Elections, K-12 Governance and Parent Choice

Mitchell Schmidt:

A new coalition of conservatives, policy groups and advocacy organizations has begun developing a package of education goals for the coming legislative session — with expanded school choice as a top priority — that could play a considerable role in the upcoming race for governor this November.

Officials with the Wisconsin Coalition for Education Freedom say the goal is to give parents and students more options. But the proposals also stand in stark contrast to priorities laid out by Democratic Gov. Tony Evers — setting up an education policy battle in the Nov. 8 election, in which Evers, a former educator and state superintendent who has opposed expanded private school vouchers, faces businessman Tim Michels, a Republican who has pledged to expand school choice offerings across Wisconsin.

People are also reading…

“The election is critically important,” said Susan Mitchell, a longtime advocate for school vouchers and founder of School Choice Wisconsin. “Gov. Evers, both as (Department of Public Instruction) superintendent and as governor, has repeatedly opposed the expansion of these programs. Tim Michels has made public a completely opposite sort of perspective, so it matters a lot in terms of getting things done.”

The coalition, launched Thursday, includes conservative groups Americans for Prosperity, Badger Institute and law firm Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty, as well as education stakeholders such as American Federation for Children, virtual education company K12/Stride, School Choice Wisconsin and Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, the state’s largest business lobbying organization.

The group did not provide specific legislative proposals, but officials told the Wisconsin State Journal the two biggest priorities will be “school choice for all families” and legislation seeking to establish a “Parental Bill of Rights,” letting parents sue a school district or school official if they don’t allow parents to determine the names and pronouns used for the child while at school, review instructional materials and outlines used by the child’s school and access any education-related information regarding the child, among other measures.

Evers vetoed a GOP-authored bill last session that would have extended those powers to parents, stating in an April 15 veto message he opposed it “because I object to sowing division in our schools, which only hurts our kids and learning in our classrooms.”

He also vetoed a measure that would have vastly expanded private school vouchers by eliminating the income limits in the statewide, Milwaukee County and Racine County private school voucher programs, as well as create a temporary education expense reimbursement program for public school students. A fiscal report estimated the bill could raise property taxes as much as $577 million.

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?

We must rededicate ourselves to the rule of law, to federalism, to free speech, to true tolerance, to the Bill of Rights, to liberty values.

Leslie McAdoo Gordon:

So, I am going to be taking a short break, starting tonight, to recharge & reorganize after my recent projects & also to prepare myself to take up these challenges. A new course requires a clearing of the decks, a re-stocking of provisions, & a re-rigging of the sails. 

I leave you for now with this observation from Elmer Davis:

“This republic was not established by cowards; and cowards will not preserve it.” 

We need now to screw up our courage and do what needs doing to preserve the Republic. No one else is going to do it for us.

It will not be easy. Nothing worth doing is.

Schools Are Back and Confronting Devastating Learning Losses

Scott Calvert:

elainey Tidwell says she loves reading. The tricky part for her is understanding the words on the page.

Though she returned to school in August 2020, repeated quarantines left her mostly on her own at home. Her father is a construction supervisor who has to be on site. Her mother works from home but gets few breaks during the day. Delainey sometimes had to care for her little sister during virtual school.

Delainey’s difficulty with comprehension is also hurting her in math class, where she struggles to understand word problems, said her mother, Danyal Tidwell, who pins some blame on the pandemic. “We want to give her every resource we can between school and home, because we want her caught up,” Mrs. Tidwell said.

For two years, schools and researchers have wrestled with pandemic-era learning setbacks resulting mostly from a lack of in-person classes. They are struggling to combat the learning loss, as well as to measure just how deep it is. Some answers to the second question are becoming clear. National data show that children who were learning to read earlier in the pandemic have the lowest reading proficiency rates in about 20 years.

The U.S. Department of Education last Thursday released data showing that from 2020 to 2022, average reading scores for 9-year-olds slid 5 points—to 215 out of a possible 500—in the sharpest decline since 1990. Average math scores fell 7 points to 234, the first statistically significant decline in math scores since the long-term trend assessments began in the 1970s.

Texas A&M offers $100K bonus for minority professors only

Aaron Sibarium:

The largest public university in the United States is reserving faculty positions based on race and making six-figure bonuses available exclusively to minorities, programs that are now the subject of a class action lawsuit.

As part of a new initiative to attract “faculty of color,” Texas A&M University set aside $2 million in July to be spent on bonuses for “hires from underrepresented minority groups,” according to a memo from the university’s office of diversity. The max bonus is $100,000, and eligible minority groups are defined by the university to include “African Americans, Hispanic/Latino Americans, Native Americans, Alaskan Natives, and Native Hawaiians.”

Taxpayer Funded Wisconsin DPI Preschool Gender Documents

DPI Commentary:

“The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction supports and advocates for all Wisconsin students, and that includes our trans and nonbinary students of all ages, as well as their cisgender classmates,” Bucher said. “Creating safe spaces by affirming identities benefits every student, and part of high-quality education is learning about different perspectives and lived experiences.”

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?

Where is the federal taxpayer k-12 “windfall” being spent?

Charley Locke:

Some have been pushed to take more inventive approaches to solve the staffing shortages. In Philadelphia, during a districtwide bus-driver shortage, the district paid families $300 a month to drive their kids to and from school. Atlanta Public Schools used nearly $2.2 million to provide on-site child care for 1,800 teachers to enable them to staff summer programs. Sometimes, retaining teachers has come at the cost of other planned investments: the Alamance-Burlington School System in North Carolina planned to spend $36 million on HVAC upgrades; amid severe staff shortages last fall, it put $10 million of that money toward teacher bonuses instead. 

Once they’ve hired the staff, districts have tended to focus on three approaches to addressing learning loss: summer learning, intensive tutoring and extending the school day, often through after-school programs. According to Burbio, 62 percent of districts plan on summer learning or after-school programs, allocating $1.7 million on average; 23 percent are planning on tutoring, with average spending of $1.4 million. The cost and scale are often staggering. With $27 million, Baltimore created an enormous summer-school program, hiring over a thousand educators to teach 15,000 students at 75 different sites and conduct more than 3,000 home visits. Dallas will spend close to $100 million to extend learning opportunities for nearly 22,000 students, including reinventing the school calendar. Instead of an annual 10-week vacation, a fifth of the district’s campuses will add five weeklong “intersessions” across the calendar, during which students who have fallen behind can still attend school and receive more personalized attention.

But however much sense it might make to address lost learning by expanding time in the classroom, a longer school year or summer school often aren’t politically feasible. In their advocacy on behalf of exhausted, burned-out teachers, unions often protest proposals that require more work from educators, whether a shorter summer, longer school days or mandatory tutoring. Parents themselves often aren’t much interested in tutoring and summer school, particularly when they think their kids aren’t struggling. Many educators are still grading students on a pandemic-adjusted curve, which may be skewing parents’ understanding of the extent to which the crisis has hampered their own children’s educational progress. According to a recent Brookings Institution report, 90 percent of parents responded that their child was doing well academically; less than a quarter were interested in summer school and only 28 percent in tutoring.

Objections from educators and apathy from parents often dilute proposals to add school hours to the point that they become ineffective. In the spring, the Los Angeles Unified School District considered a proposal to lengthen the upcoming school year by two weeks. After opposition from the teachers’ union and lukewarm support from families, the Board of Education instead voted in favor of adding four optional days of school for students, citing the widespread exhaustion among educators. “Students in Los Angeles will have lost the equivalent of 22 weeks of typical math learning,” says Thomas Kane, the faculty director of Harvard’s Center for Education Policy Research. “There is no way you can make up for 22 weeks of lost learning with four optional days.”

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?

Columbia Acknowledges Reporting Incorrect Figures in Past U.S. News Ranking:

Wall Street Journal:

In response to the concerns raised by Professor Michael Thaddeus on his faculty website, the school said in Junethat it would review past years’ data submissions and wouldn’t participate in this year’s U.S. News & World Report ranking of the nation’s best colleges. …

Also Friday, the school released two sets of numbers for what is known as the Common Data Set, a standardized set of figures that schools can voluntarily publish detailing information about student enrollment, graduation rates, financial aid and faculty, among other subjects [Understanding Columbia’s Common Data Set].

Usually, giving stuff away is a winning political strategy. But that’s not an iron law.

Frederick M. Hess

Biden’s calculus is simple. He’s giving up to $20,000 in taxpayer money to millions of college-educated borrowers, whom Democrats trust to be appropriately grateful. Meanwhile, the cost will be borne by, well, everyone, including children and grandchildren who aren’t yet with us. The politics here are those of sugar subsidies— concentrated, visible benefits and dispersed, ephemeral costs. Most of the time, this kind of politics pays off.

Is there any reason to think things might work differently in this case? Maybe.

Recall that it took some time for the political consequences of Dobbs to shake out. Indeed, the very reasons that Dobbs aids Democrats might suggest why loan forgiveness could cut the other way.

Both Dobbs and loan forgiveness raise hard questions regarding the motives of those upending the status quo. Democrats have effectively used Dobbs to suggest that the right is willing to trample on individual rights in pursuit of some kind of Handmaid’s Tale-style theocracy. Biden’s loan maneuver was tailor-made to fuel the suspicion that Democrats are contemptuous of personal responsibility and intent on catering to woke kids with graduate degrees. 

Both hint at slippery slopes. Dobbs raised the specter that the Supreme Court might revisit other decisions governing gay marriage and privacy. The audacious illegality of Biden’s move and the calls for more from the progressive back-benchers feed the suspicion that Democrats will be itching to do a reprise in the future.

Student-Loan Forgiveness Raises a Question About College

Jason Riley:

Economists call it the “fallacy of composition,” which is the assumption that what’s true for members of a group must also be true for the group as a whole. To use a popular example: It’s true that if someone stands up in a football stadium, that person will be able to see better. But it’s not true that if everyone stands up, everyone will have a better view.

Much public support for President Biden’s student-loan forgiveness plan rests on the same faulty logic. Just because some will benefit from a four-year degree in pay and choice of jobs, it doesn’t follow that everyone will. Yes, the student-debt problem stems from the dramatic rise in college costs in recent decades. But it’s also a function of too many young people who have little to gain from four more years of classroom instruction being tempted to take out loans and attend college anyway.

Tuition is about 20% of the total cost of attending college, and increases in tuition subsidies track closely with colleges raising their prices. In addition to being legally dubious and economically reckless, Mr. Biden’s debt-cancellation plan will create incentives for schools and potential borrowers alike to act in ways that exacerbate the problem. But the worst part might be that it will also encourage more young people to make poor decisions about their future.

The college-for-all advocates note that degree-holders tend to earn more, but as the economist Richard Vedder explains in his 2019 book on higher education, “Restoring the Promise,” first you must graduate, and 40% of the people who attend college don’t finish. Moreover, “college graduates with poor academic performance, graduating in the bottom quartile of their class, earn roughly the same after graduation as high school graduates.” These former college students must then pay back student debt with earnings equivalent to those of someone with only a high-school diploma.

“Because I can be smart, and I don’t have to pretend”

Wishkub Kinepoway

I wanted diversity. I wanted my children to see, like, different nationalities. I wanted them to feel included. And I also wanted, like – I’m an educator, so I have an education background with early childhood, and I just wanted intentional learning experiences for my children.

I was actually unfamiliar with what a choice school was. I really didn’t have a connection. I didn’t have a source. I didn’t have anybody to say, “Do step one, two and three.” It was an emotional rollercoaster. I wanted the best for my kids, but how do I get there?

I really truly – I went down on my hands and knees praying, like I need something different for my children. And I spent days crying, trying to figure X, Y, and Z out. I kind of like did everything, and then I just, kind of like, threw my hands in the air, and I just left it to the universe. Whatever happens from here, I did my part. 

And so, we did it, and we got accepted, every child got accepted, and I was like, it’s a weight that lifts off of you. Like you’ve been accepted to the choice.

I have a 10-year-old who is going into fifth grade starting tomorrow, and I have a 13-year-old who will be entering eighth grade tomorrow at St. Marcus. My son attends Martin Luther High School in Greendale.

Without Choice, I could not have afforded to send my children to St. Marcus or Martin Luther. It’s money well spent. I would agree, both as a professional, as a parent and from a personal standpoint. I couldn’t be more thankful for this opportunity.

It would just be the over-excelling academic piece that I was like, this is what they need – the challenge. And he (my son) plays sports, so for us choosing Martin Luther specifically is their academics are really high, but their sports program is really good, too.

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?

Schoolchildren Are Not ‘Mere Creatures of the State’

Robert Pondiscio

In 1925, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned an Oregon law requiring that parents or guardians send their children to public school in the districts where they lived. The Society of Sisters, which ran private academies, claimed that the law interfered with the right of parents to choose religious instruction for their children. The Court agreed, unanimously. States are permitted to run and regulate schools, even to require that all children receive an adequate education. But the Justices held that the state may not “unreasonably interfere with the liberty of parents and guardians to direct the upbringing and education of children under their control.”

The decision in Pierce v. the Society of Sisters featured one of the more memorable turns of phrase in Supreme Court history. “The child is not the mere creature of the State,” wrote Justice James C. McReynolds. “The fundamental theory of liberty upon which all governments in this Union repose excludes any general power of the State to standardize its children by forcing them to accept instruction from public teachers only.”

The notion that the state must not interfere with parents and their right to direct their children’s upbringing and education has cast a long shadow over U.S. education. But now, nearly a century after Pierce, the state seems increasingly inclined to relitigate the matter—if not in court, then in practice and policy in America’s public schools. There is a rising and unmistakable tendency on the part of teachers and school districts to assume that government is better positioned than a child’s parents to judge what’s best for children and to act on that assumption, often aggressively, making critical decisions about children’s upbringing and well-being without their parents’ consent or even their knowledge.

There have been myriad recent examples of schools imposing their staffs’ ideological preferences, and in so doing being disingenuous or openly dishonest about critical race theory, trangenderism, “social and emotional learning” programs, and other controversial aspects of school curriculum and culture. The picture that has begun to emerge is of an education establishment straying beyond its remit, emboldened to ignore parents, and determined to subvert local control of schools to advance a social-justice agenda. “It’s infuriating, it’s harmful to children, and it’s unacceptable,” says Vernadette Broyles, an attorney and the founder of the Child and Parental Rights Campaign. “And it’s contrary to law.”

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 most-regretted college majors

Andrew Van Dam:

The regretters include a healthy population of liberal arts majors, who may be responding to pervasive social cues. When he delivered his 2011 State of the Union address in the shadow of the Great Recession, former president Barack Obama plugged math and science education and called on Americans to “out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build the rest of the world.” Since then, the number of new graduates in the arts and humanities has plunged.

Most Americans Support Student Debt Forgiveness Until They Think About It

Eric Boehm:

A new poll shows that President Joe Biden’s decision to forgive $10,000 in student loan debt for many individuals who borrowed money from the federal government to pay for college (and $20,000 for those with need-based Pell Grants) is broadly popular—as long as people don’t think about the scheme’s knock-on effects. Once the potential consequences—including higher inflation and rising college tuition costs, are taken into account—support for student debt forgiveness craters, even among self-identified Democrats.

“Support for cancelling federal student loan debt plummets when Americans consider its trade-offs,” writes Emily Ekins, director of polling for the libertarian Cato Institute, which published polling data on student debt forgiveness Thursday. The Cato/YouGov survey includes more than 2,300 Americans and was conducted over six days in mid-August, just prior to the White House’s August 24 announcement of the student loan forgiveness plan.

The results are striking. While 64 percent of respondents (and 88 percent of Democrats) back student loan forgiveness of $10,000 for individuals earning up to $150,000 annually, those totals fall significantly once potential consequences are introduced.

Higher Education Reform

Tyler Cowen

Critics of the policy see it as rewarding Democratic supporters and interest groups, including university faculty and administrators but most of all students. This perception, regardless of whether it’s true, will influence political behavior…

Republicans, when they hold political power, are likely to strike back. They may be more interested in draining the sector of revenue. The simplest way of doing this would be to limit tuition hikes in state universities. De facto tuition caps are already common, but they may become tighter and more explicit, especially in red and purple states. Such policies might also prove popular with voters, especially during a time of high inflation.

A second set of reforms might limit the ability of public universities to spend money on hiring more administrators, including people who work on so-called DEI issues. Given the fungibility of funds, and the ability of administrators to retitle new positions, such restrictions may not be entirely enforceable. Still, they would mean less autonomy for public universities as policy in many states tried to counteract their current leftward swing.

“Wisconsin, on the other hand, has barely moved the needle on NAEP scores in 30 years” mulligans reign…

Charles Smith:

The percentage of students who performed at or above the proficient level in reading was 36% in 2019, 35% in 2017 and 34% in 1998. While Wisconsin’s numbers remain higher than Mississippi’s, the trend line is flat.

Further, Black fourth-graders in Mississippi are outperforming Black fourthgraders in Wisconsin in reading, portending what’s to come in other academic measurements as the students age. And while Black students in Mississippi averaged a reading score 21 percentage points lower than White students — nothing to be content with — the performance gap was 39 points in Wisconsin, a chasm that is both shocking and familiar.

“We have done virtually nothing to close the Black-white gap,” said state Rep. LaKeshia Myers, a Milwaukee Democrat.

Nationally, a just-released NAEP report, the first to gauge the impact of the COVID pandemic, shows a national drop in scores. State by state results will come later. Still, while far from perfect, Mississippi appears to offer lessons on how reading improvements can be achieved.

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: “Fundraising at this scale is expensive”

Sun Times:

The new 990 report shows that since the foundation was created in 2014, when Obama was still in office, the foundation has raised $866.4 million

The foundation reported on its 990 that in 2021, the Obama Foundation collected $159.6 million in contributions and grants. That’s down from 2020 when the foundation gained $171 million in gifts…. (snip)

Fundraising at this scale is expensive: Overall, 21.95% of the foundation operating expenses were for fundraising, with 54.8% on programs and 23.22% on general administration.

More, here:

Kids Know How to Get Around iPhone and iPad Parental Controls. Here’s How to Regain Control.

Julie Jargon:

Based on my conversations, here are some common workarounds children use in their attempts to bypass Apple’s Screen Time restrictions:

Changing the time zone. Setting the device to an earlier time zone can fool Downtime, the Screen Time function that prevents users from accessing a device’s apps after a preset time. Apple was supposed to have fixed this in iOS 15, but the trick sometimes still works on iPhones and iPads.

I tested it out on my daughter’s iPad Pro, which was running the slightly older iPadOS 15.5. I scheduled downtime to begin at 8:25 a.m. Pacific. At that time, all the apps went gray and I couldn’t open them. But when I changed the device’s time zone to Honolulu’s, three hours behind me in California—bingo!—I was able to open any app.

I updated the tablet to the latest version of iPadOS, 15.6.1, and the time-zone hack no longer worked.

Chris McKenna, founder of internet-safety company Protect Young Eyes, has been informing Apple of Screen Time hacks for years. When he scheduled downtime on his up-to-date iPhone and then changed the time zone to an earlier one, he was still able to access all his apps. (This might be because he is the admin for his Family Sharing group.)

“Chinese state is strong because it reigns without a society”

The author is Hasheng Huang of MIT and the subtitle is Examination, Autocracy, Stability, and Technology in Chinese History and Today. Forthcoming from Yale University Press in 2023. Excerpt:

For many years, I struggled to come up with a coherent explanation for the power, the reach, and the policy discretion of the Chinese state.  There is coercion, ideological indoctrination, and probably a fair amount of societal consent as well.

Keju [the civil service exam system] had a deep penetration both cross-sectionally in society and across time in history. It was all encompassing, laying claims to time, efforts and cognitive investments of a significant swath of Chinese population. It was incubatory of values, norms, and cognitions, therefore impacting ideology and epistemology of Chinese minds. It was a state institution designed to augment the power and the capabilities of the state. Directly, the state monopolized the very best human capital; indirectly, the state deprived society access to talent and preempted organized religion, commerce, and intelligentsia. The Chinese state in history and today is an imprinted version of this Keju system.

Commentary on politics and taxpayer supported k-12 schools

Karol Markowicz

A few weeks ago, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was asked about the abysmal results of the National Assessment of Educational Progress regarding 9-year-olds. “The nation’s report card,” as the assessment’s crafters like it to be known, had found the sharpest drop ever in mathematics and the steepest decline in reading in over 30 years.

There was no way to escape the damning implications of the extended COVID-19 school closures or Democrats’ owning the lion’s share of the blame for them, so Jean-Pierre tried to deflect: “In less than six months, our schools went from 46% to nearly all of them open to full time. That was the work of this president, and that was the work of Democrats in spite of Republicans not voting for the American Rescue Plan, [of] which $130 billion went to schools to be able to have the ventilation, to have the tutoring and the teachers and being able to hire more teachers, and that was because of the work that this administration did.”

This is a lie Democrats are increasingly telling themselves and anyone who will listen because they need the villains of this particular story to somehow be transformed in the public’s imagination into the heroes. The arsonists want to be remembered as the firefighters.

But the reality wholeheartedly refutes the spin. Before President Joe Biden even took office in January 2021, he set a very unambitious goal to get schools open in the first 100 days. One problem: That 100-day goal meant children would finally head back to regular school in May, right around the time schools around the country were shutting down for the summer. In the end, it wouldn’t matter. The 100-day plan would run headlong into the same roadblock that had kept schools closed before Biden became president: Randi Weingarten, the head of the American Federation of Teachers who had directed the Democratic officials in her pocket to fall in line.

During a press briefing on Feb. 9, 2021, then-press secretary Jen Psaki suddenly backtracked on what “open schools” meant to the president. “His goal that he set is to have the majority of schools, so more than 50%, open by Day 100 of his presidency. And that means some teaching in classrooms, so at least one day a week. Hopefully, it’s more. And obviously, it is as much as is safe in each school and local district.” Asked to clarify, Psaki answered, “Well, teaching at least one day a week in the majority of schools by Day 100.”

My mother was the most formative person in my life.

Emily Oster:

My mother had a gift for these hard conversations, to be clear and honest while not being unkind. There are a million examples for me of this, when I think of it. Once, when a close friend’s boyfriend broke up with her the year we graduated from college, my mom said to her, “I know this seems like a big deal now, but I’m telling you: it’s not.” My friend remembers that interaction not as harsh but as kind, honest. Of course, it was also true. 

The one example I always come back to, though, is the time that my mother brought one of her favorite MBA students into her office and told her she needed to upgrade her wardrobe before starting her job in investment banking. Mom even found a fellow MBA student, a friend, to take her shopping. (I think we might all have wished this conversation wasn’t necessary, but my mother was practical, and she was deeply worried that this fixable, external issue would get in the way of the student’s success.) This cannot have been an easy thing to say, or to hear. But it was kind, if not especially nice.

She was so good at these hard conversations that even when she had retired, she’d occasionally be asked to come back to have one of them, when no one else could do it. Her magic wasn’t just the willingness to have the conversation but the ability to make clear that it wasn’t with malice, it wasn’t to be mean

I think about this all the time. Mentoring students, in particular, requires these conversations frequently. Be clear, I channel. Be kind.

Wealthy Families Stick With Full-Time Tutors Hired Early in Pandemic

Douglas Belkin:

Now, as the pandemic disruptions wane, many of these families aren’t going back, opting instead to stick with personalized curricula and private instruction. The model, once limited to the very wealthy, is being adopted by families in the upper middle class, according to private-tutor placement companies and their clients.

Many children have endured months of stalled academic progress as a result of the disruptions caused by the pandemic. Last week national fourth-grade reading and math scores revealed the worst decline in decades, one that some educators said could hobble a generation of children.

That stalled progress, combined with teacher shortages, school-board political divisions and classroom disruptions, has for many fueled a flight out of K-12 schools to home schooling and private schools.

Adam Caller, who founded Tutors International in Oxford, England, 23 years ago, said too few schools impart the skills necessary to succeed in a rapidly evolving society, and his clients want a more forward thinking approach to prepare their children to be leaders.

America’s indifference to its death crisis

Edward Luce:

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alling life expectancy is the last thing you would expect on a worry list about US national security. Yet when it is dropping as fast as it is in the US — Americans live almost five years less than the wealthy country average — even the Pentagon has to sit up. At 76, Americans now live shorter lives than their peers in China and only a year longer than the citizens of supposedly benighted Mexico. People in Japan, Italy and Spain, on the other hand, can expect to live until around 84. Your people’s longevity is the ultimate test of a system’s ability to deliver. Yet neither Democrats nor Republicans, presidents or legislators, seem too bothered.

Do Americans no longer care how long they live? The answer is obviously no. Yet concern about the country’s falling lifespan is barely reflected in its politics. It is as though Washington has turned a blind eye to the issue that captures the deepest trends behind America’s democratic woes. Terms such as “deaths of despair” and “obesity epidemic” are in frequent use. But America’s shortening lifespan seems too big a subject for Washington to acknowledge. US life expectancy has fallen in six of the last seven years and is now almost three years below what it was in 2014. The last time it fell in consecutive years was during the first world war. In most other democracies this would trigger a national debate.

What explains US indifference? The biggest drivers of America’s morbid trajectory are politically hard to confront — rising obesity, the opioid epidemic and Covid. Over 40 per cent of US adults are now classified as obese — a problem that keeps getting worse. More than half of American adults suffer from a chronic condition, most of which are associated with obesity, such as diabetes, hypertension and heart problems. A quarter suffer from two or more of these conditions. This partly explains America’s unusually high death rate from coronavirus. Almost two-thirds of Americans hospitalised with Covid were suffering from at least one pre-existing condition. The pathogen was working in fertile territory. America’s obesity rate is by far the highest among wealthy countries.

