Tag: Education

Part of My Childhood has Changed

And I am happy as hell that Portland’s Woodrow Wilson High School is changing its name.  (They have narrowed it down to 5 names)

Woodrow Wilson was a hypocritical racist dirt-bag.

Now change the mascot, the teams are called the “Trojans”, and I don’t think that you should name a team after a brand of condoms and ……… What? ……… Homer’s Iliad? ……… Never mind.

Audit the Whole Industry

Once again, it appears that charter schools are once again misusing public funds:

Primavera online charter school, like many businesses this spring, sought help from the federal Paycheck Protection Program to weather the economic disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Chandler, Arizona, school received a PPP loan of nearly $2.2 million, the largest forgivable loan among the 132 Arizona charter schools that obtained them.

But Primavera’s loan appears to have been more of a bonus than a lifeline.

The school, which like all Arizona public schools didn’t lose state funding because of the pandemic, ended its fiscal year on June 30 with $8.8 million in the bank – almost double the annual payroll costs for its 85 teachers, records show.

The school also shipped $10 million to its lone shareholder: StrongMind, an affiliated company owned by Primavera’s founder and former CEO Damian Creamer.


An Arizona Republic review of more than 100 charter school financial records, audits and federal Small Business Administration documents found the overwhelming majority of the Arizona charter schools that obtained PPP loans didn’t need the money.


“The PPP loans are taxpayer dollars intended to help the needy, not the greedy,” [charter school auditor Jason] Todd said.


The Republic found that most of the charter schools getting PPP funds padded their cash balances (savings accounts), and a few for-profit charter operations, like Primavera, gave money away to shareholders that matched or exceeded their PPP loan amounts.


A 2018 Republic investigation found the state’s charter school industry, which gets more than $1 billion annually from the state general fund, has produced several multi-millionaires through self-dealing and lax oversight.

Creamer is among the prominent figures who’ve made millions of dollars operating Arizona charter schools. His online alternative school boasts more than 20,000 full- and part-time students. Primavera paid Creamer $10.1 million in 2017 and 2018.


“The Trump administration’s faulty design and mismanagement of the Paycheck Protection Program let thousands of mom-and-pop businesses slip through the cracks without adequate aid while charter schools cashed in,” [president of Accountable Us, Kyle] Herrig said.

Herrig’s organization said that the PPP loans given to Creamer’s interests “merit further investigation” because his “businesses seem to have fared well throughout the pandemic.”


Arizona Schools Superintendent Kathy Hoffman, who also is a member of the Charter Board, said she was astonished by The Republic’s findings.

“It saddens me those dollars are not going to students,” she said. “It’s very excessive. These dollars should be going where they are needed most, and that’s the students and instructional needs.”

Corruption is a feature and not a bug for charter schools. 

Destroying the teachers’ unions, and stealing public money for private profiteers are the raison d’être of the charter school movement.

That is why the audits.   If fraud can happen, it is happening.

If Only There Were Some Sort of Proxy for Value That We Could Offer Workers in Areas Where There Is a Shortage

There appears to be much hand wringing over how immigration restrictions have created a shortage of teachers.

The very serious people (VSP) have been waging a war on teachers wages, benefits, working conditions, and job security for the past 4 decades, and now they have a problem finding teachers.

It’s pretty simple thing, if you don’t have enough teacher, pay them better, treat them better, and reduce the administrative barriers to entering the field.

Importing teachers is not a response to a shortage, it’s an exercise in labor arbitrage.

Well, This Sucks

Today, literally a day after a security audit stated that the security for the Baltimore County Public Schools computer network was so much Swiss cheese, they were hit with a massive ransomeware attack

My wife works as a special education consultant, primary in Baltimore county, and her meeting today was cancelled, and it looks like BCPS may not sort out this cluster-f%$# until the new year.

I’m not entirely sure how to fix this, but I think that relying more on internal expertise, as opposed to over-paid consultants, would be a good start:

Baltimore County’s school system was shut down by a ransomware attack that hit all its network systems and closed school for 115,000 students Wednesday.

While little has been made public about the extent of the attack, school officials said at an afternoon news conference outside the county school headquarters in Towson that they are working closely with state and federal law enforcement and the Maryland Emergency Management Agency to investigate.


Superintendent Darryl Williams said he has no timeline for when school will resume. School officials said the network issue has affected the district’s website, email system and grading system. Until the problem is resolved, students will have no school.

The attack comes as the school system continues to operate online only, with all in-person classes delayed, as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.


The school system stopped communicating to staff and parents by email and began using Twitter and robocalls to inform its community about the attack. The district is advising all students, parents and teachers not to turn on their school laptops, and some students have taken any county applications off their phones as a precaution.


Baltimore County’s network is the conduit for grades, lesson plans, and communication between teachers and students and parents. Unlike some other school systems in the region, Baltimore County began giving students devices more than a decade ago.


It’s unclear when the attack started, but the school board meeting video stream abruptly cut out late Tuesday evening. And according to social media accounts, school system teachers began noticing problems about 11:30 p.m. as they were entering grades.

It actually knocked the virtual BCPS school board meeting that was held last night.

What a mess.

Student Athlete My Ass

It appears that when college football players decide to sit out the season because the sport is a Corona virus infested hellhole, the colleges pull their scholarships in violation of both human decency and NCAA regulations.

NCAA Division 3 sports are slavery, pure and simple:

Henry Bazakas embodied everything the University of California wants in a football player.

A third-generation Cal student who grew up in Berkeley, Bazakas arrived on campus five years ago as a walk-on offensive lineman. Three times he earned an award for having the team’s highest grade-point average. He and a teammate spearheaded a summer reading program at local elementary schools. He won another award, for his commitment to strength and conditioning while recovering from a torn knee ligament. And last season, after he finally earned an athletic scholarship, he started three games at left tackle.

But none of that counted for much in June, when Bazakas called the Cal football coach, Justin Wilcox, to say that he was opting out of his final season because of health concerns related to the coronavirus pandemic.

The call was the beginning of an odyssey that illustrates the normally unseen, cutthroat side of the business of college football, with tensions that have been magnified for athletes by the determined push to play during the pandemic.

Nine days later, Bazakas found his scholarship had been cut off, and he was then billed more than $24,000 halfway through his summer term because the athletic department had revoked the financial aid that it had already paid.

The summer school aid was ultimately reinstated by a university appeals committee, which said the school had violated N.C.A.A. rules by abruptly pulling Bazakas’s aid before giving him an opportunity for a hearing.

Bazakas also asked for his scholarship back for the fall semester, but the appeals panel sided with the athletic department’s decision to not renew it. While most of his teammates arrived at Cal with scholarships pledged for four years, walk-ons, like Bazakas, who eventually earn scholarships may not get them in subsequent years, and Cal had met an N.C.A.A. deadline in July not to renew his.


As major college football has lurched through the pandemic in pursuit of billions in television revenue — Cal had its first two scheduled games canceled, then lost Sunday to U.C.L.A. in a game arranged two days before kickoff — not even mandated protections for players have been ironclad.

In August, Washington State receiver Kassidy Woods, who opted out because he has the sickle cell trait, was allowed to keep his scholarship but removed from the team when Coach Nick Rolovich told Woods it would be “an issue” that he was aligned with a player rights’ movement. Utah State Coach Gary Andersen, before he was fired after an 0-3 start, said there was a reason none of his players had opted out. “It’s not an option,” he told reporters. “If you opt out, you’re not with us.”

Yet “Great American Institution” that is rotten to the core.

Div 3 sports are a profit making institution, and they should be treated as such.

World Class Snark

Loretta Donelan explains that it’s unfair to forgive student loan debt, because if it is, “How Will I Have An Automatic Advantage Over My Peers?”

Recently, I’ve heard a lot of politicians talking about cancelling everyone’s student loan debt. Some people are for it, some people are against it, some people already paid off their loans and don’t want others to have better lives than them, but there’s one thing that no one is talking about: if all my peers’ student loan debt is cancelled, how will I personally have an automatic advantage over them?

It’s maybe a 5 minute read, and it is hysterical.

Jason Furman Sucks Wet Farts from Dead Pigeons

This you? https://t.co/feb7Ndm4kO pic.twitter.com/Y08lUEx5dw

— Capricciola🦉 (@Capricciola) November 16, 2020

Obama Administration #1 Wanker

One of the suggestions fro boosting the economy, and one that does not have to go through what will likely be a Republican Senate, is the mass forgiveness student loans.

It would have the effect of removing a burden from millions of recent, and not so recent, college graduates, improving their credit scores and making them more likely to make big ticket purchases, start families, etc.

Jason Furman, one of the strongest advocates of austerity in the Obama administration thinks that this is a bad idea, which, in an of itself, is probably the strongest endorsement for such a policy that you can find.

The post financial crisis economy was a recovery only for the Wall Street banks bailed out, the insurance companies bailed in by Obamacare, and other parasitic speculators who had the ear of Obama, Geithner, and their Evil Minions™.

For some reason ordinary people getting a break is beyond the pale for the Democratic Party establishment (There is no Democratic Party establishment):

Since the election, the Prospect has been getting a certain degree of attention for a series we did last fall called the Day One Agenda. In it we posited a number of things a Democratic president can do without having to pass new legislation, comprising a full and robust agenda of tangible progress. Considering that Joe Biden may face a hostile legislature as president, with control of the Senate in the hands of Mitch McConnell, the Day One Agenda has taken on new importance.

One of the more high-impact (and controversial) of these measures is the Education Department’s ability to cancel student debt under something called “compromise and settlement authority.” The federal government directly issues almost all student debt, and has the discretion to reduce balances completely, or anything short of that.

Since Chuck Schumer and Elizabeth Warren have been calling for student debt relief by executive authority, it appears that the powers that be are getting nervous about something actually potentially happening, as they’re fashioning a list of reasons to shoot it down. Former Obama administration top economist Jason Furman is taking the lead on this. He started by insisting that student debt forgiveness would be taxable, which… no. There’s a long history here, but suffice to say that the government forgives student debt all the time without making it a taxable event, and the IRS has every discretion to follow its past rulings (and remember this will be Biden’s IRS) and say that student loans are a non-taxable scholarship.

Undaunted, Furman admitted “some ambiguity” with his claim (which I guess is the new way of saying “I was wrong”) but nevertheless stated that student loan forgiveness wouldn’t be worth it because it would only be a “small positive” multiplier from an economic standpoint. “Give someone $10 a year for 10 years and they won’t spend $100 more today,” he wrote.

Now, there are a million reasons to cancel student debt that aren’t economic in nature. Student debt acts like a medieval indenture and if we have the power to eliminate it we should. But on the economic point, what we’ve done with student debt during the pandemic (which maybe Furman doesn’t know about?) makes it more urgent that cancellation proceed on the first day in office. 


The Trump administration put that pause in effect back in March—there’s that executive branch power flashing again—meaning that 33 million Americans have not needed to make student loan payments since then. This has been an unsung part of the economic effect of coronavirus relief: taking hundreds dollars a month (the average payment is $393) off the books of 33 million people really improves their budget.

But this is coming to an end. Last week the Education Department started informing borrowers that the freeze on payments ends December 31. At one point President Trump said he would extend it, but that was before the election was RIGGED and all non-spiteful governing stopped. So 33 million Americans will have the sudden shock of an additional large bill, with many of them out of work and having exhausted their pandemic assistance and even unemployment benefits.


There are those who will preach about the unfairness of it all, that those who didn’t go to college or paid off their loans get nothing. This pitting of people against one another is bad even in the best of times. (There are also plenty of executive actions you can pair with this to make it broad-based; seizing drug patents to lower prescription prices, for example, or high-road contracting that would force all federal contractors to pay a $15/hour minimum wage.) In the worst of times like right now, it’s downright stupid. Forcing billions in payments back would hurt everybody. The family that has to pay again will eat out less, or put off that new piece of furniture they wanted. The entire economy will get socked.

It’s not seizing drug patents.  It’s called compulsory licensing.

Big pharma still gets its vig, it just does not get to print money.

Because Trump likely won’t budge, we’re going to have a chaotic three weeks (absent Congressional action) when student loan payments are back. Biden can make this significantly better in a very visible way. And he can do it by himself.

Do this.

There will be gnashing of teeth from the Republicans and the conservative wing of the Democratic Party (but I repeat myself), but who gives a crap.

F%$# them with Cheney’s dick.

H/t Atrios.

It’s a Variant of a Russian Joke

During the 1990s, when Boris Yeltsin was presiding over the rape of Russia by finance types, there was a joke going around:

Everything that they said about Communism was a LIE.

Unfortunately, everything that they said about Capitalism was the Truth.

Donald Trump hews fairly close to this.

Everything he said about himself was a lie, but much of what he said about the US elites was the truth, and this review of the book The Tyranny of Merit, provides an interesting primer on this idea.

The thesis of this book is that the “Meritocracy” sees itself as important, when it is really self-important, and that it is pervasively corrupt, where the efforts to benefit themselves are hypocritically sold as benefiting society as a whole:

In examining the 2016 populist revolt that gave rise to Donald Trump and Brexit, most observers have focused on two explanations. Some say the uprising was driven by economic dislocation: Voters were angry about rising inequality and felt they were losing out because of trade. Others argue that anger with the establishment stemmed from racist discomfort with immigration, demographic change, and growing religious diversity.

In his new book, the Harvard political philosopher Michael Sandel focuses on a third factor: elite smugness and self-dealing. To Sandel, 2016 represented a rebellion of voters lacking a college degree against a governing class that believes that its credentials, wealth, and power are the products of its merit. These leaders, Sandel argues, have condescended to blue-collar workers, “eroded the dignity of work and left many feeling disrespected and disempowered.”

Sandel focuses primarily on the left. For three decades, he writes, leading Democrats—including Bill Clinton (Yale Law ’73), Hillary Clinton (Yale Law ’73), and Barack Obama (Harvard Law ’91)—embodied personally, and touted rhetorically, a brand of meritocracy hopelessly oblivious to what he calls the “tyranny of merit.” Sometimes, this is implicit, as when Pete Buttigieg flexes on his ability to speak eight languages and his experience as a Rhodes Scholar. Other times, it’s explicit. Speaking in Mumbai in 2018, Hillary Clinton bragged that she “won the places that represent two-thirds of America’s gross domestic product”—that is, the places that had been successful in the era of globalization. This, Sandel writes, “displayed the meritocratic hubris that contributed to her defeat.” The Democratic Party “once stood for farmers and working people against the privileged. Now, in a meritocratic age, its defeated standard bearer boasted that the prosperous, enlightened parts of the country had voted for her.”


But Sandel is right to probe the dark things that can come from embracing meritocracy. Liberals have been overemphasizing their credentials and the economic success of their cosmopolitan metropolises. In doing so, they’ve forgotten that these markers are not good indicators of worth. The ability to obtain post-secondary degrees, particularly from elite institutions, is at least as much a reflection of one’s class and race as it is of one’s deservedness. The wealth and success of more liberal places has as much to do with an unequal system that allows existing wealth to concentrate as it does with the merit of those cities.


The term meritocracy, almost universally praised today, was coined in the 1950s by the British sociologist Michael Young to describe a dystopia. In contrast to an aristocracy, where people on top know they are just lucky and people on the bottom know they are merely unfortunate, in a meritocracy a small minority of winners feel enormous pride in their accomplishments and the majority feel humiliated by their low position. Young’s book predicted a revolt against meritocratic elites in 2034. “In 2016, as Britain voted for Brexit and America for Trump, that revolt arrived eighteen years ahead of schedule,” Sandel writes.


As a result, embracing meritocracy too tightly can be politically disastrous. In 2016, some working-class people were left with “the galling sense that those who stood astride the hierarchy of merit looked down with disdain on those they considered less accomplished than themselves.” The disdain was made explicit in 2016 when Hillary Clinton, speaking at fund-raisers in the Hamptons and Martha’s Vineyard, labeled millions of working-class Americans as “deplorables.”


Trump brilliantly exploited the idea that well-educated progressives looked down on those with less education (and, sometimes relatedly, those who are deeply religious). He rarely spoke of opportunity and upward mobility. A candidate “keenly alive to the politics of humiliation,” Sandel says, Trump feigned respect for working-class people. “l love the poorly educated,” Trump famously said after one primary victory. The gambit worked. Hillary Clinton overwhelmingly won college-educated voters, but Trump won voters without a college degree—a larger share of the electorate—by seven percentage points.

Liberals, of course, tend to have policies that are far more helpful to those without college educations than do conservatives. But Democratic governments stacked with well-educated elites have little real understanding of working-class struggles, and, just like Republicans, they can cause problems for the poor. For example, the mostly Ivy League status of Obama’s cabinet helped inform “a Wall Street–friendly response to the financial crisis,” Sandel writes, one that failed to comprehend “seething public anger.” Instead, the too-big-to-jail philosophy seemed to exonerate well-educated Wall Street bankers who engaged in selfish behavior that did grave damage to the country. Timothy Geithner and Rahm Emanuel were happier to bail out financial executives—who shared their pedigrees (and in some cases their former jobs)—than they were to rescue average Americans. In other words, a belief that wealth and education equal merit helped lead to stunning inequality.

From this review, and the policy prescriptions in the book, it seems to me that they have missed the point:  Many of the problems of “Meritocracy” do not come from a disdain for those less educated, though this is clearly a problem, much of it comes from the replacement of actual merit with credentialism.

There is no reasons that jobs which a decade ago required nothing beyond a high-school diploma a generation (or 2) ago now require a college degree, and possibly a post graduate degree.

Teachers entering schools in the 1950s needed an associated degree in education, or a bachelors in some other subject, while now all teachers need a masters degree in education.

Unfortunately there has been a whole infrastructure of credentialed people doing the bullsh%$ job of creating credentials, verifying credentials, and ranking credentials for other people.

Interestingly enough it is not the US that has the most extremely credentialed society on earth, it is likely India, where credentials, they call it caste there, completely permeate their society.

A Microcosm of What is Wrong with the Narcissistic Left

Brooklyn friends school in New York is a Quaker institution which posits as its central value, its “brand” if you will, is creating students who will fight for social justice.

However, it appears that when it is their ox that is gored, they will go above and beyond to screw their own workers.

They are trying to decertify their union because it is “Incompatible” with their Quaker faith.

Just in case you are wondering, Quakers have a long history of pro organized labor activism.

It’s just that this this school rat-f%$# administrator does a not want to be inconvenienced:

Everyone knew there would be layoffs at Brooklyn Friends School. Not even a school where tuition is the cost of a new car is safe from a major recession. The letters, though, were a shock. A couple weeks into severance negotiations with the staff union, head of school Crissy Cáceres made an announcement. The school had filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board asking it to decertify, or disband, its union. The presence of a union violated the school’s Quaker character, she wrote in two August 14 notes to teachers and families. “If we are to fully practice our Quaker values of respecting others and celebrating every individual’s inner light while compassionately responding to existing needs,” she said, “we must be legally free to do so.”

In this intimate school community, the news was an earthquake. It “came out of the blue,” remembers Sarah Gordon, who teaches third grade at Brooklyn Friends and belongs to the union’s negotiation committee. Nobody knew the school was even considering such an extreme decision. “It was like ‘wait, this is what you were doing?’ We had no idea,” echoes Laura Hulbert, a learning specialist.

At a different institution, that sense of surprise might be less profound. Employers usually don’t welcome unions, and they can adopt ugly tactics to prevent workers from organizing. But Brooklyn Friends isn’t the average workplace. The school is famously progressive. Parents hear of its commitment to social justice on orientation tours. Second-graders study the lives of labor leaders Dolores Huerta and Cesar Chavez as part of a curriculum on “change-makers.” The school’s union — which includes about 200 teachers, maintenance staff, and office workers, and is represented by United Auto Workers Local 2110 — seemed like a natural extension of its left-wing ethos. At least to staff.………


But look deeper, and a question presents itself: Is this spiritual warfare, or something more profane?

Spolier, Cáceres isn’t a member of the Quaker meeting, and she is making sweeping generalization that unionization runs counter to the religion.

This corrupt, profane, narcissistic, and sociopathic.

This is not William Penn, this is William Edward Hickman,* “What is good for me is right.”


Conservative Christians and right-to-work groups hailed the Bethany decision, [Which said that a religious school was not covered by the NLRB] which means that liberal Brooklyn Friends could soon have some uncomfortable company. It may also find itself at odds with other Quaker institutions. The Friends Council on Education told Intelligencer in an email that it has no formal position on unionization at its member schools, including Brooklyn Friends. But other Quaker organizations have unionized without incident. Teachers at Friends Seminary in Manhattan have a union. So do the employees of the American Friends Service Committee, which a source described as being “like the Peace Corps for Quakers.” A 2016 statement on the Committee’s website praises Walter Reuther — a storied leader of the United Auto Workers — in effusive terms. Brooklyn Friends itself has acknowledged Quakerism’s links to labor in the past. A blog post on its website celebrates Bayard Rustin, who in addition to being a Quaker and a civil-rights activist also co-founded the A. Philip Randolph Institute of the AFL-CIO.


“This school is incredibly diverse on so many levels, and I think that they care a lot about diversity and social justice. They can talk about that quite a bit,” McMackin said. “But the one thing that’s really lacking is economic diversity, and that contributes to the culture of the school.” She and Roddick receive financial aid to send their son to Brooklyn Friends, as do many other families. But overall, she added, “there is a very affluent culture there,” populated by “art dealers and finance bros” and other pillars of Brooklyn high culture. That influences the school’s rhetoric, she concluded: “When they talk about diversity, when they talk about social justice, they’re really talking about every other type besides economics.”

There is no social justice without economics.

Everything else is just virtue signaling.

It is also amazingly self-destructive and stupid:


“Brooklyn Friends is never going to have the tradition and gravitas of Packer. It’s never going to have the toniness of St. Ann’s, or the campus and athletic spirit of Poly Prep. But what Brooklyn Friends does have is social justice,” the former faculty member said. “When the board makes decisions like currying the favor of the Trump-dominated NLRB to try to decertify a union, in addition to feeling dishonest it seems like one of the stupidest things the school could do.”

If someone asks you why “The Left” hates comfortable liberals, it’s hypocrisy, and this is about as good an example of that as you could hope to find.

*Hickman is a serial killer much admired by Ayn Rand who kidnapped and dismembered a 12 year old girl.

Artificial Stupidity

Students have been given online short essay exams, and the kids have discovered that they are graded by artificial intelligence, and you can ace the test with two sentences and a word salad.

The problem here is not AI. The problem here is the tech bros trying to sell crap AI as gold:

On Monday, Dana Simmons came downstairs to find her 12-year-old son, Lazare, in tears. He’d completed the first assignment for his seventh-grade history class on Edgenuity, an online platform for virtual learning. He’d received a 50 out of 100. That wasn’t on a practice test — it was his real grade.


At first, Simmons tried to console her son. “I was like well, you know, some teachers grade really harshly at the beginning,” said Simmons, who is a history professor herself. Then, Lazare clarified that he’d received his grade less than a second after submitting his answers. A teacher couldn’t have read his response in that time, Simmons knew — her son was being graded by an algorithm.

Simmons watched Lazare complete more assignments. She looked at the correct answers, which Edgenuity revealed at the end. She surmised that Edgenuity’s AI was scanning for specific keywords that it expected to see in students’ answers. And she decided to game it.

Now, for every short-answer question, Lazare writes two long sentences followed by a disjointed list of keywords — anything that seems relevant to the question. “The questions are things like… ‘What was the advantage of Constantinople’s location for the power of the Byzantine empire,’” Simmons says. “So you go through, okay, what are the possible keywords that are associated with this? Wealth, caravan, ship, India, China, Middle East, he just threw all of those words in.”


Apparently, that “word salad” is enough to get a perfect grade on any short-answer question in an Edgenuity test.

Algorithm update. He cracked it: Two full sentences, followed by a word salad of all possibly applicable keywords. 100% on every assignment. Students on @EdgenuityInc, there's your ticket. He went from an F to an A+ without learning a thing.

— Dana Simmons (@DanaJSimmons) September 2, 2020

This is typical of what we are getting from tech these days.

It seems that it’s all the late David Graeber’s “Bullsh%$ Jobs.”


I’m kind of surprised.  I knew that the DeSantis order was terminally stupid, but I did not think that it was illegal:

Florida’s state government cannot force schools to reopen this month, a judge ruled yesterday. The state’s order to reopen K-12 schools disregarded safety risks posed by COVID-19 and gave schools no meaningful alternative, according to the ruling issued by Judge Charles Dodson of the Second Judicial Circuit in Leon County.

On July 6, Florida Department of Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran issued an emergency order stating, “Upon reopening in August, all school boards and charter school governing boards must open brick and mortar schools at least five days per week for all students.” Schools that don’t meet this requirement could lose state funding. Corcoran, Governor Ron DeSantis, and other state officials were then sued by the Florida Education Association, a statewide teachers’ union; the NAACP; and several individual teachers and parents.

