“Competition,” wrote Peter Thiel in his 2014 manual Zero to One: Notes on Startups, Or How to Build the Future, “is an ideology—the ideology—that pervades our society and distorts our thinking. We preach competition, internalize its necessity, and enact its commandments; and as a result, we trap ourselves within it—even though the more we compete, the less we gain.” The idea Thiel articulated in Zero to One—that achieving greatness and building the future means “avoiding competition as much as possible”—is among the most important of his many achievements of the last decade. Equally important was Thiel’s decision, in 2016, before he headlined the Republican National Convention and told the country to vote for Donald Trump, to invite one of the country’s most influential white nationalists to dinner.
On your path to becoming an intellectual in Silicon Valley, understanding these two lessons—the Peter Principles, we’ll call them, since that adds nothing to the conversation but sounds sophisticated—will be key to your success. First, the point of your interventions in the public sphere is not to “win” any “argument,” nor to attract new adherents or convince neutrals of the righteousness of your cause. It is to avoid competition. When competition seeks you out, as it invariably will, your task will be to lose the debate and propose ideas that “seem” (and often are) “shit,” since popular discourse is a test of conventional mindedness; to be truly radical, you must be wrong. Second, there is no absolute moral evil that cannot be playfully reframed on irrelevant grounds as a net historical good. Take, for instance, poverty: what looks to most people like a recipe for social inequality, resentment, division, and violence will be, in your spritely retelling, the most powerful mechanism for income mobility in the history of human civilization. Or consider, say, Pol Pot’s killing fields: bad for the people who got stuck in them, but good for Cambodia’s startup ecosystem? Nazis did bad things to the world in the middle of the twentieth century, but there’s no reason to think they won’t do wonders for agency culture at the Food and Drug Administration in the early 2020s. Your success as a Silicon Valley intellectual will depend on your ability to insert difficult but necessary conversations like these into the public domain. A couple of half-decent ratioed tweets about the beauty of population control or the necessity of transphobia, and you’ll be well on your way to securing your status among the Silicon Valley elite.
While legal education unquestionably hones students’ critical thinking skills, it also privileges students who are faster readers and have prior background knowledge or larger working memories. According to the prevailing mythology of law school pedagogy, students learn by struggling to find their way out of chaos. Only then is their learning deep enough to permit them to engage in critical thinking and legal reasoning.
Learning theory and research suggest this type of “inquiry” learning is not an effective way to introduce novice learners to a subject. Lacking basic substantive and procedural knowledge, students’ struggles are often unproductive and dispiriting.
Initial explicit instruction early in a student’s learning more predictably creates stable, accurate knowledge. Because higher-order thinking depends on having some knowledge, ensuring students have a strong foundation of substantive and procedural knowledge increases the likelihood that they will develop critical thinking skills.
However, legal education uniformly dismisses anything that looks like “spoon-feeding.” If the academy is going to incorporate learning theory into its pedagogy, it must understand and articulate the differences between spoon-feeding and explicit instruction.
This Article examines explicit instruction as a pedagogical tool for legal educators. Part I examines cognitive psychological theories of thinking and learning to understand the differences between spoon-feeding and explicit instruction and explain why initial explicit instruction is useful. Part II delves into the cognitive differences between novices and experts that support initial explicit instruction. Part III examines experts’ cognitive barriers to effective teaching. Part IV provides examples of how explicit instruction can be used in the law school classroom.
Related: English 10.
I worked with Caire when he headed the Urban League of Greater Madison and on his effort to launch Madison Prep, the earnest but quixotic attempt to address Madison’s embarrassing racial achievement gap. The failure to launch that school was a bitter blow. And the gap has remained unchanged.
Madison Prep failed because the teachers’ union and other supporters of the educational status quo were motivated and powerful. But they are not invincible. Caire discovered that the best way to battle those who stand in opposition to righteous change is not to meet them head on, but to adroitly scoot around them.
It also helps to enlist allies.
Allies like the legendary Pleasant Rowland, who just donated $14 million to help address Madison’s stark racial reality by expanding Caire’s One City Schools to a bigger, better building in Monona. Like Caire, I am a Madisonian, born and raised, and cannot think of anyone who’s had a greater impact on our city in modern times than Rowland and her husband, Jerry Frautschi. There is simply no precedent for such philanthropy in Madison’s history. None. Rowland and Frautschi deserve a statue at the head of State Street, once we elect leaders who can figure out how to fix Madison’s shabby aorta.
Caire has other allies, like the UW System’s Office of Educational Opportunity. This entity moved to alter the painful reality that its flagship university is in a town with one of the worst racial gaps in America. So, they chartered One City Schools. Yes, the C word. Charter.
Notes and links on Kaleem Caire.
2011: A majority of the Madison School Board aborted the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB Charter School.
2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results
My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our 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 incarcer
Understanding changing perceptions of “great works”— what books are included in a canon at a given moment in history, why certain works make the cut while others fall to the wayside, and tracking down the individuals responsible for these decisions—is a hobby of mine. I have written about it many times on the Scholar’s Stage. This week I came across an interesting example of cannon formation in action. William Osler was one of the founding physicians of John Hopkins Medicine, creator of the hospital residency system, inventor of much of the hands-on medical pedagogy still used in medical schools today, and one of the most famous doctors of his day. On the final page of Aequanimitas, a collection of Osler’s lectures and orations published in 1904, is a list of books that Osler believes should be on every medical student’s bookshelf. He suggests that while in medical school young doctors-to-be should spend the last 30 minutes of their night reading from this chosen library.
Last week I sent a note to regular readers:
Perhaps it’s a sense that things are possible post-pandemic, but I’ve been asked for comments on the future of education three times since the beginning of the year. While I have some unscientific and undoubtedly biased thoughts I’m happy to share it occurs to me this group is exceptionally diverse.
So the request: Could you write a bit about what you’d like to see in education going forward? The subject is huge and readers represent at least seven countries so just pick a few and stay away from clear needs in some countries – like affordable and equitable education. Those are incredibly important, but perhaps some thoughts on curriculum, teaching, etc.. I’ll collect and post them with my comments in a week – say a cutoff on the 24th of April. Let me know if you want your name attached or not. And don’t worry about it if you don’t have time.
How much should you have to fight (and pay) to get information about your children’s schools? Yes, the conclusion to our week-long series about pandemic learning is a dive into Wisconsin public records law. Are you surprised? So let’s talk location fees. 1/
— Amanda St. Hilaire (@amandasaint5) April 23, 2021
Kicking out Chinese students might seem like tough, decisive policymaking, but it’s exactly the wrong way to protect the United States’ scientific and technological advantage. Welcoming foreign talent isn’t simply a virtuous position to take—in fact, that openness is at the core of U.S. power. The United States gains tremendously from the inflow of Chinese students, and China loses from its top talent going abroad. The Biden administration should work to reduce the risk of technology transfer, including through intelligence and research security reforms. But driving Chinese students away could cripple U.S. innovation and supercharge China’s technological progress. The United States should make the most of its talent advantage, not throw it away on an ineffective ban.
How resilient are high-skilled, white collar workers? We exploit a uniquely comprehensive dataset of individual-level resumes of bank employees and the setting of the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy to estimate the effect of an unanticipated shock on the career paths of mobile and high skilled labor. We find evidence of short-term effects that largely dissipate over the course of the decade and that touch only the senior-most employees. We match each employee of Lehman Brothers in January 2008 to the most similar employees at Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Deutsche Bank, and UBS based on job positions, skills, education, and demographics. By 2019, the former Lehman Brothers employees are 2% more likely to have experienced at least a six-months-long break from reported employment and 3% more likely to have left the financial services industry. However, these effects concentrate among the senior individuals such as vice presidents and managing directors and are absent for junior employees such as analysts and associates. Furthermore, in terms of subsequent career growth, junior employees of Lehman Brothers fare no worse than their counterparts at the other banks. Analysts and associates employed at Lehman Brothers in January 2008 have equal or greater likelihoods of achieving senior roles such as managing director in existing enterprises by January 2019 and are more likely to found their own businesses.
In between the usual oral spelling rounds, “word meaning,” the new vocabulary portion, will ask the speller to answer a multiple-choice question during the second round of each competition level all the way to the finals.
Also new is the “spell-off”: For the July 8 finals, officials can now trigger a lightning round to rule out the possibility of a tie.
If, as time is running down in the last round, there is still no winner, all spellers left standing will be given 90 seconds to spell as many words as possible from a prepared list. Whoever spells the most words correctly wins the title.
J. Michael Durnil, who stepped in as the bee’s executive director in March, is overseeing the changes to the 96-year-old competition.
“The Bee’s competition format this year – inspired by proactive safety measures as the pandemic evolves – has allowed us to introduce new competition elements, aligned with our regular program review to ensure the competition continues to mature in a way that appropriately challenges the most accomplished spellers in the country,” Durnil said in a press release. “The spell-off, if activated, promises to be a gripping moment for both the spellers onstage during the finals and audiences on the edges of their seats at home.”
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This new feature will almost certainly prevent repeats of past bees, in which reigning spellers had to share their glory. In 2019, a record-busting eight contestants were named co-champions after enduring 20 spelling rounds. All three bees from 2014 through 2016 also ended in a tie.
School districts in recent months have increased their efforts to weave critical race theory—the idea that America’s political and economic systems are inherently racist—into K-12 curriculum standards. The Education Department’s proposal signals the Biden administration’s support for this trend.
The rule would allocate federal funding for education contractors who work to “improve” K-12 curriculum by promoting “racially, ethnically, culturally, and linguistically responsive teaching and learning practices.” The rule would also require the Education Department to encourage social studies curricula that teach students about “systemic marginalization, biases, inequities, and discriminatory policy and practice in American history.”
The Education Department claims that the coronavirus pandemic and “ongoing national reckoning with systemic racism” make changes to the education system necessary. The proposal cites the New York Times‘s 1619 Project and antiracist scholar Ibram X. Kendi’s criticisms of American education.
“Schools across the country are working to incorporate antiracist practices into teaching and learning,” the proposal reads. “It is critical that the teaching of American history and civics creates learning experiences that validate and reflect the diversity, identities, histories, contributions, and experiences of all students.”
The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) is moving to eliminate all accelerated math options prior to 11th grade, effectively keeping higher-achieving students from advancing as they usually would in the school system.
Loudoun County school board member Ian Serotkin posted about the change via Facebook on Tuesday. According to Serotkin, he learned of the change the night prior during a briefing from staff on the Virginia Mathematics Pathway Initiative (VMPI).
“[A]s currently planned, this initiative will eliminate ALL math acceleration prior to 11th grade,” he said. “That is not an exaggeration, nor does there appear to be any discretion in how local districts implement this. All 6th graders will take Foundational Concepts 6. All 7th graders will take Foundational Concepts 7. All 10th graders will take Essential Concepts 10. Only in 11th and 12th grade is there any opportunity for choice in higher math courses.”
His post included a chart with what appeared to be set math courses for 2022-2030.
For most of us, there is a large gap between what we know and what we think we know. We hold a level of confidence about our factual knowledge and predictions that doesn’t match our abilities. Since our personal decisions are really predictions about the future based on our available present knowledge, it makes sense to work toward adjusting our confidence to match our skill.
Last year I measured the knowledge-confidence gap of 3500 participants in a trivia game with a twist. For each True/False trivia question the respondents specified their level of confidence (between 50 and 100% inclusive) with each answer. The questions, presented in banks of 10, covered many topics and ranged from easy (American stop signs have 8 sides) to expert (Stockholm is further west than Vienna).
I ran this experiment on a website using 1500 True/False questions, about half of which belonged to specific categories including music, art, current events, World War II, sports, movies and science. Visitors could choose between the category “Various” or from a specific category. I asked for personal information such as age, gender current profession, title, and education. About 20% of site visitors gave most of that information. 30% provided their professions.
Participants were told that the point of the game was not to get the questions right but to have an appropriate level of confidence. For example, if a your average confidence value is 75%, 75% of their your answers should be correct. If your confidence and accuracy match, you are said to be calibrated. Otherwise you are either overconfident or underconfident. Overconfidence – sometime extreme – is more common, though a small percentage are significantly underconfident.
The district is still reeling from a significant drop in enrollment due to COVID-19 during the 2020-21 school year and, despite the passage of an operating referendum in November, operating revenue is expected to be up only 0.8%, less than the annual cost of living adjustment. Any additional funding the district may get through the state budget will be used to cover the funding gap created by the enrollment drop of roughly 1,000 students.
“Had it have not been for the passing of the operating referendum, we would have been in a negative revenue cycle, based on our estimates, but the referendum is allowing us to stay stable as a school district through the effects of COVID-19 enrollment,” Ruppel said. “It’ll take us a couple of years to build this enrollment back up.”
The district is also expecting more federal funds, including $18.9 million meant to combat COVID-19 related learning loss, which has not yet been included in its preliminary budget draft. Those funds should be included in the next budget draft, to be released in June, Ruppel said.
The district said all funds from the referendum that passed in November along with $7 million in repurposed local funding will be earmarked for “Excellence and Equity projects” in the operating budget.
These numbers do not appear to include substantial redistributed federal taxpayer (debt) funds ($70m in the latest tranche!).
2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results
My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our 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 incarcerat
For the last (and actually only) diversity session I attended before leaving The Intercept, the highly-paid outside consultant emailed everyone before saying employees would be divided by race into different rooms (white room & POC room) and it was shocking. Now it’s standard: https://t.co/0c6YmFMCX0
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) April 23, 2021
Top donors, 2019-20:@GeorgeSoros: $490,000
Facebook co-founder @moskov: $85,000
Hedge fund manager @JohnArnoldFndtn: $230,000
Heiress Lynde Bradley Uihlein: $190,000
Former Milwaukee Bucks owner Herb Kohl: $81,000
Rockefeller heir Paul Growald: $55,000
Follow back! https://t.co/f9SU8dIShs
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) April 23, 2021
2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results
My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our 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.
Madison schools: Press #1 if you’re white, #2 if you’re not
Serena Williams’ venture capital firm has invested in Milwaukee education technology startup Fiveable.
Fiveable announced that the tennis star’s investment fund was backing the company in a news release. The education streaming startup has seen huge increases in traffic since the COVID-19 pandemic.
“What impresses us most about Fiveable is how well they understand and are immersed in today’s students; that’s what initially piqued our interest. The way they’ve brought students in to help guide their roadmap is unlike anything I’ve seen,” said Serena Williams, founder of Serena Ventures, in a statement.
“Based on their growth in users and engagement, it’s evident that their social learning community has cracked the code on peer-to-peer learning.”
Fiveable’s online education platform focuses on Advanced Placement courses with most content available for free. The company has study guides for every unit in all 38 AP subjects, hosts a Discord server for students to study and livestream cram sessions. More than half a million students have used Fiveable in the last 30 days, according to the company.
Critical race theory is fast becoming America’s new institutional orthodoxy. Yet most Americans have never heard of it—and of those who have, many don’t understand it. This must change. We need to know what it is so we can know how to fight it.
To explain critical race theory, it helps to begin with a brief history of Marxism. Originally, the Marxist Left built its political program on the theory of class conflict. Karl Marx believed that the primary characteristic of industrial societies was the imbalance of power between capitalists and workers. The solution to that imbalance, according to Marx, was revolution: the workers would eventually gain consciousness of their plight, seize the means of production, overthrow the capitalist class, and usher in a new socialist society.
During the twentieth century, a number of regimes underwent Marxist-style revolutions, and each ended in disaster. Socialist governments in the Soviet Union, China, Cambodia, Cuba, and elsewhere racked up a body count of nearly 100 million people. They are remembered for gulags, show trials, executions, and mass starvations. In practice, Marx’s ideas unleashed man’s darkest brutalities.
By the mid-1960s, Marxist intellectuals in the West had begun to acknowledge these failures. They recoiled at revelations of Soviet atrocities and came to realize that workers’ revolutions would never occur in Western Europe or the United States, which had large middle classes and rapidly improving standards of living. Americans in particular had never developed a sense of class consciousness or class division. Most Americans believed in the American dream—the idea that they could transcend their origins through education, hard work, and good citizenship.
But rather than abandon their political project, Marxist scholars in the West simply adapted their revolutionary theory to the social and racial unrest of the 1960s. Abandoning Marx’s economic dialectic of capitalists and workers, they substituted race for class and sought to create a revolutionary coalition of the dispossessed based on racial and ethnic categories.
Thank you for the opportunity to submit testimony in support of Senate Bill 41. The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) believes that every student in Wisconsin deserves access to a high-quality education and this bill advances that principle by removing barriers in the Open Enrollment and Wisconsin Parental Choice Programs.
Senate Bill 41 expands access to both the Open Enrollment and Wisconsin Parental Choice Programs by removing the zip code barrier, which locks students into limited educational options based on their address.
The Open Enrollment Program is the state’s largest school choice program with over 65,000 students last year choosing to attend a public school outside of their residential district. Our research1 found that demand and utilization of this program have grown over the past 20 years. In fact, overall participation increases each year 3-6% (or approx. 2,000-4,000 students). However, over 9,000 applications (24%) were denied in the 2019-2020 school year by districts and the overwhelming reason for denial was space.
Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted families’ interest and need for additional educational options. Without a doubt, more families are looking for the best educational options for their students outside of their assigned public schools. The program must be amended to respond to the increased demand. But the Open Enrollment Program limits applications to only three non-residential districts per year, which restricts families’ options even further. SB 41 expands options for families by removing the three application limit for the 2021-2022 school year so families can find the school that best meets the educational needs of their child.
The Open Enrollment Program also allows students to apply outside of the traditional enrollment window by submitting an “alternative application” under certain circumstances, including “best interest for the child.” Just last year, 14,000 of the 15,000 alternative applications were submitted for that reason. SB 41 prohibits a child’s resident school district from denying a student transfer to a nonresidential district if both the parents and nonresidential district agree it’s in the best interest of the child. This will help keep families seeking alternative education options from being denied access to a nonresidential public school.
I’ve been reading Peter Turchin’s “Ages of Discord”, which tries to look at patterns of societal strife that he found in previous, pre-industrial civilizations such as Rome and France, and examine how it holds up in a post-industrial era. It bears some resemblance to other cycle theories like Strauss and Howe’s “Fourth Turning” or other long-wave models like Kondratiev Waves (K-Waves). The basic premise behind these ideas are that societies undergo cyclical or pendulum-like dynamics between relatively steady states of prosperity and stability, the internal dynamics of which then produce the conditions that precipitate reversions into turbulent periods of strife and chaotic change.
The important thing to keep in mind is that to that the likes of Turchin and other historical statisticians, the periods of societal discord that they try to map may look like this:
The ideological battles over California’s ethnic studies curriculum are finally over, at least for now. The disputed model curriculum was approved by the state legislature in March, and soon the guidelines for mandated high school programs will be disseminated to local school boards across the state.
Last summer, though, when it was still too close to call, the cadre of ethnic studies professors and education bureaucrats, the ones who were the primary instigators of the new curriculum, were furious that there was any resistance at all. “I’m pissed,” said Allyson Tintiangco-Cubales, an ethnic studies professor at San Francisco State and key architect of the controversial curriculum. She was addressing a Zoom meeting, joined by concerned colleagues throughout the state. They were up in arms over proposed revisions to their plan, which they felt would undermine the political essence of the program. “For them to slap us in the face! That’s not cool.”
The revisions were minimal, and the legislature was almost certain to pass the bill—a state law requiring every public high school to teach ethnic studies, using their curriculum as the model. They were on the verge of achieving their dream. So why the panic?
For all the talk of this being a movement for social good, a new dawn for American students, and a solution to oppression, ethnic studies is also, crucially, very much a nascent but nationwide white-collar industry. Indeed, while evidence for its educational or even social value is hotly debated, what’s not in dispute is that the business of flipping the public education establishment on its head is beginning to pay—and very well.
County: “We don’t have authority over the school board.”
School board: “We follow the county’s mandate to avoid confusion.”
Experts: “We don’t make policy – we just provide information.”
Policy makers: “We’re just following the advice of the experts”
It’s all circular.
— Jennifer Cabrera 😀 #ForgetYourMask (@jhaskinscabrera) April 20, 2021
Related: Catholic schools will sue Dane County Madison Public Health to open as scheduled
which pushed Dane County this week not to calculate its percentage of positive tests — a data point the public uses to determine how intense infection is in an area.
While positive test results are being processed and their number reported quickly, negative test results are taking days in some cases to be analyzed before they are reported to the state.
The department said it was between eight and 10 days behind in updating that metric on the dashboard, and as a result it appeared to show a higher positive percentage of tests and a lower number of total tests per day.
The department said this delay is due to the fact data analysts must input each of the hundreds of tests per day manually, and in order to continue accurate and timely contact tracing efforts, they prioritized inputting positive tests.
“Positive tests are always immediately verified and processed, and delays in processing negative tests in our data system does not affect notification of test results,” the department said in a news release. “The only effect this backlog has had is on our percent positivity rate and daily test counts.”
Staff have not verified the approximately 17,000 tests, which includes steps such as matching test results to patients to avoid duplicating numbers and verifying the person who was tested resides in Dane County.
All 77 false-positive COVID-19 tests come back negative upon reruns.
Assembly against private school forced closure.
My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our 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 incarceratio
If I had to name the most important institution in American life, and the one with the most potential for changing the course of our country, it would be the humble elementary school. Especially the 20,000 or so high-poverty elementary schools in the nation’s cities and inner-ring suburbs, educating millions of kids growing up in poor or working-class families.
Yes, of course, we also need to dramatically improve the other parts of our education system if we’re to help all young Americans fulfill their God-given potential. That includes making high-quality pre-K more widely accessible to those who need it most, upping the quality of our middle schools, and rethinking and improving our high schools. Not to mention revamping our post-secondary education system and overhauling our workforce training programs.
Still, if I were king for a day, or even just superintendent of a large district, I would spend at least twenty-three of my twenty-four hours in charge obsessing about elementary schools. And that’s for four big reasons.
First, these schools have the greatest potential impact on kids’ academic, social, and emotional progress. Partly that’s just basic math: Most children spend almost half of their K–12 time in elementary schools, usually six out of thirteen years. And those also happen to be the six years when kids tend to learn the most. To wit, the average student achievement gains during elementary school far outpace those seen before or after.
Early last June, Brentwood School posted an image of a black square on Instagram. This was eight days after George Floyd had been killed, and it was part of #BlackoutTuesday, a social media campaign against racism and inequality. Other Los Angeles prep schools also participated in the well-intentioned if largely symbolic online gesture, along with millions of other institutions, businesses, and individuals. But Brentwood’s black box got what’s known as ratioed; it received more negative comments than likes. Many more.
“Brentwood is a toxic racist cesspool for students of color, but an ivory tower for the wealthy, white elite,” read one of the scores of scathing remarks that kept popping up on Instagram throughout the day. “If you cared about racial justice, you would close your doors and redistribute your obscene wealth,” read another.
In the year since Floyd’s murder, the atmosphere at this bucolic, super-exclusive, $38,000- to $45,000-a-year private school has only grown more poisonous, with some Brentwood alumni of color not only hurling accusations of racism but also demanding that the school completely scrap what they see as a biased curriculum. Meanwhile, parents, teachers, and administrators spent much of last summer and fall wrestling over the value of books like To Kill a Mockingbird—a civil rights classic to some; an outdated, problematic text to others—in what’s shaping up to be an epic battle over the hearts and minds of the children of America’s one percent.
To be sure, scenes like this are not occurring only at Brentwood. Similar skirmishes are breaking out at elite prep schools all over—at Harvard-Westlake, Marlborough, and Archer School for Girls in L.A. and in New York at Chapin and Dalton—making headlines across the country in publications as ideologically divergent as the New York Post and The Atlantic. But it’s worth focusing on what’s going on at this particular school off West Sunset. Because it’s here at Brentwood that all the forces arrayed in this conflict—woke alumni who want to tear the system down; teachers who’ve had a hard enough time getting through the year on Zoom, let alone dealing with paradigm shifts in educational priorities; and angry, frustrated moms and dads who just want their kids to get into good colleges—are most dramatically and publicly clashing, like those stranded boys battling each other on a deserted island in Lord of the Flies, one of the novels Brentwood struck from reading lists last year.
When Monica Warren learned her church, Mt. Zion Baptist, planned to host an in-person tutoring program during the school day to supplement online learning amid the COVID-19 pandemic, she knew she had to get her 11-year-old son enrolled.
Jeremiah Warren, a normally shy and introverted student, blossomed in the church’s Schools Without Walls program, she said. He began to come out of his shell and strike up conversations with other students.
After schools closed in March 2020 and before Mt. Zion launched Schools Without Walls, Jeremiah struggled with online learning. In September, Warren said her son didn’t log in to his online classroom on the first day of school because he was nervous and hadn’t yet had a chance to meet his fifth-grade teacher in person.
“It was hard for him. I feel like he’s more of an in-person type of student because he needs, not constant supervision, but knowing that someone is looking out for (him),” she said. But she wasn’t able to give him the guidance he needed to support his online learning at home because she needed to return to work at Edgewood College.
A biotech entrepreneur assailed a growing “wokeness” that he said is “infecting schools,” after a dad decided not to re-enroll his daughter in an elite Manhattan prep school due to its focus on race.
Vivek Ramaswamy, 35, founder and executive chairman of Roivant Sciences and author of “Woke Inc.,” launched into a tirade on “Fox News Sunday” following Andrew Gutmann’s scathing letter in which he blasted the posh, all-girls Brearley School.
Gutmann, who accused Brearley of trying to “brainwash” kids with woke philosophies rather than teaching them how to think on their own, attacked the school’s “cowardly and appalling lack of leadership [for] appeasing an anti-intellectual, illiberal mob.”
In his missive to 650 families, the incensed dad compared the growing “woke” culture to the Communist Chinese Cultural Revolution.
The backlash to critical race theory, gender ideology and what is often called “wokeness” in schools represents a rare example of bipartisan agreement during a hyper-polarized time. While this might not fit the mainstream narrative, journalists and politicians ignore what is happening at their own peril.
The growing resistance is easy to miss on the surface. There is much more pressure on the Left to toe the ideological line in public and hide one’s real opinions in the safe harbor of DMs and text messages to trusted friends and allies.
But conversations with parents, students and teachers reveal that even self-described liberals and lifelong Democrats are extremely alarmed by what they see as dogmatic classroom activism and outright discrimination in the name of diversity, equity and inclusion.
I have spent the past two weeks reading through submissions to Parents Defending Education, a new group we launched recently to fight back against the “woke” ideology in our children’s schools. We are getting letters daily from concerned parents and teachers about what they describe as a “racially divisive curriculum,” “blatant activism in the classroom,” “infantilization of students and staff of color,” “sanctioned discrimination,” “radical gender ideology” and “racist poison.”
“There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul,” Nelson Mandela famously said, “than the way in which it treats its children.” By that standard, our society now has the soul of an abusive parent. The pandemic has turned American adults, or at least the ones who make the rules, into selfish neurotics who have been punishing innocent children for over a year—and still can’t restrain themselves.
When the pandemic began, the lack of knowledge about Covid-19 justified this behavior. That excuse has vanished. It became clear long ago that the virus is less dangerous to children than the flu, and that keeping schools open poses minimal risk of spreading infections. Yet despite this evidence—and despite the widespread availability of vaccines to teachers and other adults—many schools have yet to reopen full-time, and others are still making students as miserable as possible.
Schools have canceled many sports and other extracurricular activities, isolated students in Plexiglas cells, and forced them to wear masks in classrooms and on playgrounds. Social distancing and masks hinder learning while harming children emotionally, socially, and physically, all for no purpose other than providing false comfort to adults who ought to know better.
The rationale for forcing anyone to wear a mask is questionable, as my colleague Connor Harris has meticulously demonstrated. Wearing masks might provide some protection for some high-risk adults in crowded indoor settings, but the evidence is mixed, and masks can be not just uncomfortable but harmful. Some adults may judge the trade-offs worthwhile for themselves, but for children it’s all pain and no gain.
This document includes references to terms that Google considers disrespectful or offensive. The terms are listed here to provide usage guidance and alternative terms.
Many taxpayer supported K – 12 school districts use Google services, including Madison.￼￼
What’s the purpose of schooling?
Even though it may seem like a straightforward question, once you scratch the surface, it’s anything but.
There are countless views on the topic. But as we seek to build schools back better—and not just return to how schools operated prior to the pandemic when the system writ large didn’t serve anyone particularly well—individual schooling communities must be clear about purpose and priorities.
That means, as Stephen Covey wrote in one of the best-selling non-fiction books of all time, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” beginning “with the end in mind.” Or, as Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe wrote in the context of education in “Understanding by Design,” good teachers start with the goals and how they would know if students have met them and then backwards map all the things they need to provide to get to those outcomes.
Although it’s unlikely there will be any consensus across all communities in the country around a central purpose, that’s OK. That’s part of a robust pluralism underlying our democracy that values the fact that students sit in different circumstances and will have different needs.
But clarity in any specific schooling community is critical.
For students struggling through the last year of pandemic learning, GPA is not just a number.
“Before we got kicked out of school, my grades was top-notch,” said Maleak Taylor, a Milwaukee Public Schools 11th grade student. His eyes were smiling behind his mask as he logged into his virtual classes.
“After this?” Maleak’s eyes dropped. “I try to keep my grades up, but my grades fell dramatically. And I’m just trying to keep it up there where I can graduate this year.”
2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’sRemarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results
Upon learning to read while enslaved, Frederick Douglass began his great journey of emancipation, as such journeys always begin, in the mind. Defying unjust laws, he read in secret, empowered by the wisdom of contemporaries and classics alike to think as a free man. Douglass risked mockery, abuse, beating and even death to study the likes of Socrates, Cato and Cicero.
Long after Douglass’s encounters with these ancient thinkers, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. would be similarly galvanized by his reading in the classics as a young seminarian — he mentions Socrates three times in his 1963 “Letter From Birmingham Jail.”
Yet today, one of America’s greatest Black institutions, Howard University, is diminishing the light of wisdom and truth that inspired Douglass, King and countless other freedom fighters. Amid a move for educational “prioritization,” Howard University is dissolving its classics department. Tenured faculty will be dispersed to other departments, where their courses can still be taught. But the university has sent a disturbing message by abolishing the department.
Academia’s continual campaign to disregard or neglect the classics is a sign of spiritual decay, moral decline and a deep intellectual narrowness running amok in American culture. Those who commit this terrible act treat Western civilization as either irrelevant and not worthy of prioritization or as harmful and worthy only of condemnation.
Sadly, in our culture’s conception, the crimes of the West have become so central that it’s hard to keep track of the best of the West. We must be vigilant and draw the distinction between Western civilization and philosophy on the one hand, and Western crimes on the other. The crimes spring from certain philosophies and certain aspects of the civilization, not all of them.
Switching now to MPS, we see that according to the Department of Public Instruction’s 2018-19 Report Card, 71% of Black or African-American students had a “Below Basic” score in mathematics. Indeed, only 10% of Black students had either a proficient or advanced understanding of mathematics. Meanwhile, only 30% of white students scored “Below Basic,” whereas 39% had a proficient or advanced understanding in mathematics.
Looking at another statistic, Black students in MPS have a graduation rate of only 63% whereas their white counterparts had a graduation rate of 94%. The racial disparities in MPS are obvious.
The racism is also evident in the way MPS disciplines its students. Much like how MPD had to sign an agreement with the ACLU to end racially biased stop-and-frisk, MPS had to sign an agreement with the Department of Education to address racial disparities in suspensions and expulsions. Like MPD, MPS has shown little progress in this agreement according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
They found that African Americans accounted for 81% of suspensions and expulsions despite making up only 51% of the student body. This isn’t because Black students are more unruly. The Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights found that Black students were disciplined in a discriminatory manner, uncovering over 100 instances where white students weren’t punished as severely for the exact same behaviors. MPS’s response was to establish disciplinary committees to evaluate the disparities, half of which rarely meet.
Related: Catholic schools will sue Dane County Madison Public Health to open as scheduled
For The New York Times, whose net income was $100 million in 2020, getting “far, far more” than $3 million a year with essentially no associated cost is significant. And once news outlets take any amount of money from Facebook, it becomes difficult for them to let it go, notes Mathew Ingram, chief digital writer for the Columbia Journalism Review. “It creates a hole in your balance sheet. You’re kind of beholden to them.” It’s not exactly payola, Ingram told me, searching for the right metaphor. Nor is it a protection racket. “It’s like you’re a kept person,” he said. “You’re Facebook’s mistress.
Many taxpayer supported K – 12 school districts use Facebook and Instagram services, including Madison.￼
A team of researchers from the National University of Singapore (NUS) has recently developed a simple solution to address two of the world’s biggest problems – water scarcity and food shortage. They created a solar-powered, fully automated device called ‘SmartFarm’ that is equipped with a moisture-attracting material to absorb air moisture at night when the relative humidity is higher, and releases water when exposed to sunlight in the day for irrigation.
SmartFarm has another advantage – the water harvesting and irrigation process can be fine-tuned to suit different types of plants and local climate for optimal cultivation. The hygroscopic material that is used in the SmartFarm was earlier tested by Hawai’i Space Exploration Analog and Simulation (HI-SEAS) for its application for humidity control for space-based agriculture.
“Atmospheric humidity is a huge source of freshwater but it has remained relatively unexplored. In this work, we’ve tried to mitigate food and water shortage simultaneously. We created a hygroscopic copper-based material and used it to draw moisture from the air. We then integrate this material into a fully automated solar-driven device that utilises the harvested water to irrigate plants daily without manual intervention,” explained project leader Assistant Professor Tan Swee Ching, who is from the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at NUS.
As a new general-purpose technology, robots have the potential to radically transform employment and organizations. In contrast to prior studies that predict dramatic employment declines, we find that investments in robotics are associated with increases in total firm employment but decreases in the total number of managers. Similarly, we find that robots are associated with an increase in the span of control for supervisors remaining within the organization. We also provide evidence that robot adoption is not motivated by the desire to reduce labor costs but is instead related to improving product and service quality. Our findings are consistent with the notion that robots reduce variance in production processes, diminishing the need for managers to monitor worker activities to ensure production quality. As additional evidence, we also find that robot investments predict improved performance measurement and increased adoption of incentive pay based on individual employee performance. With respect to changes in skill composition within the organization, robots predict decreases in employment for middle-skilled workers but increases in employment for low- and high-skilled workers. We also find that robots predict not only changes in employment but also corresponding adaptations in organizational structure. Robot investments are associated with both centralization and decentralization of decision-making authority depending on the task, but decision rights in either case are reassigned away from the managerial level of the hierarchy. Overall, our results suggest that robots have distinct and profound effects on employment and organizations that require fundamental changes in firm practices and organizational design.
In 1918, World War I was coming to a close, and widespread changes were afoot. It was in some ways a moment similar to today: rapid technological development brought sweeping changes to workplaces and homes. Fights for labor and voting rights were underway. Then, in the spring, a pandemic began to sweep the globe, killing millions. Libraries across the U.S. helped people stay informed, entertained, and cared for as they disseminated information and resources, shifted their services, and re-imagined how they brought collections to the communities they served.
Public libraries in the United States started to proliferate in the late 1800s and early 1900s, often founded by women’s clubs and other social groups seeking to benefit their communities. Their early focus was on classic literature, which was thought to improve and transform the reader. However, thanks in part to librarianship during the pandemic , a shift occurred after World War I towards “useful information”, and with that shift came a focus on readers’ needs and interests.
Huge discovery this morning showing data malfeasance involving Imperial College and Neil Ferguson.
Almost exactly 1 year ago I wrote an article on how a team of researchers at Uppsala University had adapted Ferguson’s UK model to Sweden, and yielded preposterous results – e.g. a prediction of over 90K dead if they did not go into lockdowns. My article made waves over in the UK, and Ferguson himself was grilled about it in testimony before the House of Lords. This caused Imperial College to fire off a bunch of tweets and statements disavowing any connection to the Uppsala adaptation of their model. It wasn’t their product, they insisted, and Imperial itself had never claimed between 40-100K deaths would result in Sweden
In Scoop, Evelyn Waugh drew on his experiences in 1930s Abyssinia to imagine tax collection in fictional Ishmaelia:
It had been found expedient to merge the functions of national defense and inland revenue in an office then held in the capable hands of General Gollancz Jackson; his forces were in two main companies, the Ishmaelite Mule Tax-gathering Force and the Rifle Excisemen with a small Artillery Death Duties Corps for use against the heirs of powerful noblemen…Towards the end of each financial year the general’s flying columns would lumber out into the surrounding country on the heels of the fugitive population and return in time for budget day laden with the spoils of the less nimble; coffee and hides, silver coinage, slaves, livestock, and firearms.
It was from simple plundering of much this kind that today’s often mind-numbingly complicated tax systems evolved. Taxation may be one of the few things in our lives that our ancestors would recognize from theirs.
Something recognizable as taxation doubtless began as simple plunder in the mold of General Jackson, long before Ptolemaic Egypt or even ancient Sumer. Elements of plunder continued over the centuries. In the Roman Empire, victories were sometimes spectacular enough to allow remission of all other taxes for that year. In England, a primary function of the Domesday Book of 1087 was to provide the newly installed Norman conquerors with a record of exactly how much they had acquired. Plunder continued through the conquest of resource-rich South America, though the plunderers themselves were occasionally plundered: Francis Drake’s capture of the Spanish treasure ships (and other piracy against the Spanish in 1577–80) brought Queen Elizabeth I the equivalent of about one year of her ordinary income.
The great student loan scam rolls on, mostly out of public sight. But occasionally the ugly fiscal facts appear as they did this week at a Senate Banking hearing.
The Cares Act allowed student loan borrowers to defer payments without accruing interest through last September. Presidents Trump and Biden have both used emergency executive power to extend the forbearance. Now borrowers don’t have to make payments until at least October, and meantime their balances won’t increase.
It’s a sunny, breezy morning in Eugene, Ore., a place best known for access to the great outdoors, a history of environmental activism and being the birthplace of Nike . I’m standing outside a nondescript, one-story industrial space, speaking with Mark Frohnmayer, chief executive of Arcimoto, maker of a three-wheeled electric vehicle it calls a “fun utility vehicle.”
Only I’m not in Oregon. I’m still stuck at home, on the opposite coast, relying—like many of us—on an ever-growing array of tools that allow me to do my job remotely. In this case, I’m getting a tour of Arcimoto ’s factory via FaceTime. Mr. Frohnmayer is carrying “me” around on an iPhone, pointing things out, getting me up close to machinery, parts and half-finished vehicles, and fielding my questions. For me, it turns out to be a reasonable facsimile of actually being there. Minus the eight-hour flight and stay at a Dow Jones-approved discount hotelwith continental breakfast, that is.
This is how Mr. Frohnmayer and his team have been giving factory tours to investors, customers and suppliers since the pandemic began. It works well enough that Mr. Frohnmayer wants to keep doing it after the pandemic ends, because it comes with no loss in productivity due to travel days.
Thanks to cloud-based collaborative tools of every description—not just Zoom—the pandemic has led to a reset in office culture, from in-person to remote or hybrid. Surprisingly, there’s also been a reset for workers that almost no one thought could do their jobs remotely, including field service engineers and emergency medical personnel.
While these changes explain trends within the post-pandemic workplace, they also demonstrate a new way forward for relationships between businesses. Many examples come from the most hands-on industry of all: manufacturing. Workers still have to show up at a factory and assemble products, and quality control may demand overseas travel from time to time, but many other activities—including investment due diligence, relationship-building with suppliers and customers, and even research and development—have unexpectedly and perhaps permanently gone remote.
Reading isn’t just a set of skills. The most important factor in helping middle schoolers overcome literacy issues is creating strong relationships with students and families. As an administrator, I’m always using assistive technology to help guide curricular decisions and working to build structure so that students can access their education, but my best educators are the ones who stay laser-focused on developing meaningful relationships.
How to Support Struggling Readers in Middle School
The embarrassment of having a hard time reading can lead to evasive behavior and hopelessness. Here’s how my school steps in.
At the age of 13, around 65 percent of students who play competitive sports quit that sport and try a new sport. It’s because they stop winning or adopt some notion that they aren’t good enough. The same goes for reading. At Bay Area Technology School, we’ve found that 7th and 8th grades are the most crucial years in terms of making sure that kids don’t feel hopeless about their reading ability.
If we can identify struggling readers and keep them motivated, we can turn them around in life-changing ways. They might not be reading Faulkner or Shakespeare, but they can read their high school textbooks and graduate from high school. The challenge for our educators is that, by 7th grade, students might be hiding their challenges behind coping mechanisms that keep them from being discovered. Here’s how we find and help our middle schoolers who have trouble with reading.
Out on Good Behavior: Teaching Math while Looking Over Your Shoulder, by Barry Garelick. We greatly enjoyed and got a lot out of this brief, sardonic memoir of an outstanding math teacher in an era when teaching math in public schools is becoming increasingly divorced from what neuroscience has revealed about how students actually learn math. Garelick’s witty observations give a sense of what’s going on in a way that would be difficult for most parents to discover—and some of Garelick’s observations are priceless: “I once told my eighth-grade algebra class that my classroom is one place where they won’t hear the words ‘growth mindset’—to which the class reacted with wild applause. Someone then asked what my objections to ‘growth mindset’ were. I said I didn’t like how it was interpreted: Motivational cliches like ‘I can’t do it…yet’ supposedly build up confidence leading to motivation and success. I believe it’s the other way around: success causes motivation more than motivation causes success. [Or, as researchers Szu-Han Wang and Richard Morris have noted: “we rapidly remember what interests us, but what interests us takes time to develop.” And this Slate Star Codex article about growth mindset remains timeless.]
Garelick presciently observes: “Where students frequently see through ineffective educational fads, people in education—after buying into such theories—see what they want to see.” Out on Good Behavior is well worth reading if you care about what your child is learning—or not learning—in school, particularly when it comes to math.
Much more on Barry Garelick, here.
Responding to its worst academic scandal in decades, the U.S. Military Academy at West Point will scrap a program that provided a second chance to cadets who violated the honor code that is central to its mission, officials said on Friday.
The program, which the academy adopted in 2015, was sharply criticized by some West Point graduates in December after officials disclosed that 73 cadets had been accused of cheating on a calculus exam last spring.
Quantum computing is the biggest revolution in computing since… computing. Our world is made of quantum information, but we perceive the world in classical information. That is, there is a whole lot going on at small scales that are not accessible with our normal senses. As humans we evolved to process classical information, not quantum information: our brains are wired to think about Sabertooth cats, not Schrodinger’s cats. We can encode our classical information easily enough with zeros and ones, but what about accessing the extra information available that makes up our universe? Can we use the quantum nature of reality to process information? Of course, otherwise we would have to end this post here and that would be unsatisfying to us all. Let’s explore the power of quantum computing then get you started writing some of your own quantum code.
It’s Leonard Euler’s 314th birthday today. In network circles the grandfather of graph theory is perhaps best known for his 1735 solution to the problem known as the Seven Bridges of Königsberg. Using novel graph theory techniques Euler was able to show that a route across the seven bridges without crossing the same one twice was impossible.
Euler’s work was fundamental for graph theory and I find it delightful to overlay the original problem statement over the roads and bridges that make up Königsberg, now Kaliningrad, today.
At the turn of the 19th century, American universities were mostly under-resourced, regional schools. By World War II, they had become research leaders on the global stage, attracting the world’s best scientists.
In a paper in the Journal of Economic Perspectives, economists W. Bentley MacLeod and Miguel Urquiola say that the US universities’ ascendancy in research started earlier than many people believe.
Just after the Civil War, two innovators found a successful formula. Johns Hopkins and Cornell made key reforms that started attracting the best research talent—and the large sums of money needed to keep it.
Today, reformers would like to tweak practices like tenure that helped create this virtuous circle. But Urquiola says they should keep a few important tradeoffs in mind.
Urquiola recently spoke with the AEA’s Tyler Smith about the history of the US university system and what today’s education policymakers can learn from it.
Now, it appears that Facebook is once again putting its thumb on the scale, and it has to do with another New York Post article. Users worldwide are reporting that they can’t share a New York Post story about a Black Lives Matter co-founder buying several real estate properties, including a $1.4 million California home, on any of Facebook’s services (Facebook’s social network, Instagram, and Messenger all appear to be impacted):
When Newsweek reporters attempted to post a link to the Post’s story, the action couldn’t be completed. The following message also appeared: “Your post couldn’t be shared, because this link goes against our Community Standards. If you think this doesn’t go against our Community Standards let us know
Many taxpayer supported K – 12 school districts use Facebook services, including Madison.￼
The FLoC Header
The FLoC Header
The primary way an end-user can avoid being FLoC’d is to simply not use Chrome, and instead choose a privacy-respecting browser such as Mozilla Firefox .
But website owners can also ensure that their web servers are not participating in this massive network by opting-out of FLoC.
To do so, the following custom HTTP response header needs to be added:
Many taxpayer supported K – 12 school districts use Google services, including Madison.￼ YouTube censorship.
If there’s one lesson education policymakers might have learned in the last twenty-five years, it’s that it’s not hard to make schools and districts do something, but it’s extremely hard to make them do it well. There has always been at least a tacit assumption among policy wonks that schools and teachers are sitting on vast reserves of untapped potential that must either to be set free from bureaucratic constraints or shaken out of its complacency. Those of us who have spent lots of time in classrooms watching teachers trying their best and failing (or trying hard and failing ourselves) often find those assumptions curious. Compliance is easy. It’s competence that’s the rub.
Last week, North Carolina’s Democratic governor signed into law a bill that mandates, among other things, that schools in the state use a phonics-based approach to reading instruction. Dubbed the “Excellent Public Schools Act,” the law, which enjoyed strong bipartisan support, requires teachers to be trained in the “science of reading” and to base their reading instruction on it. Despite my inherent skepticism that policy alone can move classroom practice in the right direction, I’m having a hard time finding fault with what North Carolina has done.