Choose life.

“I can’t guarantee the carpenter down the street a margin,” he said. “I really don’t think we should be guaranteeing Wall Street… by guaranteeing them a zero or near zero interest rate environment.”

Matt Taibbi:

Hoenig’s clipped remarks didn’t land with the fanfare of Bryan’s grandiloquent oratory. In fact, it’s hard to imagine two men with less in common, stylistically. Hoenig was and is a reserved former soldier and number-cruncher who disdained limelight and believed in economy in all things, including words, while Bryan was a man born for the soapbox. Moreover, in a misdiagnosis that that persists to this day, Hoenig’s remarks were criticized as the tightwad meanderings of a hard-money reactionary, an impression that grew stronger when “The Fed’s dissident” was lionized in congressional hearings by the likes of “End the Fed” campaigner and gold-standard advocate Ron Paul. If Bryan wanted to loosen the money supply, and Hoenig wanted to rein it in, what linked them? What could American history’s prototype populist possibly share with a fusty economic traditionalist like Hoenig?

In fact there were similarities. Hoenig’s critics tended to see things backwards, pegging beliefs of his we’d now recognize as economic populism as conservatism, and more importantly mis-labeling the bank-friendly, trickle-down policies of Bernanke as liberal progressivism. This radical switcheroo, turning traditional perceptions of liberalism and conservatism on their head, soon spread to non-financial arenas, as elite officials pitched themselves as progressives, deriding opponents as conspiracist reactionaries. Hoenig is essentially patient zero of this phenomenon, and his story is explained brilliantly in The Lords of Easy Money, in my mind the first book that makes the inner workings of the Fed truly accessible to ordinary readers. 

Leonard gets particularly high marks because the Fed — whose officials always used dullness and inscrutability to deflect public scrutiny — is nearly impossible to make interesting and understandable. Leonard pulls it off. A neophyte will come away from The Lords of Easy Money understanding the mechanics of money creation, and the bank’s awesome influence in widening the wealth gap and driving political divisions.

Suit Uncovers Army of Federal Bureaucrats Coercing Social-Media Companies to Censor Speech

NCLA:

Discovery has unveiled an army of federal censorship bureaucrats, including officials arrayed at the White House, HHS, DHS, CISA, the CDC, NIAID, the Office of the Surgeon General, the Census Bureau, the FDA, the FBI, the State Department, the Treasury Department, and the U.S. Election Assistance Commission. Communications show these federal officials are fully aware that the pressure they exert is an effective and necessary way to induce social-media platforms to increase censorship. The head of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency even griped about the need to overcome social-media companies’ “hesitation” to work with the government.

These actions have precipitated an unprecedented rise in censorship and suppression of free speech—including core political speech—on social-media platforms. Many viewpoints and speakers have been unlawfully and unconstitutionally silenced or suppressed in the modern public square. This unlawful government interference violates the fundamental right of free speech for all Americans, whether or not they are on social media. More discovery is needed to uncover the full extent of this regime—i.e., the identities of other White House and agency officials involved and the nature and content of their communications with social-media companies.

“It wasn’t so much the students speaking; it’s the institution accepting that statement uncritically”

Anemona Hartocollis:

Sometimes you have to take a step back.”

Professor Hutchens said it also made a difference that Gibson’s was a small family business, not a large multinational corporation like Walmart or Amazon, which would be better able to sustain the economic losses from such a protest.

Oberlin is a small liberal arts college with a reputation for turning out students who are strong in the arts and humanities and for its progressive politics, leaning heavily on its history of being a stop on the Underground Railroad as well as one of the first colleges to admit Black students. Tuition at Oberlin is more than $61,000 a year, and the overall cost of attendance tops $80,000 a year. The college is also very much part of the town, which is economically dependent on the school and its students. The bakery, across the street from the college, sold donuts and chocolates, and was considered a must-eat part of the Oberlin dining experience.

The incident that started the dispute unfolded in November 2016, when a student tried to buy a bottle of wine with a fake ID while shoplifting two more bottles by hiding them under his coat, according to court papers.

….

After the 2019 jury award against Oberlin, Carmen Twillie Ambar, the college president, said that the case was far from over and that “none of this will sway us from our core values.” The college said then that the bakery’s “archaic chase-and-detain policy regarding suspected shoplifters was the catalyst for the protests.”

But in its statement on Thursday, Oberlin hinted that the protracted and bitter fight had undermined its relationship with the people and businesses in the surrounding community.

“We value our relationship with the city of Oberlin,” its statement said. “And we look forward to continuing our support of and partnership with local businesses as we work together to help our city thrive.”

Commentary:

The highest-rated comment (by a lot) quotes “Archaic chase-and-detain policy” and asks “What should a storekeeper do about a shoplifter?” Good question. Is the answer that what’s not archaic is not to have any sort of shop that is open to the public?

Anyway, I’m glad the bakery is getting its money, and I hope colleges learn how to support student speech without joining the speech. Only join the speech if you stand behind it. Your speech is your speech. You’re not absolved from your lies because you were echoing what somebody else said. That should have been obvious all along.

National test results reveal the damage from school closures.

Wall Street Journal:

You’d think this would be cause for reflection by our education elites, but no such luck. Media headlines blamed “the pandemic,” as if Covid-19 ran America’s school districts and decided to force students to sit at home in front of screens for more than a year. Educators—as they call themselves—did that.

National Center for Education Statistics Commissioner Peggy Carr had a grab-bag of excuses for the tragic learning loss: “School shootings, violence, and classroom disruptions are up, as are teacher and staff vacancies, absenteeism, cyberbullying, and students’ use of mental health services. This information provides some important context for the results we’re seeing from the long-term trend assessment.”

She missed the “classroom disruptions” of not being able to go to class at all.

American Federation of Teachers chief Randi Weingarten, who pushed shutdowns as long as she possibly could before parents revolted, tried to forget this ever happened with her statement on Twitter: “Thankfully after two years of disruption from a pandemic that killed more than 1 mil Americans, schools are already working on helping kids recover and thrive. This is a year to accelerate learning by rebuilding relationships, focusing on the basics.” But she and her union were the chief disrupters.

6 takeaways from a new report on Philadelphia’s property tax system

Max Marin and Kasturi Pananjady:

Philadelphia’s latest property reassessment represents “a key moment” for Philadelphia, according to a new report from Pew Charitable Trusts, with the city’s total combined property value rising to $204 billion, up from $168 billion just three years ago.

The report comes amid controversy over thefirst citywide reassessment in three years — and property owners’ frustration over resulting tax hikes. Public opinion of the city’s property tax remains low, with residents scoring it in a Pew poll as one of the most unfair levies. Among large cities in the country, Philadelphia has one of the highest home-ownership rates — both generally and among low-income homeowners in particular.

» READ MORE: Philly property assessments are systemically inaccurate in Black and low-income neighborhoods

Pew Charitable Trusts, a nonprofit and nonpartisan policy think tank that conducts research on issues in Philadelphia, released the report Thursday.Here are six key takeaways:

Philly’s property tax revenue grew 60% in the last decade

Despite ongoing problems with the city’s property tax system, revenue is booming.

Annual revenues collected from property taxes have skyrocketed from just over $1 billion in 2010 to more than $1.6 billion in 2021, a period in which the city implemented four rate increases and multiple reassessments that led to higher tax bills for many property owners.

“All I know is we didn’t get the truth”

Walter Kirn:

It does impart information, strictly speaking, but not always information about our world. Or not good information, because it’s so often wrong, particularly on matters of great import and invariably to the advantage of the same interests, which suggests it should be presumed wrong as a rule. The information it imparts, if one bothers to sift through it, is information about itself; about the purposes, beliefs, and loyalties of those who produce it: the informing class. They’re not the ruling class — not quite — but often they’re married to it or share therapists or drink with it at Yale Bowl football games. They’re cozy, these tribal cousins. They cavort. They always have. What has changed is that the press used to maintain certain boundaries in the relationship, observing the incest taboo. It kept its pants zipped, at least in public. It didn’t hire ex-CIA directors, top FBI men, NSA brass, or other past and future sources to sit beside its anchors at spot-lit news-desks that blocked our view of their lower extremities. But it gave in. 

I’m stipulating these points, I’m not debating them, so log off if you find them too extreme. Go read more bullshit. Immerse yourself in news of Russian plots to counterfeit presidential children’s laptops, viruses spawned in Wuhan market stalls, vast secret legions of domestic terrorists flashing one another the OK sign in shadowy parking lots behind Bass Pro Shops experiencing “temporary” inflation, and patriotic tech conglomerates purging the commons of untruths. Comfort yourself with the thoughts that the same fortunes engaged in the building of amusement parks, the production and distribution of TV comedies, and the provision of computing services to the defense and intelligence establishments, have allied to protect your family’s health, advance the causes of equity and justice, and safeguard our democratic institutions. Dismiss as cynical the notion that you, the reader, are not their client but their product. Your data for their bullshit, that’s the deal. And Build Back Better. That’s the sermon.

Pious bullshit, unceasing. But what to do?

One reason to stick with the premium name-brand bullshit is to deconstruct it. What lines are the propagandists pushing now? Where will they lead? How blatant will they get? Why are the authors so weirdly fearless? The other day when Cuba erupted in protests, numerous stories explained the riots, confidently, instantly, as demands for COVID vaccines. The accompanying photos didn’t support this claim; they featured ragged American flags and homemade signs demanding freedom. One wire-service headline used the protests to raise concerns about viral spread in crowds. A puzzling message. It wasn’t meant for the defiant Cubans, who weren’t at liberty to read it and whose anger at their rulers clearly outweighed their concerns about contagion. It had to be aimed at English-speaking Americans. But to what end? American protests of the previous summer hadn’t raised such cautions from the press. To the contrary. Our riots, if one could call them that (and one could not at many companies) were framed as transcendent cries for justice whose risks to public health were negligible, almost as though moral passion enhances immunity. And maybe it does, but why not in Cuba, too? To me, the headline only made sense in the context of the offensive against domestic “vaccine hesitancy” and its alleged fascist-bumpkin leaders. The Reuters writer had seen in Cuba’s revolt a chance to glancingly editorialize against rebelliousness of another type. The type its staff abhors day in, day out, no matter what’s happening in Cuba, or, for that matter, in America. The bullshit is consistent in this way, reducing stories of every kind into nitrogen-rich soil for the same views. These views feel unusually ferocious now, reflecting the convictions of those on high that they should determine the fates of those on low with minimal backtalk and no laughter. Because science. Because Putin. Democracy. Because we’re inside your phones and know your names.

Derailed by Diversity

Richard Thompson Ford:

Most observers of the Supreme Court expect that it will declare affirmative action unconstitutional next year in Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard College and Students for Fair Admissions v. University of North Carolina. The plaintiff’s case isn’t strong. Asian American students are admitted in lower numbers than their grades and standardized-test scores alone would predict, but most of the statistical disparity is attributable not to affirmative action but to admissions considerations such as regional diversity, athletic talent, alumni and donor preferences, and subjective evaluation — all of which favor

How Oberlin’s slander put our family through hell

Lorna Gibson:

On the night of Nov., 8, 2016, Donald Trump was elected president and the country was forever changed. But for my family, it was the following night — Nov. 9, 2016 — that our world was turned upside down and has never been set right.

Late that night, my husband, David, came home from work and told me that there had been a shoplifting incident at our bakery, Gibson’s. We’ve been in business for 137 years, so we’ve had our fair share of shoplifters, including earlier that very week. That particular night, a student from the local college, Oberlin, had tried to steal two bottles of wine and use a fake ID to buy a third. Our son, Allyn, had pursued him across the street. Two more students got involved. Allyn was beaten up pretty badly, and the three students were arrested.

David was afraid the incident would blow up, since the students claimed to the police that my son had assaulted them — not the other way around. He told me he was scared it would hurt our business since the students who were arrested were black and bystanders were already claiming that Allyn had racially profiled them.

But none of us had any idea of what was about to happen.

San Jose Unified School District Likely Discriminated Against Fellowship of Christian Athletes

Eugene Volokh:

From Fellowship of Christian Athletes v. San Jose Unified School Dist., decided yesterday by the Ninth Circuit, in an opinion by Judge Kenneth Lee joined by Judge Danielle Forrest (it’s on a preliminary injunction, so this is technically based on a finding of likelihood of success on the merits, but the panel majority seems pretty firm of the subject):

The Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) requires students serving in leadership roles to abide by a Statement of Faith, which includes the belief that sexual relations should be limited within the context of a marriage between a man and a woman. The San Jose Unified School District … revoked FCA’s status as an official student club at its high schools, claiming that FCA’s religious pledge requirement violates the School District’s non-discrimination policy….

