Tag: Education

Clearly, We Must Open up Schools Immediately

For all those people demanding to open the schools, this is another indication that they are delusional as to the impact of this action:

In the heated debate over reopening schools, one burning question has been whether and how efficiently children can spread the virus to others.

A large new study from South Korea offers an answer: Children younger than 10 transmit to others much less often than adults do, but the risk is not zero. And those between the ages of 10 and 19 can spread the virus at least as well as adults do.

The findings suggest that as schools reopen, communities will see clusters of infection take root that include children of all ages, several experts cautioned.


Several studies from Europe and Asia have suggested that young children are less likely to get infected and to spread the virus. But most of those studies were small and flawed, said Dr. Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute.

The new study “is very carefully done, it’s systematic and looks at a very large population,” Dr. Jha said. “It’s one of the best studies we’ve had to date on this issue.”

In the places pushing hardest to open schools, areas where infections are exploding, opening schools will be a complete disaster.

This Happened to Me

When I was 19, I was feeling out of it, and had extremely swollen lymph-nodes.

I went to my college health services, and they said that it was nothing to worry about, it was just allergies. (It was fairly classic mononucleosis symptoms, which is one thing that college health services should catch, but they didn’t)

8 months later, and my pre-employment physical, ironically at a hospital working with blood samples, they detected that my eosinophil count was through the roof, and after a number of tests, they determined that I had hepatitis.

I was in treatment for about 3 years afterwards, first with steroids, and then immune suppressants. (My liver numbers have been good for about 35 years)

If they hadn’t caught it, I would probably been in liver failure in a decade, because I was otherwise asymptomatic. (Well, I did lose some weight, see this picture from my employee ID at New England Medical Center)

My Best Picture Ever

Well, now the Washington Post has taken a look at college health centers, and found a profoundly troubling standard of care:

After days of sharp pain shooting up her left abdomen, Rose Wong hobbled from her history class to the student health center at Duke University.

A nurse pressed on the 20-year-old’s belly and told her it felt like gas. Wong questioned the diagnosis but said the nurse dismissed her doubts and sent her to the campus pharmacy to pick up Gas-X that afternoon in February 2019.

The next morning, Wong doubled over in pain, and a roommate drove her to a nearby emergency room in Durham, N.C. In the hospital, doctors discovered her condition was far more serious: Her left kidney had a massive hemorrhage. The bleeding, she later learned, was caused by a cancerous tumor that required surgery and chemotherapy and forced her to miss an entire school year.

Wong said she worries that when she returns to the Duke campus next month, the university and its medical clinic will be incapable of keeping her and 15,500 other Duke students healthy and safe in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic.

Except for the severity of the actual condition, this exactly mirrors my experience.


Wong’s misdiagnosis at Duke is among the scores of problems documented by The Washington Post at college health centers nationwide. As millions go back to school during the pandemic, the ability of campus health services to safeguard and care for students will be tested as never before — and many colleges appear unprepared for the challenge.

To assess the landscape of student health services at roughly 1,700 four-year residential campuses, The Post interviewed more than 200 students, parents and health officials and examined thousands of pages of medical records and court documents and 5,500 reviews of student health centers posted on Google.

College students reported they commonly waited days or weeks for appointments and were routinely provided lackluster care. Dozens of students ended up hospitalized — and some near death — for mistakes they said were made at on-campus clinics, including misdiagnosed cases of appendicitis at Kansas State University and meningitis at the University of Arkansas.


Student health centers are akin to the Wild West of medical care. There are no national regulations, and most are not licensed by states. Only about 220 campus medical clinics of the thousands nationwide are accredited by outside health organizations as meeting best practices, according to a Post analysis. In one case, Georgetown University stated on its website that its student health center was accredited but removed the claim after being asked about it by reporters.

Georgetown lied about the accreditation of its health services?


University leaders are publicly lobbying for federal protections from coronavirus-related lawsuits when they reopen, arguing that costly litigation would take away from already scarce resources needed to support students.

College health officials, meanwhile, are privately discussing insufficient stockpiles of personal protective equipment, inadequate access to coronavirus testing on campus and a short supply of rooms to quarantine students, according to interviews, emails and presentations reviewed by The Post.


In an email last year, the chief executive of the American College Health Association cautioned members about sharing information with The Post and referenced its reporting about a viral outbreak at the University of Maryland. The association later said the message was sent to inform colleges and took no position on whether universities should comply with the requests.

This is what comes from running colleges like business, and hiring legions of overpaid management types to run them.

Leaked Surveys Reveal Problematic Culture in Law Enforcement Courses

Two weeks ago, I wrote about Blueleaks, a massive collection of lawe enforcement documents that were released by DDoSecrets.

Well, we now have the first big reveal of this cache of documents, and it’s significant.

It appears that instructors at one of the largest law enforcement training programs are open and virulent bigots.

If anyone suggests to you that there are only a few “bad apples”, you need to remind them that the trainers,Derek Chauvin comes to mind, are among the most bigoted and most dismissive of civil rights and basic human decency:

In early September 2017, the Midwest Counterdrug Training Center (MCTC) hosted a course on “narcoterrorism.” By most accounts, it was a helpful few days of lessons on the drug trade and criminal organizations, led by an instructor with years of law enforcement experience.

In surveys, some later praised it as a “wake-up call,” a course with “virtually no room for improvement.”


And then, there was this: “I don’t know where to start – as someone who has worked full-time counter-terrorism for the past six years, this course was a complete disappointment. The instruction was long on rants and short on any actual substance. Any substantive material was outdated (some of it more than 20 years old). Much of the material taught is publicly available ‘conspiracy’ theory that has been disproved through investigation.”

The respondent continued, “While the instructor was open about his ‘anti-PC’ beliefs – this is the only time I have ever heard the [N-word] repeatedly used by instructors and students.”

The written review ended with a warning to the MCTC leadership.

“This is a time bomb – if anyone were to record [the teacher’s] rants and leak them to the media your whole program would go down in flames.”

While the “teacher’s rants” were not leaked, this response was, as part of the BlueLeaks hack in June. It’s one of the thousands of surveys filled out following MCTC law enforcement training offered throughout the past decade.

Funded by the Department of Defense and administered by the Iowa National Guard Counterdrug Task Force, the Center has trained “over 190,000 local, tribal, state, and federal law enforcement officers, military members, and prevention and treatment professionals,” according to its website.


While thousands responded favorably these courses over the past 10 years, the negative reviews call into question the culture of the organization, in which instructors saying racial slurs or homophobic jokes would still be rated highly by the majority of survey participants.

Some, including the instructor described above, continued to teach for years, despite being flagged repeatedly. According to additional surveys, the above teacher was still leading MCTC courses as recently as March 2020.


“Asking students if they ‘were the pitcher or catcher’ may be funny to some but is asking for a lawsuit in front of the wrong audience. Asking if they were going to ‘spit or swallow’ was a similar inappropriate question, as well as referring to the black male in the class as ‘brotha’ multiple times when it was obvious he was uncomfortable with it. Joking about sex assault cases is probably not the best idea considering someone may know a victim.”


“If a camera was placed in the room he would be on national news for his statements and views. This course was labeled for ‘drugs’ and just about every example referred to sex,” cautioned another reviewer.

Still, surveys from 2019 show that instructor was still brought back for additional courses.


The spread of biased, outdated, or debunked information was another leading concern. The majority of these complaints were leveled at the same instructors identified above for offensive language.

“Many media sources were slightly outdated and notoriously biased,” wrote one commenter in 2015. “Some of the sources used were blatant political rhetoric.”


Multiple responders—even those who otherwise ranked the courses favorably—noted a lack of sources outside of Fox News and a lack of examples or trends less than three decades old.


Others criticized the actual course material and practical law enforcement learnings offered. A 2013 student mentioned their instructor, “suggested [criminal] subjects not be given a break to get a drink and use the restroom after several hours, which may be considered a civil rights violation.”


Numerous comments in this vein referred back to the “reputation of MCTC,” and fears that instructors like these would “degrade” its status or that of other law enforcement departments.

“I found myself embarrassed to admit being part of the National Guard during this class due to instructor’s association with a National Guard affiliated course,” read one 2018 response.


“He flat out said in class that he lied all the time in court to cover his partner’s asses. He said multiple times a badge and being a cop means ‘you can do whatever the f%$# you want.’”

Why this is not a lede for every law enforcement section of every paper in the United States is beyond me.

Not a Good Look

Remember “Success Academy”?

It’s an under-performing politically connected charter school that overpays its CEO (and former city council member) Eva Moskowitz.

It also turns out that, at least according to its now former spokesweasel, it’s also racist and abusive as a matter of policy:

A spokesperson for New York City’s largest charter network resigned in protest, stating she can no longer defend Success Academy’s “racist and abusive practices” that are “detrimental to the emotional well being” of its students.

“I am resigning because I can no longer continue working for an organization that allows and rewards the systemic abuse of students, parents, and employees,” wrote Liz Baker, a Success spokesperson, in a resignation letter Tuesday.

“As the organization’s press associate, I no longer wish to defend Success Academy in response to any media inquiries,” she continued in the letter, which was obtained by Chalkbeat. “I do not believe that Success Academy has scholars’ best interests at heart, and I strongly believe that attending any Success Academy school is detrimental to the emotional wellbeing of children.”

The stunning resignation letter comes as the network has been besieged by complaints from employees, parents, and students about a culture that some argue is racist. Baker, who has worked at Success for about a year and four months, is one of the network’s most visible employees and was responsible for responding to reporters’ questions about the network.


Baker’s resignation is likely to draw further attention to turmoil at the network, which has boiled over in recent weeks. In largely anonymous social media posts, people connected to the network surfaced complaints about calling 911 on students with behavior problems, policing Black students’ hair by banning certain headwraps, and a culture where white educators are comfortable dressing down parents of color for minor issues like arriving late to pick up their children.

Half of the teachers and principals at Success are white, 27% are Black, 13% are Hispanic, and 5% are Asian. Meanwhile, 83% of the network’s roughly 18,000 students are Black or Hispanic and most come from low-income families.

Remember Success Academy is a charter school, which means that it is publicly funded, and Eva Moskowitz makes $890,000.00 a year with 17,000 students, as compared to the $345,000.00 received by New York City Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza, who serves 1,100,000 students.

Money well spent, huh?

I Think that We Have Identified the Problem

In an article about cuts colleges are making in response to Covid-19, we have the case of Johns Hopkins cutting retirement contributions.

The details include a list of overpaid and underperforming executives at the University that goes a long way to explaining why higher education has become ridiculous expensive over the past few decades.

The management of the university is increasingly a part of MBA culture, which involves overspending on non-teaching executives, who have bullsh%$ jobs, and who in turn make the people who actually have productive work generate endless reports instead of actually doing their f%$#ing jobs:

My university, Johns Hopkins, recently announced a series of exceptional measures in the face of a coronavirus-related fiscal crisis. Suddenly anticipating losses of over $350 million in the next 15 months, the university imposed a hiring freeze, canceled all raises, and warned about impending furloughs and layoffs. Most extraordinarily of all, it suspended contributions to its employees’ retirement accounts. “Many of our peers are grappling with similar challenges,” wrote our president, Ronald Daniels.

That is true. The University of Michigan recently announced anticipated losses of at least $400 million this calendar year. George Washington University likewise anticipates losses in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Stanford University, meanwhile, predicted a $200 million reversal in its consolidated budget. But while many colleges face challenges, no major research university moved with as much haste or revealed as acute vulnerabilities as Johns Hopkins did.

How does a university with a $6-billion endowment and $10 billion in assets suddenly find itself in a solvency crisis? How is one of the country’s top research universities reduced, just a month after moving classes online, to freezing its employees’ retirement accounts?


For years, the AAUP and other faculty critics have wrung their hands as norms of shared and deliberative governance disappeared, replaced by the consolidation of administrative power in the hands of corporate executives. With little appreciation for transparency or inclusiveness, and little understanding of the academy’s mission, these managers increasingly make decisions behind closed doors and execute them from above.


Consider the process that led to Johns Hopkins’s decision to freeze employee retirement contributions, which came as a surprise to nearly everyone affected. In his announcement, the president explained that the decision had been taken after consultation “with our trustees, deans and cabinet officers, and a subcommittee of the Faculty Budget Advisory Committee.” There was no mention of consulting employee unions, staff associations, or other institutions of faculty governance. There was no mention of possible alternatives, or of careful, deliberative assessments about who should bear the financial sacrifices. Certainly, there were no meaningful faculty votes. (The faculty budget committee is composed of a small number of members hand-picked by administrators, and lacks formal authority.)


This administrative centralization has come at a serious cost to the university’s sense of community. In the last few years, decisions taken by the upper administration have generated a series of controversies over policing, the power to grant tenure, and government contracts, to name a few. Last spring, students frustrated with the university’s governance occupied the university’s central administration building.


The president’s cabinet is a curious body — one that has proliferated throughout higher education, as the values of corporate America infiltrate university administrations. One would hardly think, based on the cabinet’s makeup, that it comprises the senior leadership team for an eminent research university. It looks much more like the C-suite at a public corporation, with two senior vice presidents, 12 vice presidents, an acting vice president, a vice provost, a secretary, and three senior advisers. Of the vice presidents, it seems that only the provost has significant classroom and research experience. Good as he is, he can hardly provide a counterweight to the rest of the cabinet members, who mostly have government, business, finance, or law backgrounds. Collectively, the number of J.D.s and M.B.A.s far exceeds the number of Ph.D.s.

(emphasis mine)
Gee, if you assume that each of these people, excluding the secretary, gets AT LEAST $½ million a year, you are looking at $9million a year in remuneration.

Maybe this is why college is so expensive these days, particularly when you consider that each of the these folks probably have (at least) 3-4 Evil Minions in their offices who also have to be paid, so we’re talking serious bucks, and not a penny of it goes to actually educating the students.

As with most universities, the president reports to a Board of Trustees. But this body, like many across the country, has become a funhouse mirror of corporate America. At Johns Hopkins, 36 members sit on the board, almost all hailing from outside academia.

Johns Hopkins executives are paid much like their counterparts in the corporate world. According to the latest available public information, from 2018, the university’s president earned $1.6 million in salary plus $1.1 million in deferred and other compensation for a total of $2.7 million. That tidy sum doesn’t include the money he receives for serving on other boards, including the $310,000 he received that year from T. Rowe Price — whose chief executive happens to serve on the Johns Hopkins Board of Trustees.

But the president is hardly alone. That same year, the university’s senior vice president for finance earned $1.2 million, its vice president for development made over $1 million, the vice president for investments made over $950,000. Even the president’s chief of staff earned over $670,000. Although he earns a salary high in the six figures, the provost, ostensibly in charge of the university’s academic mission, did not rank even in the top 10 earners at the university.

Like I said, not chump change, and an interlocking series of boards of directors/trustees so that it’s all one big game of, “You scratch my back, and I scratch yours.”

It’s self dealing and corruption:

All told, the compensation of the 28 key employees reported to the IRS in 2018 amounted to over $29 million. That sum alone exceeds by nearly 50 percent the costs of the pay raises the university would have granted this year to all of its employees.

And note that this does not including the direct reports to those “Key Employees”.

Like said, not chump change.

Then there is the issue of deferred compensation for top executives. According to the university’s latest audit, total liabilities related to deferred compensation amounted to over $130 million — or $30 million more than the institution will save by suspending contributions to its thousands of employee retirement accounts this year.


Alas, we now learn that Johns Hopkins’s managers failed to position the institution to weather unanticipated disruptions in its revenue streams.

And if there is ANY sort of expertise that MBA types should bring to their management positions, it’s basic finance and accounting.

I guess that makes me naive.


If a president and his leadership team have one principal responsibility, it is to ensure that the university is on sound enough financial footing to weather unanticipated crises. Ours have not.

By the way, not everyone was unprepared. Dozens of scholars right here at Johns Hopkins have spent years studying and preparing for events like the ones we are now experiencing. So good are these people at their jobs, millions of people today turn to them for data and guidance about how to navigate the pandemic. The Johns Hopkins Hospital has had an Office of Critical Event Preparedness and Response for nearly 20 years.


The university set virtually nothing aside in anticipation of these or any other risks. Instead, the leadership began recklessly expensive building projects, including the purchase of a $372.5-million building in Washington, D.C., — a white elephant that had already brought a large foundation to the brink of collapse.

And I f%$#ing guarantee you that someone in the university president’s cabinet or the board of trustees personally benefited from both of these decisions.

Perhaps that is to be expected: university leaders, like their corporate counterparts, are rewarded for their splashy acquisitions and grandiose construction projects, not for cautious stewardship. In this short-term thinking, university executives resemble the airline executives who spent years buying back their own company’s stock only to find they had no cash on hand when a crisis arrived. People are told to set aside money to cover six months of expenses in case of emergency. It took just one month for Johns Hopkins to launch its dramatic cuts.

What about that $6-billion endowment? “Unfortunately, we cannot rely on our endowment or philanthropic support to fill the breach,” Daniels wrote in his announcement. Much of it is held in illiquid investments. But exceptional times call for exceptional actions. Is it really better to fund current deficits with employee retirement accounts than to damage the university’s credit rating with further borrowing? Do those in a position of power even bother asking what the purpose of an endowment is? Shouldn’t it serve as a bulwark of financial stability? Or did that idea disappear with the gradual accumulation of financiers on university boards and in senior management?

I would note that even if these investments are unbelievably illiquid, they could still be used as collateral for a loan to make sure that there was sufficient cash on hand, and since interest rates are so low that many businesses are moving from shorter term loans to longer term loans to lock in those rates, it would also make sense from a finance or accounting perspective.

They are f%$#ing their workers instead because they think that real managers screw their employees, as opposed to doing their damn jobs.

Today, university endowments all too often function like giant casinos, putting more than 75 percent of their capital in risky and illiquid assets. Some wealthy universities pay far more in fees to investment managers than they do in scholarships to students. We’ve entered a world where, instead of having an endowment to support a university, the university serves as a tax shelter for the endowment.

Johns Hopkins does not publicly reveal its investments. Available IRS filings do, however, show that over nine years it paid more than $88 million in fees to an investment firm whose founder formerly served as chair of the university’s board. Quite possibly, our endowment pays out more to its investment managers than our university contibutes, annually, to employee retirement accounts. Was there ever much doubt which would be cut in a crisis?

Again, self-dealing and corruption.

The problem is not, as the writer suggests, a narrow set of decision makers who don’t understand the mission of a university.

The problem is control fraud.  These executives are acting in their own personal interest, and not that of the organization, and it’s not only tolerated, but considered normative behavior.

H/T Atrios.

This Woman is a Walking Cancer

Despite the recent bailout law making it illegal, Betsy DeVos is still garnishing student debt borrowers wages.
Given that DeVos has consistently sabotaged efforts to offer relief to student loan debtors.  It has been one of her signature initiatives, so I am not buying that this is any sort of oversight, this is flat out malice: 

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is continuing to garnish the wages of federal student loan borrowers who fall behind on payments even though Congress suspended the practice in the economic rescue package, according to a new lawsuit.

An upstate New York woman who works as a home health aide for less than $13 an hour claimed in the lawsuit, filed late Thursday, that the federal government seized more than $70 from her paycheck as recently as last week — nearly a full month after President Donald Trump signed the CARES Act into law. She is suing on behalf of about 285,000 borrowers whose wages are being garnished, according to the lawsuit.

DeVos first announced in March that she would take administrative action to automatically stop the Education Department from seizing the wages —and tax refunds — of defaulted student loan borrowers for at least two months. Congress then included that policy in the CARES Act and extended it, prohibiting the Education Department from garnishing wages or tax refunds through Sept. 30.

But the proposed class action lawsuit claims that the Education Department hasn’t actually halted the practice and is continuing to garnish wages in violation of the CARES Act. It cites a Washington Post story that said the department had not sent formal letters to tell employers to stop withholding money from borrowers’ paychecks on behalf of the government.

She is in the running for being the most contemptible member of the Trump administration, and this is against remarkably stiff competition.

They Should Have Blown up Her Damn Yacht

Have have you heard of Betsy Devos’ latest action as Secretary of the Department of “Education”?

She overruled the experts at her department, and forced through a massive grant to a corrupt charter school chain:

A U.S. congressman is demanding answers from the U.S. Education Department, alleging department employees complained to his office about political interference in the awarding of a multimillion-dollar federal grant to the controversial IDEA charter school network.

Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) sent a letter to the department Monday asking for details and records related to the awarding of the grant. In an interview, Pocan said “three whistleblowers” told his office that professional staff evaluating applications for 2020 grants from the federal Charter School Program had rejected IDEA for new funding, deeming the network “high risk” because of how IDEA leaders previously spent federal funds.

But according to these whistleblowers, Pocan said, professional staff was overruled by political appointees who ordered the funding be awarded to IDEA. The identities of the whistleblowers were not revealed to The Post, nor were the names of the political appointees.


Earlier this month, the Education Department announced it was awarding millions of dollars in new grants to charter schools, which are publicly funded but privately operated. IDEA was the top recipient, receiving $72 million over five years. IDEA had previously received more than $200 million in funding over the past decade through the program.

But the network has been dogged by controversy. This month, IDEA chief executive Tom Torkelson resigned after publicly apologizing for “really dumb and unhelpful” plans that included leasing a private jet for millions of dollars and spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on San Antonio Spurs tickets. The Texas Monitor reported last month that Torkelson had flown on a private jet to Tampa to meet with DeVos to discuss “education philanthropy,” records show. The Monitor reported he was the only passenger on a jet that can hold nine people.

Last November, the Education Department’s inspector general criticized IDEA in an audit of data IDEA included in annual performance reviews it submitted to the federal government, required as part of the grants received from the federal Charter Schools Program.

Betsy DeVos goal is the defunding public schools, and that means shoveling money out to the charter schools, no matter how incompetent or corrupt.

Small Acts of Heroism

The Wages of Evil are Pretty Good

Some publicly minded hero just removed the moorings from Betsy DeVos’ $40 million yacht in an act of well-justified retribution for the evil that she is doing.

There wasn’t a whole bunch of damage, only $5-10,000.00, but I wholeheartedly approve:

A boat owned by the family of U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos was vandalized over the weekend while moored at a Huron dock, according to the Huron Police Department.

The Seaquest was moored at the Huron Boat Basin, 330 Main St., according to a police report. The captain of the 163-foot yacht, worth a reported $40 million, called police at about 6 a.m. Sunday, telling them that he and the crew realized at sunrise that someone had untied Seaquest from the dock, setting it adrift.

The crew eventually got control of the yacht, but not before it struck the dock, causing an estimated $5,000 to $10,000 in damage from large scratches and scrapes, according to the police report.

Normally, I am opposed to acts of vandalism as political protest, but normally vandalism as an act of protest tends to hit innocent bystanders.

This didn’t.

Fox Privilege

This is Shallow Beyond Belief

The folks at Fox News are in a tizzy over Donald Trump’s proposal to suspend green cards, because they will not be able to find immigrants to exploit as their au pairs, and that would an unimaginable horror.

For people who are making something north of ½ million a year, perhaps paying a fair wage for child care is not an unreasonable sacrifice:

Last night, Trump sounded like he thought he had finally found an answer to dealing with the coronavirus. No, not better testing or more PPE but an immigration ban. He tweeted, “In light of the attack from the Invisible Enemy, as well as the need to protect the jobs of our GREAT American Citizens, I will be signing an Executive Order to temporarily suspend immigration into the United States!”

This morning, cohost Ainsley Earhardt briefly acknowledged that farmers rely on immigrants. Then she launched what looked like a direct plea to Trump, who never seems to let the pandemic interfere with his TV watching:

EARHARDT: Many families here, including mine, we have au pairs, and we rely on them. I go to work at three o’clock in the morning, so I need her there and I need her in my house so that she can help me with my daughter. So, many families rely on child care from other countries. These au pairs come here on work visas, they have to go back to their country to get the visas renewed, and we’ve been talking in my house about how that’s going to happen. So, these are all things, these are questions that we have that, hopefully the president will roll out a plan and we’ll all be informed on how this is going to affect all of our lives.


Apparently, when it comes to their own and their pals’ homes, these Trumpers don’t care so much about America first.

The selfishness and hypocrisy is stunning.

Here is Hoping that the Piranhas Wipe Him Out

Jerry Falwell, Jr. decided that Covid-19 was a left wing hoax, and so kept his Liberty “University” open.

When the press reported on this, he filed trumped up (pun not intended) charges against the reporters.

Now, after being forced to shut down by public outrage and the implied threat of actions by the local authorities, he is refusing to refund tuition and fees, and he is being sued for this:

Liberty University breached contracts with its students and profited from the pandemic by refusing to refund fees for campus services scrapped when the Covid-19 outbreak hit, an unnamed student has alleged in a federal class action lawsuit against the prominent Christian school.

The lawsuit stands to ratchet up attention first prompted by Liberty President Jerry Falwell Jr.’s decision to welcome students back to campus last month for online learning, while the virus continued to kill and sicken growing numbers of Americans.


At Liberty, the lawsuit claims the school refused to refund unused portions of fees despite ending on-campus services and activities for the rest of the semester. The lawsuit further alleges that any refunds offered to students have been a “mere fraction” of what the school actually owes. The school offered a $1,000 credit to students who didn’t return to campus residence halls, the lawsuit said.

“Liberty University is, in a very real sense, profiting from the COVID-19 pandemic — keeping its campus and campus services ‘open’ as a pretext to retain Plaintiff’s and the other Class members’ room, board, and campus fees, despite no longer having to incur the full cost of providing those services, all the while putting students’ finances and health at risk,” the lawsuit alleged.


It also says the plaintiff is unnamed because of “a legitimate fear of retaliation and harassment, both from Liberty and its supporters, for proceeding with this claim”— including expulsion.

Here is hoping that Liberty gets bankrupted.  It is a cancer on the face of American education.

Well, That’s a Mature Way to Handle This

In response to stories revealing that Liberty University had called its students back to campus, risking a Covid-19 outbreak, the educational [sic] institution has sworn out arrest warrants against the journalists revealing their reckless behavior.

Here is the Christo-Fascist right in a nutshell:

Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. on Wednesday said that arrest warrants had been issued for reporters from The New York Times and ProPublica after both publications wrote stories criticizing his decision last month to partially reopen his Virginia-based college.

Photos of the arrest warrants for New York Times freelance photographer Julia Rendleman and ProPublica reporter Alec MacGillis were published on the website of conservative radio host Todd Starnes. The warrant alleges each committed misdemeanor trespassing on campus while gathering information for their respective stories.

Falwell’s decision on March 24 to reopen the private evangelical Christian university campus came nearly two weeks after Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) issued a state of emergency.

The university said that some students couldn’t return home in an effort to protect elderly family members living under the same roof, while roughly 750 students were international students who couldn’t return to their home countries.

Five days after the campus reopened, The New York Times reported that, according to the school’s director of student health services, nearly a dozen students had reported symptoms similar to those experienced in positive coronavirus cases.


The university said that the reporters committed “trespassing on posted property.”

“The arrest warrants are issued by a magistrate based on information derived from an investigation conducted by Liberty University Police Department, the police agency with primary jurisdiction, based on reports of criminal trespassing on posted property made by Liberty University,” the university told The Hill in an email.

The New York Times and ProPublica have each stood by their reporting.

“Our freelance photographer was engaged in the most routine form of news gathering: taking a picture of a person who was interviewed for a news story,” said a Times spokesperson in an email to The Hill. “We are disappointed that Liberty University would decide to make that into a criminal case and go after a freelance journalist because its officials were unhappy with press coverage of the university’s decision to convene classes in the midst of the pandemic.”


So, Jerry Falwell, Jr. decided that Covid-19 was a a liberal hoax, and brought his students back, and now there is an explosion of cases at the “educational” institution:

As Liberty University’s spring break was drawing to a close this month, Jerry Falwell Jr., its president, spoke with the physician who runs Liberty’s student health service about the rampaging coronavirus.

“We’ve lost the ability to corral this thing,” Dr. Thomas W. Eppes Jr. said he told Mr. Falwell. But he did not urge him to close the school. “I just am not going to be so presumptuous as to say, ‘This is what you should do and this is what you shouldn’t do,’” Dr. Eppes said in an interview.

So Mr. Falwell — a staunch ally of President Trump and an influential voice in the evangelical world — reopened the university last week, igniting a firestorm. As of Friday, Dr. Eppes said, nearly a dozen Liberty students were sick with symptoms that suggested Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus. Three were referred to local hospital centers for testing. Another eight were told to self-isolate.


For critical weeks in January and February, the nation’s far right dismissed the seriousness of the pandemic. Mr. Falwell derided it as an “overreaction” driven by liberal desires to damage Mr. Trump.

Though the current crisis would appear epidemiological in nature, Dr. Eppes said he saw it as a reflection of “the political divide.”

Seriously, only Jerry Falwell, Jr. could make Jerry Fallwell, Sr. look good.

There are going to be dead students at Liberty because of his arrogance, and the blood will be on his hands.

*Pronounced in Japanese, “baka ni tsukeru kusuri wanai”, which means, “There is no medicine for stupidity.” Apologies for any inaccuracies in the text, I do not know Japanese.

Well, This Has Gone from Concerning to Bat-Sh%$ Insane Quickly

I am talking, of course, about Coronavirus.

In the past 24 hours, after Donald Trump gave the least reassuring political speech since Pennsylvania State Treasurer R. Budd Dwyer’s resignation speech 1n 1987,* things have gone to hell in a hand-basket.

The NCAA has canceled the collegiate basketball championships, AKA March Madness, because of COVID-19 19 concerns.

This is the most ppopular sporting event in the United States, normally pulling in about 50% more in ad revenue, and even more in eyeballs, than the Superbowl, and it’s canceled.

In addition, the Baseball Spring training has been suspended, the NBS has suspended its season,

Heard on every trading desk for last 10yrs: “Fck Dodd-Frank.”

Heard on every trading desk for the last 10d: “Thank fck for Dodd-Frank”

— Joseph S. Mauro (@jsmauro13) March 10, 2020

And then, for the second time this week, but only the third time in more than 20 years, circuit breakers temporarily halted stock trading after the S&P 500 entered free fall.

I am certain right now that there are a lot of brokers who are VERY happy that Dodd-Frank strengthened these market protections.

Finally, in Maryland, all public schools will be closed for 2 weeks, Catholic Schools in Baltimore are shutting down, Episcopal Churches are suspending services, and both state and federal courts are suspending cases, with most public entertainment events cancelled as well.

This all went pear shaped rather quickly.

* Following his conviction on bribery charges, he blew his brains out at a press converence.

Live in Obedient Fear, Citizen

A teen had an excused absence from high school to go to his orthodontist, but the school cop didn’t believe him, so he threatened to shoot the child.

The Teen was suspended, and then expelled, but the cop is still on the job:

As William Miller tried to drive out of the high school parking lot, two adults stopped him, blocking the exit lane with a golf cart.

A school resource officer employed by the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office and a school discipline assistant told him he couldn’t leave the campus in New Port Richey, Fla., on the morning of Dec. 17 or he’d be classified as truant and suspended. William, 17, had just dropped off a friend at River Ridge High School before heading to a morning orthodontist appointment. The boy told the adults he had an excused absence and would return later in the day with a note. After arguing for several minutes, he tried to pull his gray Ford F-150 around the golf cart to leave.

“You’re going to get shot, you come another f—— foot closer to me,” the deputy said. “You run into me, you’ll get f—— shot.”

The tense interaction played out on a body camera video that William’s mother, Nedra Miller, shared on Facebook last month. Miller told the Tampa Bay Times on Friday that she had called the school to excuse her son’s absence in advance and that he didn’t want to interrupt her at work.

The school suspended William from Dec. 17 to Jan. 9, his mother said. Then, River Ridge High School expelled him permanently.

Despite the dire consequences for William, the two adults involved in the interaction have faced few repercussions. A school district spokesman told The Washington Post in a statement that it is not investigating the incident. The sheriff’s office opened an internal review to determine whether the deputy, who has not been named, violated any policies. However, a spokeswoman for the sheriff’s office told the Post the deputy has not been suspended and continues to work at the high school.

And cops wonder why so many people call them pigs.

Maybe Cleaning up the Air?

This is interesting, but it begs the question, “Doesn’t it work everywhere? If so, why not clean up ALL the air?”

Also, how does this effect adults breathing our polluted air?

An emergency situation that turned out to be mostly a false alarm led a lot of schools in Los Angeles to install air filters, and something strange happened: Test scores went up. By a lot. And the gains were sustained in the subsequent year rather than fading away.

That’s what NYU’s Michael Gilraine finds in a new working paper titled “Air Filters, Pollution, and Student Achievement” that looks at the surprising consequences of the Aliso Canyon gas leak in 2015.

The impact of the air filters is strikingly large given what a simple change we’re talking about. The school district didn’t reengineer the school buildings or make dramatic education reforms; they just installed $700 commercially available filters that you could plug into any room in the country. But it’s consistent with a growing literature on the cognitive impact of air pollution, which finds that everyone from chess players to baseball umpires to workers in a pear-packing factory suffer deteriorations in performance when the air is more polluted.

