are “mad as hell and not going to take it anymore”. What to do?

The answer seems clear to me. It’s time for Democrats to adopt former UK prime minister Tony Blair’s felicitous slogan: “Tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime”. Conservative outlets like Fox News may exaggerate but voters really do want law and order—done fairly and humanely, but law and order just the same. Democrats still seem reluctant to highlight their commitment to cracking down on crime and criminals because that is something that, well, Fox News would say.

Mandates, closed schools and Dane County Madison Public Health.

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”

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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.

No When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?

Meet Your ‘Biological Age’

Betsy Morris:

Dr. Sinclair has been criticized by other scientists for hyping the results of some of his findings, like the antiaging effects found in the compound resveratrol, claims he rebuts. He says that he doesn’t overstate his research findings and that the resveratrol research was published in leading scientific journals. He has co-founded more than a dozen biotech companies and is invested in most of them, including some that are developing therapeutics that target the biology of aging.

Segterra Inc.’s InsideTracker, a personalized-nutrition company founded by scientists from Harvard, Tufts University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, calculates biological age by having users take blood tests and analyzing the samples for markers of conditions like inflammation, heart health and liver or kidney disorder. Those who test as older than their years get recommendations to adjust diet, exercise and supplements.

Many other health startups are offering testing that purports to calculate biological age, sometimes with little scientific backing, and designing supplements aimed at boosting youthfulness.

Stephen Roberts, a winery owner in France, tested himself earlier this year with an at-home blood test by U.K.-based biotech company GlycanAge Ltd. The test was part of an effort by Mr. Roberts to improve his health at age 51.

“I drink. I sometimes smoke and party and eat what I want,” he says, so he expected his biological age to be a lot older than his calendar age.

Higher education reading notes

Alex Usher:

Okay, now down to three books that really made me think. The first was Reforms, Organizational Change and Performance in Higher Education: A Comparative Account from the Nordic Countries (Pinheiro et al, eds), which I mentioned here. It provides top-notch mixed-methods comparative research into how educational institutions are actually managed, a field which in North America often relies too much on discussion about “neoliberalism.” Elizabeth Buckner’s Degrees of Dignity: Arab Higher Education in the Global Era was also excellent. I didn’t agree with everything in there, but it contains some excellent insights and I think Dr. Buckner found an appealing way to write about “regional” higher education and hope her style gets copied far and wide. Finally, there is Seeing the World: How US Universities Make Knowledge in a Global Era (Stevens, Miller-Idriss and Shami). This intriguing book is ostensibly about area studies and how geographically-based knowledge gets systematically devalued in big traditional disciplines like Political Science and Economics in favour of universal “placeless” knowledge. That in itself is interesting, but perhaps more intriguing is the way they document how this fight plays out bureaucratically inside universities, when well-funded and secure disciplinary “departments” can behave imperiously towards more precarious cross-disciplinary “centres”. Clocking in at around 140 pages, this one is well worth the time of anyone seeking to better understand the politics of knowledge inside social science and humanities disciplines.

Mulligans ignored: The U.S. News and World Report rankings don’t consider any of the scores or metrics from Wisconsin’s public schools since then.

Benjamin Yount:

“As proficiency has plummeted under his tenure, Governor Evers is forced to point to outdated data to back up his claims that he has been an effective leader on education,” Will Flanders with the Wisconsin Institute of Law and Liberty told The Center Square.

Flanders added that Gov. Evers’ approach to public schools has had a darker impact than the report suggests.

“The sectors that actually are doing better – choice and charter – have been the subject of repeated attempts by the governor to bring them to an end,” Flanders added. “School shutdowns during COVID, which the governor did nothing to stop, have exacerbated already huge achievement gaps among minority and low income students. None of this is reflected fully in the data for this ranking.”

Mandates, closed schools and Dane County Madison Public Health.

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”

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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.

No When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?

Civics: Taxpayer Supported Censorship

US Department of Homeland Security (PDF):

The spread of disinformation’ presents serious homeland security risks:

Conspiracy theories about the validity and security of elections may undermine trust in core democratic institutions, amplify threats against election personnel, and jeopardize the voting rights of vulnerable communities.

Disinformation related to the origins and effects of COVID-19 vaccines or the efficacy of masks undercuts public health efforts to combat the pandemic.

Foreign terrorists, nation-states, and domestic violent extremist (DVE) groups leverage disinformation narratives to amplify calls to violence, including racially or ethnically motivated and anti-government/anti-authority violence. These actors often amplify and exploit narratives that already exist in public discourse, such as disinformation surrounding the validity of the 2020 election underpinning calls to violence on January 6, 2021.

Disinformation can complicate the performance of core DHS missions. Falsehoods surrounding U.S. Government immigration policy drive vulnerable populations to pay smugglers to bring them on the dangerous journey to our southern border. Disinformation can hamper emergency
responders in the aftermath of natural disasters or other incident responses. DHS efforts to combat disinformation must account for the sensitivities inherent to this mission:

DHS efforts to combat disinfonnation must account for the sensitivities inherent to this mission:

The Department must ensure its counter-disinformation efforts do not have the effect of chilling or suppressing free speech and free association or of infringing on individuals’ privacy or other First Amendment protected activity.

The protection of privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties must be incorporated into every step of this work and any overarching framework guiding its execution.

Propaganda in Academia

Tim Hayward:

What does propaganda have to do with academic research and teaching? Citizens can reasonably expect the academic community to generate scholarly understanding and public awareness of what propaganda is and how propaganda operates. Academics should certainly aim to ensure their own research and teaching are not influenced by it. But how well does the academic community actually deal with propaganda? Addressing this question means considering both how propaganda should be dealt with and how academics actually deal with it.

Given the distinctive social role of academics, there are five general responsibilities that it is reasonable to expect them to fulfil in relation to propaganda. The most basic is to engage in research and teaching with methods of developing and communicating knowledge quite different from those that constitute propaganda. Whereas propaganda involves strategically communicating information selected on the basis of a prior agenda, the methods of science and scholarship involve collaborative deliberation and openness to new discoveries. A second general responsibility directly follows: academics should endeavour not to succumb to the influence of propaganda in their teaching and research. While seemingly a negligible risk in some fields of inquiry, something to be alert to regarding topics of public controversy is how an academic may, unaware, have passively absorbed assumptions and framings of propagandistic genesis. A third responsibility is to avoid reproducing propaganda, even inadvertently, in teaching and written works. A fourth, more imperative still, is the responsibility not to engage in the active (re)production of propaganda.

The four responsibilities just referred to do come with certain caveats: not all forms of propaganda are necessarily pernicious; perhaps not all instances of it will ever be fully identified; and academics are not necessarily less vulnerable to being deceived by propaganda than are their fellow citizens. But while there is scope for discussion of caveats, the important point is to be clear about the responsibilities themselves. While recognizing a place for reasoned critiques of particular studies of propaganda, in fact, we need also to be aware of one further general responsibility, namely, to ensure that the critical study of propaganda is not actively obstructed or attacked. This distinct fifth responsibility unfortunately needs mentioning because, as we will see, the active discouragement of critical study of certain cases of propaganda comes not only from representatives of vested interests outside academia but even sometimes from people who hold positions within.

K-12 Governance Climate: Some local governments in China are letting private corporations develop new cities and provide public services
Jun 3

ChinaTalk:

Lesser known are cases involve an increasingly common scheme of private sector-driven urbanization in China. In this case, private sector actors take charge of the coordination and development process of urbanization.

Companies such as China Fortune Land Development (CFLD) are developing industrial towns as private-public partnerships (PPP) with local governments. CFLD has developed around 100 industrial towns mostly in China with a few in South East Asia. 

CFLD recently came into the public spotlight due to its critical financial situation which mirrors one of many of the large conventional real estate developments in China. CFLD and its PPP model have also become the object of academic research (see e.g., ‘Towards Urban economic vibrancy – patterns and practices in Asia’s new cities’ by Siqi Zheng and Zhengzhen Tan and ‘Rising private city operators in contemporary China: A study of the CFLD model’ by Yongli Jiao and Yang Yu). 

Besides the PPP model, there is also a fully privatized model in which the local government signs a concession agreement with a private firm responsible for developing and operating the city including the provision of public services and receipt of taxes. 

This fully privatized model is still little studied and known outside of China, but the Journal for Special Jurisdictions is about to publish a special volume on the topic of these Chinese private cities later this year. 

One of the main success cases of this model is Jiaolong.

Civics: The Washington Post’s Descent Into Middle School Antics

Bari Weiss:

Amazingly, this story competed with another Post drama from the weekend: The paper issued three corrections to a story by the technology columnist Taylor Lorenz, which still contains at least one obvious falsehood. The paper claims that Lorenz reached out to a source for comment, which the source says she didn’t do, and Lorenz later admitted she didn’t do (but the story still contains the lie). Even a CNN media reporter said it was “weird WaPo can’t get this basic detail straight.” Lorenz freaked out about CNN noting the correction debacle and said that doing so was “irresponsible & dangerous.” Yes: Dangerous! 

So let’s get this straight: at the paper that cracked wide open the biggest presidential scandal in history, the paper that has long defined great political reporting, the paper of Katherine Graham and Ben Bradlee and David Broder, journalists lie and publicly attack their colleagues and remain comfortably in their positions. And a reporter is suspended without pay for a retweet.

Civics: Philadelphia Election Fraud conviction

US DoJ:

Myers acknowledged in court that on almost every Election Day, Myers transported Beren to the polling station to open the polls. During the drive to the polling station, Myers would advise Beren which candidates he was supporting so that Beren knew which candidates should be receiving fraudulent votes. Inside the polling place and while the polls were open, Beren would advise actual in-person voters to support Myers’ candidates and also cast fraudulent votes in support of Myers’ preferred candidates on behalf of voters she knew would not or did not physically appear at the polls.

During Election Day itself, Myers conferred with Beren via cell phone while she was at the polling station about the number of votes cast for his preferred candidates. Beren would report to Myers how many “legit votes,” meaning actual voters, had appeared at the polls and cast ballots. If actual voter turnout was high, Beren would add fewer fraudulent votes in support of Myers’ preferred candidates. From time to time, Myers would instruct Beren to shift her efforts from one of his preferred candidates to another. Specifically, Myers would instruct Beren “to throw support” behind another candidate during Election Day if he concluded that his first choice was comfortably ahead.

Academic Malpractice

Sgt Mom

The post at Legal Insurrection (link) says in part, that the goal is to “…to equalize test scores among racial groups, OPRF will order its teachers to exclude from their grading assessments variables it says disproportionally hurt the grades of black students. They can no longer be docked for missing class, misbehaving in school or failing to turn in their assignments, according to the plan.”
So basically, this is an administrative rubber-stamping a passing grade on the report cards of black students who can’t be arsed to attend class, behave properly as students when they do, or turn in required assignments. Frankly, one wonders why such students even bother with school anyway, if they are so vehemently disinclined towards the life intellectual, but truant law and free daycare for such parental units as they have probably account for it, as well as money for butts in seats on the part of the school itself. At this rate of scholastic malpractice, urban schools might just as well hand out high school graduation certificates as if they were Pokemon cards, one to a customer and save themselves time and effort in the classroom. Any serious education of pupils appears as merely a happy afterthought to a means of employing large numbers of administrators, assistant principals and teachers whose union membership is vastly more important to the powers that be than imparting knowledge to that handful of rare-as-hen’s-teeth pupils who seriously want to learn.

This particularly unfortunate notion to enforce the mystical quality of “equity” on students of color will backfire of course. Future employers, associates, neighbors and professional will regard those students of color who hold such useless bits of paper as worthless, illiterate, and dumber than dirt, which will no doubt make those public-school products feel even more disrespected, resentful, and inclined to casual criminality and general uselessness as citizens than they already are. Just call me Cassandra, if you please.

Honestly, home school looks better and better all the time, as many otherwise well-intentioned, well-paid and ambitious-for-the-children parents discovered during sessions of remote learning and home lockdown, exactly and to their vast disgust what kind of sex-ed and racial-theory lunacies were romping untrammeled through the classrooms.

Civics: Dozens of Records of Illegal Molecular Research Reported to NIH

Judicial Watch:

Judicial Watch announced today that it received 2369 pages of records from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) revealing over two dozen cases where research involving recombinant or synthetic nucleic acid (r/sNA) molecules was conducted in America without proper approval and in violation of NIH guidelines.

Recombinant or synthetic nucleic acid (r/sNA) molecules are constructed outside of living cells. The molecules are made by joining DNA or RNA segments (natural or synthetic) to DNA or RNA molecules that can replicate within a living cell. They may also result from replication of previously constructed recombinant molecules.

NIH guidelines detail safety practices and containment procedures for basic and clinical research involving recombinant or synthetic nucleic acid molecules – including the creation and use of organisms and viruses containing recombinant or synthetic nucleic acid molecules. These guidelines require that any significant problems, violations, or any significant research-related accidents and illnesses be reported to NIH within 30 days.

The documents further showed that the research, which occurred at Biosafety Level 1/2/3 laboratories, led to dozens of dangerous mishaps, accidents, and spills.

The Lasting Damage of School Closures

Shannon Whitworth

Recently, in my high school Business Communication class, I had one of the most disheartening conversations I’ve ever had with my students. It was regarding the effects of the pandemic lockdowns. Policymakers and leaders need to listen to these experiences, get students back on track and develop new strategies if we ever have a challenge similar to the COVID-19 pandemic in the future.

 

It was apparent during this conversation that many children under 18 cannot do school by computer.  My students admitted that they regularly checked in with their teachers and then either turned off their camera or checked out after attendance. Many students said the isolation shortened their attention spans and made it difficult to stay on task. This is reflected in recent research as well. The Center for Education Policy Research at Harvard released a study in May based on two years’ worth of data, from 2019 through 2021. Over that timeframe students who attended school in-person for the 2020-21 school year—and were only remote for the spring of 2020—lost about 20% of their learning in math, while students who were remote for the majority of that time lost close to 50% of their learning. That is a disaster.

 

Two students shared about taking the ACT exam and how they just wanted to give up in the middle of the test because in the last year they “hadn’t learned anything.” By far, this was the saddest statement shared within the discussion. When I revealed to them that schools in their surrounding suburbs were allowed to go back to in-person instruction much sooner than Milwaukee Lutheran, I saw anger in their eyes. They feel the policymakers and community leaders bailed on them, and they won’t forget it.

St. Paul schools construction costs skyrocket. What’s the impact and what are the causes?

Josh Verges:

An architect and planning manager promoted to director in 2014, Parent has overseen a sudden increase in spending on St. Paul’s school buildings — from $30 million a year in 2016 to around $112 million each year since.

Starting in 2014, facilities staff met with schools and sketched out plans to improve the look and function of every building in the district. The resulting Facilities Master Plan was approved by the school board in 2016 and laid out $484 million in school renovations, expansions and maintenance projects to tackle over the next five years.

Besides modern heating and plumbing systems, schools are getting secure and welcoming entrances, more natural light, gender-neutral restrooms and more functional learning space.

The district is borrowing to pay for the increased spending by issuing long-term bonds. The average homeowner was told to expect a series of $30 property-tax increases each year.

But the initial five-year plan quickly went off track as costs soared and numerous future projects were postponed.

Civics: The Law, Elections and Rule Making

Wall Street Journal:

Pennsylvania law says voters must “fill out, date and sign” the ballot declaration. The state judiciary has held that dating is mandatory. But last month in a dispute over a 2021 judicial election, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that undated ballots are valid if they arrived on time. The court cited the Civil Rights Act, which says officials may not “deny the right of any individual to vote” based on a paperwork error that “is not material in determining whether such individual is qualified under State law.”

This is a good opportunity for the Supreme Court to make clear that judges shouldn’t rush into ballot-counting rooms without a compelling reason. The Third Circuit hadn’t even written a publishable opinion when it issued a judgment in that 2021 case. The timing, three days after Pennsylvania’s primary, suggests intent to upend the way that ballots were being tallied.

Behind all our disasters there looms an ideology, a creed that ignores cause and effect in the real world—without a shred of concern for the damage done to those outside the nomenklatura.

Victor Davis Hanson:

One day historians will look back at the period beginning with the COVID lockdowns of spring 2020 through the midterm elections of 2022 to understand how America for over two years lost its collective mind and turned into something unrecognizable and antithetical to its founding principles.