The School District engaged in selective enforcement of its own non-discrimination policy, penalizing FCA while looking the other way with other student groups. For example, the School District blessed student clubs whose constitutions limited membership based on gender identity or ethnicity, despite the school’s policies barring such restricted membership. The government cannot set double standards to the detriment of religious groups only….

We apply strict scrutiny to government regulations that burden religious exercise unless those laws are neutral and generally applicable. A law is not neutral and generally applicable if it is selectively enforced against religious entities but not comparable secular entities. “[W]hether two activities are comparable for purposes of the Free Exercise Clause must be judged against the asserted government interest that justifies the regulation at issue.” … Finally, the “Government fails to act neutrally when it proceeds in a manner intolerant of religious beliefs or restricts practices because of their religious nature.”

Edward Lee, a professor emeritus at Berkeley, wrote a blog post chastising the rejection culture at computer science conferences.

Anna Kramer:

Wannabe computer science superstars must all run the same rather scary and capricious gauntlet, one that sounds deceptively dull: the computer science conference paper review process. To have a research paper accepted for presentation at a CS conference is a coveted rite of passage among academics and professionals, bestowing on its author a status symbol that can open the door to tenure or competitive job offers.

Last month, the University of California, Berkeley’s much-respected Edward Lee, a professor emeritus of electrical engineering and computer sciences who for several decades has served on program committees that judge research papers, caused an uproar in the CS community after he publicly shared a scathing review of the system, which he’d sent earlier to fellow judges. Program committee members who decide which papers are accepted are volunteers, members of the academic community who agree to spend hours of their time (theoretically) reading submissions, writing opinions and voting on whether papers are worthy of the hallowed halls of whatever conference is in session.

Seattle Teacher Strike

Gene Johnson:

Seattle Public Schools canceled Wednesday’s first day of school after teachers voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike over issues that include pay, mental health support, and staffing ratios for special education and multilingual students. 

Seattle Education Association President Jennifer Matter announced Tuesday that 95% of ballots returned by the union’s membership favored going on strike absent an agreement with Seattle Public Schools. Contract talks continued. 

“No one wants to strike,” Matter said. “But SPS has given us no choice. We can’t go back to the way things have been.”

The district said in an email to parents that it was “optimistic the bargaining teams will come to a positive solution for students, staff, and families.”

Districts around the country have faced labor challenges as the pandemic put extraordinary stress on teachers and students alike. An infusion of federal stimulus money has helped stabilize school district budgets, and teachers unions have sought to improve pay, resources and and working conditions after a difficult few years.

A Parent’s Guide to Radical Gender Theory

Christopher Rufo:

Radical gender theory is a catch-all term for academic queer theory, transgender ideology, and gender identity activism. The premise of this ideology is that sex and gender are socially constructed—that is, they are human inventions used as instruments of power, rather than features of objective reality. Radical gender theorists argue that white, European men invented the “gender binary,” or division between man and woman, in order to oppress racial and sexual minorities. They believe that this system of “heteronormativity” must be exposed, critiqued, and deconstructed in order to usher in a world beyond the norms of heterosexual, middle-class society. In order to facilitate the destruction of this system, radical gender activists promote synthetic sexual identities, such as “pansexual,” “genderqueer,” and “two-spirit,” and neo-pronouns, such as “ze,” “zim,” and “zir.” The goal is to replace notions of biological sex, the male-female binary, and the nuclear family with “queer alternatives” and “a world beyond binaries.” Some strains of academic queer theory also support eliminating prohibitions on child pornography, valorizing transgressive sex, and permitting adult-child sexual relationships.

The Returns to College Admission for Academically Marginal Students

Tyler Cowen

I combine a regression discontinuity design with rich data on academic and labor market outcomes for a large sample of Florida students to estimate the returns to college admission for academically marginal students. Students with grades just above a threshold for admissions eligibility at a large public university in Florida are much more likely to attend any university than below-threshold students. The marginal admission yields earnings gains of 22% between 8 and 14 years after high school completion. These gains outstrip the costs of college attendance, and they are largest for male students and free-lunch recipients

“By the way, the New York Times article does mention the 38-state ratification requirement—in the 24th out of 28 paragraphs.”

Eugene Volokh:

But here’s the thing: If a constitutional convention is called and proposes amendments, they still have to be ratified by legislatures or conventions (the convention gets to decide which) in 3/4 of all states:

The Congress, whenever two thirds of both houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose amendments to this Constitution, or, on the application of the legislatures of two thirds of the several states, shall call a convention for proposing amendments, which, in either case, shall be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the legislatures of three fourths of the several states, or by conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other mode of ratification may be proposed by the Congress;

Maybe I’m wrong, but I expect that this will be a pretty serious bar to any particularly radical proposals. If you disagree, tell me this: What amendments do you think a convention could propose that would get the support of legislatures or conventions in at least 38 of the 50 states, and how conservative (or liberal) do you think those amendments would be?

Bruce Vielmetti:

The authors kicked off a national tour Tuesday at Marquette Law School, where Feingold started his teaching career after losing his Senate re-election race to Ron Johnson in 2010. He has since taught at Yale and Stanford, and currently serves as president of the American Constitution Society, often described as a progressive counterpart to the conservative Federalist Society.

Purdue students learn to be responsible while their peers get bailouts. There will be a reckoning.

Mitch Daniels:

The col­or­ful Ohio Gov. Jim Rhodes once likened George Rom­ney’s run for the pres­i­dency to “a duck try­ing to [make love to] a foot­ball.” I wish he had been around to put a la­bel on the fed­eral stu­dent-loan pro­gram. In the sad cat­a­log of its fail­ures, the fed­eral gov­ern­ment has set a new stan­dard. Pres­i­dent Biden’s debt-can­cel­la­tion an­nounce-ment rep­re­sents the fi­nal con­fes­sion of fail­ure for a ven­ture flawed in con­cept, botched in ex­e­cu­tion, and draped with du­plic­ity.

The scheme’s flaws have been well chron­i­cled. It’s re­gres­sive, re­ward­ing the well-to-do at the ex­pense of the less for­tu­nate. It’s grossly un­fair to those who re­paid what they bor­rowed or never went to col­lege. It’s grotesquely ex­pen­sive, adding hun­dreds of bil­lions to a fed­eral debt that al­ready threat­ens our safety-net pro­grams and na­tional se­cu­rity. Like so much of what gov­ern­ment does, it’s ia­tro­genic, in­flat­ing col­lege costs as schools con­tinue to pocket the sub­si­dies Un­cle Sam show­ers on them. And it’s pro­fanely con­temp­tu-ous of the Con­sti­tu­tion, which au­tho­rizes only Con­gress to spend money.

“But never before has the government canceled this much student debt for this many people”

Spencer Bokat-Lindell:

After the 2020 presidential election, the Trump administration attempted to pre-empt the use of the Heroes Act for this purpose, issuing a memoclaiming that “Congress never intended the Heroes Act as authority for mass cancellation, compromise, discharge or forgiveness of student loan principal balances.”

In its own memo last week, however, the Biden administration argued that the Trump administration’s conclusions were “unsupported and incorrect.” The Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, which provides legal advice to the executive branch, concurred in a separate opinion, concluding that “reducing or canceling the principal balances of student loans, including for a broad class of borrowers who the secretary determines suffered financial harm because of Covid-19, could be a permissible response to the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Lockdown and the price of suppressing dissent
In times of crisis, we need more debate – not less.

Fraser Meyers:

‘You must stay at home.’ That simple instruction from prime minister Boris Johnson, issued before the first Covid lockdown in March 2020, changed the fate of the nation forever.

You might have imagined that in a democratic country such as Britain, a decision of this magnitude would not simply have been imposed by executive fiat. That the shutting down of schools, the economy and society might have been something worth debating and discussing. But for much of the pandemic, lockdown was never subjected to proper scrutiny, even though its harms were obvious from the start. 

Indeed, the harms of lockdown are becoming clearer by the day. The near-collapse of the NHS, the crisis in education and runaway inflation can all be traced back, at least in part, to March 2020. And while the Russian invasion of Ukraine has since sparked a global energy crisis, lockdown is part of what left us so vulnerable to its effects. 

After all, the lockdown was the biggest shock to the UK economy in the history of industrial capitalism. And in the words of one High Court judge, it was ‘possibly the most restrictive regime on the public life of persons and businesses ever’. Many of its awful impacts were predictable and predicted.

Student Debt Forgiveness Is Biden’s Bluto Moment

Kimberly Strassel:

Then along comes Blu­tarsky, and seven years of col­lege down the drain. It would be hard to fash­ion a pro­gram that car­ries more po­lit­i­cal risk for less po­lit­i­cal re­ward. In the name of pay­ing off that pow­er­ful vot­ing bloc known as “overe­d­u­cated and un­der­em­ployed dead­beats,” Mr. Biden is dump­ing on his own in­fla­tion mes­sage, di­vid­ing his party, and in­sult­ing any Amer­i­can who has ever worked, saved or paid a bill.

IQ is largely a pseudoscientific swindle

Nassim Nicholas Taleb:

Background : “IQ” is a stale test meant to measure mental capacity but in fact mostly measures extreme unintelligence (learning difficulties), as well as, to a lesser extent (with a lot of noise), a form of intelligence, stripped of 2nd order effects — how good someone is at taking some type of exams designed by unsophisticated nerds. It is via negativa not via positiva. Designed for learning disabilities, and given that it is not too needed there (see argument further down), it ends up selecting for exam-takers, paper shufflers, obedient IYIs (intellectuals yet idiots), ill adapted for “real life”. (The fact that it correlates with general incompetence makes the overall correlation look high, even when it is random, see Figures 1 and 2.) The concept is poorly thought out mathematically by the field (commits a severe flaw in correlation under fat tails and asymmetries; fails to properly deal with dimensionality; treats the mind as an instrument not a complex system), and seems to be promoted by

Did Woke Madison help murder Beth Potter and Robin Carre?

David Blaska:

This Wednesday 09-07-22, Khari Sanford will be sentenced in Dane County Circuit Court for the execution-style slaying of Dr. Beth Potter and her husband Robin Carre.

They were murdered by a person they had tried to help,” their memorial obituary reads.

Khari Sanford was 18 years old on March 30, 2020 when he entered the Carre-Potter’s home in upper middle-class University Heights some time after 10:40 p.m. Using the Volkswagen minivan the couple had lent him, Sanford and his convicted accomplice Alijah “Hunch” Larrue took their captives on a circuitous route to the University of Wisconsin Arboretum. There, not far off the Vilas Park entrance, Sanford forced the two, still wearing their bed clothes in the March cold, to their knees.

With his powerful Glock .357 SIG semi-automatic handgun, Sanford shot Robin once behind the left ear at close range, execution-style. He shot Beth twice, once in the upper arm, once in the back of the head. Perhaps she had struggled. During the 26-minute drive to their execution, one can only imagine how Beth and Robin tried to dissuade the young man from his deadly deed, to remember their many kindnesses, to promise more favors.

“It was calculated, cold blooded and senseless,” the chief of University of Wisconsin Police said at the time.

Shocking and puzzling, too, since the murdered couple had given every consideration to Sanford, a young black man in a romantic relationship with the Carre-Potter’s daughter Miriam, whom the white couple had adopted out of an orphanage in Guatemala.

In the immediate hours after his deadly deed, Sanford attempted to cash out the dead couple’s ATM cards. A form of reparations, perhaps. Payment for the dead couple’s white privilege and the larger society’s institutional racism, it could be argued. Because Khari Sanford certainly identified as a victim. He posted on his Facebook page a few months before the murders. (Source here.)

“We gon’ change this world, cause it’s time to let our diversity and youth shine over all oppressive systemsand rebuild our democracy.”


“They were murdered by a person they had tried to help.”

—  Robin Carre – Beth Potter obituary.

In fairness, Khari O. Sanford came to Madison as damaged goods. Writing from his jail cell to Judge Ellen Berz in September 2021, Sanford wrote he was the oldest of seven children to a single mother in Chicago and a father who spent the son’s first 10 years in prison.

“One of my greatest friends died in my arm at the age of seven years old as the result of a drive by shooting,” he wrote. “That was my first traumatic experience.”

Did progressive Madison teach Sanford his sense victimhood — despite all the opportunities presented him? In his sophomore year at West high school, Sanford joined its newly formed Black Student Union just as social justice warriors, informed by critical race theory taught at the University of Wisconsin, were waging war on police.

A culture of victimization

Madison public schools had already sacrificed discipline in favor of identity politics because “A zero tolerance policy toward discipline … was having a disproportionate and negative effect on students of color.”

A dedicated practitioner of cancel culture, the school district erased name of the slave-holding Founder and renamed one of its schools after a minor black office holder. Inconveniently, Wisconsin’s capital city — founded the year that President died — retains his disgraced name.

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?

