Category Archives: The Left

Math Proficiency Rates Show Impact of Prolonged School Closures 

Math Proficiency Rates Show Impact of Prolonged School Closures 

By Josh Stevenson   April 23, 2022   Education   4 minute read SHARE | PRINT | EMAIL

I was recently enlisted to help create some visuals to help convey the concerning trend in math proficiency of Middle School students by a parent of a Montgomery County Public school student. I was eager to help, as this is precisely the data I believe was critical to have in order to make proper cost/benefit analysis of school closures and “hybrid” school.

Sadly, it was precisely the data we did not have, nor did there seem to be any major effort to collect this in real time as we were closing schools and disrupting student’s lives in the name of safety. The results, in a way, are not shocking. They ARE alarming and awful. But to the parents and students who were abandoned by public school leaders like those in Montgomery County Maryland, this was entirely expected.

I’ll let the chart below speak for itself.

Source: https://reportcard.msde.maryland.gov/Graphs/#/Assessments/SpecialAssessments/3/17/6/15/XXXX/2021

Notice that the 2020 School year is missing from the Proficiency charts? That is because like many states- “Maryland received a waiver from the US Department of Education to administer a shortened statewide assessment for the 2020-2021 school year during the early fall of the 2021-2022 school year.”

This waiver seems pretty reasonable, as the 20/21 school year was fraught with disruptions, improvisation, and honestly abject chaos as parents scrambled to figure out how to deal with childcare, work, and remote school for their kids. Teachers were left with an almost impossible situation as well, and holding them accountable for something completely out of their control would have been completely unfair. Lets take a look at what the students, parents and teachers had to deal with over the last couple years.

Here’s a chart from Burbio tracking data showing the learning mode over the 2020/2021 School year for Montgomery County, MD. As you can see, not a single week of full time normal, In-person learning occurred.

Fast forward to fall 2021, the school district finally opened to in-person learning. However, over the winter of 21/22, Montgomery County Public Schools has had plenty of Covid-related disruptions. I went back to my previous analysis of Burbio data and sorted by School District to find that MCPS had 31 individual School disruptions in January. The means that of all the individual schools in the system, 31 either closed, delayed, or went to remote learning between January and February of this year alone.


Considering the scale of this unprecedented decline in Student Math proficiency, you would think this might be a major news topic for media or education journalists. Surely every parent would resonate with this story and would love to see what the school districts plan is to address this major learning loss. 

Doing a simple Google News search for Montgomery County Public Schools will give you a sense of what the local press and MCPS public relations would like us to know about the goings on over the last school year (whether this relates at all to what real parents are concerned about or no is a different question). Perusing the headlines, you will find many mentions of Covid policies, anti-racism, trans-gender policies, and climate action.

To be fair, I did find ONE article that addressed the falling test scores from September. 

I really cannot even begin to guess as to why there is a severe lack of media coverage on this issue right now. The school system has press release/media coverage on all the politically correct progressive issues being pushed by our media and government. Are these headlines and press releases coming from a place of genuine progressive commitment to fighting climate change, being inclusive of the microscopic percentage of kids with gender confusion, and anti-racism? Or are they perhaps a distraction from the reality that they do not want to face up to? 

As we begin to look in retrospect at the biggest public health/ education policy failure in recent history, it will be important to methodically collect and compare education outcome data between the school districts who stayed open in person, and those who shut students out. The results should not be surprising – but we should do the work, study the impact- and hold the leaders who stood by passively allowing this to happen, while ignoring all the warnings. 

The students, parents, and teachers of Montgomery County Public Schools have been dealt a bad hand and have been robbed of almost 2 years of quality education. 

At some point, the people who did this have to face the music and come to grips with what Covid maximalist school policies have wrought. In this case: outright failure.

Republished from Substack

Author

  • Josh Stevenson Josh lives in Nashville Tennessee and is a data visualization expert who focuses on creating easy to understand charts and dashboards with data. Throughout the pandemic, he has provided analysis to support local advocacy groups for in-person learning and other rational, data-driven covid policies. His background is in computer systems engineering & consulting, and his Bachelor’s degree is in Audio Engineering. His work can be found on his substack “Relevant Data.”
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Reich (and Fauci) are Wildly Wrong

Reich (and Fauci) are Wildly Wrong

By Donald Boudreaux   April 24, 2022   Law   3 minute read SHARE | PRINT | EMAIL

Dear Correspondent,

Because when you sent to me the following tweet by Robert Reich you provided no commentary, I can’t tell if you approve or disapprove of its contents, which are in full:

Perhaps there’s something wrong with a system that allows a 35-year-old, unelected, Trump-nominated judge — whom the American Bar Association deemed unqualified — to strike down the travel mask mandate for the entire country?

