A Kerfuffle or a Brouhaha?

Don’t matter what you call it. Ricochetti are a passionate bunch, and sometimes the fighting spirit takes over. Our first guests are Andrew Gutmann (hosts of the essential Take Back Our Schools podcast) and Ricochet member Michele Kerr who’s had some strong criticisms of the fellas’ takes on public education over the years. For those of you who like a little scrappiness on the flagship podcast: this one’s for you!

Next we bring on our favorite doctor (the kind that doesn’t ask if the bruises are Covid related), Jay Bhattacharya! He explains how he became known as a fringey pseudoscientific quack and the ins and outs of Covid’s last gasp.

With Peter out, James and Rob steer the ship through a Musk-y hostile takeover, NYC’s newest madman and the latest in Ukraine. And mark your calendars so you can join Rob for the America’s Future pub crawl on May 14th! Members only: so sign up today!

Music from this week’s podcast: Adult Education by Hall and Oates

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  1. kedavis Member
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    I doubt that “ghost guns” show up much at crime scenes to start with, but even if they do, having no serial number at all doesn’t seem to be significantly – if any – worse than guns with a serial number that were stolen.  Which is already the favorite of criminals everywhere.

    • #1
  2. kedavis Member
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Okay Michele, fine, schools teach math and stuff.  So how about, let’s wait until schools have ALL students AT GRADE LEVEL on those subjects, and then maybe we can talk about CRT, gender identity, and what-not.

    I’m confident that, especially with a system where teachers are unionized, that will never happen.  And so CRT etc never get taught.

    • #2
  3. Michele Coolidge
    Michele
    @Michele

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Okay Michele, fine, schools teach math and stuff. So how about, let’s wait until schools have ALL students AT GRADE LEVEL on those subjects, and then maybe we can talk about CRT, gender identity, and what-not.

    I’m confident that, especially with a system where teachers are unionized, that will never happen. And so CRT etc never get taught.

    1. You won’t be able to define “grade level” in a way that has ever been achieved by any American school, anywhere, that will meet with agreement.
    2. But that’s fine, because if you paid attention, you might have noted that I’m totally on board with keeping away from any cultural or social issues. Your grand gesture is largely wasted because most schools aren’t teaching any of that stuff and will take the deal. Won’t cost them a thing. And you still won’t have all kids at “grade level”, assuming you ever get consensus.
    • #3
  4. James Hageman Coolidge
    James Hageman
    @JamesHageman

    This was a great podcast and discussion/kerfuffle. As Delmar O’Donnell says, “I’m with you fellas.” 

    • #4
  5. kedavis Member
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Michele (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Okay Michele, fine, schools teach math and stuff. So how about, let’s wait until schools have ALL students AT GRADE LEVEL on those subjects, and then maybe we can talk about CRT, gender identity, and what-not.

    I’m confident that, especially with a system where teachers are unionized, that will never happen. And so CRT etc never get taught.

    1. You won’t be able to define “grade level” in a way that has ever been achieved by any American school, anywhere, that will meet with agreement.
    2. But that’s fine, because if you paid attention, you might have noted that I’m totally on board with keeping away from any cultural or social issues. Your grand gesture is largely wasted because most schools aren’t teaching any of that stuff and will take the deal. Won’t cost them a thing. And you still won’t have all kids at “grade level”, assuming you ever get consensus.

    What I remember hearing was that you’re okay with not teaching about sex, for example, until 5th grade.  That’s not the same as “keeping away.”

    Also, I’m pretty sure you’re not the boss of the schools.  Lots of schools ARE teaching that stuff – or at least trying to – and not only that, schools/teachers/etc who claim they aren’t, still raise hell about attempts to pass laws against it.  Why should they be concerned about laws against something they say they aren’t doing?

    • #5
  6. Michele Coolidge
    Michele
    @Michele

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Michele (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Okay Michele, fine, schools teach math and stuff. So how about, let’s wait until schools have ALL students AT GRADE LEVEL on those subjects, and then maybe we can talk about CRT, gender identity, and what-not.

    I’m confident that, especially with a system where teachers are unionized, that will never happen. And so CRT etc never get taught.

    1. You won’t be able to define “grade level” in a way that has ever been achieved by any American school, anywhere, that will meet with agreement.
    2. But that’s fine, because if you paid attention, you might have noted that I’m totally on board with keeping away from any cultural or social issues. Your grand gesture is largely wasted because most schools aren’t teaching any of that stuff and will take the deal. Won’t cost them a thing. And you still won’t have all kids at “grade level”, assuming you ever get consensus.

    What I remember hearing was that you’re okay with not teaching about sex, for example, until 5th grade. That’s not the same as “keeping away.”

    Also, I’m pretty sure you’re not the boss of the schools. Lots of schools ARE teaching that stuff – or at least trying to – and not only that, schools/teachers/etc who claim they aren’t, still raise hell about attempts to pass laws against it. Why should they be concerned about laws against something they say they aren’t doing?

    Once again, it’s pretty clear you didn’t actually listen, so find someone to argue with who likewise doesn’t pay attention.

    • #6
  7. kedavis Member
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    I think, VPN or no, when you sign into your NetFlix account NetFlix knows where you are.  Because you signed into your NetFlix account, which has your address and credit card billing information, and what-not.

    Maybe they’re not blocking on that basis yet, but they certainly could.  It’s like using your gmail account or whatever, with a VPN.  Google still knows it’s you, because you signed into your Google account!

    • #7
  8. kedavis Member
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    How sad that James didn’t get any direct recognition for his Python references.

    • #8
  9. kedavis Member
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    • #9
  10. Leslie Watkins Member
    Leslie Watkins
    @LeslieWatkins

    It has to be the case that teachers are part of the problem, and there is obviously a problem that must be dealt with whether or not everyone can agree on the proposition that teachers aren’t the problem.

    I personally feel that public schools should be phased out as funds begin to follow each child throughout their education. There should be some kind of administrative policing authority to make sure that the various schools and academies that crop up in their place follow basic anti-discrimination laws on all social issues and all transparency laws regarding finances and public safety incidents and that a place must be made for every child in the district. Accreditation issues could be dealt with in tandem with that framework.

    My sense is that kids aren’t learning not because of the schools or the teachers, but because of a lack of preparation by parents who are uninvolved in their child’s education. (I’m joined in this thought by the likes of Thomas Sowell and the late, great Walter Williams, among others.)

    I also agree that public schools have to take on far more physically, intellectually, and emotionally stressed-out kids than private and most charter schools do. When I graduated from high school in 1971, kids with cerebral palsy or who were blind were bussed to another facility from which they were instructed by phone (thus, without irony I must confess, we called them “telephone kids”). The only time they came to campus was for the homecoming cheering assembly, and they got a page in the yearbook. Not to mention that if a kid—always a boy—got out of line, the vice principle—always a guy—would take him aside and give him what for, so most classrooms were orderly and safe. This isn’t to say that these were good practices, but it can be little wonder that overall test scores have lowered since the influx of greater numbers of children with special educational needs.

    What I can’t agree with is the view that teachers unions have little impact on schools: If they have no power, why did NYC mayor Bill DeBlasio do everything he could to hamper the workings of the clearly educationally successful Success Academies? (They do have a lottery, and I’m not sure if they take on special ed students, but their largely black and low-income student body consistently rank quite high on city test scores.) And it seems incorrect to say that the teachers unions aren’t pushing CRT when Randi Weingarden herself said the AFT would defend teachers in CRT fights (can’t seem to link my source, but goggling reveals tons of like articles from fall 2021).

     

    • #10
  11. Michele Coolidge
    Michele
    @Michele

    Leslie Watkins (View Comment):

     If they have no power, why did NYC mayor Bill DeBlasio do everything he could to hamper the workings of the clearly educationally successful Success Academies? (They do have a lottery, and I’m not sure if they take on special ed students, but their largely black and low-income student body consistently rank quite high on city test scores.)

    And it seems incorrect to say that the teachers unions aren’t pushing CRT when Randi Weingarden herself said the AFT would defend teachers in CRT fights (can’t seem to link my source, but goggling reveals tons of like articles from fall 2021).

     

     

    1. Success Academies are not clearly successful (heh), and they definitely don’t take sped students. IN fact, they were recently fined 2.4 million for their bad treatment of sped students. They had a “Got to Go” list, targeting students that wouldn’t allow them to brag about their success. I’m not a fan of Bill DeBlasio, but he wasn’t wrong, and if Cuomo hadn’t hated DeBlasio, Success Academy probably wouldn’t have won that round.
    2. I didn’t say teachers unions aren’t pushing CRT. I’m saying their support or opposition is largely irrelevant to whether or not CRT succeeds.  I agree with very little that my union says. It just doesn’t matter much to outcomes.
    • #11
  12. kedavis Member
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Leslie Watkins (View Comment):
    and that a place must be made for every child in the district.

    Interesting.  You want to mandate that private businesses create enough facilities for all potential customers?  How does that work?

    • #12
  13. kedavis Member
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Michele (View Comment):
    I didn’t say teachers unions aren’t pushing CRT. I’m saying their support or opposition is largely irrelevant to whether or not CRT succeeds.  I agree with very little that my union says. It just doesn’t matter much to outcomes.

    It may very well have a lot more to do with costs, than with outcomes; at least SUCCESFFUL outcomes…

    • #13
  14. Leslie Watkins Member
    Leslie Watkins
    @LeslieWatkins

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Leslie Watkins (View Comment):
    and that a place must be made for every child in the district.

    Interesting. You want to mandate that private businesses create enough facilities for all potential customers? How does that work?

    Not sure how, but it must unless we fall into an even deeper divide.

    • #14
  15. kedavis Member
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Leslie Watkins (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Leslie Watkins (View Comment):
    and that a place must be made for every child in the district.

    Interesting. You want to mandate that private businesses create enough facilities for all potential customers? How does that work?

    Not sure how, but it must unless we fall into an even deeper divide.

    Actually it doesn’t seem necessary to mandate any such thing, I would expect that if schools are competing to get students, there will probably be an over-supply anyway.  At least some percentage at each school, to allow for transfers etc.

    • #15
  16. Leslie Watkins Member
    Leslie Watkins
    @LeslieWatkins

    Michele (View Comment):

    Leslie Watkins (View Comment):

    If they have no power, why did NYC mayor Bill DeBlasio do everything he could to hamper the workings of the clearly educationally successful Success Academies? (They do have a lottery, and I’m not sure if they take on special ed students, but their largely black and low-income student body consistently rank quite high on city test scores.)

    And it seems incorrect to say that the teachers unions aren’t pushing CRT when Randi Weingarden herself said the AFT would defend teachers in CRT fights (can’t seem to link my source, but goggling reveals tons of like articles from fall 2021).

     

     

    1. Success Academies are not clearly successful (heh), and they definitely don’t take sped students. IN fact, they were recently fined 2.4 million for their bad treatment of sped students. They had a “Got to Go” list, targeting students that wouldn’t allow them to brag about their success. I’m not a fan of Bill DeBlasio, but he wasn’t wrong, and if Cuomo hadn’t hated DeBlasio, Success Academy probably wouldn’t have won that round.
    2. I didn’t say teachers unions aren’t pushing CRT. I’m saying their support or opposition is largely irrelevant to whether or not CRT succeeds. I agree with very little that my union says. It just doesn’t matter much to outcomes.

    Oh come on. It’s like America. If we’re so bad, why does everyone want to come here? Same with Success Academy. I have no doubt it has problems and genuine detractors, but are you claiming its student body doesn’t do well, that is, better than average?  I need some serious documentation for that.

    • #16
  17. Stina Member
    Stina
    @CM

    Leslie Watkins (View Comment):
    And it seems incorrect to say that the teachers unions aren’t pushing CRT when Randi Weingarden herself said the AFT would defend teachers in CRT fights (can’t seem to link my source, but goggling reveals tons of like articles from fall 2021).

    My kids were in the Orange County Florida public school system and, while CRT was not being taught at the time, my oldest’s 4th-5th grade social studies was almost exclusively black history. He only had two take home reports, one from Civil Rights and the other was Black History.

    We moved in 2020 and our new district is much more comprehensive with my other two.

    • #17
  18. Michele Coolidge
    Michele
    @Michele

    Leslie Watkins (View Comment):

    Michele (View Comment):

    Leslie Watkins (View Comment):

    I

    Oh come on. It’s like America. If we’re so bad, why does everyone want to come here? Same with Success Academy. I have no doubt it has problems and genuine detractors, but are you claiming its student body doesn’t do well, that is, better than average? I need some serious documentation for that.

    Success Academy has a lot of kids making it over the proficiency line, but it has tremendous attrition. It also forces a lot of kids to repeat 2nd grade, and many kids are told they should leave or at least accept they’ll be forced to repeat a grade. In short, they’re very good at removing any kid who might *not* test well before tests are given. 

    And everyone doesn’t want to go there. Robert Pondiscio discusses this in the book. #120 on the wait list will probably get in, because so many parents aren’t interested once they see what’s involved. 

     

    Finally, while much is made of Success Academy “closing the achievement gap”, there’s no evidence it is actually closing the score gap. What it is doing is getting kids over a particular cut score, which they do with months of test prep. 

    Here’s what I absolutely guarantee you SA can’t do: it can’t take a bunch of below average ability kids, keep them all, and get them to proficiency. Neither can anyone else, of course. But SA is getting credit for taking kids that publics already educate well, and putting them in months of test prep to get them over a hump. I mean, whoop. I sure wouldn’t work there.

    • #18
  19. kedavis Member
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Did everyone notice?

     

    • #19
  20. Leslie Watkins Member
    Leslie Watkins
    @LeslieWatkins

    Stina (View Comment):

    Leslie Watkins (View Comment):
    And it seems incorrect to say that the teachers unions aren’t pushing CRT when Randi Weingarden herself said the AFT would defend teachers in CRT fights (can’t seem to link my source, but goggling reveals tons of like articles from fall 2021).

    My kids were in the Orange County Florida public school system and, while CRT was not being taught at the time, my oldest’s 4th-5th grade social studies was almost exclusively black history. He only had two take home reports, one from Civil Rights and the other was Black History.

    We moved in 2020 and our new district is much more comprehensive with my other two.

    Yeah, curriculum is a whole other tangle. My daughter, who went to public school all the way through and got into the honors program at UNC-Chapel Hill, was telling me one day when she was in high school (she graduated in 2014) about learning about Winston Churchill. What did you learn, I asked? About Galipoli. First mention. His failure at Galipoli. She can read and write quite well. It’s her discernment I’m concerned about.

    • #20
  21. kedavis Member
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Michele (View Comment):

    Leslie Watkins (View Comment):

    Michele (View Comment):

    Leslie Watkins (View Comment):

    I

    Oh come on. It’s like America. If we’re so bad, why does everyone want to come here? Same with Success Academy. I have no doubt it has problems and genuine detractors, but are you claiming its student body doesn’t do well, that is, better than average? I need some serious documentation for that.

    Success Academy has a lot of kids making it over the proficiency line, but it has tremendous attrition. It also forces a lot of kids to repeat 2nd grade, and many kids are told they should leave or at least accept they’ll be forced to repeat a grade. In short, they’re very good at removing any kid who might *not* test well before tests are given.

    And everyone doesn’t want to go there. Robert Pondiscio discusses this in the book. #120 on the wait list will probably get in, because so many parents aren’t interested once they see what’s involved.

    Finally, while much is made of Success Academy “closing the achievement gap”, there’s no evidence it is actually closing the score gap. What it is doing is getting kids over a particular cut score, which they do with months of test prep.

    Here’s what I absolutely guarantee you SA can’t do: it can’t take a bunch of below average ability kids, keep them all, and get them to proficiency. Neither can anyone else, of course. But SA is getting credit for taking kids that publics already educate well, and putting them in months of test prep to get them over a hump. I mean, whoop. I sure wouldn’t work there.

    But if, as seems to be the case, the regular schools can’t even get the kids to test well, what does that say about the regular schools?