Incumbent Wisconsin Governor proposes $2B in additional K-12 tax & Spending….

Rory Linnane:

Evers said his plan for the 2023-25 budget would draw on the state’s projected $5 billion budget surplus while “holding the line” on property taxes. 

Evers’ opponent in the November election, Tim Michels, called Evers’ plan “more money and more bureaucracy.” 

“The tired, old Evers approach has not worked,” Michels said in a statement. 

Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos also quickly derided Evers’ proposal, taking to Twitter to call the plan a “feeble ploy to try to win votes.”

Republican lawmakers rewrote much of Evers’ proposed 2021-23 state budget, nixing his plan to increase the caps on how much school districts are allowed to spend each year. School district leaders have argued they cannot keep up with inflation with flat spending limits.

The biggest chunk of state funding, $800 million, would allow schools to spend $350 more per student in the 2023-24 school year and $650 more the following year. 

The plan would also invest $750 million to increase how much the state reimburses school districts for special education costs, from about 30% to about 45% in the first year, and 60% the next year. 

The plan also includes: 

  • $240 million to expand the “Get Kids Ahead” initiative for school-based mental health services with an investment of $100 per student, ensuring that each district has at least one full-time staff member focused on mental health 
  • $20 million for before- and after-school programming in and outside schools
  • $10 million for literacy programming, including a state literacy center that would provide training for teachers
  • $5 million to help school districts implement financial literacy curriculum
  • An unspecified amount of funding to reimburse school districts for meal costs to provide free meals for students who already qualify for free and reduced-price meals, and decrease the cost to other students

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?

Schoolchildren’s pandemic struggles, made worse by U.S. policies

Hannah Natanson

We have all heard, by this point, that school closures during the first year of the pandemic damaged children. We have heard that children slid behind where they should be academically, with the most vulnerable slipping fastest; that many children with disabilities did not learn anything at all and began regressing; that the nation’s youngest citizens spent years feeling upset, angry, sad, frustrated and oh so alone.

That question runs against the prevailing mood affiliation and good luck trying to get a straight answer

Tyler Cowen:

Bryan Caplan as you know argues that even the private return to higher education isn’t what it usually is cracked up to be, especially since large numbers of individuals do not finish with a four-year degree. Susan Dynarski (tenured at Harvard education, but an economist), writing in the NYT, seems to have started flirting with this view:

Civics: A discussion of Checks & Balances

John McGinnis:

What differentiates a simple democracy from a republic is the complex system of checks and balances that the latter employs to promote both liberty and stability. In the federal American Republic, authorities are divided vertically between the states and the national government. Powers are also separated among the President, Congress. and federal Judiciary. The Constitution is in essence a charter for dividing decision-making power.

A decision-making charter requires dispassionate enforcement. The political issues that stir people’s souls are almost always substantive rather than decisional. People march for and against abortion rights, not in defense of the appropriate constitutional entity to make that decision. But the locus of the decision is one of paramount importance to the maintenance of a republic, not least because of the danger that one branch of the federal government or the federal government as a whole will usurp power, creating more dangers of tyranny.

Thus, a central underlying issue for a republic is how to assure that those decisions about the proper authority are made in a neutral, dispassionate way—not swamped by the emotions generated by substantive disagreements. The first line of defense is to choose the most dispassionate institution to make these meta-decisions (i.e., the decisions about who decides). When Alexander Hamilton said that constitutional review should be lodged in the judiciary because the judiciary embodies judgment rather than will, he was emphasizing the comparative dispassion of the third branch.

Elon Musk Has So Many Lawsuits They’re Teaching a Class in Law School

Kevin Dugan:

The thing about Elon Musk is that whatever it is he’s involved with, the guy wants you to think it’s about something else, something bigger. Tesla isn’t about cars — it’s about the future or the environment or innovation. SpaceX isn’t a rocket-maker; it’s a save-the-human-race-from-extinction company.With Twitter v. Musk, the suit isn’t just about whether the world’s richest man can save $43 billion or so by backing out of an agreement to buy Twitter. There’s a deeper question, one Musk may not like observers asking:Does Elon Musk think he’s bigger than the law?

Law is often made through unusual cases, and there’s a trail of them behind Musk, going as far back to his days with Zip2, his first internet mapping company from shortly after dropping out of Stanford. Since then, he has been challenging corporate law in bigger and weirder ways. There’s Tesla’s 2016 acquisition of SolarCity, of which Musk was chairman and the major shareholder. There’s the “funding secured” tweet two years later about taking Tesla private, which ended with a settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission and his resignation as Tesla’s chairman. Despite settling, Musk continues to say that he actually didn’t do anything wrong with the tweet — and earlier this year, he won a suit against a group of shareholders that challenged the SolarCity deal even though Tesla’s directors settled.

How did you get the idea of starting a class about Elon Musk and his effect on the law?
He’s generating a lot of really interesting case law out of Delaware. Tesla’s acquisition of SolarCity is an excellent case to teach students. And then there is a pending case on his Tesla CEO-compensation package, which is a great case because it’s what will strike the students as an egregious amount of money — billions of dollars in CEO compensation — in excess of anything we’ve ever seen. It’s a great case to talk about: Is this a situation in which it would be rational for a company to put together that sort of a compensation package?

There are all these cases from different areas that all involve Musk, and given how high profile he is this year with Twitter and everything, I thought this would be a way of really grabbing the students’ attention.

Civics: Administrative Censorship

Jonathan Tobin:

Berenson’s final tweet before being banned said the following about Covid vaccines: “It doesn’t stop infection. Or transmission. Don’t think of it as a vaccine. Think of it – at best – as a therapeutic with a limited window of efficacy and terrible side effect profile that must be dosed IN ADVANCE OF ILLNESS. And we want to mandate it? Insanity.” 

As The Atlantic admitted this past week, his claims are inarguably correct. The notion that merely stating his concerns on an issue about which much is yet to be learned was something that merited government intervention and censorship is risible. 

It may be advantageous to take the vaccines, especially for those who are most at risk due to age or other health problems, but you don’t have to be an anti-vaxxer to understand that in the U.S., the government is not meant to have the power to shut down debates. 

Some might claim that normal rules don’t apply during public health emergencies, but that is undermined by the fact that pretty much all of the advice and warnings that came out of the public health establishment during the height of the pandemic were eventually proven wrong. The fact that the government was able to pressure the regulators of the 21st-century town square to silence controversial speech is outrageous and dangerous to democracy.

Our joint statement on discovery disputes legal brief, filed with the court and made public today, reveals scores of federal officials across at least eleven federal agencies have secretly communicated with social-media platforms to censor and suppress private speech federal officials disfavor. This unlawful enterprise has been wildly successful. Here are just a few excerpts from this document, which includes attachments of hundreds of pages of emails and other governmental and big tech internal communications as supporting evidence. These documents were obtained after we requested the following information on discovery:

Civics: Election administration notes

Jesse Opoien

The funds would create an elections inspector general program and hire 10 additional staffers, in order to “increase the agency’s ability to research public or legislative inquiries — especially those alleging unlawful or non-compliant behavior — in a more timely and effective manner,” according to a proposal from WEC Administrator Meagan Wolfe and agency staff.

Civics: Election administration notes

Jesse Opoien

The funds would create an elections inspector general program and hire 10 additional staffers, in order to “increase the agency’s ability to research public or legislative inquiries — especially those alleging unlawful or non-compliant behavior — in a more timely and effective manner,” according to a proposal from WEC Administrator Meagan Wolfe and agency staff.

Notes on “Content Moderation”

Cloudfare:/

This isn’t hypothetical. Thousands of times per day we receive calls that we terminate security services based on content that someone reports as offensive. Most of these don’t make news. Most of the time these decisions don’t conflict with our moral views. Yet two times in the past we decided to terminate content from our security services because we found it reprehensible. In 2017, we terminated the neo-Nazi troll site The Daily Stormer. And in 2019, we terminated the conspiracy theory forum 8chan.

In a deeply troubling response, after both terminations we saw a dramatic increase in authoritarian regimes attempting to have us terminate security services for human rights organizations — often citing the language from our own justification back to us.

Since those decisions, we have had significant discussions with policy makers worldwide. From those discussions we concluded that the power to terminate security services for the sites was not a power Cloudflare should hold. Not because the content of those sites wasn’t abhorrent — it was — but because security services most closely resemble Internet utilities.

Just as the telephone company doesn’t terminate your line if you say awful, racist, bigoted things, we have concluded in consultation with politicians, policy makers, and experts that turning off security services because we think what you publish is despicable is the wrong policy. To be clear, just because we did it in a limited set of cases before doesn’t mean we were right when we did. Or that we will ever do it again.

Beijing has received details on core code of country’s top internet firms but experts warn exerting direct control may be beyond any regulator

Karen Hao:

Earlier this month, the Cyberspace Administration of China published summaries of 30 core algorithms belonging to two dozen of the country’s most influential internet companies, including TikTok owner ByteDance Ltd., e-commerce behemoth Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and Tencent Holdings Ltd., owner of China’s ubiquitous WeChat super app.

The milestone marks the first systematic effort by a regulator to compel internet companies to reveal information about the technologies powering their platforms, which have shown the capacity to radically alter everything from pop culture to politics. It also puts Beijing on a path that some technology experts say few governments, if any, are equipped to handle.

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The public versions of the filings explain in plain language what types of data a given algorithm uses and what it does with the data. In many instances, they provide less detail than what Facebook voluntarily discloses to users about how it ranks content in its news feed.

School closures have set off a devastating domino effect

Bethany Mandel:

Millions of American children are about to enter their fourth year of Covid-impacted schooling. In vast swaths of the United States, a child now entering second grade has never had anything resembling a normal school experience. No child entering kindergarten has a memory of life before the pandemic. A rising junior in high school has never had a normal high school experience.

Over two years into the pandemic, we know that the effects of “long Covid” are basically nonexistent in kids. Following the release of a study published in the Lancet, Alasdair Munro, a pediatric infectious…

A Pennsylvania father’s determined effort to find out what’s being taught to his children’s instructors.

Nicole Ault and Megan Keller:

Randi Wein­garten left no room for doubt. “Crit­i­cal race the­ory is not taught in el­e­men­tary schools or high schools,” the Amer­i­can Fed­er­a­tion of Teach­ers pres­i­dent said in a speech last year. Even if that’s true, a Penn­syl­va­nia fa­ther’s bat­tle with a school dis­trict demon­strates that pub­lic-school teach­ers are be­ing trained in the deeply di­vi­sive racial ide­ol­ogy—and de­fen­sive ad­min­is­tra­tors are play­ing se­man­tic games to al­lay parental con­cerns.

In 2018 the Tredyf­frin-East­town School Dis­trict near Phil­adelphia signed a con­tract with Pa­cific Ed­u­ca­tional Group, a Cal­i­for­nia-based con­sult­ing firm. Ac­cord­ing to the school dis­trict’s web­site, the part­ner­ship’s pur­pose was “to en­hance the poli­cies and prac­tices around racial eq­uity.” The dis­trict as­sured par­ents in an on­line up­date last sum­mer that no “course, cur­ricu­lum or pro­gram” in the dis­trict “teaches Crit­i­cal Race The­ory.”

Ben­jamin Aus­lan­der didn’t buy it. The par­ent of a high schooler in the dis­trict, he wanted to see the ma­te­ri­als used to train teach­ers. Mr. Aus­lan­der, 54, made a for­mal doc­u­ment re­quest but was de­nied. Of­fi­cials told him the ma­te­ri­als couldn’t be shared be­cause they were pro­tected by Pa­cific Ed­u­ca­tional Group’s copy­right. His only op­tion was to in­spect them in per­son—no copies or pho­tos al­lowed. “What are you try­ing to hide?” he asked school board mem­bers at a meet­ing in De­cem­ber.

School Is for Wasting Time and Money

Bryan Caplan:

I have deep doubts about the intellectual and social value of schooling. My argument in a nutshell: First, everyone leaves school eventually. Second, most of what you learn in school doesn’t matter after graduation. Third, human beings soon forget knowledge they rarely use.

Strangely, these very doubts imply that the educational costs of the coronavirus pandemic are already behind us. Forced optimism notwithstanding, the remote schooling that millions of students endured during the pandemic looks like a pedagogical disaster. Some researchers found that being in Zoom school was about equivalent to not being in school at all. Others simply found that test scores rose much less than they normally would.

But given my doubts about the value of school, I figure that most of the learning students lost in Zoom school is learning they would have lost by early adulthood even if schools had remained open. My claim is not that in the long run remote learning is almost as good as in-person learning. My claim is that in the long run in-person learning is almost as bad as remote learning.

How do we know all this? My work focuses on tests of adult knowledge — what adults retain after graduation. The general pattern is that grown-ups have shockingly little academic knowledge. College graduates know about what you’d expect high school graduates to know; high school graduates know about what you’d expect dropouts to know; dropouts know next to nothing. This doesn’t mean that these students never knew more; it just means that only a tiny fraction of what they learn durably stays in their heads.