I’m generally not keen to impose my preferred flavors of curriculum and instruction on schools, despite some well-defined opinions on such matters. But if there’s an exception, it’s early childhood literacy with curriculum and instruction grounded in the science of reading. The foundational role of proficient decoding and comprehension in academic success suggests that, while it might make sense to let a thousand flowers bloom in curriculum, instruction, and school models—vive la différence!—we have no more important shared task than getting kids to the starting line of basic literacy from the first days of school. So if I have any lingering technocratic impulses left, they’re limited to early childhood literacy and the “science of reading.” But the open question is whether literacy laws—from mandating phonics to third grade retention policies—can have a beneficial effect on classroom practice.
Related: My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results
I was planning to publish a roundup today of the many thoughtful responses to Paul Rossi’s essay. I’m going to save that post for Sunday, because I was just sent this letter that has my jaw on the floor. It was written by a Brearley parent named Andrew Gutmann.
If you don’t know about Brearley, it’s a private all-girls school on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. It costs $54,000 a year and prospective families apparently have to take an “anti-racism pledge” to be considered for admission. (In the course of my reporting for this piece I spoke to a few Brearley parents.)
Gutmann chose to pull his daughter, who has been in the school since kindergarten, and sent this missive to all 600 or so families in the school earlier this week. Among the lines:
If Brearley’s administration was truly concerned about so-called “equity,” it would be discussing the cessation of admissions preferences for legacies, siblings, and those families with especially deep pockets. If the administration was genuinely serious about “diversity,” it would not insist on the indoctrination of its students, and their families, to a single mindset, most reminiscent of the Chinese Cultural Revolution.
I’m pasting the whole thing below.
From the point of view of health risks, the raw oyster that Sir David Spiegelhalter is in the process of releasing from its shell and preparing to slide into his mouth probably wasn’t the safest bet. But from the perspective of sheer pleasure, after a year of restrictions and restraint, it feels like the perfect choice. He chews it a few times — the correct way to eat an oyster — and slurps it down, beaming. “Oh, lovely!”
Besides, his nickname might be “Professor Risk” but if there’s one thing the 67-year-old Spiegelhalter wishes he’d done more of over the years, it’s throwing caution to the wind. “My one regret in my life is that I haven’t taken enough risks,” he tells me wistfully. “I’ve been too cautious — in my career, in my travels. I wish I’d done far more adventurous things.”
The Court ruled that when consumers created a new Google Account during the initial set-up process of their Android device, Google misrepresented that the ‘Location History’ setting was the only Google Account setting that affected whether Google collected, kept or used personally identifiable data about their location. In fact, another Google Account setting titled ‘Web & App Activity’ also enabled Google to collect, store and use personally identifiable location data when it was turned on, and that setting was turned on by default.
The Court also found that when consumers later accessed the ‘Location History’ setting on their Android device during the same time period to turn that setting off, they were also misled because Google did not inform them that by leaving the ‘Web & App Activity’ setting switched on, Google would continue to collect, store and use their personally identifiable location data.
Many taxpayer supported K – 12 school districts use Google services, including Madison.￼ YouTube censorship.
The ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has set up a hotline for people to report each other to the authorities for failing to toe the party’s freshly revised line on matters of history.
The Cyberspace Administration said in a post to its official Weibo account on April 9 that people should use the number “to report erroneous online remarks relating to historical nihilism.”
The move is to “create a good public opinion environment” regarding China’s history since the CCP took power in 1949, the post said.
To help those who may be unsure of which opinions are the “correct” ones, the CCP has also published a handy guide in the form of a book titled A Brief History of the Communist Party of China.
Published to mark the party’s centenary this year, the revised history plays down the cautious diplomatic approach of late supreme leader Deng Xiaoping in the wake of international sanctions following the 1989 Tiananmen massacre, instead highlighting his comments to former U.S. president Richard Nixon in November 2019.
Deng told Nixon that China would never “beg” for sanctions to be lifted, the book says.
Institute for Reforming Government, Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, Wisconsin, Federation for Children School Choice, Wisconsin Action ExcelinEd in Action, Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty, The John K. MacIver Institute for Public Policy Badger Institute, FreedomWorks and Building Education for Students Together:
Dear Governor Evers, Speaker Vos, Majority Leader LeMahieu, and State Superintendent Stanford Taylor,
At last Thursday’s Joint Education Committee hearing on how to spend the American Rescue Plan’s billions of dollars in supplemental funding for K-12 education, a common, bipartisan theme emerged: policymakers in Wisconsin must find ways to help students who have fallen behind, failed courses, and gone missing. In response, our organizations are calling on lawmakers, to the greatest extent possible, to utilize the American Rescue Plan’s $1.5 billion in new K-12 funding to support course access for struggling students. This could:
1. Allow parents to choose the courses that best fit the needs of their children at the school they currently attend.
2. Fund after school, summer school, and other courses that meet each child’s individual needs and help them get caught up and ready to excel.
3. Ensure accountability by allowing only course providers—including other traditional public, private, or public charter schools, dual enrollment courses through universities or technical colleges, or other private providers such as tutors—to receive full payment only if the student successfully completes the course.
Wisconsin K-12 At a Crossroads: Before the pandemic, our reading scores were below the national average. Wisconsin’s racial achievement gaps consistently rank near the largest in the nation. The K-12 system simply prevented too many students from realizing the American Dream.
Our organizations are deeply concerned that COVID-19 has exacerbated the achievement gap while simultaneously lowering outcomes across the board, even for many students who once earned solid A’s. More troubling, Wisconsin public school enrollment has dropped by 25,000 in a single year. While some of those students simply fled schools that were closed in favor of private options that were teaching in person, many others are simply missing. For those who are logging into virtual learning, failure rates are skyrocketing. A Milwaukee Journal Sentinel survey of 60 school districts in Wisconsin concluded that 90% of the districts had higher failure rates than the year prior. Around one in three students at Milwaukee Public Schools, according to the district, failed the fall semester. At Wausau Public Schools, around one in four middle school and high school students failed a course (a quadruple increase from the prior year).
For many years, Wisconsin has reserved the position of state superintendent of schools for someone steeped in union politics and promising the status quo. But over the past year, COVID-19 has turned many such situations on their heads and polarized politics in a way never seen before. The superintendent election that took place across Wisconsin last week was not excused from the COVID-effect. For once in a long while, the status quo candidate—Jill Underly—faced a very serious challenge from Debb Kerr who, for focusing on getting students back in the classroom and promising to treat all school sectors equally, became the reform candidate overnight. Unfortunately for Wisconsin students, Underly prevailed. But the race exposed a growing schism on the left around the issue of education reform.
In the primary, Underly garnered support from the teachers unions by expressing her skepticism on school choice, and proposing a freeze on the programs that would effectively eliminate the option for countless kids around the state. Kerr supported working with the voucher and charter sectors, and viewing all sectors as part of a broader team working to improve educational outcomes for Wisconsin students.
In the past it was possible on the national level and in Wisconsin to receive support from the teachers unions while also allowing school choice. For instance, Arne Duncan, President Obama’s secretary of education, a supporter of education reform in its most tepid forms, endorsed Kerr in the last week before the election. However, these Democrats are finding themselves increasingly ostracized from the party’s mainstream when forced to address educational issues. For instance, Duncan’s endorsement of Kerr quickly led to a tweet from Wisconsin Congressman Mark Pocan claiming that Duncan was a “bad” Secretary of Education for supporting options like charter schools. Pocan also called voucher supporters a “cult.”
Much more on Kerr vs. Underly, here.
State law restricts program eligibility to African American, American Indian, Hispanic and some Southeast Asian students.
WILL argues the program criteria amounts to racial discrimination — which is prohibited by the state constitution — because students who are Thai, Chinese, Japanese, Indian, North African, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, or white don’t qualify.
“It’s hard to see a statute that is more discriminatory based on race than this one,” WILL deputy counsel Dan Lennington said. “We’re interested in pursuing cases where people are treated differently because of their race and this is one of the worst offenders.”
Officials with the Higher Educational Aids Board did not respond Thursday to a request for comment.
The notion of putting cameras on orbiting drones to catch malefactors was born on the battlefields of Iraq, where American armed forces wanted to nab people leaving bombs on roadsides. Ross McNutt, a former air-force engineer, founded Persistent Surveillance Systems (pss) to offer the same service to American cities (and others, such as Juárez) struggling with high murder rates. pss drones flew over parts of Baltimore, most recently in May-October 2020. St Louis, among America’s most violent cities, also considered but is poised to reject pss’s services, which raise difficult questions about how much surveillance Americans are willing to tolerate in exchange for the promise of safer streets.
Purchase of Stock Via Call Options
Barron’s reports Nancy Pelosi’s Husband Bought Roblox, Microsoft Stock
Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband just disclosed he bought Roblox stock the day it went public, and acquired Microsoft stock through options.
The Barron’s article is behind a paywall. Fox News also reports the same thing: Pelosi’s Husband Bought $10M in Microsoft Shares Through Options.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband purchased millions of dollars worth of Microsoft (MSFT) and Roblox (RBLX) shares last month, new financial disclosures form reveal.
Paul Pelosi exercised call options and paid $1.95 million to buy 15,000 shares of Microsoft at a strike price of $130 on March 19, according to an April 9th filing with the House clerk. That same day, Pelosi, who owns and operates a California venture capital investment and consulting firm, paid $1.4 million for 10,000 shares valued at $140 apiece.
Since Pelosi made the purchase, Microsoft share prices have climbed from about $230 to roughly $255 – an increase of close to 11% – after the company secured a lucrative government contract worth nearly $22 billion to supply U.S. Army combat troops with augmented reality headsets. The deal was announced on March 31.
The British spy agency GCHQ is so aggressive, extreme and unconstrained by law or ethics that the NSA — not exactly world renowned for its restraint — often farms out spying activities too scandalous or illegal for the NSA to their eager British counterparts. There is, as the Snowden reporting demonstrated, virtually nothing too deceitful or invasive for the GCHQ. They spy on entire populations, deliberately disseminate fake news, exploit psychological research to control behavior and manipulate public perception, and destroy the reputations, including through the use of sex traps, of anyone deemed adversarial to the British government.
But they want you to know that they absolutely adore gay people. In fact, they love the cause of LGBT equality so very much that, beginning on May 17, 2015 — International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia — they started draping their creepy, UFO-style headquarters in the colors of the rainbow flag. The prior year, in 2014, they had merely raised the rainbow flag in front of their headquarters, but in 2015, they announced, “we wanted to make a bold statement to show the nation we serve how strongly we believe in this.”
“The key to greater learning begins with knowing how to manage a classroom.” What must be added is “how to manage a school” and “how to manage a school district.” Solving disciplinary problems cannot be done in the classroom alone. Reigning in disciplinary problems must begin with leadership at the school and district levels.
What’s reassuring is that there is no need to “reinvent the wheel.” All of the “how-to” has been developed by a variety of experts and confirmed by numerous studies. One such example is Schoolwide and Classroom Discipline developed by The Northwest Regional Laboratory. It provides an abundance of practical solutions, has pages of references, and it’s free.
According to Harry K. Wong, How to be an Effective Teacher, the most common mistake teachers make in disciplining is that they don’t do classroom management—“they present lessons, and if something goes wrong, they discipline.” There is nothing mystical about classroom management. Simply stated, classroom management is the practices and procedures that allow teachers to teach and students to learn. Aren’t teachers trained in effective classroom management techniques? No! That’s why discipline is rated the number one problem by classroom teachers, and it’s the reason why classroom management seminars are so popular.
In one such seminar conducted by Fred Jones, who has written three books on classroom management, a teacher asked a rather profound question: “Why weren’t we given this information about classroom discipline 20 years ago?”
There were 71 referenda on the ballot around the state this spring. Voters only approved 42 of them—a 60.56% passage rate. While this number may seem relatively high, it is actually extremely low in comparison to recent years. The figure below shows the referenda passage rate over the last ten years. Spring and fall passage rates are combined for ease of understanding.
Madison Receives More Redistributed Federal Taxpayer Funds; $70,659,827 (!)
I tend to think that most fears about A.I. are best understood as fears about capitalism. And I think that this is actually true of most fears of technology, too. Most of our fears or anxieties about technology are best understood as fears or anxiety about how capitalism will use technology against us. And technology and capitalism have been so closely intertwined that it’s hard to distinguish the two.
Let’s think about it this way. How much would we fear any technology, whether A.I. or some other technology, how much would you fear it if we lived in a world that was a lot like Denmark or if the entire world was run sort of on the principles of one of the Scandinavian countries? There’s universal health care. Everyone has child care, free college maybe. And maybe there’s some version of universal basic income there.
Now if the entire world operates according to — is run on those principles, how much do you worry about a new technology then? I think much, much less than we do now. Most of the things that we worry about under the mode of capitalism that the U.S practices, that is going to put people out of work, that is going to make people’s lives harder, because corporations will see it as a way to increase their profits and reduce their costs. It’s not intrinsic to that technology. It’s not that technology fundamentally is about putting people out of work.
Tricia Zunker said she knows school board presidents sometimes have a target on their backs. It’s part of the job, she said.
But as Zunker led the Wausau School District board over the past year, she said, “People were so cruel, you’d think I personally brought the pandemic here.”
Angry citizens scrawled messages about her on sidewalks around town. A board president in a neighboring district wrote on Facebook that she was “a waste of physical space on the planet.”
Tuesday’s election brought the coup de grace: Of seven candidates seeking four seats on the board, Zunker finished sixth. Three winners, all newcomers, ran as a bloc against what they called Wausau’s “virtual and hybrid learning nightmare.”
After a year in which parents’ frustrations put schools in the spotlight more than ever, board elections were unusually contentious and partisan. Across the state, many voters opted for change.
Incumbents lost in suburban districts such as Oak Creek-Franklin, and more urban districts such as Green Bay. Those who unseated incumbents criticized reopening plans, transparency and current board members’ political leanings.
Not every district elected candidates pushing for more in-person learning, though. Christina Brey, spokesperson for the Wisconsin Education Association Council representing educators around the state, said the issue swung both ways.
In more urban areas, like Milwaukee and Green Bay, voters favored candidates who were in favor of more cautious reopenings and enjoyed the support of local teachers unions. In other districts, support from teachers was the kiss of death.
Few issues highlight Barack Obama’s extreme hypocrisy the way that Bagram does. As everyone knows, one of George Bush’s most extreme policies was abducting people from all over the world — far away from any battlefield — and then detaining them at Guantanamo with no legal rights of any kind, not even the most minimal right to a habeas review in a federal court. Back in the day, this was called “Bush’s legal black hole.” In 2006, Congress codified that policy by enacting the Military Commissions Act, but in 2008, the Supreme Court, in Boumediene v. Bush, ruled that provision unconstitutional, holding that the Constitution grants habeas corpus rights even to foreign nationals held at Guantanamo. Since then, detainees have won 35 out of 48 habeas hearings brought pursuant to Boumediene, on the ground that there was insufficient evidence to justify their detention.
All of nature springs from a handful of components — the fundamental particles — that interact with one another in only a few different ways. In the 1970s, physicists developed a set of equations describing these particles and interactions. Together, the equations formed a succinct theory now known as the Standard Model of particle physics.
The Standard Model is missing a few puzzle pieces (conspicuously absent are the putative particles that make up dark matter, those that convey the force of gravity, and an explanation for the mass of neutrinos), but it provides an extremely accurate picture of almost all other observed phenomena.
Observers describe the quantity of research information now produced variously as “torrent,” “overload,” “proliferation,” or the like. Technological advances in computing and telecommunication have helped us keep up, to an extent. But, I would argue, scholarly and journalistic ethics have not kept pace.
As a case in point, consider the journal article literature review. Its function is twofold: to specify where new information fits within the context of what is already known; and to avoid unknowingly duplicating research projects the public has already paid for. Paradoxically, however, information proliferation may discourage honest and accurate literature reviews. Research information accumulates, which increases the time required for conducting a thorough literature review, which increases the incentive to avoid it.
Most dismissive reviews that I have encountered are raw declarations. A scholar, pundit, or journalist simply declares that no research on a topic exists (or couldn’t be any good if it did exist). No mention is made of how or where (or, even if) they searched. Certain themes appear over and over, such as:
The root of the problem: Many editors do not review literature reviews for accuracy. As a result, an author can write anything about earlier work on a topic — including misrepresentations of the work of rivals.
Over the last few years, a number of colleges and universities have dropped the requirement for all or part of the SAT or ACT exam as part of their admissions requirements. This movement appears to be increasing. It’s logical to wonder about the large-scale implications of eliminating the requirement of these tests, the benefits, and the downsides. In today’s episode, Therese Markow and Dr. Richard Phelps, discuss this trend of eliminating standardized tests, the origins of this movement, and the potential consequences we may see as a result of these changing requirements.
This week, our award is going to the United States Congress for allocating nearly $170 million for emergency funding to be distributed among Ivy League universities, some with endowments larger than the total assets managed by some mid-size investment funds.
The most recent “coronavirus relief bill” cost just under $2 trillion, placing significant upward pressure on the already-skyrocketing national debt. The Biden administration’s opening salvo was criticized for being packed with spending only tenuously related to the pandemic, including $86 billion to bail out union pension funds and $1.5 billion for Amtrak (a pet cause of President Biden, dubbed “Amtrak Joe” during his Senate years for his daily rail commutes between Washington and his Wilmington, Del. home).
1. Ivy League payments and entitlements cost taxpayers $41.59 billion over a six-year period (FY2010-FY2015). This is equivalent to $120,000 in government monies, subsidies, & special tax treatment per undergraduate student, or $6.93 billion per year.
The document also sheds more light on a once-secret deal between Facebook Inc. and Google, known as Jedi Blue, which allegedly guaranteed Facebook would both bid in—and win—a fixed percentage of ad auctions.
Many taxpayer supported K-12 school Districts use Google services, including Madison
And there has been considerable research and analysis into demonetization, which is when YouTube prohibits specific videos or channels from running ads. For instance, a research project conducted by the people behind the YouTube channels Sealow, Nerd City, and YouTube Analyzed uploaded thousands of videos and found that the company demonetized those with the words “gay,” “lesbian,” and some other words associated with the LGBTQ community. In an article about the research, Vox quoted an unnamed Google spokesperson saying that the company tests to ensure the algorithm it uses for ad blocking isn’t biased and that the company does not “have a list of LGBTQ+ related words that trigger demonetization.”
Our investigation did not focus on demonetization but rather on apparent steps taken by Google to prevent advertisers from deliberately placing ads on YouTube videos the company finds are related to certain words and phrases.
In our first investigation in this series, we found that Google does a poor job of blocking advertisers from targeting hate YouTube videos on the Google Ads portal. It allowed companies to find videos related to more than two-thirds of our list of hate phrases—and we got around the blocks for all but three phrases. (YouTube responded by adding some, but not all, of the words and phrases it missed to its blocklist.)
Analysis of 51 cities with murder data through at least September shows murder up 35.7% YTD relative to 2019.
Big cities tend to overstate national trends in crime, but the national change in murder in 2020 will be historically awful.
D cities +36.2%
R cities +35.6% pic.twitter.com/fnRsCYxkMT
— Jeff Asher (@Crimealytics) November 23, 2020
As president, Reyes has been the face and often the spokesperson of the Madison School Board during some very trying and challenging times including the COVID-19 pandemic and the canceling of in-person classes, the hiring of new MMSD superintendent twice (Dr. Matthew Gutierrez rescinded his acceptance of the job before MMSD started over from scratch to hire now-Superintendent Dr. Carl Jenkins), the temporary firing last year of a Madison West High School security guard that drew international attention, and a facilities and operation referendum process. Those are to just name a few.
“It all started when Dr. Jen Cheatham announced that she was leaving for another opportunity and I knew right then that this would spark a transition and an opportunity for our school district,” Reyes says. “It’s a loss, but also an opportunity to explore who our new leader could be. We launched a really transparent, engaged process to hear what the community wanted to see in their next leader.”
MMSD hired Dr. Matthew Gutierrez who was leading the school district in Seguin, Texas, but the COVID-19 pandemic began and Guitierrez rescinded his acceptance and decided that he could not leave his school district during such a challenging time.
“I feel like he was going to be an amazing leader for us, but COVID hit and we found ourselves without a superintendent while going through the pandemic and closing schools and moving to virtual learning,” Reyes says. “That was also a very challenging time for us and our students, our teachers, our school administrators and our staff to go through a whole year in virtual learning. It’s been challenging for everyone including our parents and our families.
2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’sRemarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results
Think of it this way: If you want to calculate how much money you have made in 2021, you start at zero, and then Jan. 1’s data is the first “change.” You don’t start counting on Jan. 2.
(And while we are on the topic, the stylebook notes that we use hyphens only when the phrase precedes the noun: year-to-date expenses. Otherwise: expenses for the year to date. Use the abbreviation YTD only in tabular material.)
Notes on the News
The news of the week in context, with Tyler Blint-Welsh.
This is similar to an issue we used to sometimes have with reporting on the performance of new stock offerings. The rise in a new stock must be calculated from the offering price (the price that was set on the initial public offering), not on the first trade or the first day’s close. Otherwise, we are capturing only a part of the true movement in the stock from its base price.
“BARBARIANS”, A NETFLIX drama set 2,000 years ago in ancient Germania, inverts some modern stereotypes. In it, sexy, impulsive, proto-German tribesmen take on an oppressive superstate led by cold, rational Latin-speakers from Rome. Produced in Germany, it has all the hallmarks of a glossy American drama (gratuitous violence and prestige nudity) while remaining unmistakably German (in one episode someone swims through a ditch full of scheisse). It is a popular mix: on a Sunday in October, it was the most-watched show on Netflix not just in Germany, but also in France, Italy and 14 other European countries.
Moments when Europeans sit down and watch the same thing at roughly the same time used to be rare. They included the Eurovision Song Contest and the Champions League football, with not much in between. Now they are more common, thanks to the growth of streaming platforms such as Netflix, which has 58m subscribers on the continent. For most of its existence, television was a national affair. Broadcasters stuck rigidly to national borders, pumping out French programmes for the French and Danish ones for the Danes. Streaming services, however, treat Europe as one large market rather than 27 individual ones, with the same content available in each. Jean Monnet, one of the EU’s founding fathers, who came up with the idea of mangling together national economies to stop Europeans from killing each other, was once reputed to have said: “If I were to do it again from scratch, I would start with culture.” Seven decades on from the era of Monnet, cultural integration is beginning to happen.
To reform the senior civil service, the government will also abolish the system by which people are initially assigned to the most prestigious government jobs based on their ranking at Ena graduation, and instead give them roles based on needs and skills.
Macron first promised to abolish Ena, which has produced four of France’s seven presidents since 1958 and is his own alma mater, in 2019 in response to the anti-establishment gilets jaunes protests.
The decision shocked the French elite and divided public opinion — some saw it as a long overdue move to help fix an unequal society while others decried it as a cynical gesture pandering to populists.
Last year the government appeared to soften its stance and floated the idea of replacing Ena with a new institution while retaining the brand for international purposes such as the training of EU staff. That approach has now been adopted as Macron prepares for presidential elections next spring with his popularity dented by his handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
Ena was founded in 1945 under Charles de Gaulle with the aim of training civil servants drawn from all social classes through entrance exams and assigning jobs based on performance rather than wealth or connections.
“I read books to read myself,” Sven Birkerts wrote in The Gutenberg Elegies: The Fate of Reading in an Electronic Age. Birkerts’s book, which turns twenty-five this year, is composed of fifteen essays on reading, the self, the convergence of the two, and the ways both are threatened by the encroachment of modern technology. As the culture around him underwent the sea change of the internet’s arrival, Birkerts feared that qualities long safeguarded and elevated by print were in danger of erosion: among them privacy, the valuation of individual consciousness, and an awareness of history—not merely the facts of it, but a sense of its continuity, of our place among the centuries and cosmos. “Literature holds meaning not as a content that can be abstracted and summarized, but as experience,” he wrote. “It is a participatory arena. Through the process of reading we slip out of our customary time orientation, marked by distractedness and surficiality, into the realm of duration.”
Writing in 1994, Birkerts worried that distractedness and surficiality would win out. The “duration state” we enter through a turned page would be lost in a world of increasing speed and relentless connectivity, and with it our ability to make meaning out of narratives, both fictional and lived. The diminishment of literature—of sustained reading, of writing as the product of a single focused mind—would diminish the self in turn, rendering us less and less able to grasp both the breadth of our world and the depth of our own consciousness. For Birkerts, as for many a reader, the thought of such a loss devastates. So while he could imagine this bleak near-future, he (mostly) resisted the masochistic urge to envision it too concretely, focusing instead on the present, in which—for a little while longer, at least—he reads, and he writes. His collection, despite its title, resembles less an elegy for literature than an attempt to stave off its death: by writing eloquently about his own reading life and electronic resistance, Birkerts reminds us that such a life is worthwhile, desirable, and, most importantly, still possible. In the face of what we stand to lose, he privileges what we might yet gain.
Kieran Bhattacharya is a student at the University of Virginia (UVA) School of Medicine. On October 25, 2018, he attended a panel discussion on the subject of microaggressions. Dissatisfied with the definition of a microaggression offered by the presenter—Beverly Cowell Adams, an assistant dean—Bhattacharya raised his hand.
Within a few weeks, as a result of the fallout from Bhattacharya’s question about microagressions, the administration had branded him a threat to the university and banned him from campus. He is now suing UVA for violating his First Amendment rights, and a judge recently ruled that his suit should proceed.
I did not become a libertarian because I was persuaded by philosophical arguments — those of Ayn Rand or F. A. Hayek, for example. Rather, I became a libertarian because I was persuaded by my own experiences and observations of reality. There were three important lessons.
The first lesson was my personal experience of socialism. The second was what I learned about the consequences of government intervention from teaching a course on financial intermediaries and markets. And the third lesson was what I learned about the origin and evolution of government from my research into the sources of economic progress in preindustrial Europe and China.
Lesson 1. My Personal Experience of Socialism
In my youth, I was a socialist. I know that is not unusual. But I not only talked the talk, I walked the walk.
Growing up in England as a foreign‐ born Jew, I did not feel I belonged. So, as a teenager, I decided to emigrate to Israel. To further my plan, I joined a Zionist youth movement. The movement I joined was not only Zionist: it was also socialist. So, to fit in, I became a socialist. Hey, I was a teenager!
What do I mean by a socialist? I mean someone who believes that the principal source of human unhappiness is the struggle for money — “capitalism” — and that the solution is to organize society on a different principle — “from each according to his ability; to each according to his needs.” The Israeli kibbutz in the 1960s was such a society. The youth movement I joined in England sent groups of young people to Israel to settle on a kibbutz. When I was 18, I joined such a group going to settle on Kibbutz Amiad.
A kibbutz is a commune of a few hundred adults, plus kids, engaged primarily in agriculture but also in light industry and tourism. Members work wherever they are assigned, although preferences are taken into account. Instead of receiving pay, members receive benefits in kind: they live in assigned housing, they eat in a communal dining hall, and their children are raised communally in children’s houses, and can visit with their parents for a few hours each day. Most property is communal except for personal items such as clothing and furniture, for which members receive a small budget. Because cigarettes were free, I soon began to smoke!
Kibbutz is bottom‐ up socialism on the scale of a small community. It thereby avoids the worst problems of state socialism: a planned economy and totalitarianism. The kibbutz, as a unit, is part of a market economy, and membership is voluntary: you can leave at any time. This is “socialism with a human face” — as good as it gets.
When Michael Lista went to stay 10 days at a lonely, one-storey motel in Emerson, Manitoba, he overpacked. His suitcase was full to the brim with clothes he didn’t end up wearing. It turned out that all he needed were his travel essentials—a pair of jeans, a pair of boots, a parka, and most important, a beat-up Sony voice recorder, complete with scratches on its small LED screen and dust in the crevasses of the speaker grilles. For Lista, a self-described Luddite, that palm-sized device is his baby; the single-most important tool for his line of work.
His room at the motel was a relic of a past long gone. A frayed, low-pile carpet lined the floor, the beige wallpaper stained by humidity and the passage of time. Lista had no complaints, though, for two reasons: the first being that the kind folks that managed the motel charged less than $50 per night. The other reason was because the Maple Leaf Motel was exactly where Lista intended to be. His goal was to tell the story of his next-door neighbours: asylum-seekers who, fearing President Donald Trump’s anti-immigration regime, fled the United States and ended up in a small town with a population of fewer than 700, some 200 metres north of the border.
Lista chronicled the story of refugees like Ahmed, a gay man who endured capsizing migrant boats, deadly spiders, a robbery, and imprisonment during his three-year journey from Ecuador to southern Winnipeg. He shared the story of a young man named Koffi, who feared deportation back to Ghana. Emerson, being so close to the U.S. border, was a town filled with Odyssean tales like these, of the people who were forced to cross the lines of legality to escape the perilousness of their home country. And because their stories so often involved breaking immigration laws, Lista had a concern: would he be putting his sources in jeopardy simply by speaking with them?
A new association has been formed at McGill University to serve faculty, staff, and students who believe in academic freedom and are concerned about the cancel culture now operating in universities.
SAFS McGill, a freshly minted chapter of the Society for Academic Freedom and Scholarship, has launched itself online under the rubric, THINKSPACE: A SAFE PLACE FOR REASON.
Its founding members, drawn from across the University, recognize the solemn duty of academics to pursue knowledge and understanding wherever that leads, and to disseminate their findings without fear or favour. That sometimes means questioning received wisdom or challenging powerful interest groups or rejecting premature closure of debate. They are committed to a free marketplace of ideas that contend through rational enquiry rather than through pressure tactics.
SAFS McGill has the following goals:
Pat is a programmer at a large software company. At best, he’s a middling performer; his code is a mess (initializing variables that are never used, using variable names no one else understands, etc.), he takes longer than he should, and he doesn’t even remember his own code months later.
But Pat’s poor coding skills aren’t his most annoying attribute. What frustrates his manager the most is that Pat is absolutely convinced that he’s a great programmer. Last month was Pat’s performance review, and after receiving a low score from his manager, Pat incredulously argued:
“I’m one of the best programmers in this department! What kind of rating scale are you even using if someone with my talent can get a low score? There’s no way that your performance review form is accurately assessing my abilities. Or maybe you’re just assessing a bunch of stuff that has nothing to do with actually being a programmer!”
If you’ve ever dealt with someone whose performance stinks, and they’re not only clueless that their performance stinks but they’re confident that their performance is good, you likely saw the Dunning-Kruger Effect in action.
Schools across the United States and the world have been closed in an effort to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. However, the effect of school closure on COVID-19 transmission remains unclear. We estimate the causal effect of changes in the number of weekly visits to schools on COVID-19 transmission using a triple difference approach. In particular, we measure the effect of changes in county-level visits to schools on changes in COVID-19 diagnoses for households with school-age children relative to changes in COVID-19 diagnoses for households without school-age children. We use a data set from the first 46 weeks of 2020 with 130 million household-week level observations that includes COVID-19 diagnoses merged to school visit tracking data from millions of mobile phones. We find that increases in county-level in-person visits to schools lead to an increase in COVID-19 diagnoses among households with children relative to households without school-age children. However, the effects are small in magnitude. A move from the 25th to the 75th percentile of county-level school visits translates to a 0.3 per 10,000 household increase in COVID-19 diagnoses. This change translates to a 3.2 percent relative increase. We find larger differences in low-income counties, in counties with higher COVID-19 prevalence, and at later stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The poverty researcher Martin Ravallion spent decades researching how poverty can be measured and which policies can help us in our fight against poverty. The summary of his work is his monumental book ‘The Economics of Poverty: History, Measurement, and Policy’.
The first chapters of this book present a detailed history of global poverty and how the research of poverty has developed. The very big-picture of the long-run decline of extreme poverty he summarizes in the following figure. The chart shows that the share of the world population living in extreme poverty declined continuously over the last two centuries.
What is this chart based on? How do we do know that just two centuries ago the majority of the world population lived in conditions that are similar to the living conditions of the very poorest in the world today as this chart indicates? And how do we know that this account of falling global extreme poverty is in fact true?
It is the research of hundreds of historians who have carefully assembled thousands of quantitative estimates that inform us about us about people’s living conditions that give us this global perspective on the history of poverty.
One of the most influential lawmakers over the state budgeting process said he wouldn’t support increasing funding for the state education agency because its new leader elected Tuesday was heavily backed by Democrats and teachers unions.
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, made the statement just an hour after Pecatonica School District Superintendent Jill Underly was elected state schools superintendent, a position that oversees the state Department of Public Instruction.
Vos went to war with Underly immediately after her election after outside spending fueled by Democratic groups set a record for state superintendent races, which are supposed to be nonpartisan but aren’t as more political groups spend to back candidates and state parties promote them.
“… the teachers union owns the DPI; not the parents or the students or the taxpayers. Count me as someone who isn’t going to support putting another nickel into this unaccountable state bureaucracy,” Vos tweeted on Tuesday, an hour after the Associated Press called the race for Underly over former Brown Deer School District Superintendent Deb Kerr.
In response, Underly said she wants to work with the Legislature and Gov. Tony Evers to “help all kids — no matter how their parents vote.”
“I think it’s clear from yesterday’s results that supporting our local schools and our children isn’t a partisan issue,” she said in a statement. “There’s plenty of common ground here, as I’ve already said I want resources to flow to schools, to help with mental health, credit recovery, staffing, and more.”
Parents and families have been on a rollercoaster when it comes to K-12 education in the time of COVID-19. A new poll from Real Clear Opinion Research finds overall support for school choice is increasing as parents need more options than ever.
– 71% of voters back school choice. This is the highest level of support ever recorded from major AFC national polling with a sample size above 800 voters.
– 65% support parents having access to a portion of per-pupil funding to use for home, virtual, or private education if public schools don’t reopen full-time for in-person classes.
Statement from John Schilling, President of the American Federation of Children:
“The continued very strong support among voters for school choice and spending flexibility for parents of school-aged children is a clear message for policymakers. Parents and families are demanding greater choice in K-12 education and they expect policymakers to put the needs of students ahead of the special interests who are bound and determined to protect the status quo.
I learned writing from The Economist. Back home, it wasn’t easy to learn English. No one in my social circle was fluent in the language and I couldn’t afford a private tutor. The best I could do was to create my own syllabus. The kiosk near my house had, to my surprise, the newspaper1. I’d save my allowance to buy whatever issue was on the stand. I’d divide each issue into two units: New Vocabulary and Writing Tools. I’d then memorize the novel words and apply the newly-discovered sentence structures to my essays. I kept doing this for three years.
I like the writing style of The Economist for many reasons: the most important is that it’s easy to understand their point. Writing to be understood might be an obvious requirement of a readable article, but often I find myself occupied with deciphering form instead of digesting content. Not so with the British newspaper: its writers understand that form exists only to serve content. It’s okay to internally admire one’s word choices and sentence structures, but writers should be a little less selfish in their writing, especially nonfiction.
These are 6 writing tools I learned from The Economist. As you’ll see, they exist to serve, not confuse, the reader.
In the eleventh century, St. Anselm of Canterbury proposed an argument for the existence of God that went roughly like this: God is, by definition, the greatest being that we can imagine; a God that doesn’t exist is clearly not as great as a God that does exist; ergo, God must exist. This is known as the ontological argument, and there are enough people who find it convincing that it’s still being discussed, nearly a thousand years later. Some critics of the ontological argument contend that it essentially defines a being into existence, and that that is not how definitions work.
God isn’t the only being that people have tried to argue into existence. “Let an ultraintelligent machine be defined as a machine that can far surpass all the intellectual activities of any man however clever,” the mathematician Irving John Good wrote, in 1965:
Since the design of machines is one of these intellectual activities, an ultraintelligent machine could design even better machines; there would then unquestionably be an “intelligence explosion,” and the intelligence of man would be left far behind. Thus the first ultraintelligent machine is the last invention that man need ever make, provided that the machine is docile enough to tell us how to keep it under control.
The idea of an intelligence explosion was revived in 1993, by the author and computer scientist Vernor Vinge, who called it “the singularity,” and the idea has since achieved some popularity among technologists and philosophers. Books such as Nick Bostrom’s “Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies,” Max Tegmark’s “Life 3.0: Being Human in the age of Artificial Intelligence,” and Stuart Russell’s “Human Compatible: Artificial Intelligence and the Problem of Control” all describe scenarios of “recursive self-improvement,” in which an artificial-intelligence program designs an improved version of itself repeatedly.
The coronovirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has prompted many school districts to turn to distance or at-home learning. Studies are emerging on the negative effects of distance learning on educational performance, but less is known about the socio-economic, geographic and demographic characteristics of students exposed to distance learning. We introduce a U.S. School Closure and Distance Learning Database that tracks in-person visits across more than 100,000 schools throughout 2020. The database, which we make publicly accessible and update monthly, describes year-over-year change in in-person visits to each school throughout 2020 to estimate whether the school is engaged in distance learning. Our findings reveal that school closures from September to December 2020 were more common in schools with lower third-grade math scores and higher shares of students from racial/ethnic minorities, who experience homelessness, have limited English proficiency and are eligible for free/reduced-price school lunches. The findings portend rising inequalities in learning outcomes.
“I was missing our happy hours — we would come together with other teachers on Fridays and that would be your chance to kind of vent and get everything that’s going on out,” Patterson said. “At least, I hope, this podcast is kind of a bridge for that right now.”
The $797 million allocated for Milwaukee amounts to $11,242 per student — the second-highest distribution of COVID-19 relief funding. On the lowest end, the McFarland School District in suburban Madison will receive $107 per student, according to an analysis released by the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau.
Republicans who control the state’s budget-writing committee pressed state education officials Tuesday on the dispensation of federal relief, which was made under a formula that relies heavily on the concentration of children living in poverty — which is 83% of Milwaukee’s student body.
Joint Finance Committee co-chairman Sen. Howard Marklein compared Milwaukee’s massive allocation for its nearly 71,000 students to what was received by school officials in Lancaster, which is receiving $2,213 for each of its 962 students.
“Is that fair?” Marklein asked State Superintendent Carolyn Stanford Taylor, who oversees the DPI and testified before the finance committee on Tuesday.
Madison Metropolitan School District high schools plan to move away from “standalone honors” courses for freshmen and sophomores in the next few years, with an Earned Honors system expected to replace them.
The goal, MMSD leaders told the School Board Monday, is to bring rigor to all classrooms for all students and give more students access to the level of learning that goes on in standalone honors classrooms. Disparities in the demographics of standalone honors classrooms are driving the change, with ninth grade moving to entirely Earned Honors by the 2022-23 school year and 10th grade the following year.
“We should see high level of rigor and an equal quality of programming across every single one of our classrooms,” executive director of curriculum and instruction Kaylee Jackson said.
The Earned Honors system, which began in MMSD for ninth-graders in 2017-18 and expanded to 10th grade the next year, allows students an “opportunity to earn honors designation at the end of each semester/course by meeting predetermined criteria,” according to the district’s presentation. That opportunity is offered across all classrooms, rather than students needing to enroll in honors-specific classes that can be intimidating for students of color who are unfamiliar with them, have been given low expectations by staff or do not see students who look like them in those classrooms.
“This is about levelling the playing field of providing access for all,” co-chief of secondary schools Marvin Pryor said.
East High School principal Brendan Kearney, who expressed support for the change along with the other three comprehensive high school principals, recalled his first day of teaching at the school. His first class, he said, was non-honors and included just one white student, whereas in his second-hour honors class, there were about three students of color, “and that’s in a school that’s fully two-thirds students of color.”
“Whatever the intentions, whatever the efforts that have been made, our current honors system has the effect of sorting students by race, by ethnicity, by language and by disability,” Kearney said.
BUBONIC PLAGUE killed between one and two thirds of Europeans when it struck in the 14th century. Covid-19, mercifully, has exacted nothing like that toll. Its demographic impact, however, is likely to be significantly larger than the nearly 3m tragic deaths so far attributed to the coronavirus thanks to an associated, worldwide baby bust. Births fell by about 15% in China in 2020, for example, while America recorded a 15% drop in monthly births between February and November of last year. As a consequence, the pandemic may have brought forward the projected date of peak global population by as much as a decade—into the 2050s. A shrinking planetary population might seem like a wholly welcome thing given the world’s environmental challenges. But fewer people may also mean fewer new ideas, yielding a very different sort of future than optimists tend to imagine.
Humankind did not attain a population of 1bn until the 19th century, but the total then grew rapidly. A second billion was added by the 1920s, and nearly six more in the hundred years since. Plenty of fretting has accompanied this explosion; “The Population Bomb”, a book by Paul Ehrlich published in 1968 (between billions three and four), warned of looming global famine. Most projections before the pandemic, however, suggested that global population would plateau in the latter half of the 21st century. Some analysts have argued that our numbers will not just stabilise but decline. In “Empty Planet”, a book published in 2019, Darrell Bricker and John Ibbitson, two Canadian journalists, wrote that as fertility rates fall—a clear trend across rich and emerging economies—they tend ultimately to sink below the replacement rate of 2.1 children per woman. Nearly half the world’s people now live in countries with fertility rates below replacement levels. Barring an unforeseen demographic detour, global shrinkage looms.
Twin studies function as natural experiments that reveal political ideology’s substantial genetic roots, but how does that comport with research showing a largely nonideological public? This study integrates two important literatures and tests whether political sophistication – itself heritable – provides an “enriched environment” for genetic predispositions to actualize in political attitudes. Estimates from the Minnesota Twin Study show that sociopolitical conservatism is extraordinarily heritable (74%) for the most informed fifth of the public – much more so than population-level results (57%) – but with much lower heritability (29%) for the public’s bottom half. This heterogeneity is clearest in the Wilson–Patterson (W-P) index, with similar patterns for individual index items, an ideological constraint measure, and ideological identification. The results resolve tensions between two key fields by showing that political knowledge facilitates the expression of genetic predispositions in mass politics.
Just over two months after voting to rename 44 schools, the San Francisco school board is poised to reverse that decision Tuesday to avoid costly litigation.
The upcoming vote represents the latest development in a months-long initiative that culminated amid the pandemic. In late January, the board voted 6-1 to change dozens of school names associated with slavery, oppression, genocide and colonization as public schools districtwide remained closed.
The process began in 2018 with a resolution to create a committee to advise the board. The committee ultimately recommended changing 44 school names, including Lincoln, Washington, Mission and Balboa high schools, as well as Alamo, Jefferson and Serra elementary schools.
Many communities supported the effort, with parents saying it was hurtful to have their children wearing school sweatshirts with the name of James Denman, a former district superintendent who denied education to Chinese students, for example.
Others considered the effort too far-reaching and expensive, with no cost estimate on what it would take to rebrand more than three dozen school sites. Examples across the country put the price tag at somewhere between $20,000 and several million dollars per school, depending on the school’s size, signage and other items related to the previous name, like band uniforms.
Where is the humility? Where is the institutional courage to admit mistakes and move forward?
Individuals in leadership positions often derive their credibility from being the most knowledgeable person in the room, the unquestioned oracles of knowledge. This moment in education, however, requires leaders who will publicly position themselves as the best learners, not the best knowers. The sector has to reacquaint itself with the science of reading, unlearn some habits, suspend beliefs, and be vulnerable enough to embrace the inevitable learning curve. It will take grace and humility.
The NAACP considers reading proficiency to be a civil rights issue because The Information Age requires literacy to participate fully in a society that pushes nonreaders, systematically, to its margins. Given this, the education sector’s willingness to ignore the neuroscience and research consensus about literacy instruction is worth examining. What allows universities to have internal debates about science and methods that have long been settled? Why would dyslexia receive scant attention in an American credentialing program? Why would thousands of K-12 systems continue to use curricula that, even the authors now acknowledge, must be revised to address deficiencies in core elements of literacy instruction? And why would K-12 systems ignore mountains of evidence showing that foundational reading skills are undertaught?
The same universities who claim to be leading research institutions are eerily silent about their failure to apply the research in preparing teaching candidates. Likewise, the K-12 institutions with mission statements citing equity have systematically created a resource gap where those without money to overcome inadequate instruction are consigned to the margins of society while their better-resourced peers seek tutors or more appropriate school placements. Rather than address these issues, we have focused on untangling America’s racial quagmire – as if these things are mutually exclusive. We seem oblivious to the impact race and class have on our tolerance for student failure and our willingness to promote external control narratives that undermine collective teacher efficacy and obfuscate the central issues: we have not provided direct, systematic, explicit instruction to teach reading; neither curricula nor materials have been evidence-based; professional development dollars have not been used well; assessment has been misunderstood and abused; interventions haven’t been timely; and the dearth of humility from leaders and institutions have limited the possibility of effective change management.
This is the first in a two-part series on how the nation’s schools continued with in-person classes amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The upbeat theme song of popular anime series “Lupin the Third” reverberated throughout the building of a Tokyo elementary school on a recent balmy afternoon. The music came from a courtyard where a bevy of sixth graders had taken center stage and were playing accordions, metallophones and keyboards — instruments that don’t generate droplets — under the mesmerized gaze of an audience of hundreds of schoolchildren.
The performance by the final-year students at Funabori Elementary School in Tokyo’s Edogawa Ward took place under the state of emergency in early March — just weeks before their graduation — as a way for them to say thank you to the younger pupils and teachers they would leave behind.
It’s an annual tradition that always touches the hearts of teachers about to send off students, but this year the concert took on an even greater emotional significance: In an academic year that saw the COVID-19 pandemic wipe out a sports festival and other major school events, it was the first all-school gathering that teachers at Funabori Elementary had managed to pull off, albeit with a plethora of restrictions.
“We usually hold this performance in our gymnasium, but we can’t do that anymore because no all-school gathering is allowed in one place under the board of education’s guidelines,” principal Mio Sato said.