“Sovietization” is perhaps the best diagnosis of the pathology. It refers to the subordination of policy, expression, popular culture, and even thought to ideological mandates. Ultimately such regimentation destroys a state since dogma wars with and defeats meritocracy, creativity, and freedom. 

The American Commissariat

Experts become sycophantic. They mortgage their experience and talent to ideology—to the point where society itself regresses. 

The law is no longer blind and disinterested, but adjudicates indictment, prosecution, verdict, and punishment on the ideology of the accused. Eric Holder is held in contempt of Congress and smiles; Peter Navarro is held in contempt of Congress and is hauled off in cuffs and leg-irons. James Clapper and John Brennan lied under oath to Congress—and were rewarded with television contracts; Roger Stone did the same and a SWAT team showed up at his home. Andrew McCabe made false statements to federal investigators and was exempt. A set-up George Papadopoulos went to prison for a similar charge. So goes the new American commissariat.

Examine California and ask a series of simple questions.

Civics & credentialism: “punishable by up to four years in prison, to engage in the unauthorized practice of law”

NY Daily News:


A New York nonprofit, Upsolve, started out helping automate the bankruptcy process for low-income Americans. Then it stumbled into a related problem: Many of the families it served were on the receiving end of a barrage of intimidating letters, calls and lawsuits from debt collectors insisting they owed boatloads. Knowing that many of these mistake-riddled cases would have been easy to dismiss if only their clients had been able to afford lawyers, Upsolve sought to offer a helping hand, in the form of free legal advice.

That’s when they ran head-first into state statutes that make it a felony, punishable by up to four years in prison, to engage in the unauthorized practice of law.

Now, with the help of fully credentialed attorneys, they are challenging that law in Manhattan federal court. Tuesday, they scored an early victory, as Judge Paul Crotty granted Upsolve’s motion for a preliminary injunction, ruling on First Amendment grounds that the state cannot enforce its prohibition against the free advice program.

CDC, politics and teacher unions

Joe Schoffstall:

Walensky’s calendar shows that she also had contact with unions beyond the NEA before the guideline’s release, further illustrating the administration’s coziness with unions during its COVID-19 pandemic guidance process. 

“At every turn, the CDC has told the American people that they have followed the science, but with every record we receive, we see further proof that the CDC keeps turning to teachers unions for guidance instead,” said Caitlin Sutherland, executive director of Americans for Public Trust, who provided Walensky’s calendar to Fox News Digital.

The College Enrollment Decline Worsened This Spring

Michael T. Nietzel:

The decline in college enrollment is worsening. According to a just released report by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center (NSCRC), total postsecondary enrollment, including both undergraduate and graduate students, decreased by 4.1% – equal to about 685,000 students – in spring 2022 compared to spring 2021. Overall postsecondary enrollment now stands at about 16.2 million students.

Added to the 3.5% drop that was seen in spring 2021, the overall two-year decline in college enrollment has reached 7.4%, or nearly 1.3 million students since spring 2020. The deepening slide dashed hopes that the worst of the pandemic-era erosion of enrollment was over and, instead, raised concerns that other factors – such as growing skepticism over the value of college – may be keeping students away.

Commentary on Madison’s behavior education plan

Scott Girard:

Simkin suggested one example is in the student use of cell phones in classrooms, something teachers have expressed concerns about this school year. The BEP already prohibits the use of unauthorized, non-educationally required devices that disrupt learning, but Simkin said that teachers “don’t have what they need to implement this and it’s greatly impacting the learning of students.”

“This is something huge that needs to be addressed this summer,” she said. “I don’t think this is something that waits until we work on implementation over the course of next year. We need to talk about the disruption of these devices.”

Much of the other criticism from board members Monday was grounded in a lack of data. Board member Christina Gomez Schmidt said she wanted to see how the moratorium on suspensions at elementary schools this school year affected schools before voting to put it in the plan.

“I was expecting when this came back to us that we would definitely have data about how that has been working this year,” she said. “We don’t have anything that you have given us to show us what these changes in policy have done in practice in the schools.”

Elizabeth Beyer:

But board member Nicki Vander Meulen pushed back against the proposed changes, saying the district hadn’t sought board input until the policy was finalized.

“The Behavior Education Plan needs to be formed with the board who runs the policy, not the administration. It has to be done with us, together,” Vander Meulen said. “(The BEP) doesn’t work, and our students who are most vulnerable are the ones who are getting bullied, the ones who aren’t feeling safe at school, are the ones who are paying the price.”

Board member Nichelle Nichols expressed concern about the lack of data presented along with the policy revisions and asked for a contingency plan if the district isn’t adequately staffed to make the BEP effective in the coming school year.

Mandates, closed schools and Dane County Madison Public Health.

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”

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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.

No When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?

COVID-19 Lockdowns Censored, Xi Jinping Propaganda, Netizens IP Locations Revealed (May 2022)

Freedom House:

This image shows one of several signs that were hung up on Huashan Road in Shanghai by three unknown individuals on the evening of April 17, with slogans mocking the CCP’s COVID-19 lockdown of the city. The banner shows a hand-painted WeChat error message that is displayed when a post has been censored, and reads, “This content cannot be viewed due to violations.” Several other signs criticizing the city’s draconian lockdown measures were hung before police removed them, though photos were widely shared online. The three individuals who hung the signs were reportedly detained by police for several hours and had their phones confiscated. (Credit: Unknown)

FIRE jumps into National free speech issues

Josh Gerstein

An advocacy group that has spent more than two decades fighting for free expression on college campuses is broadening its efforts to fight so-called cancel culture and other perceived threats to free speech across American society.

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education is renaming itself the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression and keeping the “FIRE” acronym as it launches a drive to promote greater acceptance of a diversity of views in the workplace, pop culture and elsewhere. Part of the push may challenge the American Civil Liberties Union’s primacy as a defender of free speech.

“The debt forgiveness would add $245 billion to federal government debt”

Josh Christensen:

The top 40 percent of wage earners hold the majority of student debt. Of student-debt holders between the ages of 25 and 40, the top 40 percent bears half of the total debt, meaning the richest young adults carry the most.

The liberal push for student debt cancellation comes as the United States faces 40-year high inflation and record-breaking gas prices, which have doubled since Biden took office in January 2021.

Feds Call on States to Stop Shielding Teachers Accused of Sex Misconduct With Students

Laura Camera:

“While nearly all educators act with extraordinary care and professionalism, many state-level policies and practices can and must be strengthened to ensure greater protections for our young people,” Deputy Assistant Secretary Ruth Ryder said in a statement. “Gaps in many of these policies and variability in policies between states remain significant challenges.”

The Education Department has been under increasing pressure to release the report, which was started during the Trump administration, by congressional lawmakers on both sides of the aisle who see this as a growing problem.

There is no national database for this type of incident. According to estimates by some advocacy groups, 95% of educator sexual misconduct cases are handled internally and not reported to law enforcement or reported by the media. A recent analysis of all local new stories by Fox News found that at least 135 teachers and teachers’ aides have been arrested on child sex-related crimes in 41 states between Jan. 1 and May 13.

Why the public has lost confidence in claims to authority; “we know best, continued”

Wall Street Journal:

All of this has been another failure of progressive economics. By focusing solely on macroeconomic demand, while ignoring supply-side and regulatory bottlenecks, their policies fueled the inflation we have today. They also ignored the role of excess money, forgetting economist Milton Friedman’s famous lesson. As President Biden declared in an April 2020 interview, “Milton Friedman isn’t running the show anymore.” That is one campaign promise he has kept.

Progressives pushed the same agenda for months even as evidence of inflation became too obvious to ignore. Inflation was supposedly “transitory.” The White House kept pressing its Build Back Better (BBB) plan for nearly $5 trillion in new spending—and even claimed it would be a cure for inflation.

No fewer than 17 Nobel prize winners in economics endorsed all this in a remarkable “open letter” last September. The White House broadcast the letter far and wide, and Mr. Biden referred to it often as an appeal to authority. “Because this agenda invests in long-term economic capacity and will enhance the ability of more Americans to participate productively in the economy, it will ease longer-term inflationary pressures,” said the letter.

We list the names of the letter’s signers nearby. They are all notable economists, and some have written for these pages. Since BBB didn’t pass, they can say the predictions in their letter were never tested. But their inability to see in September that inflation was already rising fast makes their claims almost worse as a failure of expertise. Annual inflation hit 6.2% in October last year and is now above 8%.

Notes on Media & Covid Data: Florida Edition

Wall Street Journal:

Now the Florida Department of Health Office of Inspector General has exonerated Mr. DeSantis. The IG interviewed more than a dozen people who worked with state Covid data, including Ms. Jones’s supervisors. None corroborated her claims.

Some said she had told them she was pressured to alter Covid case and death counts, but her allegations didn’t make sense to them, not least because she didn’t have access to the raw data to do so. Ms. Jones, a geographer by training who previously worked on hurricane tracking systems, merely assisted with the Covid data’s online dashboard.

“If the complainant or other DOH staff were to have falsified COVID-19 data on the dashboard, the dashboard would then not have matched the data in the corresponding final daily report,” the IG explained, adding that “such a discrepancy” would surely have been detected by Bureau of Epidemiology staff, researchers or the media. The IG found no truth to any of Ms. Jones’s accusations.

One reason so many Americans don’t trust the media is because they have figured out that partisan narratives drive too much reporting. We wish they were wrong.

Rates of functional mental illness are high in open societies and low in authoritarian ones.

Liah Greenfield

Since the 1990s, there has been talk of a mental-health epidemic in the U.S., particularly among young people. The mass shootings last month in Uvalde, Texas, and Buffalo, N.Y., carried out by 18-year-old gunmen, have heightened fears that something’s gone horribly wrong. But the problem isn’t new. American psychiatrists have been studying rates of functional mental illness, such as depressive disorders and schizophrenia, since the 1840s. These studies show that the ratio of those suffering from such diseases to the mentally healthy population has been consistently rising. 

Ten years ago, based on the annual Healthy Minds studyof college students, 1 in 5 college students was dealing with mental illness. Between 2013 and 2021, according to Healthy Minds, the share of U.S. college students affected by depression surged 135%. During the same period, the share of students afflicted by any psychiatric illness doubled to more than 40%. “America’s youth,” wrote journalist Neal Freyman in April, “are in the midst of a spiking mental health crisis, and public health experts are racing to identify the root causes before it gets even worse.”

How to Solve Big Problems: Bespoke Versus Platform Strategies

Atif Ansar & Bent Flyvbjerg:

How should government and business solve big problems? In bold leaps or in many smaller moves? We show that bespoke, one-off projects are prone to poorer outcomes than projects built on a repeatable platform. Repeatable projects are cheaper, faster, and scale at lower risk of failure. We compare evidence from 203 space missions at NASA and SpaceX, on cost, speed-to-market, schedule, and scalability. We find that SpaceX’s platform strategy was 10X cheaper and 2X faster than NASA’s bespoke strategy. Moreover, SpaceX’s platform strategy was financially less risky, virtually eliminating cost overruns. Finally, we show that achieving platform repeatability is a strategically diligent process involving experimental learning sequences. Sectors of the economy where governments find it difficult to control spending or timeframes or to realize planned benefits – e.g., health, education, climate, defence – are ripe for a platform rethink.