This is especially clear for subjects beyond the three R’s — reading, writing and arithmetic. Fewer than 1 percent of American adults even claim to have learned to speak a foreign language very well in school, even when two years of coursework is standard. Adults’ knowledge of history and civics is negligible. If you test the most elementary facts, like naming the three branches of government, they get about half right. The same goes for questions of basic science, like “Are electrons smaller than atoms?” and “Do antibiotics kill viruses as well as bacteria?”

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?

“It is remarkable to me how few people in the public sphere are making theses relatively straightforward points”

Tyler Cowen:

I am now reading quite a few analyses of the problem, and so few mention price!  Even when written by economists.  I find this article somewhat useful:

“We are a city with very high levels of poverty, and it’s difficult for us to raise the rates enough to do large scale replacement type projects and not make it unaffordable to live in the city of Jackson,” said former city councilman Melvin Priester Jr.

Yet the cost of Jackson’s poor quality water is still passed on to families who don’t trust the tap and purchase bottled water — which can cost a family of four $50-$100 a month — to drink instead.

The city raised water rates in 2013, but the Siemens deal penned the same year came with an onslaught of problems, including the installation of faulty water meters and meters that measured water in gallons instead of the correct cubic feet. This made any benefits of the rate increase virtually impossible to see.

The results have been nonsensical. Over the past several years, the city has mailed exorbitant bills to some customers and none to others. Sometimes, the charges weren’t based on how much water a household used and other times, city officials advised residents to “pay what they think they owe.” Past officials said the city lacked the manpower and expertise in the billing department to manually rectify the account issues with any speed.

In trying to protect people during the persistent billing blunders, the city has at times instituted no-shutoff policies, which demonstrate compassion but haven’t helped to compel payment.

Civics: “It’s part of democracy — doubting and criticizing the mechanisms of democracy”

Ann Althouse:

Is he saying vote Democratic? He’s at least saying vote agains the non-mainstream MAGA Republicans. Did we the people pay for this event? Why were Marines there?  

… America is still the beacon to the world, an ideal to be realized, a promise to be kept. There’s nothing more important. Nothing more sacred….

Nothing more sacred than government? And the other guys are the fascists? 

That’s our soul. That’s who we truly are. And that’s who we must always be…. We just need to remember who we are. We are the United States of America, the United States of America….

More:

All 3 networks judged it too political to deserve live coverage in prime time? And yet the Marines were there, attesting to its nonpolitical nature!

Farhi supplies this hilarious tweet from polisci prof Brendan Nyhan: “‘The networks refusing to cover Biden’s speech (presumably because it was going to be critical of Trump and/or not newsworthy enough) is precisely the problem’ confronting democracy.” No, it’s precisely the separation of government and journalism we need in a healthy democracy.

Related: taxpayer funded Administrative censorship.

The damage from school lockdowns

Wall Street Journal:

You’d think this would be cause for re­flec­tion by our ed­u­ca­tion elites, but no such luck. Me­dia head­lines blamed “the pan­demic,” as if Covid-19 ran Amer­i­ca’s school dis­tricts and de­cided to force stu­dents to sit at home in front of screens for more than a year. Ed­u­ca­tors—as they call them­selves—did that.

Na­tional Cen­ter for Ed­u­ca­tion Sta­tistics Com­mis­sioner Peggy Carr had a grab-bag of ex­cuses for the tragic learn­ing loss: “School shoot­ings, vi­o­lence, and class­room dis­rup­tions are up, as are teacher and staff va­can­cies, ab­sen­teeism, cy­ber­bul­ly­ing, and stu­dents’ use of men­tal health ser­vices. This in­for­ma­tion pro­vides some im­por­tant con­text for the re­sults we’re see­ing from the long-term trend as­sess­ment.”

She missed the “class­room dis­rup­tions” of not be­ing able to go to class at all.

Age Verification Providers Say Don’t Worry About California Design Code; You’ll Just Have To Scan Your Face For Every Website You Visit

Mike Masnick:


If you thought cookie pop-ups were an annoying nuisance, just wait until you have to scan your face for some third party to “verify your age” after California’s new design code becomes law.

On Friday, I wrote about the companies and organizations most likely to benefit from California’s AB 2273, the “Age Appropriate Design Code” bill that the California legislature seems eager to pass (and which they refer to as the “Kid’s Code” even though the details show it will impact everyone, and not just kids). The bill seemed to be getting very little attention, but after a few of my posts started to go viral, the backers of the bill ramped up their smear campaigns and lies — including telling me that I’m not covered by it (and when I dug in and pointed out how I am… they stopped responding). But, even if somehow Techdirt is not covered (which, frankly, would be a relief), I can still be quite concerned about how it will impact everyone else.

A college degree ain’t what it used to be

Stefania Albanesi, Rania Gihleb, and Ning Zhang:

Labor market outcomes for young college graduates have deteriorated substantially in the last twenty five years, and more of them are residing with their parents. The unemployment rate at 23-27 year old for the 1996 college graduation cohort was 9%, whereas it rose to 12% for the 2013 graduation cohort. While only 25% of the 1996 cohort lived with their parents, 31% for the 2013 cohort chose this option. Our hypothesis is that the declining availability of ‘matched jobs’ that require a college degree is a key factor behind these developments. Using a structurally estimated model of child-parent decisions, in which coresidence improves college graduates’ quality of job matches, we find that lower matched job arrival rates explain two thirds of the rise in unemployment and coresidence between the 2013 and 1996 graduation cohorts. Rising wage dispersion is also important for the increase in unemployment, while declining parental income, rising student loan balances and higher rental costs only play a marginal role.

Commentary:

Notes on Education Schools and K-12 Teaching

Dylan M. Palmer & Will Flanders:

Generally speaking, university professors enjoy a great deal of trust and respect from their students. They wield considerable influence in shaping how young people, during some of the most formative years of their lives, wind up viewing the world.  

When a professor instructs a future K-12 teacher to view the classroom with reference to “interlocking systems of oppression, including . . . race, class, [and] gender,” as one syllabus for an education-major required course at UW-Green Bay describes), that future teacher may end up believing that this is the proper way to understand the school system. But describing K-12 education as a place of racial, class, or gender oppression is a radical political viewpoint. It’s not clear whether future teachers learning ideas like those at UW-Green Bay understand how damaging and divisive such ideas are. 

We also found, in a required course for education majors at UW-Stevens Point, that students were made to read both “Antiracist Baby” by Ibram X. Kendi and a portion of “White Fragility” by Robin DiAngelo. “Antiracist Baby” presents itself as a children’s book, even though it traffics in highly political ideas about race and society—most notably, that colorblindness, or treating people without discriminating on the basis of race, is, in fact, racist. “White Fragility,” for its part, argues that virtually all white people are complicit in systemic racism.

This is not to say that college courses shouldn’t expose students to politically controversial topics. Indeed, such exposure is a key part of becoming educated. But, far too often, these radical viewpoints are presented to students as the onlyones through which to understand the world—instead of just another set of arguments, subject to debate and scrutiny. It is no wonder that future teachers come out of this environment primed to indoctrinate young students into similar viewpoints.

How history caught up with my Russian academic friends

Orlando Figes:

The gulf between these two worlds is historical. It was the fundamental problem of the 19th-century revolutionaries and democratic reformers, as it has been a major reason for the failure of today’s intelligentsia to play a more decisive role of national leadership since the collapse of the Soviet regime. The social background of the intelligentsia may have broadened greatly in the intervening period — the revolution cut its roots in the nobility — but in education and outlook it remained just as isolated from the common people as before. In that isolation is its tragedy.


Saying Goodbye to My Parents’ Library

Christopher Lloyd:

My mother, 12 years a widow and a deeply private woman all her life, died in January, at home, surrounded by 800 friends.

Like my father, she had entered the workforce as a high school English teacher, serving in a rough area of New Haven, Conn., where she was once admonished by a student for calling Shakespeare’s Polonius a criminal (“I checked with my parole officer, Mizz Lloyd—he was an accessory.”). And like my father she adored books—teaching them, reading them, owning them. But in those days of $4,000 annual salaries, neither she nor my father could remotely have foreseen building a world-class collection of first editions, 800 of which graced the shelves of the home library into which she had moved a hospital bed for her final days.

So it was bittersweet this month to watch my parents’ collection sold via online auction to settle their estate. One at a time they went, one per minute, each with a ping of the computer, a steady disassembly of this literary family built over 50 years—orphans sent to new homes. 

Campus ideology notes

Jonathan Turley:

Only seven percent of liberal students were concerned about how their professor’s ideology would affect their grades while that rate is 6 times higher for conservatives at 42 percent. Sixty-eight percent of conservatives were worried about sharing their views with other students (as opposed to 31 percent among liberal students).

The authors also concluded that a “significant number of students have concerns about stating their sincere political views in class and have self-censored because they were concerned about the potential reactions.”

Universities have failed to push for greater ideological diversity on faculties as hiring committees continue to replicate their own viewpoints and bias. It is not just students but faculty who face this pressure to self-censure. Faculty members risk cancel campaigns that threaten publications, conference invitations, and even their employment if they voice dissenting views.

It is heartbreaking to meet with students who feel, even in law school, that they must remain silent in class to avoid the ire or retaliation from faculty. Most faculties have a small and diminishing number of conservative or libertarian members. I discuss that long trend in my recent publication in the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy. The article is entitled “Harm and Hegemony: The Decline of Free Speech in the United States.

The dictatorship of the articulate

Florent:

But I don’t think our institutional woes stem only from politics — there’s a deeper cultural issue at play, and everybody should wonder to what extent they contribute to the problem.

Everywhere I look, I see the rise of talkocracy — others have called it the dictatorship of the articulate. Talkers standing in the way of builders; offering we ponder, analyze, investigate, research, dissect, agonize endlessly over plans before we lay a single brick.

I for one like Michael Bloomberg’s approach better:

While our competitors are still sucking their thumbs trying to make
the design perfect, we’ve already gone through five rounds of testing.
By the time our rivals are ready to begin development, we are on
version No. 10. It gets back to planning versus acting. We act from
day one; others plan how to plan—for months.

In Chicago, the city’s largest children’s hospital has partnered with local school districts to promote radical gender theory.

Christopher Rufo:

I have obtained insider documents that reveal this troubling collaboration between gender activists at Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago and school administrators throughout the Chicago area. According to these documents, and a review of school district websites, Lurie Children’s Hospital has provided materials to school leaders promoting radical gender theory, trans activism, and sexually explicit materials in at least four Chicago-area public school systems: District 75, District 120, District 181, and District 204. According to a whistleblower, these documents were circulated to administrators, teachers, and other staff at the middle school and high school level as part of ongoing employee-training programs.

The primary training document, “Beyond Binary: Gender in Schools,” follows the basic narrative of academic queer theory: white, Western society has created an oppressive gender binary, falsely dividing the world into the categories of man and woman, that has resulted in “transphobia,” “cissexism,” and “systemic discrimination” against racial and sexual minorities. Versions of the document were attributed toJennifer Leininger, associate director of Lurie’s Community Programs and Initiatives, and Hadeis Safi, a “nonbinary” gender activist who uses “they/them” pronouns and works for the hospital’s LGBTQ and Gender Inclusion program—which advertises its care for children with “gender expansive” identities and offers “gender-affirming” medical procedures, including puberty blockers for children.

The presentation encourages teachers and school administrators to support “gender diversity” in their districts, automatically “affirm” students who announce sexual transitions, and “communicate a non-binary understanding of gender” to children in the classrooms. The objective, as one version of the presentation suggests, is to disrupt the “entrenched [gender] norms in western society” and facilitate the transition to a more “gender creative” world.

In 2020–2021, >60% of students met criteria for one or more mental health problems, a nearly 50% increase from 2013

Sarah KetchenLipson DanielEisenberg

Mental health worsened among all groups over the study period. American Indian/Alaskan Native students experienced the largest increases in depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation, and meeting criteria for one or more mental health problem. Students of color had the lowest rates of mental health service utilization. The highest annual rate of past-year treatment for Asian, Black, and Latinx students was at or below the lowest rate for White students. Although Arab American students experienced a 22% increase in prevalence, there was an 18% decrease in treatment.

Limitations

Response rates raise the potential of nonresponse bias. Sample weights adjust along known characteristics, but there may be differences on unobserved characteristics.

Harvard May No Longer Be the Wealthiest University; Texas’ Energy Assets…

Scott Jaschik

Harvard University may lose the title of the nation’s wealthiest university, Bloomberg reported.

The potential new wealthiest university is the University of Texas, which may overtake Harvard’s $53.2 billion endowment, as of June 21. The value of the Texas endowment at that time was $42.9 billion.