Yet sensing that you find Reich’s tweet to be a brilliantly damning indictment of U.S. District Court Judge Kathyrn Kimball Mizelle’s ruling against the CDC’s mask mandate, I feel obliged to explain why I think Reich’s tweet is, to put it mildly, moronic.

First, there is no legally specified minimum age for serving on the federal bench. Joseph Story – no slouch as a jurist – was appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court at the age of 32.

Second, like him or not, Donald Trump was president from 2017 to 2021, and among any president’s duties is to nominate federal-court judges.

Third, Judge Mizelle wasn’t put on the court by Trump unilaterally; she was approved by the Senate.

Fourth, all federal-court judges are unelected.

Fifth, also unelected are all public-health officials, including Anthony Fauci and Rochelle Walensky.

Sixth, while the ABA did indeed deem Judge Mizelle to be unqualified, it did so because she spent little time in the private practice of law. If this criterion suffices to render someone unfit for high government office, Anthony Fauci is even less qualified for his position than is Judge Mizelle for hers, given that Fauci spent no time in the private practice of medicine. Upon completion of his residency in 1968, he took a job with the National Institutes of Health. He has ever since been employed by the government.

Seventh, because the CDC is a federal-government agency, its diktats generally cover the entire country – a fact that should be doubly obvious in the case of diktats affecting interstate commercial air travel. Judge Mizelle could hardly have ruled against the mask mandate for only a subsection of the country.

Eighth, Reich skates alarmingly close to implicitly endorsing a totalitarian proposition that Fauci recently endorsed explicitly – namely, that government-employed public-health bureaucrats are above the law. About Judge Mizelle’s ruling, Fauci declared: “We are concerned about that – about courts getting involved in things that are unequivocally public health decisions. I mean, this is a CDC issue; it should not be a court issue.”

To propose that any government action be immune to judicial oversight – that is, immune to oversight by the formal guardians of the law – is to propose that the officials who perform that action are above the law. As Reason’sEric Boehm wrote in reaction to this authoritarian outburst by Fauci, “This is either a complete misunderstanding of the American system’s basic functions or an expression of disdain toward the rule of law.”

Sincerely,
Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics

Author

  • Donald Boudreaux Donald J. Boudreaux is a senior fellow with Brownstone Institute and with the F.A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University; a Mercatus Center Board Member; and a professor of economics and former economics-department chair at George Mason University.
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Fossil Fuels’ Forthright Defender

Illustration: Ken Fallin

The last thing most CEOs want is to court the wrath of politicians like Sen. Elizabeth Warren. That’s especially true of oil and gas executives, who try to appease their political opponents by talking up investments in renewable energy. Toby Rice is the rare CEO who seems to enjoy the political combat.

The 40-year-old leads EQT Corp. , America’s largest natural-gas producer. Last November Ms. Warren, in her fashion, fired off letters accusing him and 10 other energy executives of “corporate greed” for exporting liquefied natural gas.

Mr. Rice’s fierce nine-page response was chock full of data refuting Ms. Warren’s claim that gas exports increase U.S. energy prices. That assertion, he wrote, is “without merit” and fosters “a narrative that politicizes natural gas and associated infrastructure in a manner that runs counter to one of our key collective goals, one we know you share—addressing climate change.”

Ms. Warren and her ideological compatriots style themselves champions of the little guy and the environment. Nonsense, Mr. Rice says: Their policies mean higher prices for consumers and more carbon emissions. “If you’re blocking pipelines, you’re blocking the biggest green initiative on the planet,” he says in a Zoom interview from his office in Carnegie, Pa., a former karate studio in a walk-up above a liquor store. In the background are colorful portraits of Andrew Carnegie, Nikola Tesla, Cornelius Vanderbilt, John D. Rockefeller and J.P. Morgan.

Mr. Rice is a general on the frontlines of an energy war whose outcome matters more than ever after Russian’s invasion of Ukraine. The anti-fossil-fuel left is waging a multifront campaign to keep natural gas “in the ground,” as activists like to say. Along with political efforts, they are leveraging the administrative state and courts to block new pipelines that are essential to deliver more natural gas to customers in the U.S. and overseas.

Energy companies have already given up on two major pipelines in the Northeast (PennEast and Atlantic Coast) in the past two years. Even after winning legal challenges at the Supreme Court, they faced mounting costs from permitting and legal challenges raising different objections. “The 4,000 pages of permits that we have to submit have created 4,000 opportunities for environmental groups to attack,” Mr. Rice says.

He cites the Mountain Valley pipeline, which aims to deliver cheap gas from Appalachia to the Southeast. A three-member panel of the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals keeps nitpicking the government’s environmental reviews, forcing the energy companies back to the permitting table. (The same three judges blocked the Atlantic Coast pipeline before the Supreme Court later reversed 7-2.)

The pipeline is more than 95% complete, and developers had aimed to bring it into service this summer. But litigation is delaying the final work and inflating costs. “They find themselves in a situation where that project cost was originally $3 billion budgeted. Now it’s $6 billion,” Mr. Rice says.

Meantime, the environment will suffer because of the delays. There will be more greenhouse-gas emissions, because the gas the pipelines transport would replace coal power on the electricity grid.

Solar and wind power could fill some but not all of the gap, as they depend on daylight and weather. Fossil fuel is a necessary backup. “I don’t think residents in South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, Florida recognize that a pipeline is being challenged in West Virginia,” Mr. Rice says. “Their energy security is being challenged because of people attempting to block this pipeline.”

Matters are even worse in the Northeast, including Ms. Warren’s state of Massachusetts. Three large pipelines capable of transporting enough gas from Appalachia to serve more than 10 million households in the Northeast have been blocked. As a result, the region must import LNG from abroad at much higher prices to heat homes and power the grid in the winter. (The Jones Act of 1920, a protectionist regulation of maritime commerce, limits the ability to move American LNG from the Gulf Coast to Northern states.)

Natural-gas prices one weekend this January were eight times as high in New England as in Appalachia. “We’ll do a deal with Senator Warren: Build a pipeline to Appalachia, and we’ll fill it for you at Appalachia prices,” Mr. Rice says, adding that it boggles his mind “that New England is burning oil to create electricity” in the winter and “that over a third of the residents use oil to heat their homes.”

Ms. Warren was one of 10 Democratic senators, seven of them from the Northeast, who on Feb. 2 urged Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm “to take swift action to limit U.S. natural gas exports” to ease domestic energy prices. Mr. Rice shot off another blistering response, this time to Ms. Granholm. He made the point that an export ban would reduce the global LNG supply by roughly 22%, raising, not lowering, energy prices in New England and elsewhere.

“The problem is very straight forward,” he wrote: “The pipelines heading to New England are full, and as a result, we cannot physically flow that gas needed to meet growing demand without more infrastructure. That’s it. And the way to solve this problem is equally straight forward: allow the completion of pipeline projects.”

If Mr. Rice is more forthright than the typical CEO, perhaps it’s because he didn’t rise through the corporate ranks. In 2007 he and two of his brothers formed Rice Energy Inc. in his Pittsburgh apartment. Their father, a former BlackRock money manager with energy expertise, helped them scout land in Pennsylvania’s shale-rich country. “Our higher purpose back then—we were young guys with a lot of friends that fought in the war [in Iraq]—was, we wanted to help make America energy-independent,” he says.

The brothers bought drilling rights to some of the most productive land in Appalachia and built their company into one of the country’s top 10 natural gas producers. They also developed a colorful reputation. They played professional wrestler Hulk Hogan’s theme song, “Real American,” as the hold music at their headquarters, and named wells after monster trucks and comic book characters. When coal miner Alpha Natural Resources went bankrupt, they showed up at an asset auction donning Mickey Mouse T-shirts, shorts and blazers. (In our interview, alas, Mr. Rice is staid and professional in a white dress shirt.)

In 2014 the Rice brothers took their family-owned business public. A few years later, Rice Energy merged with rival Appalachian fracking company EQT to form the country’s largest natural-gas producer. Unhappy with EQT’s high costs, Mr. Rice and his brother Derek launched a proxy battle to nominate nine directors to the 12-member board. They won, and Mr. Rice became CEO.

“Giving people access to cheap, affordable, clean energy is the key to skyrocketing the quality of life,” he says. “There’s a very clear correlation: The more energy people use, the better the quality of life.” And that’s true everywhere in the world: “There’s three billion people around the world that have less electricity than it takes to run a fridge.”

He’s rolling now. “One thing I think that people don’t understand is how much energy demand there is in this world. And when solar and wind aren’t capable of meeting that energy demand, people will turn to their next option, which is coal,” he says. Annual emissions from coal are up 500 million tons over pre-pandemic 2019 levels: “To put that into perspective, that completely offsets all of the emission reductions we’ve done from solar and wind here in the United States in the last 15 years.”

When Russia slowed gas deliveries to Europe last fall, the Continent had few alternatives but to ramp up coal power. As gas prices surged amid a global supply shortage, Asian countries, especially China, burned more coal. Increased emissions from Chinese power and heating generation last year offset all emissions reductions in the rest of the world between 2019 and 2021. The world’s response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine—barely three weeks after the senators wrote to Ms. