“White House jumped on board, with a matter-of-fact announcement that it was now helping Facebook flag “problematic posts”

Matt Taibbi:

In another ominous development, Politico reported that “Biden-allied groups, including the Democratic National Committee,” were planning to:

Engage fact-checkers more aggressively and work with SMS carriers to dispel misinformation about vaccines that is sent over social media and text messages. The goal is to ensure that people who may have difficulty getting a vaccination because of issues like transportation see those barriers lessened or removed entirely.

For those who may find such developments concerning, there was solace: at least no one is policing our private thoughts. Those are still our own, correct?

Not quite, learned satirical filmmaker, YouTuber, and journalist Matt Orfalea. He’s been involved in several different slapstick-dystopian stories just in the last month or so, none more absurd than a series of YouTube warnings and strikes he received from YouTube for content not one person ever saw, or could see.

Orfalea was working on a video involving a story covered in this space, YouTube’s demonetization of podcaster Bret Weinstein and its removal of Senate testimony by Dr. Pierre Kory. He uploaded a series of rough cuts to his YouTube channel, but kept them locked and private, as part of his normal routine. Like many YouTube content creators, Orfalea uploads videos but keeps them locked while he applies for monetization. In other words, he’s keeping material private because he’s essentially checking with YouTube to see if there are problems with the content before he makes it public.

At 728 p.m. on June 14th, Orfalea received a warning from YouTube for three of those rough cuts:

Michael Brendan Dougherty:
Now first, it’s important for streets to run both ways, so I’ll offer that proponents have trouble doing this because many of the most prominent anti-vaxxers do indulge in conspiratorial thinking. Some of it is politically motivated; people may remember that while Trump was president, prominent Democrats expressed their fears about the corruption of the research process based on nothing more than their intuition.

Academic Remote Collaboration

Matt Clancy:

Academic research is a sector where knowledge workers try to innovate – the whole game is trying to push the knowledge frontier outward. Whether or not the system could work better, it certainly does seem to work, generating new and useful knowledge pretty much every day. It’s also a system that’s highly competitive, where thousands of individuals compete with each other for jobs and space in journals. 

And yet, despite strong incentives to use any possible edge to generate new and better research, academics are increasingly forgoing the option to work with their local colleagues. 

Agrawal, McHale, and Oettl (2015) is a study of the changing nature of collaboration in evolutionary biology. They find the the number of distinct institutions represented on evolutionary biology papers has steadily increased from 1.4 to 2.4 over 1980-2005, while the average distance between coauthors on papers has risen from 350 to 550 miles over the same period.

Advocating reduced intellectual diversity

John McGinnis:

American Bar Association is proposing new accrediting standards for law schools that would make them more race-conscious, more politically correct and less intellectually diverse. The proposal should fail on the merits. It’s so bad it should also prompt reconsiderations of the ABA’s role as accreditor of law schools and of the U.S. Supreme Court precedent on racial preferences in law-school admissions.

Having lawyers regulate entrance into their own profession has always been anomalous. The ABA has an abiding interest in making entry more expensive—it decreases competition for its current members. But now the ABA wants to use wokeness to raise operating costs, impose ideological uniformity, and reduce academic freedom. The new standards would require law schools to show continuous “progress” toward diversifying their faculties and student bodies. They would be encouraged to do it on a timetable, as if a school can predict when someone of a particular race who meets often specialized curricular and research needs will show up. The ABA also wants to add new diversity requirements for ethnicity and gender identity.

Boston Changes Admissions to “Exclusive Exam Schools”

NY Times:

Long into the night on Wednesday, parents and students waited in line to say their piece about Boston Latin School and who deserves to attend it.

Shirley Chang Wen said she arrived in this country without speaking English, and believed in raising children to work hard and succeed. Why, she asked, shouldn’t they get a spot?

Julia Mejia, a Latina city councilor, said she spent her school years working at a shoe store to help her mother pay the rent, without a spare minute for test preparation. What about students like her?

And Gabby Finocchio, a 2019 graduate who is white, said she was admitted to the school because her parents had time and money to spend on the process. In a more equitable admissions system, she might not get in, she said, but “I’m OK with that.”

After five and a half hours of emotional discussion on Wednesday night, the Boston School Committee voted unanimously to overhaul admissions to the city’s three selective exam schools, opening the way for far greater representation of Black and Latino students.

The new admissions system will still weigh test results and grades, but, following a model pioneered in Chicago, it will also introduce ways to select applicants who come from poor and disadvantaged neighborhoods.

Poetry & the Surveillance Society

Tyne Daile Sumner:

As historian Robin W. Winks observes in his 1987 book Cloak & Gown: Scholars in the Secret War, 1939-1961, many of these were English graduates who could apply literary techniques to intelligence analysis and cryptic expressions.

While it’s hard to think of poets as spies, poetry and surveillance actually use very similar styles of information gathering such as close observation, abstraction, subversion, fragmentation and symbolism. 

Today, we live in an era of unprecedented surveillance. Our personal information is routinely tracked and collected, while sophisticated analytics and algorithmic systems are being designed to predict, influence and ultimately control our choices and behaviour.

And it’s changing the nature of how we see ourselves. The ubiquity of surveillance and social media is challenging the very idea of the private individual as people increasingly adopt public personas. The scholar Julie Cohen described digital culture as bringing about a ‘surveillance-innovation complex’ in which surveillance is now privatised, commercialised and increasingly participatory.

To help us comprehend, and perhaps ultimately better shape, the complex social and technological change we are caught up in, we could do a lot worse than turn to that close cousin of surveillance – poetry.

Generating Intuitions for Exponential Growth

Applied Divinity Studies:

You’ve probably heard of the Rule of 70:

To estimate the doubling time of an exponential function, just divide 70 by the growth rate.

For some rates, this works really well. At 2% annual growth, the rule gives 35 years, and the actual value is 35.003 years. Other times it fails horribly. At 70% growth, the rule predicts doubling in one time step, but it actually takes 1.3.

How does the heuristic perform in general? Not that well. It’s accurate at 2% growth, but then quickly converges to being off by 0.3 timesteps.

Civics: Twitter sees jump in govt demands to remove content of reporters, news outlets

Sheila Dang and Elizabeth Culliford:

In its transparency report published on Wednesday, Twitter said verified accounts of 199 journalists and news outlets on its platform faced 361 legal demands from governments to remove content in the second half of 2020, up 26% from the first half of the year.

The biannual report on Twitter’s enforcement of policy rules and the information and removal requests it receives comes as social media companies including Facebook Inc(FB.O) and Alphabet Inc’s (GOOGL.O) YouTube face government scrutiny worldwide over the content allowed on their platforms.

Twitter ultimately removed five tweets from journalists and news publishers, the report said. India submitted most of the removal requests, followed by Turkey, Pakistan and Russia.

Illinois Is The First State To Tell Police They Can’t Lie To Minors In Interrogations

Jaclyn Diaz:

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker signed a new bill into law Thursday barring police from lying to underage kids during interrogations.

Commonly used interrogation tactics, such as promising leniency or insinuating that incriminating evidence exists, are banned for suspects under 18 years old under the new law, which goes into effect Jan. 1. 

According to the Innocence Project, an organization focused on exonerating wrongly convicted people, those types of interrogation methods have been shown to lead to false confessions. They’ve also played a role in about 30% of all wrongful convictions later overturned by DNA. 

Illinois once was called the “False Confession Capital of the United States,” the organization said, because of a number of high-profile exonerations of people

Google & Comics

Rachel Kraus:

Former Google engineer Manu Cornet describes his time at Google in two phases. First, there were “glitches in wonderland.” Then, there was “disillusionment.”

Those two descriptions are actually the sub-headings for Cornet’s two volumes of comics he has published about his former employer, which he called Goomics. Though Cornet was an engineer, he also spent 11 of his 14 years at Google drawing comics about employees, quirks, culture, and, eventually, larger societal and ethical issues facing the company and its workers. Some of those topics included Google contracts with government agencies like ICE, making a search engine for China’s government that complies with censorship laws, and more.

Chronicling those issues allowed Cornet to reflect on his place at Google, and prompted him to make a change. Cornet recently quit, and has taken a new job (at Twitter, a company with whom he says he has fewer ethical qualms). He is now the latest big tech employee — including employees at Facebook and Amazon — to publicly resign from their positions in protest of the company’s overall behavior. 

“As the years passed by there were more and more things to have ethical qualms about that the company was doing at a higher level,” Cornet said. “I had to look at the bigger picture and think that maybe I would be better elsewhere.”

Many taxpayer supported K-12 School Districts use Google Services, including Madison.

Information Borders: A New Tool Shows How Google Results Vary Around the World

Tom Simonite:

Search Atlas makes it easy to see how Google offers different responses to the same query on versions of its search engine offered in different parts of the world. The research project reveals how Google’s service can reflect or amplify cultural differences or government preferences—such as whether Beijing’s Tiananmen Square should be seen first as a sunny tourist attraction or the site of a lethal military crackdown on protesters.

Divergent results like that show how the idea of search engines as neutral is a myth, says Rodrigo Ochigame, a PhD student in science, technology, and society at MIT and cocreator of Search Atlas. “Any attempt to quantify relevance necessarily encodes moral and political priorities,” Ochigame says.

Ochigame built Search Atlas with Katherine Ye, a computer science PhD student at Carnegie Mellon University and a research fellow at the nonprofit Center for Arts, Design, and Social Research.

Just like Google’s homepage, the main feature of Search Atlas is a blank box. But instead of returning a single column of results, the site displays three lists of links, from different geographic versions of Google Search selected from the more than 100 the company offers. Search Atlas automatically translates a query to the default languages of each localized edition using Google Translate.

Ochigame and Ye say the design reveals “information borders” created by the way Google’s search technology ranks web pages, presenting different slices of reality to people in different locations or using different languages.

Many taxpayer supported k-12 school districts use Google services, including Madison.

Baltimore City Schools: 41% of high school students earn below 1.0 GPA

Chris Papst:

Project Baltimore obtained a chart assembled by Baltimore City Schools. The chart shows the average GPA for every high school grade in the city – freshman through senior. In the first three quarters of this past school year, according to the chart, 41% of all Baltimore City high school students, earned below a 1.0 grade point average. In other words, nearly half of the 20,500 public high school students in Baltimore earned less than a D average.

“It’s heartbreaking,” said Patterson. “If almost half of our kids are failing, what options do they have after high school? This is really disheartening. It’s sad to see this.”

On the other end of the chart, 21 percent of city high school students earned a GPA of 3.0 or better; a B average. That’s about half as many who earned below a D. We can also see the district lost 706 high school students during the first three quarters of the year.

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

One by One, My Friends Were Sent to the Camps

Tahir Hamut Izgil

If you took an Uber in Washington, D.C., a couple of years ago, there was a chance your driver was one of the greatest living Uyghur poets. Tahir Hamut Izgil arrived with his family in the United States in 2017, fleeing the Chinese government’s merciless persecution of his people. Tahir’s escape not only spared him near-certain internment in the camps that have swallowed more than 1 million Uyghurs; it also allowed him to share with the world his experience of the calamity engulfing his homeland. The following articles are Tahir’s firsthand account of one of the world’s most urgent humanitarian crises, and of one family’s survival.

Before I met Tahir, I knew his poems. I encountered them soon after I began working as a translator in Xinjiang, the Uyghur region in western China. A close friend there kept telling me that if I really wanted to understand Uyghur culture, I had to read the poetry. Like many Americans, I rarely felt drawn to poetry, but one day, another friend put a sheaf of Tahir’s verses in my hand. Poetry had never affected me so deeply.

Facebook and Privacy

Sarah Jackson:

Between January 2014 and August 2015, the company fired 52 employees for exploiting user data for personal means, according to an advance copy of “An Ugly Truth: Inside Facebook’s Battle for Domination” that Insider obtained. 

The engineer, who is unnamed, reportedly tapped into the data to “confront” a woman with whom he had been vacationing in Europe after she left the hotel room they had been sharing. He was able to figure out her location at a different hotel. 

Another Facebook engineer used his employee access to dig up information on a woman with whom he had gone on a date after she stopped responding to his messages. In the company’s systems, he had access to “years of private conversations with friends over Facebook messenger, events attended, photographs uploaded (including those she had deleted), and posts she had commented or clicked on,” according to the book. Through the Facebook app the woman had installed on her phone, the book claims, he was also able to see her location in real time. 

Facebook employees were granted user data access in order to “cut away the red tape that slowed down engineers,” the book says.

A parent’s account of how the relatively well-staffed education team at the Seattle Times failed to hold the school district accountable.

Alexandra Olins:

On March 11, 2020, a few months after the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in the United States, Seattle Public Schools (SPS) was the first large school district in the country to close. First, we were told there would be no school during the closure because the district couldn’t distribute laptops to everyone — despite being in the tech capital of the country. Next, we heard there would be online class meetings but zero instruction.

For the rest of the school year, my 11-year-old son had four one-hour Zoom check-ins a week. That is all. Like many parents, we wrote off the year and hoped like hell that fall would be better.

Over the summer, SPS asked families to choose between hybrid and remote options for fall. For those ready to send their children back in-person, it felt hopeful. But when former President Donald Trump weighed in to say kids should be 100% in person in fall, SPS — along with hundreds of other districts — reversed course. Despite Seattle having a relatively low number of COVID cases, the district announced plans for 100% remote learning for fall. The hybrid option was off the table.

As fall 2020 wore on, my normally gregarious son became increasingly silent, sedentary, and disengaged during remote school, watching Fortnite on YouTube during “school,” despite my best efforts to stop it (while trying to keep my own job), creating a nasty parent/child dynamic. It soon became clear that SPS had no plan for how — or when — to transition back to in-person school.

Some parents, growing weary of seeing their kids stare into a screen for hours on end, began to ask questions of SPS and the SPS board. We got no answers. And we began to wonder, where was our local paper, the Seattle Times, when it came to covering the impact of prolonged school closures on kids and parents?

As the following months would reveal, the Seattle Times could not — or would not — cover the situation by asking the hard questions about why Seattle started the reopening conversation later than other districts and took so long to reopen. A lifelong Democrat, former teacher, and union member, I became increasingly enraged at both the failure of the school system and the inadequacies of the education team to cover what was happening with the hard questions and critical analysis that the situation demanded.

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

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

Molly Beck and Madeline Heim:

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

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

Channel3000:

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

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

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

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

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

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

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Assembly against private school forced closure.

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

I’m A Middle School Teacher And See How Critical Race Curriculum Is Creating Racial Hostility In School

Ramona Bessinger:

I have been a public school teacher for the past 22 years, with the past seven in Providence, Rhode Island.  I have had the honor of serving public school children and their families as an English teacher first at the high school level, and currently at the middle school level.

During my career I have always tried to provide the best education for my students. I am designated by the Rhode Island Department of Education a ‘Highly Qualified’ teacher, meaning, I have tenure and experience in my certifications.  I was awarded the English Speaking Union Shakespeare Scholarship for excellence in teaching Shakespeare. I helped implement curriculum and I have hosted multiple student clubs, literary magazines, youth groups and community outreach programs.

I love being a teacher and I care a great deal about my students, almost all of whom are non-white.  This past 2020/21 school year was a sad and worrisome turning point for me as an educator. Providence K-8 teachers were introduced to one of the most racially divisive, hateful, and in large part, historically inaccurate curriculums I have ever seen in my teaching career.

Yes, I am speaking about the controversial critical race theory that has infiltrated our public schools here in Rhode Island under the umbrella of Cuturally Responsive learning and teaching, which includes a focus on identities. You won’t see the words “critical race theory” on the materials, but those are the concepts taught. The new, racialized curriculum and materials focuses almost exclusively on an oppressor-oppressed narrative, and have created racial tensions among students and staff where none existed before.

Civics: Capitol Police to use Army surveillance gear to monitor Americans and ‘identify emerging threats’

Liz George:

U.S. Capitol Police will start using Army surveillance equipment to monitor Americans as part of a larger effort to improve security and turn the force into “an intelligence-based protective agency” in the wake of the storming of the U.S. Capitol on January 6.

Last week, the USCP took possession of eight Persistent Surveillance Systems Ground – Medium (PSSG-M) units, fulfilling a request that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin approved on June 2. The units capture high-definition video and include night vision, but do not feature facial recognition capabilities.

“This technology will be integrated with existing USCP camera infrastructure, providing greater high definition surveillance capacity to meet steady-state mission requirements and help identify emerging threats,” the Pentagon said.

The same technology was used by troops during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to observe large areas day and night.  

The Army will install the units and train Capitol Police on how to operate the systems, the Pentagon said.

In a statement last week, the USCP called the technology “state-of-the-art campus surveillance technology, which will enhance the ability to detect and monitor threat activity.”

Related: drones and US internal security.

Families and Estrangement

Joshua Coleman:

Many fathers and mothers tell me they feel betrayed by their children’s lack of availability or responsivity, especially those who provided their children with a life they see as enviable compared with their own childhoods. As the University of Virginia sociologist Joseph E. Davis told me, parents expect a “reciprocal bond of kinship” in which their years of parenting will be repaid with later closeness. The University of Chicago philosophy professor Agnes Callard told me in an interview that this expectation of reciprocity is fraught because “today, the boundary of parenting is unclear. If receiving shelter, food, and clothing is enough, then most of us should be grateful to our parents, irrespective of how our lives go.” However, if parents are supposed to produce happy adults, then, fairly or not, adult children might hold parents responsible for their unhappiness.

In my experience, part of what confuses today’s parents of adult children is how little power they have when their child decides to end contact. From the adult child’s perspective, there might be much to gain from an estrangement: the liberation from those perceived as hurtful or oppressive, the claiming of authority in a relationship, and the sense of control over which people to keep in one’s life. For the mother or father, there is little benefit when their child cuts off contact. Parents instead describe profound feelings of loss, shame, and regret.

A Step Ahead: Estonia Emerges as a Leader in Worldwide Distance Learning Experiment

ncee.org

Since gaining independence in the early 1990s, Estonia has transformed itself into a digital society, which has resulted in a high level of public trust in technology solutions. While Estonia is perhaps best known for its advances in e-governance, which allow Estonians to access nearly all government services online, this commitment to technology applies to education as well. Estonia’s efforts to leverage technology for teaching and learning began in the 1990s with an ambitious programto build up schools’ technology infrastructure, including providing internet access to all schools nationwide. By the early 2000s, Estonia had already met this goal and moved on to developing digital resources for online teaching and learning. Throughout these early years and in the years that followed, as new technologies and digital resources were introduced, Estonia maintained a parallel focus on building digital literacy skills among educators and students. For example, school-based educational technologists—experienced teachers who complete an additional master’s degree to become technology integration specialists—have supported teachers in Estonian schools since 2005. Their focus is on how digital resources can best be used to enhance the curriculum. 

Two government-supported foundations—the Innove Foundation, founded in 2003 to provide implementation support for the Ministry of Education and Research, and the Information Technology Foundation for Education(HITSA), founded in 2013 to promote digital skills development in education—have played key roles in centrally organizing and curating Estonia’s collection of digital resources. These resources, which today form the backbone of Estonia’s jurisdiction-level support for distance learning, are described below.

Violence and “resistance”

Ben Zeisloft:

Some Canadian professors are trying to justify recent church burnings in the country by invoking “systemic injustice” and “civil disobedience.” 

Over the past several weeks, several Canadian churches have been torched after the discovery of hundreds of unmarked Native American graves near former residential schools, which as the BBC explains, were intended to assimilate children into Canadian culture.

Many activists across the nation therefore decided to cancel “Canada Day,” with some wearing orange to recall the residential schools’ history. 

The holiday commemorates the formation of Canada into a distinct nation on July 1, 1867, upon which the Canadian colonies were enjoined into a single union within the British Empire.

WILL Demands Elmbrook Schools Remove Sexually Explicit Books Accessible to Children

Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty:

The News: The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) issued a demand letter, on behalf of a group of concerned parents, to Elmbrook Schools urging immediate action to remove sexually explicit materials available through the district’s online library that violate state law and parents’ constitutional rights. At least three books and ebooks in the Elmbrook School system, which were until very recently available to children as young as 3rd grade, feature graphic instructions on sex acts and the use of online sex apps. The books are still available to 6th graders.

The Quote: WILL Deputy Counsel, Dan Lennington, said, “School districts have an obligation to know if their library collections feature sexually explicit material available to young children. Elmbrook needs to immediately address this content and make clear to District parents that they take this matter seriously.”

Background: Recently, the parent of a sixteen-year-old Elmbrook student used that student’s school-issued Chromebook to access Sora, a school-sponsored app that makes available Elmbrook’s ebook and audiobook collection to students “for all levels – preschool to adult,” and confirmed access to sexually explicit material. Another book is available in a middle school library.

The content that has parents concerned include:

Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers’ school choice veto shows he doesn’t care about education

Shannon Whitworth:

School Choice advocates across the nation were given a gem of an opportunity this past year to prove the value of their programs when teachers unions refused to return teachers to classrooms when it was demonstrably safe to do so. In fact, across 30 states nearly 50 school choice bills were introduced this year, according to the Wall Street Journal. However, Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers showed again on June 18 that he does not care about children’s education — except to the extent that he can continue to bolster Wisconsin’s failed public school establishment — when he vetoed a bill which would have expanded school choice in the state.

The bill would have broadened the income restrictions to three times the poverty level for the Wisconsin Parental Choice Program, which would have increased access for students and parents desperate to get their kids out of failing Wisconsin public schools.

Wisconsin voters should remember that Evers, immediately prior to becoming the state’s highest elected official, was the superintendent of Wisconsin’s Department of Public Instruction for a decade. Presiding over public schools with the worst achievement gap between Black and white students in the nation and a Milwaukee Public School District in which his own agency graded nearly 75% of the schools as failing to meet expectations for over 50,000 children, Evers is also a staunch school choice opponent.

Expanding school choice would not only benefit urban children. According to a study the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty put out last summer, 44,000 rural students in Wisconsin do not live within 10 miles of a high-quality school. By vetoing this bill, Evers has not only failed inner-city Black children, but children in rural Wisconsin.

Evers’ rationale for the veto was that expansion of the choice program would necessarily take funds away from the public school system. This argument has been debunked a myriad of times. In fact, after a student leaves a district, the public school still receives funds for the student for a rolling period of three years. The real question is, why give a school that is continuing to fail children even more taxpayer money? Outside of government, employees must improve their skills and productivity to merit being paid more money by their employer, and our schools should be no different.

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

Civics: The Problem With Prosecutor Punditry Experts keep promising the walls are closing in on Trump. Haven’t we learned anything?

Ankush Khardori:

In February, however, the Associated Pressreported that the investigation was “dead,” with no charges to be brought against Trump, and there is no indication the Biden administration will reopen it. This likely has something to do with the fact that a case built largely on the word of Cohen — a notorious liar who did not fully cooperate with prosecutors — would be very risky. Another problem is that a criminal prosecution based on violations of campaign-finance law requires the government to prove the defendant knew his conduct was unlawful, and Cohen could not by himself establish that on the part of Trump, a problem that may similarly complicate Weisselberg’s potential utility as a cooperator against Trump in the pending tax-fraud case.

This dissonance between the confidence in Trump’s criminal exposure expressed by commentators and its reality was conspicuous throughout the Mueller investigation, which proved to be ratings gold for cable news and an incomparable star-making vehicle for lawyers. Mueller’s secretive two-year probe into the Trump campaign and Russian election interference was punctuated by legitimatebombshell developments, and its progression lent itself to endless on-air speculation, as when legal analysts argued that Paul Manafort’s indictment meant that Mueller was “quite likely on the verge of handing down new major indictments” or that, after Manafort’s conviction, there was a good chance he would finally flip on Trump. Hennessey in particular has been calledto the carpet since getting a job in the Biden Justice Department. Most of the hand-wringing was over the top, but for those of us who watched in real time, it was hard to argue with the assessment, contained in a critical National Review article, that she had “repeatedly suggested that [Mueller’s] findings would spell disaster for the Trump White House” — even if the same could be said about pretty much every legal analyst on CNN and MSNBC at the time.

Cornell West’s Resignation Letter

June 30, 2021:

I hope and pray you and your family are well ! This summer is a scorcher’ Here is my brief and candid letter of resignation: “How sad it is to see our beloved Harvard Divinity School in such decline and decay. The disarray of a scattered curriculum, the disenchantment of a talented yet deferential faculty, and the disorientation of precious students loom large. When I arrived four years ago- with a salary less than what I received 15 years earlier and with no tenure status after being a University Professor a( Harvard and Princeton – I hoped and prayed I could still end my career with some semblance of intellectual intensity and personal respect. How wrong I was! With a few glorious and glaring exceptions, the shadow of Jim Crow was cast in its new glittering form expressed in the language of superficial diversity: all my courses were subsumed under Afro-American Religious Studies, including those on Existentialism.

American Democracy and The Conduct of Life. no possible summer salary alongside the lowest increase possible every year. Yet I delivered two convocation addresses and one commencemenl speech in four years. I was promised a year sabbalical but could only lake one semester in practice. And to witness a faculty enthusiastically support a candidate for tenure then timidly defer to a rejection based on the Harvaid administration’s hostility to the Palestinian cause was disgusting. We all knew the mendacious reasons given had nothing to do with academic standards. When my committee recommended a tenure review – also rejected by the Harvard adminutration – I knew my academic achievements and student teaching meant far less than their political prejudices. Even my good friends in the Afro-American and African Studies Department were paralyzed, given their close relations to the administration. And after teaching extra courses. including five courses in one year, this silence continued. When the announcement of the death of my beloved Mother appeared in the regular newsletter, I received two public replies (just as that of my colleague Dr. Jacqueline Olga Cooke-Rivers who received none when her blessed Mother died). Any ordinary announcement about a lecture, award or professional advancement receives about twenty replies. This kind of narcissistic academic professionalism, cowardly deference to the anti-Palestinian prejudices of the Harvard administration, and indifference to my Mother’s death constitute an intellectual and spiritual bankruptcy of deep depths. In my case, a serious commitment to Veritas requires resignation – with precious memories but absolutely no regrets.

Competing “letters” on “critical race theory”

Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty:

Dear School Boards, Administrators, and Concerned Parents of Wisconsin:

It has come to our attention that, in the guise of providing (unsolicited) advice, the Wisconsin chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union has sent a letter to district administrators purporting to tell them what the law “requires” that they teach about race and related matters of cultural diversity. If the point of the letter is to simply remind districts of the commonplace: that they should continue to teach American history in full, including things like the existence of slavery, the Civil War, Jim Crow, the civil rights movement and the substantial contributions of racial minorities to American culture and success, it is, if unnecessary, unobjectionable. Schools should do all of these things.

But it would be naïve to believe that the ACLU’s objectives are that modest. The “advice” is expressly offered in the context of criticisms of and efforts to restrict the use of concepts derived from Critical Race Theory and adjacent ideologies, clearly implying that state law must somehow “mandate” or limit the restriction of these concepts. It does not.

Let’s begin by defining “Critical Race Theory” and the instructional concepts derived from it. While a full explication of these concepts is not needed for our purposes, what characterizes these concepts is a focus on racial essentialism (the idea that persons are substantially defined by their race), an exaggerated standpoint epistemology (the idea that one’s perspective is substantially formed by his or her race), an emphasis on something called white privilege (the idea that all white persons benefit from a generally undefined “systemic racism”) and the assumption of black oppression (the contention that all black persons are substantially burdened by this systemic racism). They often include concepts of collective guilt or responsibility on the one hand and collective victimhood and entitlement on the other. They are generally combined with a series of contested claims about American history.

These concepts sometimes include the identification of “white” and “black” values and culture, suggesting, for example, that things like “objective, rational, linear thinking,” “quantitative emphasis,” and “hard work before play” are ‘white.” They are sometimes taught by pedagogical devices that segregate children by race and compel them to repeat or assent to a variety of contested propositions about race and a child’s “role” in “systems” of “racism” and “oppression.” They are often not limited to the provision of information or explanation of a perspective, but include a call for action. These devices may include, for example, requiring a white student to “acknowledge” or “affirm” his or her “privilege.”

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

“We (Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district) have to design a program that will be like none other in Wisconsin and we can do that.”

Scott Girard:

The School Board approved $840,000 in the 2021-22 budget to fund MPA, covering teacher and administrator costs for one year of the program.

Many school districts in Wisconsin and around the country are considering virtual options, an acknowledgement that some parents and families preferred online learning.

Online learning has been around for decades.

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

Swarm Learning for decentralized and confidential clinical machine learning

Stefanie Warnat-Herresthal et al.

Fast and reliable detection of patients with severe and heterogeneous illnesses is a major goal of precision medicine. Patients with leukaemia can be identified using machine learning on the basis of their blood transcriptomes. However, there is an increasing divide between what is technically possible and what is allowed, because of privacy legislation. Here, to facilitate the integration of any medical data from any data owner worldwide without violating privacy laws, we introduce Swarm Learning — a decentralized machine-learning approach that unites edge computing, blockchain-based peer-to-peer networking and coordination while maintaining confidentiality without the need for a central coordinator, thereby going beyond federated learning. To illustrate the feasibility of using Swarm Learning to develop disease classifiers using distributed data, we chose four use cases of heterogeneous diseases (COVID-19, tuberculosis, leukaemia and lung pathologies). With more than 16,400 blood transcriptomes derived from 127 clinical studies with non-uniform distributions of cases and controls and substantial study biases, as well as more than 95,000 chest X-ray images, we show that Swarm Learning classifiers outperform those developed at individual sites. In addition, Swarm Learning completely fulfils local confidentiality regulations by design. We believe that this approach will notably accelerate the introduction of precision medicine.

The kids are safe. They always have been.

David Wallace-Wells

This is true for the much-worried-over Delta variant. It is also true for all the other variants, and for the original strain. Most remarkably, it has been known to be true since the very earliest days of the pandemic — indeed it was among the very first things we did know about the disease. The preliminary mortality data from China was very clear: To children, COVID-19 represented only a vanishingly tiny threat of death, hospitalization, or severe disease.

Yet for a year and a half we have been largely unwilling to fully believe it. Children now wear masks at little-league games, and at the swimming pool, and when school reopens in the fall they will likely wear masks there, too. But the kids are not at risk themselves, and never were. Now, thanks to vaccines, the vast majority of their parents and grandparents aren’t any longer, either.

But first: the kids. Over the course of the pandemic, 49,000 Americans under the age of 18 have died of all causes, according to the CDC. Only 331 of those deaths have been from COVID — less than half as many as have died of pneumonia. In 2019, more than 2,000 American kids and teenagers died in car crashes; each year about a thousand die from drowning. More American children die in an average year from RSV — another respiratory ailment, whose prevalence is now growing because 18 months of quarantine have deprived young children of immune exposure — than died in either of the last two years from COVID-19.

Some of these comparisons aren’t so neat, since the extraordinary precautions against COVID-19 prevented significant additional spread (and also suppressed the spread of other diseases). But, last year, fewer kids died of COVID-19 than of heart disease, “malignant neopolasms,” suicide, and homicide — not to mention birth defects, which killed hundreds of times more. All told, 600,000 Americans have lost their lives to COVID over the course of the pandemic; just 0.05 percent of those were under the age of 18, a population that represents more than 20 percent of the country’s population as a whole.

Risk is a tricky thing, the spread of the Delta variant and the complications of “long COVID” both real concerns, and all parents should assess their own comfort, and those of their children, in making plans and taking precautions. But very few of them, two summers ago, were sending their children to parks and pools and camps in masks out of fear of pneumonia or flu. Probably fewer were keeping them home entirely.

This summer, the calculations are very different than they were even last year, when the virus was still spreading wildly in an entirely unvaccinated population. That’s because, in the depths of a pandemic as we were then, individuals are not just individuals but links in a chain of transmission, which is the main reason why, for much of the last 18 months, public-health officials have worried over infections in the young — assuming they would eventually help bring the disease back to those much more vulnerable.

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

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

Molly Beck and Madeline Heim:

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

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

Channel3000:

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

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

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

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

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

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

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Assembly against private school forced closure.

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

How I requested my photographs from the Department of Homeland Security

Runa Sandvik:

I have my photograph taken and my fingerprints scanned every time I enter the United States. So do all other foreign nationals. The information is collected under the US-VISIT program. Information such as name, date of birth, gender, and travel document data is recorded as well. In response to a Freedom of Information Act request I filed in November 2014, the Department of Homeland Security released a document containing information collected about me under this program over the last four years.

In addition to photographs, the 21-page document contains entries for every encounter I have had with the agency in that period. Most of these encounters were recorded at airports around the country, but there are also entries for appointments related to immigration and enrollment into the Global Entry program. Along with the Global Entry program, the DHS recently launched a new program that may allow it to collect similar information about US citizens.

unhappy elites leads to political instability?

The Economist:

TEN YEARS ago Peter Turchin, a scientist at the University of Connecticut, made a startling prediction in Nature. “The next decade is likely to be a period of growing instability in the United States and western Europe,” he asserted, pointing in part to the “overproduction of young graduates with advanced degrees”. The subsequent surge in populism in Europe, the unexpected votes in 2016 for Brexit and then for President Donald Trump in America, and a wave of protests from the gilets jaunes to Black Lives Matter, has made Mr Turchin something of a celebrity in certain circles, and has piqued economists’ interest in the discipline of “cliodynamics”, which uses maths to model historical change. Mr Turchin’s emphasis on the “overproduction of elites” raises uncomfortable questions, but also offers useful policy lessons.

As far back as ancient Rome and imperial China, Mr Turchin shows, societies have veered from periods of political stability to instability, often at intervals of about 50 years. Consider America. Every pundit knows that Congress has become gridlocked, with Democrats and Republicans unwilling to compromise with each other. Fewer know that it was also highly polarised around 1900, before becoming more co-operative in the mid-20th century.

What causes these lurches from calm to chaos? Mr Turchin views societies as large, complex systems that are subject to certain patterns, if not laws. That is an entirely different approach from much of academic history, with its preference for small-scale, microcosmic studies, argues Niall Ferguson of Stanford University. In a paper published this year Mr Turchin (with Andrey Korotayev of the Higher School of Economics in Russia) examines the prediction of instability he made in 2010. His forecast model contains many elements, but like Karl Marx Mr Turchin seems to believe that “the history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.” Where Marx focused on the proletariat, though, Mr Turchin is more interested in the elite—and how its members struggle against each other.

Who counts as the elite, and how competition manifests itself, varies from place to place; one example could be a large number of highly educated folk relative to the number of government offices (and therefore jobs). But a struggle is most likely when economic inequality is high. The rewards for being at the top are then especially lucrative, both in terms of earning power and political influence, and those who miss out feel their loss more keenly. The feeling of resentment is particularly strong among people brought up to believe that they ought to be in the elite. Worse still, societies tend to produce ever more would-be elites, in part because access to education tends to improve over time. Mr Turchin sees all this as a recipe for political chaos. Articulate, educated people rebel, producing a scramble for political and economic power. Elites stop co-operating, counter-elites emerge, and order breaks down.

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate amidst increased Parent curricular awareness

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

Homeschooling continues to grow

Don Surber:

The parents of 1 in 9 students believe public schools are so terrible that they would rather keep the kids home and teach them themselves.

Well, it is just the white kids, right? They don’t matter because whites will soon be a minority. Black and Hispanic kids will easily displace them in unionized public schools.

The story also said, “The largest increase in homeschoolers was especially notable among minority groups, including black and Hispanic learners.

“In African American households, the proportion of homeschooling quintupled from 3.3% in spring 2020, to 16.1% in fall 2020.

“In Hispanic households, the number of homeschooling households doubled in the same time, from 6.2% to 12.1%.”

You can be darned sure parents aren’t teaching their kids CRT. Why, some may even be reading The Bible.

Liberals are alarmed.

1 in 6 black kids stay at home to learn instead of going to school to be indoctrinated.

PBS reported, “If schools fail to secure the trust of parents, advocates and educators worry that the public education system could see a falloff in enrollment, particularly among families of color. Some advocates also fear that schools faced with a larger proportion of students who are struggling or frequently absent will respond with overly punitive approaches, worsening racial inequality.”

Digital learning and sharing offers plenty of opportunities to grow e-commerce experiences, particularly fast, 2 tap purchases, services, fundraising, donations and contributions.

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

Most Voters Want Schools To Teach Traditional Values

Rasmussen Reports:

At a time when many schools are embroiled in controversy over the teaching of Critical Race Theory (CRT), voters still think it is important that kids learn traditional values in school.

A new national telephone and online survey by Rasmussen Reports finds that 78% of Likely U.S. Voters say it’s at least somewhat important for schools to teach the traditional values of Western Civilization, including 52% who say it’s Very Important. This is virtually unchanged from four years ago, and in line with surveys dating back to 2013.

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

The rise of ‘ARPA-everything’ and what it means for science

Jeff Tollefson:

Researchers also point out that a successful ARPA needs a customer for the technologies it develops. In the case of DARPA, the US military was ready to purchase many promising inventions. ARPA-Energy (ARPA-E), which was launched in 2009 under former president Barack Obama to advance low-carbon energy technologies, addressed this challenge by helping grant recipients to develop plans for commercialization from the outset — a model that Bonvillian says DARPA has also now imported.

ARPA-E had the independence it needed to function well, researchers say. Still running today, the agency, housed within the US Department of Energy (DoE), has invested $2.8 billion in nearly 1,200 projects, which have attracted another $5.4 billion in private-sector investments and led to the creation of 92 companies. Last month, one of those companies, 1366 Technologies in Bedford, Massachusetts, announced plans to build a $300-million facility for manufacturing solar cells in India. The company, now known as CubicPV, received $4 million from ARPA-E in 2009 to develop a cleaner, faster, cheaper way to manufacture the silicon semiconductors that go into solar panels.

“mostly peaceful protests” becoming an example of American journalism’s Pravda-like bias.

Ed West:

The protesters themselves tended to come from America’s upper-middle-class, displaying a feverous zeal that felt alarming. And there was no debate to be had about race and policing, opponents simply had to educate themselves.

During those decades of social change, the problem of Left-wing “moral relativism” was often a complaint of conservative commentators, but look today at the young protesters demanding that  “Rhodes must fall” or “black trans lives matters”. They certainly aren’t moral relativists.

Relativism is a position you employ when you’re weak, to be abandoned when you win. On a wide range of issues, including race and gender, the Right has been more relativist for some time. Before the 1968 revolution those outside of power (the Left) argued for moral relativism, those in power (the Right) argued for moral absolutism. Now it is the opposite. Even things like claims to absolute truths (“trust the science”) have changed. Likewise with censorship, which is by definition a tool of the powerful.

Preschool Children Rarely Seek Empirical Data That Could Help Them Complete a Task When Observation and Testimony Conflict

Tone K. Hermansen, Samuel Ronfard, Paul L. Harris, Imac M. Zambrana:

Children (N = 278, 34–71 months, 54% girls) were told which of two figurines turned on a music box and also observed empirical evidence either confirming or conflicting with that testimony. Children were then asked to sort novel figurines according to whether they could make the music box work or not. To see whether children would explore which figurine turned on the music box, especially when the observed and testimonial evidence conflicted, children were given access to the music box during their sorting. However, children rarely explored. Indeed, they struggled to disregard the misleading testimony both when sorting the figurines and when asked about a future attempt. In contrast, children who explored the effectiveness of the figurines dismissed the misleading testimony.

Children learn about the world in a variety of ways. They can learn by paying attention to what other people do (Hoehl et al., 2019). They can learn from testimony directed toward themselves or toward other people (for reviews: Harris, Koenig, Corriveau, & Jaswal, 2018; Mills, 2013; Sobel & Kushnir, 2013; Tong, Wang, & Danovitch, 2020). And, they can gather evidence through exploration (Bonawitz et al., 2011; Schulz & Bonawitz, 2007; Yu, Landrum, Bonawitz, & Shafto, 2018), experimentation (Cook, Goodman, & Schulz, 2011; Köksal-Tuncer & Sodian, 2018), and question-asking (Callanan & Oakes, 1992; Kurkul & Corriveau, 2017). Children’s ability to learn from these diverse sources of information is one reason they are able to learn so much so quickly. Each of these sources of information can provide children with unique insights about the world. For example, by listening to other people, children can avoid costly mistakes and learn about unobservable scientific and religious phenomena they could not discover on their own (Harris & Koenig, 2006). By tracking statistical regularities young children can quickly build up and revise their understanding of causal structures without relying on other people’s testimony (Bridgers, Buchsbaum, Seiver, Griffiths, & Gopnik, 2016).

Litigation on taxpayer funded union activity in the Milwaukee Public Schools

The Wisconsin Institute for law & liberty:

The News: The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) filed a lawsuit in Milwaukee County Circuit Court on behalf of a Milwaukee resident challenging a Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) union leave policy. Under this policy, MPS pays public employees full wages and benefits to engage in union-related activities instead of the jobs they were hired for at the school district. This policy amounts to compelled speech because it forces Milwaukee taxpayers to subsidize labor union activities. The policy also violates the Constitution’s requirement that all spending be for a public purpose and not for the benefit of a private entity, like a labor union.

The Quote: WILL Deputy Counsel, Lucas Vebber, said, “Under the MPS union leave policy, Milwaukee taxpayers foot the bill to pay employees not for the public school jobs they were hired for, but rather to engage in union-related activities. This violates Constitutional safeguards against compelled speech and the requirement that public spending be for a public purpose.”

Background: Milwaukee Public Schools adopted a union leave policy (page 49) that permits MPS employees to use at least ten days per fiscal year for paid union leave. Any MPS employee using union leave is working solely as a “representative” of a labor union for the purpose of participating in “union-related activities.” And under the MPS union leave policy, MPS employees are not restricted from engaging in a variety of political activities including advancing the direct interests of the public employee unions.

The United States Supreme Court recently affirmed in Janus v. AFSCME that “[c]ompelling a person to subsidize the speech of other private speakers raises similar First Amendment concerns.” And the Wisconsin Constitution recognizes that the freedom of speech “includes both the right to speak freely and the right to refrain from speaking at all.” The MPS union leave policy amounts to taxpayers subsidizing the speech and activities of labor unions – a form of unconstitutional compelled speech.

During the 2017, 2018, and 2019 school years, MPS spent thousands of dollars paying employees for hundreds of hours working on behalf of labor unions for the labor unions’ private purposes.

“An emphasis on adult employment.”

Ontario’s new Grade 9 curriculum preaches ‘subjective’ nature of mathematics

Dinette Wilford & Bryan Passifiume:

“Mathematics is often positioned as an objective and pure discipline,” reads a section of an online brief highlighting the ‘vision and goals’ of the updated curriculum.
“However, the content and the context in which it is taught, the mathematicians who are celebrated, and the importance that is placed upon mathematics by society are subjective.”

Math, it continues, has been “used to normalize racism and marginalization of non-Eurocentric mathematical knowledges,” and explains that taking a “decolonial” and “anti-racist approach” to teaching math will outline its “historical roots and social constructions” to students.

“The Ontario Grade 9 mathematics curriculum emphasizes the need to recognize and challenge systems of power and privilege, both inside and outside the classroom, in order to eliminate systemic barriers and to serve students belonging to groups that have been historically disadvantaged and underserved in mathematics education,” the brief continues.

Minister Lecce previously announced the new curriculum will bring early math streaming to an end, a practice he says created barriers for racialized and historically marginalized groups.

Teachers will be required to promote cross-curricular learning and human rights to create “anti-racist, anti-discriminatory learning environments.”

Loudon County, Virginia governance and curriculum climate

Maya King:

Before Covid-19 forced its students into online classes, Loudoun County’s bimonthly school board meetings were often dry exercises in bureaucratic wrangling: Haggling over AP textbook availability and public construction projects. Poring over budget proposals for custodial supplies and debating about whether to renew the contract for a company supplying milk to cafeterias.

Only a handful of parents showed up on a regular basis, says Julie Garrett, a mother of two school-aged children in the school district. Some, like Garrett, one of the growing numbers of liberal parents in the wealthy Northern Virginia exurb, were committed to helping the district work to overcome its segregationist past.

Why I’m glad that I’m an ‘overthinker’

Annalisa Barbieri:

The first time I remember someone telling me not to overthink was when I was trying to suss out breastfeeding. “Don’t overthink it,” said my friend, “just go with it.”

“Just going with it” is not something I do. I have to really understand what I’m doing and then I think through almost every possibility and eventuality, like a mind map on steroids. And I plan. When people say things like: “Who could have imagined XYZ would happen?” about some entirely predictable outcome, my most common response is “I could”. I have realised that for most people I am an overthinker, but for me, it is others who underthink. I just think.

Of course, it doesn’t take a genius to realise that my overthinking, like most things, probably started in childhood. I had a loving, noisy but at times unpredictable childhood. Dinner was always on the table at the same time, and it was always delicious. My mother and father were always, physically, where they said they would be. But I grew up in a house where emotions weren’t discussed, they were bottled up, only to explode out in random unpredictable ways – or a silence would ensue for some wrongdoing I had to fathom out all by myself.

Civics: The politics of vaccines

Harry Enten:

A look at the data reveals that the vaccine hesitant group, however, are not big Trump lovers. They’re actually likely not to be Republican. Instead, many of them are people who are detached from the political process and didn’t vote for either major candidate in 2020. 

The most recent Kaiser poll helps illustrate that the vaccine hesitant group doesn’t really lean Republican. Just 20% of the group called themselves Republican with an additional 19% being independents who leaned Republican. The clear majority (61%) were not Republicans (41% said they were Democrats or Democratic leaning independents and 20% were either pure independents or undesignated). 

This is very much unlike the vaccine resistant group, of whom 55% are Republican or Republican leaning independents. Just 21% of that group are Democrats or Democratic leaning independents. 

The Kaiser poll points to a larger problem: There isn’t going to be a single ideological message that appeals to a majority of the vaccine hesitant group. They’re of all political stripes.

Civics: “which is now bizarrely regarded as an accurate description of the largest, freest, most successful multiracial democracy in human history”

Andrew Sullivan:

We all know it’s happened. The elites, increasingly sequestered within one political party and one media monoculture, educated by colleges and private schools that have become hermetically sealed against any non-left dissent, have had a “social justice reckoning” these past few years. And they have been ideologically transformed, with countless cascading consequences. 

Take it from a NYT woke star, Kara Swisher, who celebrated this week that “the country’s social justice movement is reshaping how we talk about, well, everything.” She’s right — and certainly about the NYT and all mainstream journalism. 

This is the media hub of the “social justice movement.” And the core point of that movement, its essential point, is that liberalism is no longer enough. Not just not enough, but itself a means to perpetuate “white supremacy,” designed to oppress, harm and terrorize minorities and women, and in dire need of dismantling. That’s a huge deal. And it explains a lot.

The reason “critical race theory” is a decent approximation for this new orthodoxy is that it was precisely this exasperation with liberalism’s seeming inability to end racial inequality in a generation that prompted Derrick Bell et al. to come up with the term in the first place, and Kimberlé Crenshaw to subsequently universalize it beyond race to every other possible dimension of human identity (“intersectionality”). 

A specter of invisible and unfalsifiable “systems” and “structures” and “internal biases” arrived to hover over the world. Some of this critique was specific and helpful: the legacy of redlining, the depth of the wealth gap. But much was tendentious post-modern theorizing. The popular breakthrough was Ta-Nehisi Coates’ essay on reparations in the Atlantic and his subsequent, gut-wrenching memoir, “Between The World And Me.” He combined the worldview and vocabulary of CRT with the vivid lived experience of his own biography. He is a beautifully gifted writer, and I am not surprised he had such an emotional impact, even if, in my view, the power of his prose blinded many to the radical implications of the ideology he surrendered to, in what many of his blog readers called his “blue period.”

“she now sees good exam results as the ticket out of poverty”

Anna Soubry:

Re-educated, thankfully, is not some “life change” bible for the bored middle aged. Kellaway was a successful and high-powered woman before she left the Financial Times (and a handsome income) after 32 years and a back catalogue of 1,032 columns. Here she writes with warmth, wit and honesty, turning her real life experiences of teaching in a Hackney school into what I hope will become a serious debate about what education is for.

“extracurricular industrial complex”

Shalini Shankar:

When the extracurricular industrial complex came to a grinding halt last spring, parents were left scrambling to fill vast hours of unscheduled time. Some activities moved to remote instruction but most were canceled, and keeping children engaged became the bane of parents’ existence. Understandably, screens became default child care for younger kids and social lifelines for older ones.

As American society reopens, going back to our children’s prepandemic activities looks like an enticing way to reintroduce upper-elementary through high-school-age kids to the outside world. For parents with economic means, it’s tempting to return to a full slate of language classes, sports, music lessons and other extracurriculars — a guilt-free plan to keep kids busy with “enriching” activities while we get our jobs done.

But I suggest pausing before filling up their calendars again. We should not simply return children to their hectic prepandemic schedules.

Certainly, some amount of extracurricular activity can offer a welcome break from screens and help children nurture interests. But for Generation Z, the over-scheduling of extracurricular activities has been bad for stress and mental health and even worse for widening racial gaps. Moreover, as I learned when I conducted anthropological research for my book “Beeline: What Spelling Bees Reveal About Generation Z’s New Path to Success,” it no longer consistently improves the prospects of the white middle-class kids for whom it was designed.

But what can parents do with our kids instead? The answer is simple, though not easy to carry out: We can teach them (and perhaps relearn ourselves) the value of unstructured time and greater civic participation.

This does not mean we should quit our day jobs and devote ourselves instead to endless hours of building forts and playing games. Exposing children to sports, music, art, programming or dance certainly has benefits — including physical exercise, intellectual stimulation and fun — but there are also good reasons to give children time to be bored. Not least of these is it forces them to figure out a way to entertain themselves.

Declining male college population

Kelly Field:

George Wilson knew remote learning was not for him. So when his classes went online because of the coronavirus pandemic, Wilson, a then-45-year-old furnace operator in Ohio, did what thousands of men nationwide did last year — he stopped out.

On campus, “I’m a machine,” said Wilson, who is pursuing an associate degree at Lakeland Community College, in Kirtland, Ohio. “I don’t have that same drive at home.”

Wilson is part of an exodus of men away from college that has been taking place for decades, but that accelerated during the pandemic. And it has enormous implications, for colleges and for society at large. 

Last fall, male undergraduate enrollment fell by nearly 7 percent, nearly three times as much as female enrollment, according to the National Student Clearinghouse. The decline was the steepest — and the gender gap the largest — among students of color attending community colleges. Black and Hispanic male enrollment at public two-year colleges plummeted by 19.2 and 16.6 percent, respectively, about 10 percentage points more than the drops in Black and Hispanic female enrollment. Drops in enrollment of Asian men were smaller, but still about eight times as great as declines in Asian women.

Men as a whole aren’t usually the group that comes to mind as needing a leg up. But for colleges, declining male enrollment means less revenue and less viewpoint diversity in the classroom. For the economy, it means fewer workers to fill an increasing number of jobs that require at least some college education, and a future in which the work force is split even more along gender lines. 

In the late 1970s, men and women attended college in almost equal numbers. Today, women account for 57 percent of enrollment and an even greater share of degrees, especially at the level of master’s and above. The explanations for this growing gender imbalance vary from the academic to the social to the economic. Girls, on average, do better in primary and secondary school. Boys are less likely to seek help when they struggle. And they face more pressure to join the work force.

8th grader at Clover Lane Homeschool wins National Spelling Bee

Black Enterprise:

Zaila Avant-garde of Louisiana just made history as the first African American person to win the Scripps National Spelling Bee. She claimed her victory in round 18 after she correctly spelled “murraya,” a genius of tropical Asiatic and Australian trees.

As the national champion, Avant-garde is walking away with a $50,000 cash prize, medal, Scripps Cup, the official trophy, and other sponsor prizes. 

The 93rd competition took place at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida on Thursday evening. Eleven students from seven states and the Bahamas competed during the final event. 

“Zaila demonstrated incredible mastery of the English language with poise and perseverance,” said Adam Symson, president and CEO of The E.W. Scripps Company, in a statement. “The excellence of all of our competitors, their hard work and commitment to learning, and their distinct stories, capture hearts and minds across the globe.”

Launched in 1925, the Scripps National Spelling Bee is the longest-running educational competition in the country, Symson noted. Every year, millions of students across the country come together to compete for the coveted spelling bee title.

Basketball.

Saudi Arabia funds new digital news platform in U.S., launches White House lobbying effort

Greg Schwartz:

Saudi Arabia is funding a yet-to-be-announced digital news platform, which will have a studio in Washington, D.C., as the kingdom begins a new lobbying effort aimed at the White House and Congress.

The new effort, which had yet to be reported, is being backed by a subsidiary of the Saudi Technology Development and Investment Company, or Taqnia, according to new foreign lobbying disclosures filed with the Department of Justice.

Journalists and presenters involved in the project have past experience at Fox News, Al Jazeera, NBC and Sirius XM satellite radio.

The creation of what one of the documents calls a “news platform” comes as the kingdom has started hiring a new team of lobbyists as the Saudis seek access to President Joe Biden’s administration and the new Congress.

It also arrives almost three years after the death of Washington Post journalist and Saudi royal family critic Jamal Khashoggi. A recent U.S. intelligence report says the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, approved an operation to capture or kill Khashoggi.

Biden, however, opted not to punish the crown prince for his alleged role in Khashoggi’s death.

China’s gene giant harvests data from millions of women

Kirsty Needham and Clare Baldwin:

A Chinese gene company selling prenatal tests around the world developed them in collaboration with the country’s military and is using them to collect genetic data from millions of women for sweeping research on the traits of populations, a Reuters review of scientific papers and company statements found.

U.S. government advisors warned in March that a vast bank of genomic data that the company, BGI Group, is amassing and analysing with artificial intelligence could give China a path to economic and military advantage. As science pinpoints new links between genes and human traits, access to the biggest, most diverse set of human genomes is a strategic edge. The technology could propel China to dominate global pharmaceuticals, and also potentially lead to genetically enhanced soldiers, or engineered pathogens to target the U.S. population or food supply, the advisors said.

Reuters has found that BGI’s prenatal test, one of the most popular in the world, is a source of genetic data for the company, which has worked with the Chinese military to improve “population quality” and on genetic research to combat hearing loss and altitude sickness in soldiers.

Boston Zip code quota plan litigation

William Jacobson:

On Friday, July 9, 2021, at 3 p.m., U.S. District Court Judge William Young is scheduled to hold a hearing on whether the Boston School Committee improperly concealed anti-white and anti-asian text messages and thereby deceived Judge Young into finding that the “Zip Code Quota Plan” had no racist intent.

We  covered the background to the dispute in a recent post, Leaked School Committee Texts Showing Anti-White Bias May Reopen Boston “Zip Code Quota Plan” Case.

You can read the Memorandum In Support of Motion for Relief From Judgment for the allegations of misconduct (emphasis added):

New evidence, in the form of highly relevant text messages between two members of the Boston School Committee, has recently come to light. These text messages have long been in the possession of the City of Boston, and should be been provided to the Boston Parents in response to its public records request and should have been made a part of the agreed-upon record in this case when the Court originally considered it. But the City, instead, concealed the messages, thereby depriving the Boston Parents and the Court of the opportunity to consider them. The reason for the City’s actions can and must be inferred from the content of the concealed evidence: the text messages show clear racial motivation and anti-White racism on the part of two School Committee members who were leading proponents of the Zip Code Quota Plan. In fact, the content of this previously suppressed evidence is so damning that both members have now been forced to resign.

hese facts are unique. They warrant the relief sought, and they elevate the Boston Parents’ request beyond that of other Rule 60 motions. As this memorandum explains, the Boston Parents timely exercised their rights under state law to obtain copies of these and other text messages exchanged between members of the School Committee during the meeting where the Zip Code Quota Plan was adopted. But when the School Committee responded to that request, it deliberately concealed clearly racist statements, first, by deleting racist portions of text messages from what it claimed was a “transcript” of text messages, and, second, by misrepresenting that it had produced complete records when it knew that it had not. This prejudice was further compounded when neither the City of Boston nor the individual Defendants came clean when it came time to provide this Court with an agreed-upon record. It was only after the Boston Globe published leaked copies of the offensive texts that the City of Boston finally produced them to the Boston Parents, long after this Court issued its decision in this case. That is what prompts this Motion.

When the School Committee lawyers asked for more time to respond, Judge Young denied the request (bold in original):

Curiously Madison has not addressed school boundaries in decades, choosing instead to use taxpayer funds to expand our least diverse schools.

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

‘Financially Hobbled for Life’: The Elite Master’s Degrees That Don’t Pay Off

Melissa Korn and Andrea Fuller:

Recent film program graduates of Columbia University who took out federal student loans had a median debt of $181,000.

Yet two years after earning their master’s degrees, half of the borrowers were making less than $30,000 a year.

The Columbia program offers the most extreme example of how elite universities in recent years have awarded thousands of master’s degrees that don’t provide graduates enough early career earnings to begin paying down their federal student loans, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of Education Department data. 

Recent Columbia film alumni had the highest debt compared with earnings among graduates of any major university master’s program in the U.S., the Journal found. The New York City university is among the world’s most prestigious schools, and its $11.3 billion endowment ranks it the nation’s eighth wealthiest private school.

For years, faculty, staff and students have appealed unsuccessfully to administrators to tap that wealth to aid more graduate students, according to current and former faculty and administrators, and dozens of students. Taxpayers will be on the hook for whatever is left unpaid.

Lured by the aura of degrees from top-flight institutions, many master’s students at universities across the U.S. took on debt beyond what their pay would support, the Journal analysis of federal data on borrowers found. At Columbia, such students graduated from programs including history, social work and architecture.

Not school or homeschooling, but Modular Learning

Manuela Snoyer:

For the last 20 years, I’ve taught over 2000 children in 3 countries. I pioneered an English language program in an impoverished area is the Middle East. I’ve worked as a public school teacher at some of the highest and lowest performing public schools in all five boroughs. I’ve helped hundreds of parents start microschools (or learning pods) and I’ve tutored 18 subjects to some of the wealthiest families in NYC, San Francisco and Paris to make up for failings in private schools they were paying up to $60,000 a year to attend. Most recently, I founded a virtual learning program to help families through the pandemic and a hotline that served 100,000 families impacted by school closures.

Based on what I’ve observed in my experience in this wide array of educational settings is that that there are thousands of extraordinary people working diligently to fulfill a very unambitious goal. From what I’ve seen, the goal of school is to do an adequate job preparing our future workforce to do jobs that were relevant yesterday. Though more often than not, school is actually still optimized to prepare kids to work in industrialized factories. Or at best, schools may aim to prepare kids for currently relevant jobs in tech which are bound to also be obsolete when they actually join the workforce in 5–10 years, taking our inflexible school system another 100 years to catch up to prepare kids for what were our most needed careers today which by that time will also be obsolete.

Civics: Pandemics and Political Development: The Electoral Legacy of the Black Death in Germany

Daniel Gingerich and Jan P. Vogler:

Do pandemics have lasting consequences for political behavior? We address this question by examining the consequences of the most deadly pandemic of the last millennium: the Black Death (1347-1351). Our claim is that pandemics can influence politics in the long run if they impose sufficient loss of life so as to augment the price of labor relative to other factors of production. When this occurs, labor repressive regimes (such as serfdom) become untenable, which ultimately leads to the development of proto-democratic institutions and associated political cultures that shape modalities of political engagement for generations. We test our theory by tracing out the local consequences of the Black Death in German-speaking Central Europe. We find that areas hit hardest by the pandemic were more likely to: (1) adopt inclusive political institutions and equitable land ownership patterns; (2) exhibit electoral behavior indicating independence from landed elite influence during the transition to mass politics; and (3) have significantly lower vote shares for Hitler’s National Socialist Party in the Weimar Republic’s fateful 1930 and July 1932 elections.

I Signed Up to Write College Essays for Rich Kids. I Found Cheating Is More Complicated Than I Thought.

anonymous:

Toward the end of April 2020, a college friend of mine reached out: “Are you looking for work? I work for this essay writing service, and they’re offering referral bonuses to anyone who joins the team.”

He told me he was writing essays for college kids for a website called Killer Papers, and he was making tons of money. The owner had claimed 30 percent sales growth since most students had moved to distance learning.

Just 24 hours later, I had already interviewed and written my first essay: $40 for a three-page “reflection paper” on how COVID had been affecting college students. Fitting.

I got a quick education on what this system for black-market essays really looks like. The overarching stereotype is that privileged sons and daughters of wealthy families use their money to cheat their way out of their work and into a degree. And … sure, this is often true.

Advocating taxpayer supported K-12 curriculum transparency

Scott Girard:

The report also pointed to the difficulty in accessing course materials via open records requests, citing expensive costs from certain districts to receive requested materials, including more than $5,000 from the Madison Metropolitan School District and more than $1,000 from the Kenosha Unified School District.

The proposed bill would require districts to post a bibliography-style list of curricular materials generated by outside entities and the full text of materials created by the district or a teacher. The list of materials would have to be posted “prominently” on a school district’s website and be updated at least twice each school year — once before it begins and once in January — starting with the 2022-23 school year.

“Parents from all political persuasions deserve the opportunity to learn what is being taught in their schools,” the report stated.

The report also pointed to the difficulty in accessing course materials via open records requests, citing expensive costs from certain districts to receive requested materials, including more than $5,000 from the Madison Metropolitan School District and more than $1,000 from the Kenosha Unified School District.

The Department of Public Instruction offered a fiscal estimate on last month’s CRT bill, including calling the proposed requirement to post curricular materials a “significant administrative burden on staff.” Sikma said that he believes that while starting the process may take an investment, maintaining the list from year to year shouldn’t require much effort.

“Once they get something like this up and running, it’s a matter of maintaining and it’s always easier to maintain than it is to build from the ground up,” Sikma said. “I’d be really surprised if school districts, individual teachers are so significantly revamping from semester to semester what they’re doing in the classroom that it’d really burden them with additional time.”

2021 Assembly Bill 411

If systems such as “Infinite Campus” were required and used, posting curriculum would occur “automagically” (recognizing nothing is perfect, but we have spent tens of millions on these things….)

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

Debit Card Apps for Kids Are Collecting a Shocking Amount of Personal Data

Todd Feathers:

The fintech company Greenlight says that its app and debit card for kids is a financial literacy tool that gives parents “superpowers” to set strict controls on their children’s spending. Parents can use the app to pay allowances, choose which stores the connected debit cards work at, set spending limits, and receive instant notifications whenever their child makes a purchase.

But there’s one thing Greenlight makes it very hard for parents to control: What the company does with the mountains of sensitive data it collects about children. 

Greenlight reserves the right to share that personal information—including names, birth dates, email addresses, GPS location history, purchase history, and behavioral profiles—with “ad and marketing vendors,” “insurance companies,” “collection agencies,” and the catch-all category of “other service providers,” according to its privacy policy. Greenlight’s policy also says that it can use the data it collects to deliver “tailored content” advertisements, a kind of marketing that youth privacy and education advocates say is particularly manipulative and damaging for childre

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Madison plans 6% city employee pay raise over 3 years

Dean Mosiman:

The earlier proposal for one-time payments, which equaled 3.75% of the average annual yearly wage of $70,950 for all permanent general municipal employees, would have cost a total $4.5 million. About 1,400 of the city’s 2,900 employees are classified as general municipal employees. Employees in the city’s police, firefighter and Teamster bargaining units would not have been eligible for the money.

Police and firefighters got raises of 2% in December 2018, 2.5% in June 2019, 3.25% for 2020 and 3.75% for 2021, Schmiedicke said. The Teamsters got hikes of 2% for 2019, 2% in December 2019, 2.5% in June 2020, and 2.5% in June 2021. General municipal employees received increases of 3.25% for 2019, 3.25% for 2020, and nothing for 2021, he said.

Abigail Becker:

But city attorney Michael Haas has said that the resolution doesn’t meet standards outlined in the U.S. Department of Treasury rules on how to use the federal coronavirus relief aid.

Comparing 2020-2021 online vs in person student climate

Bruce Murphy:

The study also found a significant racial difference in the percent of students getting full-time, in-person instruction: nationally an average of 75% of non-Hispanic white students were getting in-person instruction as of April versus 63% of Black students and 59% of Hispanic students. In 43 states, access to in-person learning was higher for non-Hispanic white students compared to those of color.

The highest racial disparities were in Ohio and Pennsylvania, where on average, students of color were 21% and 23% less likely to have access to in-person instruction. In Wisconsin students of color were 12.9% less likely to receive full-time, in-person instruction. That was a bigger gap then all but 13 states in the nation.

This, too, may largely reflect different approaches to social distancing. Urban areas like Milwaukee, with high percentages of minority students, were often more careful to restrict social distancing, given statistics showing a higher incidence of COVID-19 among Black and Hispanic families, and were slower to return to in-person instruction.

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

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

Molly Beck and Madeline Heim:

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

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

Channel3000:

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

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

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

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

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

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

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Assembly against private school forced closure.

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

Commentary on the taxpayer supported Madison School District Leadership Climate

Scott Girard:

“There is this saying that MMSD has kind of always wanted to do it the MMSD way, whatever that means,” Nichols said. “Sometimes, you’re trying to find a balance of the things that are important to our Madison school district and our educators and at the same time wanting to push sometimes in a different or new direction.

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

We should advocate for trade schools just as much as college, especially after a pandemic

Phil Rosen:

Why is it always, “Make sure you go to college,” and never “Make sure you go to trade school?”

Most high school students are funneled into two- or four-year universities. Little thought is given to other paths toward adulthood, and schools and parents often fail to present alternative options.

The allure of a college degree has tarnished the reputation of trade schools.

COVID-19 hammered most professional sectors but many trade jobs saw double or triple growth. During the economic downturn, trade labor continued expanding despite a volatile world. The pandemic revealed just how much rests upon the shoulders of skilled trade workers.

For students who may not know what they want to do, or if they merely want to try something other than college, trade school offers promise. Many trade workers collect far higher salaries than college-educated young adults and, in some other countries, trade school is popular and encouraged.

One reason high school conversations rarely gravitate to trade school is, in part, because of the stigma that comes with not attending college. But forgoing college does not equate to failure; in some cases it means better pay and better work-life balance down the line.

The impact of a lack of mathematical education on brain development and future attainment

George Zacharopoulos, Francesco Sella & Roi Cohen Kadosh:

Formal education has a long-term impact on an individual’s life. However, our knowledge of the effect of a specific lack of education, such as in mathematics, is currently poor but is highly relevant given the extant differences between countries in their educational curricula and the differences in opportunities to access education. Here we examined whether neurotransmitter concentrations in the adolescent brain could classify whether a student is lacking mathematical education. Decreased γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) concentration within the middle frontal gyrus (MFG) successfully classified whether an adolescent studies math and was negatively associated with frontoparietal connectivity. In a second experiment, we uncovered that our findings were not due to preexisting differences before a mathematical education ceased. Furthermore, we showed that MFG GABA not only classifies whether an adolescent is studying math or not, but it also predicts the changes in mathematical reasoning ∼19 mo later. The present results extend previous work in animals that has emphasized the role of GABA neurotransmission in synaptic and network plasticity and highlight the effect of a specific lack of education on MFG GABA concentration and learning-dependent plasticity. Our findings reveal the reciprocal effect between brain development and education and demonstrate the negative consequences of a specific lack of education during adolescence on brain plasticity and cognitive functions.

2007 Math Forum

Connected Math

Discovery Math

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

Abolishing tenure is the least of my proposals

Tyler Cowen:

I would start with what I expect students to know. They should be able to write very well, have a basic understanding of economics and public policy, and a decent working knowledge of statistical reasoning. I would give a degree to students who demonstrated “B-grade” competence in all of these areas; what now goes for passing C-minus work wouldn’t cut it.

Most important, the people who write and grade the students’ tests would not be their instructors. So students would have to acquire a genuine general knowledge base, not just memorize what is supposed to be on the exam.

Next, each student would have the equivalent of a GitHub certification page. If you learned three programming languages, for example, or won a prize in a science fair, that would go on your page as a credential. But it would not count as a credit toward graduation. Some students could finish their degrees in a year or two even if their pages were not adorned with many accomplishments, while others might fill their pages but get no degree.

Proposal to rename Madison Memorial High School generates 88 pages of public comment

Scott Girard:

The committee that will make recommendations on renaming James Madison Memorial High School already has its hands full as its first meeting approaches.

The Citizens’ Naming Committee will convene virtually at 5 p.m. Wednesday to begin the next step in the renaming process, 10 months after the School Board received a proposal from a Memorial graduate to rename the school for Vel Phillips, a Wisconsin woman who achieved many firsts for Black women in the state.

The 12-person committee will discuss a variety of procedural topics like its meeting schedule and the process for reviewing the list of 24 proposed names at its first meeting. Members will also review the public comment received to date.

As of July 2, those comments covered 88 pages and featured a mix of support for and opposition to the renaming, illustrating that whatever happens, some will be unhappy with the outcome.

Mya Berry began pushing for a new name at the school when she was a student at Memorial in 2017, but her petition went nowhere. This time, however, the School Board agreed to consider it after two elementary schools recently received new names that honor local Black women.

The renaming now comes amid a political battle over how we consider our country’s history. Fights over toppled statues of confederate generals and debates over what should be taught in schools are raging around the country, making any discussion like this a potential lightning rod for criticism.

“How sad that our city has fallen victim the left’s agenda,” wrote one commenter. “Re-naming a school for what purpose? Madison is no longer the Madison I called home.”

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

‘Orwellian’: Facebook faces backlash for ‘harmful extremist content’ alerts

Valerie Richardson:

Facebook just warned me that I may have been subjected to extremist content and asked me to report anyone I may know that is becoming an extremist,” tweeted Ms. Boebert. “I have more than 200 coworkers I need to report.”

Others, including Rep. Thomas Massie, Kentucky Republican, took a dig at the tech giant by adding sarcastic frames to their Facebook profile photos with the message, “Exposing Friends to Extremist Content.”

Mr. Massie said Facebook “ran out posts to show me after they filtered out the content from my friends on vaccine reactions, alternate Covid treatments, election investigations, and extremist patriotic programming.

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

Union-Linked Coalition Scripts ‘Messaging’ To Counter Parental Pushback Against Critical Race Theory

William Jacobson:

Was this media and activist frenzy organic, or itself astroturf?

Maybe it’s just coincidence, but shortly before the mid-June frenzy, a large coalition of over 300 progressive educational and union groups, over a dozen major left-leaning foundations and a parade of affiliated “influencers,” rolled out a CRT Messaging Guide with talking points identical to those repeated almost daily by teachers unions, in major newspapers, on MSNBC and CNN, and in digital media.

Whether the Message Guide was a script being read from, or simply reflected a coalescing of tactics and talking points, its appearance reflects how organized the messaging against parents has become.

Read the Messaging Guide below. It will all sound very, very, familiar.

If you could start an institution of higher learning from scratch, what would it look like?

Tyler Cowen:

I would start with what I expect students to know. They should be able to write very well, have a basic understanding of economics and public policy, and a decent working knowledge of statistical reasoning. I would give a degree to students who demonstrated “B-grade” competence in all of these areas; what now goes for passing C-minus work wouldn’t cut it.

Most important, the people who write and grade the students’ tests would not be their instructors. So students would have to acquire a genuine general knowledge base, not just memorize what is supposed to be on the exam.

Next, each student would have the equivalent of a GitHub certification page. If you learned three programming languages, for example, or won a prize in a science fair, that would go on your page as a credential. But it would not count as a credit toward graduation. Some students could finish their degrees in a year or two even if their pages were not adorned with many accomplishments, while others might fill their pages but get no degree.

My imaginary school would not have many assistant deans, student affairs staff or sports teams. The focus would be on paying more money to the better instructors. There would be plenty of humanities classes, primarily aimed at helping students learn how to write well, but the topics might range from Dante to hip hop. Students would have the option of living on campus but not be required to do so, much as they do at my current employer, George Mason University.

“Miasmatic theory was medical orthodoxy—one single person could not undo it,”

The Economist:

ANTONIE VAN LEEUWENHOEK, a 17th-century Dutch businessman and scientist, was inordinately proud of his clean teeth. Every morning he scrubbed them with salt before rinsing his mouth with water. After eating, he carefully cleaned his teeth with a toothpick. Few people his age, he remarked in a letter in 1683 (when he was 50), had such clean and white teeth. Yet when he looked closely, he found “there remains or grows between some of the molars and teeth a little white matter”—now called dental plaque.

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As an expert microscopist who had observed tiny organisms in water a few years earlier, van Leeuwenhoek wondered whether they might also be present in this white matter. A microscope showed that it did indeed contain “many very small living animals, which moved very prettily”. His drawings of them, which he sent to the Royal Society in London, are considered the first definitive evidence of bacteria.

Few people suspected that such micro-organisms might cause disease. At the time, doctors followed the doctrine of Hippocrates, believing disease was caused by an imbalance of the “humours” within the body (blood, phlegm, yellow bile and black bile). Epidemic diseases, meanwhile, were attributed to miasma, the “bad air” given off by swamps or decomposing matter. Suggestions that disease might be transmitted by tiny living things were rejected by doctors. But the advent of the microscope showed these tiny creatures existed. Robert Hooke, an English scientist, published depictions of mucor, a microbial fungus, in the 1660s, and van Leeuwenhoek spotted what are now called protozoa and bacteria. Could the idea that tiny organisms caused disease have caught on in the late 17th century?

This notion, now known as germ theory, was only embraced in the second half of the 19th century. In the 1840s Ignaz Semmelweis, a Hungarian doctor, realised the importance of hand-washing and sterilisation of surgical instruments, but was ignored. In the 1850s John Snow traced cholera deaths in London to a neighbourhood water pump. Louis Pasteur demonstrated in the 1860s that fermentation and putrefaction depended on living micro-organisms that could be killed by heating. Joseph Lister, a British surgeon, then convincingly showed that using antiseptics to sterilise surgical instruments and clean wounds saved lives.

Civics: A DA’s office in California offers plea deals and dismissals for misdemeanor offenses — but only if people give up their DNA.

Jordan Smith:

William Thompson, a professor emeritus of criminology and law at the University of California, Irvine, lives in University Hills, an on-campus residential community that affords, as he says, “poorly paid academics” in an area with high housing costs the ability to live near work. He was outside one day a few years ago when he was approached by a neighbor, another member of the university faculty, who had a story for him. She’d been walking her dog without a leash — which is generally against the law in Orange County, where Irvine is located — when she got stopped and cited for the misdemeanor offense. She expected to go to court to pay a fine (a first offense is $100), but when she got there, she found out it wouldn’t be that simple. Instead, she was told that to make the infraction go away, she would have to give up a DNA sample.

This was not the first time Thompson had heard a story like this. Thompson has been a DNA wonk for decades and has written extensively about issues with DNA analysis and the human factors, including biases, that can impact forensic sciences. As something of a go-to guy on campus where issues related to DNA are concerned, he’d been hearing similar stories from students. It wasn’t surprising that students occasionally found themselves sideways with the law for low-level issues like minor pot possession. “That kind of stuff,” he said. “Most of these minor cases would be settled by people showing up, pleading guilty, paying the fine.”

That began to change in 2007, when the Orange County District Attorney’s Office, or OCDA, started compiling its own DNA database. “Now students are coming in and saying, ‘Well, I went in to pay my $100. I didn’t want to hire a lawyer. I didn’t want to tell my family about this. So I was going to go pay my fine, but they wouldn’t let me,’” Thompson said. Instead, prosecutors were threatening to up a simple pot possession charge to “possession with intent to sell” unless the student agreed to surrender a DNA sample. He says students would ask, “Is this fair, professor, that they’re threatening to prosecute me for a felony, for something that’s not a felony, in order to get me to give my DNA?”

States have long maintained DNA databases containing the profiles of people convicted of felony crimes as well as unknown profiles developed from crime scene evidence. But those systems are created by legislation, strictly regulated, and publicly funded. They typically link up to the Combined DNA Index System, a nationwide network administered by the FBI that was built with the goal of helping to solve and deter crime.

2021 Madison Civics Climate

Commentary.

“One can not be an American by going about saying that one is an American. It is necessary to feel America, like America, love America and then work.”

Georgia O’Keeffe

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

The Brave Sage of Timbuktu: Abdel Kader Haidara – The librarian revived interest in Mali’s illustrious past … then had to save it from jihadists.

Joshua Hammer:

And Haidara’s manuscripts were precious for what they said more broadly about Africa’s history. Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr., who visited Timbuktu and Haidara in 1996, explains that Hegel, Kant, and other Enlightenment philosophers contended that Africa had no tradition of writing, and therefore no history and no memory.

“And unless you have those, you are not a civilization, which was a pernicious argument that provided justification for the slave trade,” Gates said in a recent interview. “The absence of writing, of books, was seen as a reflection of the subhuman position of the Africans. So the presence of these books had high, high stakes, going back to the 18th century. Kant and Hegel and Hume did not know anything about this.”

Over nine traumatic months, Haidara and his team rescued 350,000 manuscripts from 45 different libraries in and around Timbuktu and hid them in Bamako, more than 400 miles from the AQIM-controlled north. There were many close calls, including one involving Haidara’s nephew, Mohammed Touré, a 25-year-old curator at the library. One night when he was leaving work with a trunk full of manuscripts destined for hiding, Touré came face-to-face with Oumar Ould Hamaha, one of AQIM’s most inflexible zealots.

John Lewis slams UK education system and offers staff literacy lessons

Sahar Nazir:

// John Lewis to offer basic literacy and numeracy classes to young staff

// Dame Sharon White said young staff members have been “completely failed” by the education system

John Lewis Partnership chair Sharon White has said the company will provide basic literacy and numeracy classes to young staff because they have been “completely failed” by the education system.

White criticised the UK’s education set-up and said that some of the 16 year olds at John Lewis did not have “functional literacy and numeracy” skills.

She also warned that children who are less academically inclined are not always able to reach their full potential.

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

The dawn of formalized mathematics

Andrej Bauer:

Here are the slides of my talk “The dawn of formalized mathematics” from the 8th European Congress of Mathematics, which is taking place online and in Protorož, Slovenia, from June 20 to 26, 2021:

School Choice Marches Ahead

Wall Street Journal:

It’s been a banner year for school choice in the states, and legislatures aren’t finished expanding scholarship and education savings account programs (ESAs). In four state budgets that passed in the last two weeks, lawmakers included provisions that give families more educational opportunities.

In New Hampshire last week, Republican lawmakers approved Education Freedom Accounts, which students can use toward such expenses as private school tuition, tutoring, textbooks and technology. Scholarship funds are available to families earning up to 300% of the federal poverty line at an average of $4,600, the state per-pupil funding amount for public school students. The state Education Department estimates the program could save the state at least $360 million over a decade.

On Wednesday Pennsylvania’s Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf signed a budget that includes an expansion of a high-demand state tax-credit scholarship program. The GOP Legislature pushed the measure, but Mr. Wolf will now share the political credit. The Educational Improvement Tax Credit cap will rise by $40 million to $175 million for K-12 scholarships, enough to fund an estimated 13,000 more students. The expansion “shows that the commonwealth is placing the focus on children, not on any one educational model,” said state Sen. Scott Martin.

Ohio lawmakers packaged several school-choice provisions into their budget that Republican Gov. Mike DeWine signed Wednesday. These include funding for high-performing charter schools and higher scholarship values for the state’s voucher program. The Legislature also created a new K-12 ESA program, which offers students a modest $500.

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

Unguarded: A three-part series on how Richmond’s guardianship process leaves vulnerable people unprotected

Bridget Balch:

Guardianship, the legal process of taking away an adult’s rights to make life decisions, is intended to protect vulnerable people from neglect and abuse.

In Richmond, VCU Health System and other health care providers have used the process to remove poor patients from hospital beds, sometimes against the wishes of family members, with the help of a local law firm.

A year-long Richmond Times-Dispatch investigation has found that what happens to the patients after they’re discharged is left up to a system that fails to provide the one justification for the power it wields – protection.

Civics: “fact checking” legacy media climate

ISABEL VAN BRUGEN AND JAN JEKIELEK

PolitiFact, for example, on May 24 quietly retracted a September 2020 fact check that labeled a Hong Kong virologist’s claim that COVID-19 originated in a lab as inaccurate and a “debunked conspiracy theory.”

“The claim is inaccurate and ridiculous,” the now-archived fact check previously said. “We rate it Pants on Fire!”

In an updated editor’s note, PolitiFact explained why it removed the label.

“When this fact-check was first published in September 2020, PolitiFact’s sources included researchers who asserted the SARS-CoV-2 virus could not have been manipulated. That assertion is now more widely disputed,” the note said. “For that reason, we are removing this fact-check from our database pending a more thorough review. Currently, we consider the claim to be unsupported by evidence and in dispute.”

Separately, the Washington Post quietly walked back its claims regarding the COVID-19 lab leak theory.

The paper in February 2020 published an article claiming the idea was a “conspiracy theory” that had been “debunked.” The article attacked Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), who called for an investigation into the origins of the CCP virus.

Some reporters have said that they disregarded the lab leak theory because Republicans were largely the ones promoting the idea.

Weinstein described the phenomenon as “a headlong rush, by all of those who had gotten the story wrong to explain themselves—and their explanations made less than no sense.”

And, censorship at Linkedin: Yes, I have been locked out of Linked In and my account has been shut down. #censorship in the time of COVID. I have had to submit copies of my driver’s license and Linked In will now make a determination about reactivating my account.

Americans, Can You Answer These Questions?

David Shipley:

So I took the test. Or to put it more accurately, I tried to see if I knew what my grandfather had learned, giving myself a pass on Franklin Roosevelt’s cabinet and Oregon’s congressional delegation from the ’40s. I’m sure timing had something to do with it — the fact that these pages fell into my life at the end of a hard year, one in which our ability to govern ourselves and to call ourselves united regularly seemed in doubt — but the exercise felt, well, meaningful. Present was the genius of the system of government whose birth we celebrate this weekend but also its gaps and flaws, the manifest truth that the circle of rights has never been fully inclusive. Between the lines was sacrifice — with my grandfather as a proxy for what generations have been willing to undergo to call themselves Americans.

Civics: The Biden Administration’s Domestic Terrorism Strategy is practically designed for overreach.

John Robb:

The White House has published its Strategyfor fighting domestic terrorism, defined in terms laid out by the Patriot Act but augmented by a slurry of new jargon: there are now Domestic Violent Extremists (DVEs), Racially Motivated Violent Extremists (RMVEs), and Militia Violent Extremists (MVEs). All this based on a broad claim that extremist violence is a growing and escalating threat. This Strategy calls for the government:

  • To expand data collection and analysis dedicated to domestic terrorism. This means new measures for sharing information across government agencies and industry partners, and increased efforts to combat foreign connections to domestic groups—from disinformation (Russia) and financing methods (Bitcoin) to communications between extremist groups.
  • To train and fund a cross-community network that identifies and reports domestic extremism early. This means partnerships with online platforms to radically expand surveillance, data collection, and censorship capabilities (globally).
  • To expand and fund law enforcement and prosecutorial capabilities dedicated to domestic terrorism (the funding is already in motion). This means expanded legal powers to arrest, prosecute, and jail domestic extremists, as well as screening and monitoring Department of Defense, civil service, and civilian infrastructure employees for ties to domestic extremism (early efforts include monitoring social media use of individual employees).

The Sprawl

As envisioned, this effort is almost designed to sprawl. The Capitol Event (alternatively described as a riot, insurrection, or coup attempt) has become the equivalent of 9/11. This event, in combination with online and media claims of a rapid rise in domestic extremism, is being used as the critical justification of this war—even though, according to the Anti-Defamation League, deaths from extremist violence are at the lowest level since 2004.

Driven by political and online factors and without a basis in hard-eyed analysis, this effort will seek to justify itself by expanding its definition of extremism to include incidents and actions far less dramatic than deadly violence.

How Britain’s private schools lost their grip on Oxbridge

Brooke Masters:

What should parents do when a policy that is good for society seems bad for their kids? I feel genuine sympathy for anyone concerned for their child’s future, but complaining about a loss of privilege comes across as tone deaf.

At Eton, attended by 20 UK prime ministers including the current one, the number of Oxbridge offers dropped from 99 in 2014 to 48 this year. At King’s College, Wimbledon, offers have fallen by nearly half in two years to 27, The Sunday Times reported in February. Both schools still sit near the top of the national league tables for total offers. But their students are finding it harder to get in, rankling parents who shell out up to £28,000 a year for day school or £44,000 for boarding. 

Recommended

The anger of wealthy, mostly white parents about losing the advantages they expected to be able to buy their children is part of a broader pattern of status anxiety among some sections of the British and American upper classes. It is out of step with reality: children from such backgrounds will typically enjoy greater opportunitiesand financial security throughout their lives. 

Nevertheless, the potency of this anxiety was on display in the US during 2019’s “Varsity Blues” admissions scandal when actors and private equity giants were jailed for trying to buy their kids into Yale and Stanford, among others, with faked entrance test results and counterfeit athletic skills.

“When you have something that is very valuable to people, the system gets distorted,” says Daniel Markovits, a Yale law professor and author of The Meritocracy Trap. “Attending these universities makes a difference in people’s income and status . . . The parents see how much it costs them to live in the neighbourhoods they live in and send children to private schools, and they realise that their children will be in the same bind.”

Civics: What America’s seizure of websites says about the ‘rules-based’ order

Robert Wright & Connor Echols:

This week Peter Beinart, writing in the New York Times, took aim at one of the Blob’s favorite terms: the “rules-based order.” The Biden administration often invokes the term, typically in reference to the threat allegedly posed to that order by China. The problem, Beinart notes, is that no one ever bothers to explain what rules constitute the order—what rules America is supposedly abiding by while its adversaries violate them. “Since the ‘rules-based order’ is never adequately defined, America’s claim to uphold it can never be disproved,” Beinart writes.

This sort of skepticism about boilerplate “rules-based order” rhetoric has been growing lately, and that’s a welcome development in foreign policy discourse—maybe even a sign that the Blob’s days of hegemony are numbered. The trend dates back to the Trump administration, when observers noted that some of the Blobsters most loudly complaining about Trump’s failure to uphold the “rules-based order” had championed things like invading and bombing countries in violation of international law. When Biden took office, and staffed his foreign policy team with exactly this kind of rules-based-order scold, it was an open invitation for Beinart and other Blob critics to turn up the heat.

And yet—so much more heat is needed! The average member of the foreign policy establishment, to say nothing of the average American voter, has no idea how hypocritical America’s sermons about following the rules look from abroad. As it happens, an object lesson in this hypocrisy took shape on the same day Beinart’s piece was published, when the US Justice Department announced that it had disabled 36 Iran-linked websites. Let’s take a look at this exercise in American rules enforcement and try to imagine how it might look from perspectives other than America’s. Three kinds of rules, in particular, are implicated in the Justice Department’s website takedown:

Meet the activists perfecting the craft of anti-surveillance

Hannah Murphy:

Matthew Mitchell doesn’t want my phone number. He knows that if he got it, he could hack into my digital life. “It’s just easier for everybody,” he says as we begin our interview. “I’m not going to let you expose yourself.”

This is not a boast. Mitchell, who is in his forties, wants me to grasp how easily I can be hacked, spied on and have my civil liberties breached. He’s only agreed to video-chat with me from New York if I download a little-known encrypted communications app, Wire.

When I do, Mitchell tells me about his fear of governments and law enforcement aided by powerful tech companies and why he wants to help fight back.

A security researcher by day, Mitchell also co-hosts “crypto parties”. The grassroots movement began in 2012 and consists mainly of technologists leading free workshops that teach people how to use the internet anonymously. (The “crypto” in this case refers to the online anonymity you learn to achieve; the “party” is a matter of personal definition.)

Civics: If Private Platforms Use Government Guidelines to Police Content, is that State Censorship?

Matt Taibbi:

Just under three years ago, Infowars anchor Alex Jones was tossed off Facebook, Apple, YouTube, and Spotify, marking the unofficial launch of the “content moderation” era. The censorship envelope has since widened dramatically via a series of high-profile incidents: Facebook and Twitter suppressing the Hunter Biden laptop story, Donald Trump’s social media suspension, Apple and Amazon’s kneecapping of Parler, the removal of real raw footage from the January 6th riots, and others. 

This week’s decision by YouTube to demonetize podcaster Bret Weinstein belongs on that list, and has a case to be put at or near the top, representing a different and perhaps more unnerving speech conundrum than those other episodes. 

Profiled in this space two weeks ago, Weinstein and his wife Heather Heying — both biologists — host the podcast DarkHorse, which by any measure is among the more successful independent media operations in the country. They have two YouTube channels, a main channel featuring whole episodes and livestreams, and a “clips” channel featuring excerpts from those shows.

Between the two channels, they’ve been flagged 11 times in the last month or so. Specifically, YouTube has honed in on two areas of discussion it believes promote “medical misinformation.” The first is the potential efficacy of the repurposed drug ivermectin as a Covid-19 treatment. The second is the third rail of third rails, i.e. the possible shortcomings of the mRNA vaccines produced by companies like Moderna and Pfizer.

Many taxpayer supported K-12 school districts use Google (YouTube) services, including Madison.

Giving thanks for our time of grace

Penelope Green:

In 2008, she graduated from the College of San Mateo, a two-year community college in Silicon Valley, along with her younger brother, Stoyan. With scholarships from the San Mateo Rotary Club, among other awards, they were both accepted at Berkeley, where Boryana earned a degree in economics. She worked as an account manager at Brocade, a software company, before joining Tesla in 2011.

Should We Tax Rather Than Subsidize Yale?

Richard Vedder:

When society wants to encourage something, the government serving it subsidizes that activity. Conversely, when it wishes to discourage an activity, often it taxes it. Thus we have high taxes on cigarettes and alcoholic beverages to help curb lung cancer and alcoholism. And we give subsidies to universities because we think doing so will help produce a better society —higher incomes, more enlightened leaders, greater opportunities for individuals to advance themselves financially and maybe even spiritually, etc. Universities allegedly reek with positive spillover effects.

But then there is Yale University. We give it all sorts of subsidies despite the fact that it is one of the greatest private concentrations of wealth on the planet, with at least $2.5 million dollars of endowment for every student attending providing about $100,000 income annually or roughly $300 daily per student (whether school is in session or not) in investment income to educate each of the 12,000 students enrolled. Donations to the school are tax deductible. The school’s earnings (including capital gains) from the over $30 billion endowment are not taxable as they are for private individuals. To be sure, the U.S. recently imposed an endowment tax on ultra-rich schools like Yale, but still the tax benefits of its university status far exceed the costs.

What sort of oversight is there of this highly favored institution? How transparent is its decision making process? Recent articles by two fine graduates of the Yale Law School (typically rated as the nation’s finest), Lanny Davis (Wall Street Journal) and Glenn Reynolds (New York Post) suggest the governance of Yale probably more closely resembles that of, say, Belarus, than it does of a typical U.S. governmental body or publicly traded U.S. corporation. The Board of Trustees of Yale is elected theoretically at least in part by university alumni, but in reality the only candidates considered for election are selected by the board itself, and candidates are not allowed to campaign or provide alumni with detailed information about their lives or their positions of interest to the Yale community.

Until recently, it was possible for alumni to petition to be on the ballot, and occasionally there would be contested elections, but Yale’s anti-democratic aristocrats have put a stop to that, changing the rules to allow voting only for the two Board-approved candidates who are forbidden to really campaign. And this is at a university that openly allows public inspection of its Board minutes only after 50 years. And one that still has “secret societies” like Skull and Bones for the most elite amongst the elite kids populating the place.

Wisconsin Supreme Court Declares Racine School Closure Order Invalid

WILL:

The News: The Wisconsin Supreme Court unanimously declared that an order from the City of Racine’s public health officer closing all schools, public and private, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, is invalid and lacked proper legal authority. The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) filed an original action to the Wisconsin Supreme Court on November 19, on behalf of a group of parents, schools, and membership associations. The Court granted WILL’s original action and issued a temporary injunction blocking the City of Racine’s school closure order before it could go into effect on November 27.

Quote: WILL President and General Counsel, Rick Esenberg, said, “The Court determined, once again, that a local public health officer violated the law when it ordered all schools in her jurisdiction closed. This marks another important case reminding public officials that emergencies do not override the rule of law.”

Background: The City of Racine Public Health Department issued an order on November 12, closing all school buildings in the City of Racine, private and public, from November 27 to January 15, as a means of addressing COVID-19. When Racine issued this order, WILL had already filed an original action to the Wisconsin Supreme Court challenging Dane County’s school closure order and obtained an order enjoining it.

WILL filed an original action to the Wisconsin Supreme Court on November 19, on behalf of a group of parents, schools, and membership associations and similarly earned a temporary injunction blocking Racine’s school order while the Court decided the challenge to Dane County.

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

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

Molly Beck and Madeline Heim:

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

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

Channel3000:

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

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

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

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

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

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

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Assembly against private school forced closure.

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

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

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

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

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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

Welcome Polygenically Screened Babies

Astral Codex:

[edit: existing polygenic screening companies might not read enough genes to do this. Although it would be easy to offer a more complete service that reads most genes, banning the more complete version might be one way regulators could prevent this otherwise hard-to-prevent thing.]

What about IQ? There are definitely scientists who have figured out how to do polygenic analyses to predict a modest amount of variation in IQ, though I don’t know if their algorithms are public, and they’re certainly not convenient for amateurs to use. If you had them, would they work? Gwern has done some calculations and finds that with ten embryos (a near-best-case scenario of what you’re likely to get from egg extraction) and modern (as of 2016) polygenic scoring technology, you could get on average +3 IQ points by implanting the smartest. If polygenic scoring technology reached the limits of its potential (might happen within a decade or two) you could get +9 IQ points. Embryos from the same parents only vary a certain amount in IQ, and about half of IQ variation is non-genetic, so you can’t work miracles with this (if you want to know how to work miracles, read the rest of Gwern’s article).

Civics: Cops are playing music during filmed encounters to game YouTube’s copyright striking

Morgan Sung:

The police are attempting to use YouTube’s stringent copyright system to keep people from posting recordings of encounters with law enforcement. 

In a video posted Thursday by the Anti Police-Terror Project (APTP), a community organization dedicated to defunding the Oakland Police Department, Alameda County Sheriff’s deputy David Shelby pulled out his phone and began playing Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space” during an encounter. He openly admitted, “it can’t be posted to YouTube.” 

“Are we having a dance party right now?” APTP’s policy director James Burch asked in the video, which is posted on YouTube.

“Are you playing pop music to drown out the conversation?” the person recording asked. You can record all you want, I just know it can’t be posted to YouTube.

‘A Form of Brainwashing’: China Remakes Hong Kong

Vivian Wang and Alexandra Stevenson:

The Hong Kong government has issued hundreds of pages of new curriculum guidelines designed to instill “affection for the Chinese people.” Geography classes must affirm China’s control over disputed areas of the South China Sea. Students as young as 6 will learn the offenses under the security law.

Lo Kit Ling, who teaches a high school civics course, is now careful to say only positive things about China in class. While she had always tried to offer multiple perspectives on any topic, she said, she worries that a critical view could be quoted out of context by a student or parent.

A display at the Hong Kong Museum of History on Hong Kong’s handover from Britain to China in 1997.
Ms. Lo’s subject is especially fraught; the city’s leaders have accused it of poisoning Hong Kong’s youth. The course had encouraged students to analyze China critically, teaching the country’s economic successes alongside topics such as the Tiananmen Square crackdown.

Officials have ordered the subject replaced with a truncated version that emphasizes the positive.

“It’s not teaching,” Ms. Lo said. “It’s just like a kind of brainwashing.” She will teach an elective on hospitality studies instead.

I read five articles and 20,000 words about the Tiger Mother, so you don’t have to.

David Lat:

Eve. Eve, the golden girl. The cover girl. The girl next door, the girl on the moon. Time has been good to Eve. Life goes where she goes. She’s been profiled, covered, revealed, reported, what she eats and what she wears and whom she knows and where she was and when and where she’s going. Eve. You all know all about Eve.

— Addison DeWitt, All About Eve (1950)

Over the seven months that I’ve been writing at Original Jurisdiction, I have covered some of the most prominent figures in the legal profession, including leading judges, law firm partners, in-house lawyers, and law professors. Who has been the best for ratings?1

According to the list of my most popular posts, none other than Amy Chua. She’s the John M. Duff, Jr. Professor of Law at Yale Law School (YLS), although she’s most famous not as a legal academic but as the author of a controversial, bestselling parenting memoir, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. She also happens to be the wife of another longtime YLS faculty member, Jed Rubenfeld (and some refer to them collectively as “Chubenfeld”).

Over the past few weeks, articles about Chua have appeared in multiple major news outlets. Right now, it seems that every journalist in the country is chasing Amy.

Why is this 58-year-old law professor back in the headlines, more than a decade after the viral Wall Street Journal op-ed that propelled Tiger Mother onto the bestseller list? To catch up, check out my earlier story on Chua, or read this CliffsNotes version:

Curated Education Information