    Would you like to claim that the regular public schools are actually teaching the kids better, they just don’t test well?  That could be amusing.

    • #21
  22. kedavis Member
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    It seems pretty clear that once college was claimed to be something everyone needed, there was pressure on colleges to make things simple enough so that everyone could get through, somehow.  It became practically a “right,” and nobody can be denied a “right.”

    Maybe there are also children who can’t really make it through even much earlier levels, but even if that’s true, the “solution” is not to dumb down the curriculum for ALL students to the point that it becomes sort of a joke, because it’s “unfair” to “deny” children the “right” to “education.”

    • #22
  23. Leslie Watkins Member
    Leslie Watkins
    @LeslieWatkins

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Leslie Watkins (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Leslie Watkins (View Comment):
    and that a place must be made for every child in the district.

    Interesting. You want to mandate that private businesses create enough facilities for all potential customers? How does that work?

    Not sure how, but it must unless we fall into an even deeper divide.

    Actually it doesn’t seem necessary to mandate any such thing, I would expect that if schools are competing to get students, there will probably be an over-supply anyway. At least some percentage at each school, to allow for transfers etc.

    That’s what I hope would happen, and it seems plausible. That would need to be a first principle, it seems to me.

    • #23
  24. db25db Lincoln
    db25db
    @db25db

    Why do you think mediocre teachers could likely never be fired?   Why not?  If it were possible would you support it?

    • #24
  25. Leslie Watkins Member
    Leslie Watkins
    @LeslieWatkins

    kedavis (View Comment):

    It seems pretty clear that once college was claimed to be something everyone needed, there was pressure on colleges to make things simple enough so that everyone could get through, somehow. It became practically a “right,” and nobody can be denied a “right.”

    Maybe there are also children who can’t really make it through even much earlier levels, but even if that’s true, the “solution” is not to dumb down the curriculum for ALL students to the point that it becomes sort of a joke, because it’s “unfair” to “deny” children the “right” to “education.”

    You’re absolutely right about not lowering the bar for all to accommodate the few (relative to the whole), and it’s not unfair to differentiate among students as to certain abilities, skills, and trajectories. As for colleges, it seems they lost their administrative authority after tuition jumped so high that students began feel entitled to get their way.  A sense of entitlement is a major problem, ISTM.

    • #25
  26. James Lileks Contributor
    James Lileks
    @jameslileks

    kedavis (View Comment):

    How sad that James didn’t get any direct recognition for his Python references.

    <michaelscott_THANKYOU.gif>

    • #26
  27. genferei Member
    genferei
    @genferei

    Abolish compulsory education. Then you don’t need ‘a’ curriculum, ‘a’ teacher credential, ‘a’ system. 

    • #27
  28. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    kedavis (View Comment):

    I doubt that “ghost guns” show up much at crime scenes to start with, but even if they do, having no serial number at all doesn’t seem to be significantly – if any – worse than guns with a serial number that were stolen. Which is already the favorite of criminals everywhere.

    They are involved in 1/3 of 1% of all crimes in the last six years or something.

    • #28
  29. kedavis Member
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    RufusRJones (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    I doubt that “ghost guns” show up much at crime scenes to start with, but even if they do, having no serial number at all doesn’t seem to be significantly – if any – worse than guns with a serial number that were stolen. Which is already the favorite of criminals everywhere.

    They are involved in 1/3 of 1% of all crimes in the last six years or something.

    Ghost guns are?  What about just regular stolen guns, with serial numbers?  Probably well over 50%.

    • #29
  30. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    kedavis (View Comment):

    RufusRJones (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    I doubt that “ghost guns” show up much at crime scenes to start with, but even if they do, having no serial number at all doesn’t seem to be significantly – if any – worse than guns with a serial number that were stolen. Which is already the favorite of criminals everywhere.

    They are involved in 1/3 of 1% of all crimes in the last six years or something.

    Ghost guns are? What about just regular stolen guns, with serial numbers? Probably well over 50%.

    I am making one, singular point. That is all I’m doing. Do I need to elaborate? tia

    • #30
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