The source of the new wealth: crude oil and natural gas. Bloomberg reports that with rising prices, Texas earns $6 million a day on 2.1 million acres it owns in the Permian Basin.

At a time when other colleges are shedding fossil fuel investments, Texas is having a windfall. “The University of Texas has a cash windfall when everyone is looking at a potential cash crunch,” said William Goetzmann, a professor of finance and management studies at Yale University. “Adjusting your portfolio for social concerns is not costless.”

Ahem! Amazing what a con they are pulling off…

George Bulman:

Estimates reveal that growing endowments generate large and persistent increases in spending overall and for instruction, student services, and administration in particular. However, wealthier colleges and universities do not increase the number of students they serve or the fraction of students receiving aid, and only modestly increase the generosity of aid packages. Instead, these institutions offset higher freshman yield rates by becoming more selective and enrolling fewer low-income students and students of color. Overall, colleges and universities appear to use greater endowment wealth to increase spending and to become more selective, resulting in higher institutional rankings, but do not increase the size or diversity of their student bodies.

Notes on Childhood Asthma

Talis Shelbourne:

But as he grew older, Ma’Siah suffered more and more crises. After he turned 3 years old, doctors suspected he was severely asthmatic, but because of his age, they waited to confirm the diagnosis.

Farr was terrified to sleep, fearing she wouldn’t be available if he began having breathing problems. She watched Ma’Siah to catch the slightest hitch in his breath or wheeze from his chest. On the way home from each emergency department visit, she worried about when the next would come.

After having four healthy children, Farr’s focus on her son’s challenges brought an element of trepidation into the family.

Ma’Siah’s asthma was uncontrolled. And when Farr watched him, her feelings went from joy to helplessness.

Farr’s angst would be familiar to parents and caregivers of the 6 million asthmatic children in the United States. The chronic respiratory condition, which afflicts 25 million people overall, disrupts breathing and prevents oxygen from reaching vital organs. A severe attack can be fatal; on average, 11 people die from an attack every day.

The Rise and Fall of Vibes-Based Literacy

Jessica Winter:

In the first spring of the pandemic, as families across the country were acclimating to remote learning and countless other upheavals, I sat down on the living-room sofa with my daughter, who was in kindergarten, to go over a daily item on her academic schedule called Reading Workshop. She had selected a beginner-level book about the alliterative habitués of a back-yard garden: birds and butterflies, cats and caterpillars. Her decoding skills, at that stage, were limited to the starting letter of each word, and all else was hurried guesswork—pointing at “butterfly,” she might ask, “Bird?” and start to turn the page. I coaxed her to look at how the letters worked together, to sound them out, starting by taking apart the first few phonemes: bh-uh-tih, butt. She didn’t appear to be familiar with this approach. She seemed to find it frankly outrageous.

Our subsequent reading workshops followed the same script. She would pick out a book, flip around, guess, bluff, and try to match words to pictures, while I plodded along behind her, grunting phonemes, until her patience frayed. I ascribed our ongoing failure to any number of factors—I wasn’t a teacher, for starters. (My kid wasn’t the only one bluffing.) She perhaps wasn’t ready to read. There were ambulance sirens wailing outside, forever.

I looked online for help, and learned that our Brooklyn public school’s main reading-and-writing curriculum, Units of Study, is rooted in a method known as balanced literacy. Early readers are encouraged to choose books from an in-classroom library and read silently on their own. They figure out unfamiliar words based on a “cueing” strategy: the reader asks herself if the word looks right, sounds right, and makes sense in context. My daughter was taught to use “picture power”—guessing words based on the accompanying illustrations. She memorized high-frequency “sight words” using a stack of laminated flash cards: “and,” “the,” “who,” et cetera.

It seemed to me that, rather than learning to decode a word using phonics, by matching sounds to letters with close adult guidance, a reader following this method is conditioned to look away from the word, in favor of the surrounding words or the accompanying illustrations—to make a quasi-educated guess, perhaps all on her own. It seemed possible that my kid’s scattered, self-directed reading style wasn’t entirely a product of her age or her temperament. To some extent, it had been taught to her.

The drops in test scores were roughly four times greater among the stu­dents who were the least pro­fi­cient in both math and read­ing

Ben Chapman and Douglas Belkin:

Scores re­leased Thurs­day show un­prece­dented drops on the long-term trends tests that are part of the Na­tional As­sess­ment of Ed­u­ca­tional Progress, known as the “Na­tion’s Re­port Card.” The tests are ad­min­is­tered to U.S. stu­dents age 9.

The test scores re­flect more than a pan­demic prob­lem, with ex­perts say­ing it could take a gen­er­a­tion for some scores to re­bound. Some say cur­rent achieve­ment lev­els could weigh on eco­nomic out­put in years to come.

The scores of lower-per­form­ing stu­dents are most trou­bling and could take decades to bounce back, said Dr. Aaron Pal­las, pro­fes­sor of So­ci­ol­ogy and Ed­u­ca­tion at Teach­ers Col­lege, Co­lumbia Uni­ver­sity.

“I don’t think we can ex­pect to see these 9-year-olds catch up by the time they leave high school,” he said, re­fer­ring to the lower-per­form­ing stu­dents. “This is not some­thing that is go­ing to dis­ap­pear quickly.”

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?

Myths and History

Revolver News:

This wasn’t just a harmless myth. For decades, ordinary people in Cincinnati were tarred as hateful racists in order to further a specific narrative about America. They weren’t the only victims of myths related to Robinson. Enos Slaughter of the St. Louis Cardinals has been villainized for decades for slashing Robinson with his spiked cleats during a play at first base. But Slaughter always insisted the injury was accidental, and sportswriters at the game from both St. Louis and New York City agreed, saying that nothing appeared deliberate about the incident. Similarly, in the 2013 film about Robinson, Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Fritz Ostermueller is portrayed intentionally hitting Robinson in the head with a pitch before insulting him with a racist comment. In reality, the pitch hit Robinson on the wrist and there is no evidence of such an insult at all.

But all three myths will live on, because they are useful. They promote a certain story about America: That until very recently the country was overwhelmingly bigoted and hateful, and good for very little else. In fact, America’s entire 20th-century history, as it is taught in schools and portrayed on screen, is essentially “fake.” It is a sequence of myths atop myths, created to make Americans hate their ancestors and their history.

A full list of these myths could fill several books. For now, we will illustrate the point with some central examples.

The merits of the case did not seem to bother Oberlin officials or student protesters.

Jonathan Turley:

Dean of Students Meredith Raimondo reportedly joined the massive protests and even handed out a flier denouncing the bakery as a racist business. When some people contacted Oberlin to object that the students admitted guilt, special assistant to the president for community and government relations Tita Reed wrote that it did not change a “damn thing” for her. Reed also reportedly participated in the campus protests.

Other faculty members encouraged students who denounced the bakery. The chairman of Africana studies posted, “Very proud of our students!” Oberlin barred purchases from the bakery, pending its investigation into whether this was “a pattern and not an isolated incident.” Raimondo also pressured Bon Appetit, a major contractor with the college, to cease business with the bakery. Reed even suggested that “once charges are dropped, orders will resume” and added that she was “baffled by their combined audacity and arrogance to assume the position of victim.”

The jury in June 2019 awarded the Gibsons $44 million in compensatory and punitive damages. A judge later reduced the award to $25 million. That was upheld and the appellate court also upheld an award of $6.2 million payment in attorney fees. Now interest has pushed the reduced award back up to roughly $36 million but you then have to add the attorney fees and the college’s own towering legal costs. That is likely to put the total back to near the original $44 million award.

It takes considerable work to burn over $40 million on such a case. Yet, time and again President Ambar and the college threw more money into a losing hand like a bad gambler at Vegas while refusing to apologize for the college’s reprehensible record in the case.

As the grocery recently warned that it might have to shutdown due to the lack of funds and drain of litigation, the college fought to pay the damages.

The Ohio Supreme Court finally ended this farce by refusing to hear a new appeal on jurisdictional grounds. It voted 4-3 to end further litigation.

In a statement, Oberlin College expressed disappointment but not an apology:

“Free enterprise scholars” program

Troy.edu:

“I hear from friends working for corporations in Birmingham and Atlanta who are afraid that woke ideologies are creeping into their offices and board rooms. They question why their employers are taking positions on controversial issues–unrelated to their apolitical business–that could alienate consumers,” he said.

The Free Enterprise Scholars will participate in the Johnson Center’s fall and spring reading groups, attend a monthly MJC event and write an op-ed about free enterprise. Along with that, scholars will take a Moral Foundations of Capitalism course, attend academic conferences, and take field trips.

“The moral value of free enterprise means that business leaders do not have to apologize for profits earned honorably or purchase absolution through wokeness.  Future business leaders and entrepreneurs should know this and be able to be articulate spokespersons for the moral value of business, properly conducted,” Mendenhall said.

Another focus of the program is to secure fundraising from individuals and organizations looking to impact free-market education by supporting Scholars’ activities and providing funding for an M. Stanton Evans Annual Lectureship, featuring journalists who write about free enterprise.

Evans, who died in 2015, was noted as “an early leader of the conservative movement” by the New York Times. In college, he acted as editor of the Yale Daily News and became editor of the Indianapolis News at 26. He was a commentator for CBS and NPR and was a syndicated columnist whose work appeared in large papers nationwide, including the Los Angeles Times. In 1977, he became the founding director of the National Journalism Center in Washington, D.C. He authored 11 books. In 1980, Evans took on a role as visiting professor at TROY, a role he kept until 2010.

Tuition costs are out of control. Canceling student debt won’t fix that

Allison Morrow:

Progressives and conservatives alike are sounding off about President Joe Biden’s planto erase billions of dollars in student debt — that it’s either a half-a-loaf gesture to an overburdened middle class or a massive socialist handout to rich people, depending on your politics. 

But whatever your opinion is on Biden’s motives, a couple of things seem clear. First: Relieving up to $20,000 in student debt per borrower is a financial tourniquet that will help 43 million people who’ve been swept into a complex and undeniably broken system. Second: It doesn’t even begin to solve the problem. 

Once the debt is wiped away, what we’re left with is the gnarly reality that tuition costs are out of control, with no magic bullet to rein them in.

Eastern European Guide to Writing Reference Letters

Ferenc Huszár:

Excruciating. One phrase I often use to describe what it’s like to read reference letters for Eastern European applicants to PhD and Master’s programs in Cambridge. 

Even objectively outstanding students often receive dull, short, factual, almost negative-sounding reference letters. This is a result of (A) cultural differences – we are very good at sarcasm, painfully good at giving direct negative feedback, not so good at praising others and (B) the fact that reference letters play no role in Eastern Europe and most professors have never written or seen a good one before.

Poor reference letters hurt students. They give us no insight into the applicant’s true strengths, and no ammunition to support the best candidates in scholarship competitions or the admission process in general. I decided to write this guide for students so they can share it with their professors when asking for reference letters. Although reading letters from the region is what triggered me to write this, mist of this advice should be generally useful for many other people who don’t know how to write good academic reference letters.

Civics: I tracked thieves stealing my car in S.F. Then I saw firsthand what police can — and can’t — do next

Megan Cassidy:

As a crime reporter in San Francisco, I should have known better than to park my car under an overpass near the Hall of Justice, a nice stroller visible in the back seat.

And it couldn’t have hurt to check that I didn’t drop my keys onto the ground next to the vehicle as I scrambled to pay the meter and run to a court hearing.

Alas, the predictable outcome: As I sat in court taking notes, my phone vibrated with a text from my partner, Miguel, from our Oakland home. His phone was in communication with our Subaru Outback, which was moving.

“The alarm of the car went off was it you???”

I tried to respond but had no cell service in the granite-clad building. By the time I walked out of the courtroom a few minutes later, Miguel was frantic. The texts came tumbling out.

Researchers Found Puberty Blockers And Hormones Didn’t Improve Trans Kids’ Mental Health At Their Clinic. Then They Published A Study Claiming The Opposite. (Updated)

Jesse Signal:

An article called “Mental Health Outcomes in Transgender and Nonbinary Youths Receiving Gender-Affirming Care” was published in JAMA Network Open late in February. The authors, listed as Diana M. Tordoff, Jonathon W. Wanta, Arin Collin, Cesalie Stepney, David J. Inwards-Breland, and Kym Ahrens, are mostly based at the University of Washington–Seattle or Seattle Children’s Hospital. 

In their study, the researchers examined a cohort of kids who came through Seattle Children’s Gender Clinic. They simply followed the kids over time as some of them went on puberty blockers and/or hormones, administering self-report surveys tracking their mental health. There were four waves of data collection: when they first arrived at the clinic, three months later, six months later, and 12 months later.

The study was propelled into the national discourse by a big PR push on the part of UW–Seattle. It was successful — Diana Tordoff discussed her and her colleagues’ findings on Science Friday, a very popular weekly public radio science show, not long after the study was published.

All the publicity materials the university released tell a very straightforward, exciting story: The kids in this study who accessed puberty blockers or hormones (henceforth GAM, for “gender-affirming medicine”) had better mental health outcomes at the end of the study than they did at its beginning. 

The headline of the emailed version of the press release, for example, reads, “Gender-affirming care dramatically reduces depression for transgender teens, study finds.” The first sentence reads, “UW Medicine researchers recently found that gender-affirming care for transgender and nonbinary adolescents caused rates of depression to plummet.” All of this is straightforwardly causal language, with “dramatically reduces” and “caused rates… to plummet” clearly communicating improvement over time.

Misunderstanding Law: Undergraduates’ Analysis of Campus Title IX Policies

Kat Albrecht, Laura Beth Nielsen, Lydia Wuorinen:

Colleges and universities are legally required to attempt to prevent and redress sexual violations on campus. Neo-institutional theory suggests that the implementation of law by compliance professionals rarely achieves law’s goals. It is critical in claims-based systems that those who are potential claimants understand the law. This article demonstrates that (a) intended subjects of the law (colleges and universities) interpret and frame the law in very similar ways; (b) resultant policies are complex and difficult to navigate; and (c) university undergraduates in an experimental setting are not able to comprehend the Title IX policies designed to protect them. These findings suggest that current implementations of Title IX policies leave them structurally ineffective to combat sexual assaults on campus.

Elections and school choice

Chuck Ross:

Pennsylvania Senate hopeful John Fetterman (D.) opposes vouchers that let children in failing public school districts attend private and charter schools. But the progressive champion, who lives in one of Pennsylvania’s worst performing school districts, sends his kids to an elite prep school.

Fetterman’s kids attend the Winchester Thurston School in Pittsburgh, where parents pay up to $34,250 for a “dynamic” learning environment and an “innovative” approach to teaching. They would otherwise go to schools in Woodland Hills School District, where graduation rates are far below the state average. The local elementary school that serves Fetterman’s town of Braddock is in the bottom 15 percent of the state in academic performance. Fetterman and his wife Gisele have sent at least one of their three kids to Winchester Thurston for the past seven years. A 2018 news article mentioned that Fetterman sends his kids to a private school in Pittsburgh, though the school was not identified. Gisele Fetterman has been a “WT parent” since at least 2015. Last year, Winchester Thurston praisedGisele, a “WT Mom,” for her help on an art project.

Fetterman’s embrace of school choice for his own family opens him up to allegations of hypocrisy on several fronts. Fetterman, the lieutenant governor, has made his Republican opponent Mehmet Oz’s wealth a centerpiece of his campaign. He has also called for increased funding for public schools, though by sending his kids to private school he is diverting funds from Woodland Hills under a state funding formula that awards money to districts based on enrollment.

GitHub for English Teachers

Jon Udell:

This week I tried a different approach when editing a document written by a colleague. Again the goal was not only to produce an edited version, but also to narrate the edits in a didactic way. In this case I tried bending GitHub to my purpose. I put the original doc in a repository, made step-by-step edits in a branch, and created a pull request. We were then able to review the pull request, step through the changes, and review each as a color-coded diff with an explanation. No screenshots had to be made, named, organized, or linked to the narration. I could focus all my attention on doing and narrating the edits. Perfect!

Well, perfect for someone like me who uses GitHub every day. If that’s not you, could this technique possibly work?

In GitHub for the rest of us I argued that GitHub’s superpowers could serve everyone, not just programmers. In retrospect I felt that I’d overstated the case. GitHub was, and remains, a tool that’s deeply optimized for programmers who create and review versioned source code. Other uses are possible, but awkward.

Madison School Board approves $2-per-hour wage increase for education assistants

Elizabeth Beyer:

Legislative Republicans have defended their decision to keep revenue limits flat by noting Wisconsin schools will be getting $2.3 billion in federal COVID relief aid, known as Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief, or ESSER funds. Madison is anticipating its share will be roughly $66.7 million.

School officials have not laid out how they plan to spend that money but say using it for ongoing expenses, such as hiring more staff or increasing wages, could create a fiscal cliff once the one-time dollars run out.

Monday’s vote came one month after the board approved a 3% base wage increase for all staff for the coming school year, two-thirds of what was sought by MTI for teachers at the start of negotiations. Teachers also get automatic raises for seniority and degree-attainment on top of that.

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?

“As a general rule, a discharge of indebtedness counts as income and is taxable”

Jared Walczak:

Here’s one more question to add to the mix: will states consider student loan debt forgiveness a taxable event? In many states, the answer could be yes.

As a general rule, a discharge of indebtedness counts as income and is taxable, as my colleague Will McBride explains. Under § 9675 of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), however, the forgiveness of student loan debt between 2021 and 2025 does not count toward federal taxable income. States which follow the federal treatment here will likewise exclude debt forgiveness from their own state income tax bases. But, for a variety of reasons, not every state does that. There are at least six relevant interactions with the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) for purposes of the treatment of student loan debt cancelation. States can:

Civics: Notes on the middle class and “elite” perspectives

Victor Davis Hanson

T]here was a third catalyst that explained the mutual animosity in the pre-Trump years. The masses increasingly could not see any reason for elite status other than expertise in navigating the system for lucrative compensation. 

In short, money and education certification were no longer synonymous with any sense of competency or expertise. Just the opposite often became true. Those who thought up some of the most destructive, crackpot, and dangerous policies in American history were precisely those who were degreed and well-off and careful to ensure they were never subject to the destructive consequences of their own pernicious ideologies.

Does Homeschooling Improve Social Competencies and Creative Thinking among Children?

Brian Ray:

Homeschooling has grown phenomenally during the past 30 years around the world, and especially during the past two years. For example, the number of home-educated children in grades K-12 in the United States grew from an estimated 2.65 million during 2019-2020 to 3.72 million during 2020-2021 (Ray, 2021). In the eastern hemisphere, as another example, “The number of homeschooling families approved by the Israel Ministry of Education increased by 700% from 2005 through 2019” (Madara & BenDavid-Hadar, 2021).

Numerous studies have examined the demographics and academic achievement of home-educating families and the students (e.g., Ray, 2017). An increasing number of scholars have become focused on an increasingly wider variety of topics with respect to homeschooling. Recently, Michal Unger Madara and Iris BenDavid-Hadar probed the social competencies and creative thinking of home-educated children. This brief review will touch upon only the former topic in the study.

Civics: Prosecutors, warrants, “case law” and the courts

Jim Riccioli

Prosecutors argued that case law supports that investigators had the right to access to Brooks’ jail cell, and also felt that the search qualified for a warrant. The defense disagreed, citing other case law that limited access to jail cells to certain circumstances only, particularly jail security.

But Dorow cited a U.S. Supreme Court case in which justices summarized that “society is not prepared to recognize” privacy in a jail cell, especially when investigators sought a warrant to conduct the search.

Biden’s student loan ‘fix’ will likely make the problem worse

Megan McArdle:

There are so many things wrong with President Biden’s newly unveiled policy on student loans that one hardly knows where to begin. So I might as well start with … the Medicare doc fix.

In 1997, Congress became alarmed by the rising cost of health care, which was particularly concerning because it was amping up the cost of Medicare. So when Congress passed the Balanced Budget Act, it created something called the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR), which was supposed to keep physician reimbursements from growing faster than gross domestic product.

That was all well and good until 2003, when the federal government realized it would need to actually impose significant cuts on those reimbursements. Physicians squealed, and a wincing Congress passed the first “doc fix,” temporarily suspending the caps. Freed from the constraints of the SGR, physician reimbursements continued to grow faster than GDP — which meant that every year, the cost of actually imposing the SGR got bigger.

The “doc fix” became a regular ritual in Washington, because the alternative became increasingly unthinkable: By January 2013, doctors were facing a potential pay cut of 26.5 percent. Unwilling to anger doctors, or to anger seniors whose doctors stopped taking Medicare, Congress kept granting reprieves, until the Obama administration finally bit the bullet and pushed through a (now very expensive) reform in 2015.

Notes and links, here.

Taxpayer supported Disinformation

Naomi Nix:

Facebook and Twitter disrupted a web of accounts that were covertly seeking to influence users in the Middle East and Asia with pro-western perspectives about international politics, including Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, according to a new report from social media analytics firm Graphika and Stanford University.

The covert influence operation used accounts on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other social media giants to promote narratives supporting the interests of the United States and its allies while opposing countries, including Russia, China, and Iran, according to the report.

Covert influence campaigns run out of Russia and Iran have repeatedly have been targeted by social media platforms over the years. This crackdown is the rare instance in which a U.S-sponsored campaign targeting foreign audiences was found to violate the companies’ rules.

The accounts are being taken down at a time when social media giants have been trying to crack down on disinformation campaigns about the war in Ukraine. But much of that work has been focused on fighting efforts by Russian authorities to promote propaganda about the war, including false claims about Ukrainian military aggression in the region or blaming Western nations’ complicity in the war.

Margarita Franklin, a spokeswoman for Facebook’s parent company, Meta, confirmed in a statement that the company a recently removed a network of accounts that originated in the United States for violating the platforms’ rules against coordinated inauthentic behavior. Franklin said it’s the first time the company has removed a foreign-focused influence network promoting the United States’ position.

Dr. Fauci and the Covid Rule of Experts

Wall Street Journal:

He and a passel of public-health experts used their authority to lobby for broad economic lockdowns that we now know were far more destructive than they needed to be. He also lobbied for mask and vaccine mandates that were far less protective than his assertions to the public. Dr. Fauci’s influence was all the greater because he had an echo chamber in the press corps and among public elites who disdained and ostracized dissenters.

A flagrant example was Dr. Fauci’s refusal even to consider that the novel coronavirus had originated in a lab at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China. This may have been because the NIH had provided grant money to the nonprofit EcoHealth Alliance, which helped fund “gain of function” virus research at the Wuhan lab. In a semantic battle with Republicans, Dr. Fauci denied that the NIH funded such research. But his refusal even to consider the possibility that the virus started in a Wuhan lab showed that Dr. Fauci was as much a politician as a scientist.

Worse, Dr. Fauci smeared the few brave scientists who opposed blanket lockdowns and endorsed a strategy of “focused protection” on the elderly and those at high risk. This was the message of the Great Barrington Declaration authors, and emails later surfaced showing that Dr. Fauci worked with others in government to deride that alternative so it never got a truly fair public hearing.

Lower Black and Latino Pass Rates Don’t Make a Test Racist

John McWhorter

The Association of Social Work Boards administers tests typically required for the licensure of social workers. Apparently, this amounts to a kind of racism that must be reckoned with.

There is a Change.org petition circulating saying just that, based on the claim that the association’s clinical exam is biased because from 2018 to 2021 84 percent of white test-takers passed it the first time while only 45 percent of Black test-takers and 65 percent of Latino test-takers did. “These numbers are grossly disproportionate and demonstrate a failure in the exam’s design,” the petition states, adding that an “assertion that the problem lies with test-takers only reinforces the racism inherent to the test.” The petitioners add that the exam is administered only in English and its questions are based on survey responses from a disproportionately white pool of social workers.

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?

Student loan forgiveness advocates muddy the waters with false analogies

Branko

A common argument I read from proponents of student debt cancellation is that cancelling student debt is essentially destroying money. Some amount was sitting in a ledger somewhere as an asset in a government agency and now poof, it’s gone. Essentially, it’s an accounting gimmick not impacting much of anything else apart from benefiting borrowers.

But this is opposite of what’s really happening. When the loan was made, money was sent to the school and the student promised to pay it back. Had the student went on to pay back the principal, no money would have been created. It would only have been money transferred through time. Take money from the future and use it today; basically an investment.

What happens when debt is cancelled is the money doesn’t have to be paid back. But the school still got paid. So cancelling debt is money creation.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Official audits show a record of incompetence. Democrats are still giving the tax agency an $80 billion raise.

Wall Street Journal:

Consider the agency’s chronic mishandling of tax credits. By the IRS’s own admission, some $19 billion—or 28%—of earned-income tax credit payments in fiscal 2021 were “improper.” The amount hasn’t improved despite years of IRS promises to do better.

• A January Tigta audit found that an estimated 67,000 claims—totaling $15.6 billion—for the low-income housing tax credit from 2015 to 2019 “lacked or did not match supporting documentation due to potential reporting errors or noncompliance.”

• A May audit found that 26% ($1.9 billion) of its American opportunity tax credits for education expenses were improper in fiscal 2021, and 27% ($541 million) of its net premium tax credits (ObamaCare) were improper in fiscal 2019 (the most recent year it estimated). The same May audit said the IRS acknowledged that 13% ($5.2 billion) of its enhanced child tax credit payments were improper.

• How did it handle $1,200 stimulus checks, the sick and paid family leave credit, or the employee retention tax credit? Unknown, since the agency didn’t estimate failure rates—for which Tigta rapped its knuckles.

Curated Education Information