After summarizing the health risks of reopening schools during the pandemic, the judge wrote that the state’s order to reopen schools “takes none of that into consideration. It fails to mention consideration of community transmission rates, varying ages of students, or proper precautions. What has been clearly established is there is no easy decision and opening schools will most likely increase COVID‐19 cases in Florida. Thus, Plaintiffs have demonstrated a substantial likelihood of success in procuring a judgment declaring the Order is being applied arbitrarily across Florida.”

Dodson concluded that the state’s order violates the Florida state constitution “to the extent it arbitrarily disregards safety, denies local school boards decision making with respect to reopening brick and mortar schools, and conditions funding on an approved reopening plan with a start date in August.” Having found that the plaintiffs are likely to win at trial, the judge issued a temporary injunction that strikes down the controversial portions of the state’s school-reopening order.

Gee, guv, I think that this ruling will leave a mark.

What Duncan Said

But this isn’t like putting a sign in front of a cliff which says, “please don’t step right up to the edge of the cliff,” and then blaming the student who plunged to his death for failing to obey the sign. Though that’s the story university administrators want to tell.

The student who steps up to the edge of the cliff, idiot as he may be, is tethered to 5 more students, who are tethered to 5 more students, who are tethered to 5 more students…

That some number of students are dipsh%$s was known by the responsible adults making these plans. That each student dipsh%$ is going to infect some number of other “blameless” students is regularly ignored. 

Atrios, aka Duncan Black

(%$# mine)

He is completely right.  In the context of a residential educational institution, it is impossible to make ALL the students behave responsibly.

Administrators know this, and so the outbreaks are a direct result of their callously disregard for the safety of their students, because they wanted the tuition and fee money.

The Wheel Has Turned Full Circle

In 1987, following a series of financial and sex scandals, Jerry Falwell, Sr. took over Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker’s PTL club, and now following a series of financial, educational, and sex scandals Jerry Falwell, Jr. has been forced to resign as president of Liberty University.

The sex scandal to the degree that we know anything, is (AT LEAST) his wife having an affair with a pool boy (not clear if it’s THEIR pool boy) while he watched, at least part of the time.  (I’m sure that there are more details to ……… come, but I won’t be discussing them unless some crime is involved)

The educational scandals involve rapes being covered up, athletes leaving because of a poisonous and racist atmosphere, and aggressively opening last spring, which led to a Covid outbreak.

The financial ones seem to be about opacity and a rather profligate life style.

As to the resignation, it was rather chaotic, with the board announcing his resignation, and his denial, and then his announcing that he had resign:

The evangelical leader and key Trump ally Jerry Falwell Jr confirmed on Tuesday he has resigned as president of Liberty University, following a sex scandal.

The confirmation came after conflicting reports of Falwell’s status on Monday night, in the wake of a Reuters report on a sexual relationship between him, his wife and a former business associate.

The board of the Lynchburg, Virginia, evangelical institution was meeting earlier on Tuesday regarding Falwell, who was its president for more than a decade.

Liberty University said in a statement on Tuesday afternoon that the school’s trustees “acted today to accept the resignation of Jerry Falwell, Jr. as its President and Chancellor and also accepted his resignation from its Board of Directors. All were effective immediately”.

After Falwell agreed on Monday to “immediately resign then reversing course”, the university said, he sent his resignation letter through an attorney later that night.

The university’s executive committee convened on Tuesday morning and voted to accept Falwell’s resignation, recommending that the board of trustees accept it. The full board of trustees met via videoconference on Tuesday morning and “unanimously voted” to affirm the committee’s recommendation.

“The university’s heartfelt prayers are with him and his family as he steps away from his life’s work,” the statement said.

So, the University is sending him in their thoughts and prayers.  **snerk**

As I noted above, I do not know where the sexual misconduct leads, and I don’t care.

What I do know, having followed affairs at the former Lynchburg Baptist College since their Covid debacle, is that Falwell has been a supremely abusive boss, so I think that there will be a lot of evil stuff found as rocks get turned over.

With some luck, maybe some jail time.

Between Falwell and Bannon though, August has been a great month for Schadenfreude.

A Feature, Not a Bug

Admission to university in the UK is driven by the “A-Level” exams, which have been canceled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Boris Johnson government came up with an algorithm driven alternative, which turned out to be so biased against students from poorer publicly funded schools that they had to withdraw it following massive protests.

This article details all of the problems with the process that was developed, but ignores the underlying issue, that it was not a good faith effort.

The Tories were explicitly looking at finding a way of favoring the inbred elites of British society while depriving less affluent, and less-white students fair access to the the UK’s elite educational institutions:

When the UK first set out to find an alternative to school leaving qualifications, the premise seemed perfectly reasonable. Covid-19 had derailed any opportunity for students to take the exams in person, but the government still wanted a way to assess them for university admission decisions.

Chief among its concerns was an issue of fairness. Teachers had already made predictions of their students’ exam scores, but previous studies had shown that these could be biased on the basis of age, gender, and ethnicity. After a series of expert panels and consultations, Ofqual, the Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation, turned to an algorithm. From there, things went horribly wrong.

Nearly 40% of students ended up receiving exam scores downgraded from their teachers’ predictions, threatening to cost them their university spots. Analysis of the algorithm also revealed that it had disproportionately hurt students from working-class and disadvantaged communities and inflated the scores of students from private schools. On August 16, hundreds chanted “F%$# the algorithm” in front of the UK’s Department of Education building in London to protest the results. By the next day, Ofqual had reversed its decision. Students will now be awarded either their teacher’s predicted scores or the algorithm’s—whichever is higher.

(%$# mine)

The problem was not that education authorities failed, but that they over-succeeded.

If they had hit 10% or 20%, they would have gotten away with making higher education in the UK richer and whiter, and the students complaining would have been dismissed as ungrateful (insert race or class epithets here)s.

I Know That I Shouldn’t Be Happy at Other People’s Misfortune, But

I am unreasonably happy about Liberty University suffering from a mass exodus of athletes of color because the “university” is a thoroughly racist place.

The moron Moral Majority was founded as a racist reaction to integration by Jerry Falwell, so I’m thinking that being hoist by their own racist petard to be profoundly amusing:

In mid-June, as the pandemic surged across the country, hundreds of students were living on Liberty University’s campus. Tayvion “Tank” Land was one of them, taking a summer math class with about 10 other students—half of them his football teammates.

One Thursday morning, class was partway through when the instructor told one of Land’s teammates that he needed a tutor. Sensing some reticence, Land said, the instructor followed up with an attempt at a joke. “Don’t be scared,” he allegedly told the player. “I’m not going to pull out my whip and hit you with it.”

Land and his teammate are Black, the instructor is white, and the joke came during a period of intense scrutiny of the way Black people are treated in this country, and of the unwelcoming atmosphere Black students face at Liberty in particular. In fact, Asia Todd, a top freshman on Liberty’s women’s basketball team, had announced earlier that month that she was transferring “due to the racial insensitivities shown within the leadership and culture” at the school.

Land had finally had enough, too. When I talked to him recently, he told me it was that moment in class that convinced him he had no choice but to transfer. He was done with the slights and general discomfort of being a young Black man on a campus where the student body, not to mention the population of professors and senior leadership, is overwhelmingly white.



— Tayvion Land (@LandTayvion) June 22, 2020

Land’s departure was big news at Liberty, where a year before he’d been the highest-rated football recruit to ever sign with the school. His teammate, roommate, and close friend, Kei’Trel “Tre” Clark, who was also in the math class, decided to transfer as well, saying, “due to the cultural [incompetency] within multiple levels of leadership, it does not line up with my code of ethics.” On July 17, a third Black teammate announced plans to leave but didn’t specify why.


Jerry Falwell Sr., the legendary televangelist and school founder, famously talked of building a football program on the Lynchburg, Virginia, campus that could someday compete against Notre Dame. “This was when all we had was a local church and rented public school buildings. Everybody thought he was crazy,” Falwell Jr. once said of his father’s early aspirations. Those dreams seemed especially improbable back then, coming only a few years after Falwell Sr. founded a K–12 school in Lynchburg that the local paper called “a private school for white students.” But Falwell Jr. has dreamed even bigger than his father, aiming to turn one of the nation’s largest Christian universities into what Notre Dame is for Catholics and BYU is for Mormons: the home team for millions of believers.


“In order for them to attract the kind of players they need to become a top Division I school, they need to go recruiting people, Black and white, who aren’t necessarily perfect fits for a place like Liberty,” said John Fea, a historian of American religion at Messiah College in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania. “They’ve gotta go beyond the megachurch youth group.”

In our conversation just before his announcement, Land made it clear that football was never a problem for him at Liberty. The training facilities at the school were top notch. He’d acquitted himself well as a freshman defensive back, playing in 11 of 13 games, including five starts, and finishing with 23 tackles. He was projected to start as a sophomore. It was everything he dealt with off the field, Land said, that made it hard for him to recommend the experience to anyone else.

As the saying goes, when you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas.

The origins of Liberty “University” are steeped in racism, so it should come as no surprise that it remains a racist cesspool.


The above is a Japanese proverb which states, “There is no medicine for stupidity.”

I am referring to North Paulding High School, which I wrote about a few days ago when they suspended students for revealing the complete unpreparedness of the school for dealing with coronavirus transmission.

Well today, North Paulding High is gong online for at least 2 days following a spike in infections:

The Paulding County high school that became infamous for hallways crowded with unmasked students will retreat online for at least a couple days this week after revealing that a half-dozen students and three staffers were diagnosed with COVID-19.

The district said it needs time to disinfect the North Paulding High School building and look for other potentially infected individuals.

“On Monday and Tuesday, the school will be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected, and the district will consult with the Department of Public Health to assess the environment and determine if there (are) any additional close contacts for confirmed cases who have not already been identified,” Paulding Superintendent Brian Otott wrote in a letter to parents Sunday.

Otott said parents will be notified Tuesday evening about whether North Paulding High School will reopen Wednesday.

Parents whose children go to the school might want to get a doctor’s note to keep them out of school for, “Unspecified health issues.”

This goes for members of the sports team in spades.

The only thing that the administration is interested in is passing the buck.

Today in Evil

In an attempt coverup reckless disregard for the safety of their students and their staff, administrators at North Paulding High School in Dallas, GA have suspended students who have reported unsafe and dangerous conditions:

At least two North Paulding High School students have been suspended after sharing images of a school hallway jammed with their mostly maskless peers, and the principal has warned other students against doing the same.

North Paulding High School in Dallas, Ga., about an hour’s drive from Atlanta, was thrust into the national spotlight this week when pictures and videos surfaced of its crowded interior on the first and second days of its first week back in session. The images, which showed a sea of teens clustered together with no face coverings, raised concerns among online commenters and parents over how the district is handling reopening schools during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Facing a fierce online backlash, Paulding County Schools Superintendent Brian Otott told parents and guardians in a letter that the images “didn’t look good.” But he argued that they lacked context about the 2,000-plus student school, where masks are a “personal choice.”

Certainly, posting to social media from school is a no-no, but listen to this message from the principal where he explicitly states that any criticism will be punished:

#Exclusive recording from North #Paulding High telling kids they will be punished for sharing to social media about conditions. Plus new #COVID19 cases in Cherokee County Schools and a football player in Henry County tests positive… details @cbs46 #Atlanta #backtoschool pic.twitter.com/3o9GFGxlIg

— Jamie S Kennedy (@Jamie_S_Kennedy) August 6, 2020

This is illegal retaliation, and the administrators should be frog-marched out of the school in hand cuffs.

I Guess That These Gladiators Are Not So Eager to Die

Derek Jeter founded The Players Tribune in 2014 to give athletes a forum to write about issues important to them. It’s where basketball player Elena Delle Donne disclosed her struggle with Lyme disease; where volleyballer Merete Lutz discussed what it was like to be in South Korea during the pandemic; and where numerous Black athletes have published their reflections on #BlackLivesMatter.

On Sunday, it served as the sports equivalent of Martin Luther’s church door. A group of college football players from the Pac-12 Conference, which includes schools such as Stanford, Washington and Oregon, posted a series of extraordinary demands that they said would have to be met or they would boycott the coming season.

The proximate cause for this potential work stoppage — and yes, that’s what it would be, a work stoppage — is the pandemic. Even though the virus continues to surge in much of the country — and many universities have become fearful about opening their campuses to students in the fall — the power conferences still seem intent on having a football season. There is simply too much money at stake to pull the plug. At all the top football schools, players have been on campus for weeks now, participating in “voluntary” workouts.


And the Pac-12 players, empowered by #BlackLivesMatter and handed tremendous leverage thanks to Covid-19, concluded that they would never have a better opportunity to force the system to change.

After a preamble that lays out all the ways they are exploited (“Because immoral rules would punish us for receiving basic necessities and compensation …”), they list a series of ambitious demands, only a few of which have to do with Covid-19 prevention measures. They call for coaches and administrators in the Pac-12 to reduce their “excessive pay” and for schools to restore the nonrevenue sports that have been cut because of the pandemic. They want the conference to set aside 2% of its revenue, which “would be directed by players to support financial aid for low-income Black students, community initiatives, and development programs for college athletes on each campus.”

There have been hundreds of players who have come down with Coronavirus, and the college’s response is to force them to sign liability waivers.

If there is a more corrupt organization in the United States than the NCAA, I haven’t seen it yet.

A Good Start

I’d like to see them ban the privacy invading ways of the various for profit Edu-Tech firms out there as well:

The New York legislature today passed a moratorium on the use of facial recognition and other forms of biometric identification in schools until 2022. The bill, which has yet to be signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo, comes in response to the launch of facial recognition by the Lockport City School District and appears to be the first in the nation to explicitly regulate or ban use of the technology in schools.

In January, Lockport became one of the only U.S. school districts to adopt facial recognition in all of its K-12 buildings, which serve about 5,000 students. Proponents argued the $1.4 million system made by Canada-based SN Technologies’ Aegis kept students safe by enforcing watchlists and sending alerts when it detected someone dangerous (or otherwise unwanted). It could also detect 10 types of guns and alert select district personnel and law enforcement. But critics said it could be used to surveil students and build a database of sensitive information the school district might struggle to keep secure.

While the Lockport schools’ privacy policy stated that the watchlist wouldn’t include students and the database would only cover non-students deemed a threat, including sex offenders or those banned by court order, district superintendent Michelle Bradley ultimately oversaw which individuals were added to the system. It was reported earlier this month that school board president John Linderman couldn’t guarantee student photos would never be included for disciplinary reasons.

Letting private companies profit from spying on our children is wrong.

Segregation is the Goal of Most Educational “Reform”

The very rich are setting up private “learning pods” for their children with tutors.

Some have suggested that this might lead to resegregation of schools.

What is left unstated is that educational reform in the United States over the past few decades has largely been about resegregating schools.

The charter school movement is about keeping people of color, and those with disabilities, out of the new educational institutions, and vouchers are even more explicit about their agenda.  (Segregation academy lite)