D.F. v. Harrisonburg City Public School Board

Alliance Defending Freedom:

Description:  The Harrisonburg City Public School Board in Virginia is usurping parents’ right to direct the upbringing of their children and forcing school staff to violate their religious beliefs by affirming the board’s view on gender identity. Upon a child’s request, school district policy requires staff to immediately begin using opposite-sex pronouns and forbids staff from sharing information with parents about their child’s request, instead instructing staff to mislead and deceive parents.

27 of America’s top 30 universities are raising tuition and fees for the next academic year.

Allie Simon ’22 and Emily Fowler ’23:

All 30 universities have raised prices at least once since the 2019-2020 academic year, which coincided with the COVID-19 outbreak in America. 

That school year aligned with the spring 2020 COVID-19 outbreak. 

Campus Reform analysis of 2019-2022 tuition figures from U.S. News & World Report found that Vanderbilt University increased its tuition the most in that timeframe. 

At the start of COVID-19, Vanderbilt charged $52,070. As of the 2022-2023 academic year, tuition at the Tennessee university is up approximately 11.64% from 2019-2020 to $58,130.

2022-2023 figures in the analysis come directly from the universities’ websites. 

Only Harvard University and Duke University have lowered tuition for the 2022-2023 academic year. The University of Michigan is keeping its same tuition rate.

The University of Virginia is decreasing its in-state tuition but is increasing its out-of-state tuition. 

The chart below tracks tuition and fee rates from the last four academic years. In-state and out-of-state tuition rates are both included for public universities.

Will COVID controls keep controlling us?

Justin E H Smith:

Under the new regime, a significant portion of the decisions that, until recently, would have been considered subject to democratic procedure have instead been turned over to experts, or purported experts, who rely for the implementation of their decisions on private companies, particularly tech and pharmaceutical companies, which, in needing to turn profits for shareholders, have their own reasons for hoping that whatever crisis they have been given the task of managing does not end.

Once again, in an important sense, much of this is not new: it’s just capitalism doing its thing. What has seemed unprecedented is the eagerness with which self-styled progressives have rushed to the support of the new regime, and have sought to marginalize dissenting voices as belonging to fringe conspiracy theorists and unscrupulous reactionaries. Meanwhile, those pockets of resistance—places where we find at least some inchoate commitment to the principle of popular will as a counterbalance to elite expertise, and where unease about technological overreach may be honestly expressed—are often also, as progressives have rightly but superciliously noted, hot spots of bonkers conspiracism.

This may be as much a consequence of their marginalization as a reason for it. What “cannot” be said will still be said, but it will be said by the sort of person prepared to convey in speaking not just the content of an idea, but the disregard for the social costs of coming across as an outsider. And so the worry about elite hegemony gets expressed as a rumor of Anthony Fauci’s “reptilian” origins, and the concern about technological overreach comes through as a fantasy about Bill Gates’s insertion of microchips into each dose of the vaccine. Meanwhile we are being tracked, by chips in our phones if not in our shoulders, and Fauci’s long record of mistakes should invite any lucid thinker to question his suitability for the role of supreme authority in matters of health.

Dissenters risk being labeled not only conspiracy theorists, but eugenicists or even advocates of genocide, should they venture any reflection on the costs and benefits of public health policy other than what we might call “COVID maximalism”: the view that we must keep social-distancing restrictions in place wherever there is any risk of harm to the elderly or immunocompromised, no matter what other risks such restrictions cause, whack-a-mole-like, to pop up in turn. But as anyone who is familiar with the literature in medical ethics, or who served on hospital ethics boards before the pandemic, can tell you: there has always been prioritization and triage, and this is not necessarily a reflection of injustice, though of course it can be that.

Interlochen & Epstein

“we know best” Covid was liberalism’s endgame

Matthew Crawford:

Throughout history, there have been crises that could be resolved only by suspending the normal rule of law and constitutional principles. A “state of exception” is declared until the emergency passes — it could be a foreign invasion, an earthquake or a plague. During this period, the legislative function is typically relocated from a parliamentary body to the executive, suspending the basic charter of government, and in particular the separation of powers.

The Italian political theorist Giorgio Agamben points out that, in fact, the “state of exception” has almost become the rule rather than the exception in the Western liberal democracies over the last century. The language of war is invoked to pursue ordinary domestic politics. Over the past 60 years in the United States, we have had the war on poverty, the war on drugs, the war on terror, the war on Covid, the war on disinformation, and the war on domestic extremism.

Work Requirements

Ryan Mac:

In his email to SpaceX employees, Mr. Musk told workers that they were required to “spend a minimum of 40 hours in the office per week.” Those who did not do so would be fired, he wrote in the memo, which was obtained by The New York Times.

“The more senior you are, the more visible must be your presence,” Mr. Musk said. “That is why I spent so much time in the factory — so that those on the line could see me working alongside them. If I had not done that, SpaceX would long ago have gone bankrupt.”

In his memo to Tesla’s executive staff, which was posted by two pro-Tesla Twitter accountsand which the billionaire appeared to confirm, Mr. Musk also wrote that “anyone who wishes to do remote work” must be in the office for a minimum of 40 hours a week. Those who decline should “depart Tesla,” he added.

Race based Medical School Scholarships

Do no harm:

Why are so many medical schools violating civil rights? That’s the question Do No Harm is asking in five complaints filed on Wednesday with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights. These schools offer scholarships that are eligible to people of certain races, which is incompatible with the Constitution and federal law.

The medical schools in question are affiliated with the University of Florida, the University of Oklahoma, the University of Utah, and the University of Minnesota, as well as the Medical College of Wisconsin. While more than 140 medical schools and institutions nationwide offer questionable scholarships, these five medical schools are particularly noteworthy.

Consider the scholarship at the University of Florida College of Medicine. It is available to members of certain “racial and ethnic populations.” They spell out what that means – people who are “African Americans and/or Black, American Indian, Alaska Native, Naive Hawaiian, Hispanic/Latinx, and Pacific Islander.” The application also asks for an applicant photograph!

Stereotype threat, gender and mathematics attainment: A conceptual replication of Stricker & Ward

Matthew Inglis:

Stereotype threat has been proposed as one cause of gender differences in post-compulsory mathematics participation. Danaher and Crandall argued, based on a study conducted by Stricker and Ward, that enquiring about a student’s gender after they had finished a test, rather than before, would reduce stereotype threat and therefore increase the attainment of women students. Making such a change, they argued, could lead to nearly 5000 more women receiving AP Calculus AB credit per year. We conducted a preregistered conceptual replication of Stricker and Ward’s study in the context of the UK Mathematics Trust’s Junior Mathematical Challenge, finding no evidence of this stereotype threat effect. We conclude that the ‘silver bullet’ intervention of relocating demographic questions on test answer sheets is unlikely to provide an effective solution to systemic gender inequalities in mathematics education.

Notes on Virginia’s Lower PRoficiency Requirements

Wall Street Journal:

“State leaders have lowered expectations for students and redefined success for both students and schools,” says the report, and that’s for sure. In 2017 the Virginia Board of Education reduced the importance of grade-level proficiency in school accreditation.

The education board also voted to lower proficiency standards on state exams. This has exacerbated Virginia’s “honesty gap,” which is the difference in student proficiency levels between state tests and the NAEP. While other states have closed these gaps, “Virginia is the only state to define proficiency on its fourth-grade reading test below the NAEP Basic level and also sets the lowest bars in the nation for fourth-grade math and eighth-grade reading,” says the report.

A correlation between higher tuition and diversity, INCLUSION and Equity

Maria Colombo:

A 2021 report by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) noted that Student Services costs “often also include diversity and inclusion initiatives.”

Corroborating Campus Reform’s findings in North Carolina, the ACTA report determined that, “Increases in per-student spending on instruction, administration, and student services were each correlated with an increase in tuition for the next academic year, even after controlling for levels of appropriations and institutional characteristics.”

At Duke, for example, the Office of Institutional Equity produces “Affirmative Action Plans,” DEI workshops, and trainings on anti-racism and microaggressions.

Duke also has a Center for Sexuality and Gender Diversity that, among other university-sponsored activities, hosts an annual “Coming Out Day”.

Wake Forest’s Intercultural Center hosts “Identity Development Initiatives” that include programs such as “Making Meaning of Men & Masculinities” and a “Women Encouraging Empowerment” group that “validate students’ value as members of the Wake Forest University community.”

UNC and NC State also dedicate substantial resources to such non-educational student services.

Taxpayer $, politicians and Student Debt

Wall Street Journal:

Obama Administration officials then complained the college wasn’t producing documents fast enough, and the Education Department cut off federal student aid. This drove Corinthian into bankruptcy and stranded tens of thousands of Corinthian students.

The Obama Administration then agreed to forgive $171 million in government loans for Corinthian students still in school. In 2016 a state judge handed Attorney General Harris a default judgment against Corinthian, which she flogged during her campaign for U.S. Senate. What a clever legal strategy: Bankrupt a company so it can’t defend itself.

But progressives, never satisfied, have demanded that the feds cancel the debt of every borrower who attended Corinthian since its founding in 1995. The Trump Administration refused this as a horrendous precedent that would let students off the hook for repaying loans if their college is accused of fraud.

The Biden Administration has no such qualms. On Wednesday the Education Department announced it would forgive $5.8 billion in debt for 560,000 former Corinthian students. “The action is the largest single loan discharge the Department has made in history,” the Department boasted, crediting Ms. Harris, who took a victory lap on Thursday at a press conference.

Has the ‘great resignation’ hit academia?

Virginia Gewin:

On 4 March, Christopher Jackson tweeted that he was leaving the University of Manchester, UK, to work at Jacobs, a scientific-consulting firm with headquarters in Dallas, Texas. Jackson, a prominent geoscientist, is part of a growing wave of researchers using the #leavingacademia hashtag when announcing their resignations from higher education. Like many, his discontent festered in part owing to increasing teaching demands and pressure to win grants amid lip-service-level support during the COVID-19 pandemic.

He is one of many academics who say the pandemic sparked a widespread re-evaluation of scientists’ careers and lifestyles. “Universities, spun up to full speed, expected the same and more” from struggling staff members, he says, who are now reassessing where their values lie. The demands add to long-standing discontent among early-career researchers, who must work longer and harder to successfully compete for a declining number of tenure-track or permanent posts at universities. And Jackson had another reason. He received what was, in his opinion, a racially insensitive e-mail that constituted harassment and alluded to using social media to police staff opinions, which, he says, was the last straw. Jackson filed a formal complaint and the University of Manchester responded: “The investigation has now concluded. We have made Professor Jackson aware of its findings as well as the recommendations and actions we will be taking forward as an institution.”

The crisis caused by an aggressive zero-Covid policy has shaken faith in the technocratic regime.

Chang Che:

Until 2022, Shanghai was called “the enchanted city.” It was a land of Gucci bags and French wine and weekend jogs along the Bund. It was a land of restless nights spent in the company of eclectic strangers. It was a land of coffee and convenience, of cloud-kissing skylines and flash-delivery bubble tea. There is an old cliché that the Shanghainese are an especially proud bunch, but it’s easy to see why: in a country with a xenophobic past and a revanchist nationalism, the cosmopolitan pleasures of the city bordered on the magical.

It was this pride that broke the magic spell. In March, when the Omicron variant penetrated China’s iron walls, other cities such as Shenzhen and Changchun locked down under a policy known as “dynamic zero-Covid,” which seeks to snuff out all virus transmissions. When cases began to rise in Shanghai, however, officials hesitated, believing China’s main financial hub too vital for a wholesale closure. They chose a retail approach, shuttering neighborhoods one by one as cases emerged. But by the end of March, it was clear the improvised plan had failed. As cases spilled into neighboring provinces, Beijing authorities took matters into their own hands. They ousted Shanghai’s more outspoken officials the way nature sent Icarus—wax-winged and recalcitrant—tumbling back to earth.

Twenty-five million residents—over twice the population of Greece—have paid the price ever since. For nearly two months, the city has been a ghost town. Shop front doors are bolted shut, and windows are strewn with black tarp. Sidewalks are hemmed by white tape, and neighborhood doors are patrolled by security guards. For an older generation who had witnessed the excesses of the Cultural Revolution, this was all too familiar. Food had to be rationed. Door-knocks became the stuff of nightmares. The Red Guards had returned—this time adorning white.

Civics: US Media Climate

Matt Taibbi:

So as we’re getting ready to go on the air — MSNBC president Erik Sorenson had hired me earlier — we had gone to the Super Bowl and were driving up to LA and he said something really interesting to me. He said, “You know when I hired you, I got phone calls from two people, way up in the echelon of the Dems and Repubs. I won’t tell you who they were.” He wouldn’t reveal it to me. But he said, “They wanted to know why we were giving you a national forum.”

Scientists Vs. Parents
The Pandora’s Box of Embryo Testing Is Officially Open

Carey Goldberg:

Simone Collins knew she was pregnant the moment she answered the phone. She was on her sixth round of in vitro fertilization treatments and had grown used to staffers at Main Line Fertility starting this kind of call with the words “Oh, hi, Simone,” in a subdued tone, voices brimming with sympathy. This time, though, on Valentine’s Day, the woman on the other end belted out a cheery “Oh, hi, Simone!” Embryo 3, the fertilized egg that Collins and her husband, Malcolm, had picked, could soon be their daughter—a little girl with, according to their tests, an unusually good chance of avoiding heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and schizophrenia.

This isn’t a story about Gattaca-style designer babies. No genes were edited in the creation of Collins’s embryo. The promise, from dozens of fertility clinics around the world, is just that the new DNA tests they’re using can assess, in unprecedented detail, whether one embryo is more likely than the next to develop a range of illnesses long thought to be beyond DNA-based predictions. It’s a new twist on the industry-standard testing known as preimplantation genetic testing, which for decades has checked embryos for rare diseases, such as cystic fibrosis, that are caused by a single gene.

Curricular Sausage making

Natalie Wexler:

No single ready-made curriculum can do all of that, she said. Wit & Wisdom has provided a crucial “backbone” of curriculum materials that build knowledge in a thoughtful sequence—and ideally teachers help students connect their own lives to whatever they’re studying. But the district has also supplemented Wit & Wisdom with a social studies curriculum it created called “BMore Me,” which highlights the role of Black and brown communities in Baltimore’s history.

One of the most gratifying results of the new curriculum, Santelises said, is hearing from parents who are impressed by what their children are learning: “Parents love knowing their children know something they don’t know. Particularly in communities that have been underserved by the institution of school, that ability to see that your child is moving further than you is a very human need.”

Under the previous curriculum, students often never even learned to sound out words, because teachers hadn’t been trained in the systematic phonics instruction that many kids need. Some teachers still resist phonics, but Santelises says it’s important to let them know that historically, some Blacks in the South were prevented from learning phonics as a way of ensuring their continued oppression.

“Deeply Troubling Aspects of Contemporary University Procedures”

Eugene Volokh:

“[T]hese threats to due process and academic freedom are matters of life and death for our great universities. It is incumbent upon their leaders to reverse the disturbing trend of indifference to these threats, or simple immobilization due to fear of internal constituencies of the ‘virtuous’ determined to lunge for influence or settle scores against outspoken colleagues.”

[A]s alleged, this case describes deeply troubling aspects of contemporary university procedures to adjudicate complaints under Title IX and other closely related statutes. In many instances, these procedures signal a retreat from the foundational principle of due process, the erosion of which has been accompanied—to no one’s surprise—by a decline in modern universities’ protection of the open inquiry and academic freedom that has accounted for the vitality and success of American higher education.

This growing “law” of university disciplinary procedures, often promulgated in response to the regulatory diktats of government, is controversial and thus far largely beyond the reach of the courts because of, among other things, the presumed absence of “state action” by so-called private universities. Thus insulated from review, it is no wonder that, in some cases, these procedures have been compared unfavorably to those of the infamous English Star Chamber.