If Gilraine’s result holds up to further scrutiny, he will have identified what’s probably the single most cost-effective education policy intervention — one that should have particularly large benefits for low-income children.

Another way that our society craps on the poor.

Even the air they breath hurts them.

Nice that Someone Noticed

It’s a racket:  Publishers throw a few bucks at a professor, who requires the book for his class, and ka-ching:

As the semester ends, instructors at universities and community colleges around the country will begin placing their orders for next year’s textbooks. But not all professors will pay enough attention to something that students complain about: the outlandish prices of the books we assign. Having grown at many times the rate of inflation, the cost of a leading economics book can be over $250; a law school casebook plus supplement can cost $277. Adding to such prices is the dubious trend of requiring students to obtain digital access codes, averaging $100, to complete homework assignments.


The root problem is that it is just too easy for us, the professors, to spend other people’s money. Just like doctors who prescribe expensive medicine, we don’t feel the pain of buying a $211 book of uneven quality and no real use when the course is finished, or a digital access code that costs $100 and is designed at least in part to disable the used-book market. The fact that professors choose and students buy destroys whatever power a competitive market might have to keep prices lower. That, and a touch of greed — the author of one successful book has earned an estimated $42 million in royalties — is why textbook prices have increased over 1,000 percent since the 1970s.


Teaching is a profession with its own ethical duties; students are both our charges and a captive market. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with assigning an expensive book if it is really worth the money and the alternatives are inadequate. (It helps if there’s a good used or rental market). But we at least owe our students the time to make sure we aren’t just absent-mindedly ripping them off.


Across the economy, over the last few years, there’s been a backlash against exploitative pricing, headlined by the condemnation of figures like Martin Shkreli of Turing Pharmaceuticals. Textbook authors and publishers may not be selling necessary medicines, but the practice of exploiting market power to its fullest raises similar ethical questions. The old-fashioned phrase is “price gouging,” and we shouldn’t be a part of it.

I’ve felt this way since I was a college student.

A Feature, Not a Bug

This is not a surprise. Whenever private forces take over a public asset, looting is the inevitable result:

Last March, the Network for Public Education released a report showing that the federal government has lost a billion dollars to charter school waste and fraud. But the organization had not stopped sifting through the data. Their follow-up report, “Still Asleep At The Wheel: How the Federal Charter Schools Program Results in as Pileup of Fraud ands Waste,” reveals that the situation is even worse than shown in the first report, while laying out more state by state details. Particularly striking—the vast amount of money that has been wasted on ghost schools that never served.

NPE is a group co-founded by Diane Ravitch, the Bush-era Assistant Secretary of Education who has since become an outspoken critic of education reform. The organization’s executive director is Carol Burris, a former award-winning New York principal. Burris was the primary author of this report.

The reports examine what happened to money disbursed by the Federal Charter Fund, a charter grant source created in 1994 as part of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Since 1995, it has handed out almost $4 billion.

Some new findings in this follow-up report:

The original report underestimated the number of charters that had taken federal grant funds and then either closed or never opened at all. That report found 1,000 such charters; the number now appears to be closer to 1,800. That means the failure rate is close to 37% nationally. Michigan gave grants of at least $100,000 to 72 schools that never opened at all; California gave grants to 61 unopened schools. Those two states alone account for over $16 million dollars spent without educating a single child. A grand total of 537 schools never actually opened; tax dollars spent on literally nothing.

The charter school system is constructed for two purposes:  Breaking teachers’ unions, and allowing finance types to loot taxpayer money.

God Bless America

Thank God that the NRA is here to protect us from common sense gun laws:

Authorities said the shooting at Saugus High School that left two students dead and three wounded occurred over a 16-second period in which a classmate pulled out a gun in the quad area and opened fire.

The gunfire broke out at 7:30 a.m., when students at the school were scheduled to be in their first-period classes, said Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva.

Paramedics rushed onto the campus, treating the wounded, and law enforcement officers searched nearby neighborhoods for a 16-year-old boy they thought had fled after the shooting. Authorities later said the suspect, identified by neighbors and sheriff’s officials as Nathaniel Berhow, was found on campus with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.

Officials said he was taken to a hospital and is in grave condition. Authorities said a message referencing the shooting, thought to have been posted before the attack, appeared on an Instagram account believed to be linked to the suspect. But Instagram said late Thursday, as first reported by BuzzFeed News, that the account didn’t belong to the teenager. A company representative said via email that the account has since been disabled “for violating our policies.”

Sheriff’s Capt. Kent Wegener said the teen was standing in the quad when he pulled a .45-caliber handgun from his backpack and opened fire on other students before turning the gun on himself. It was the suspect’s 16th birthday, authorities said.

What the f%$# is wrong with this country?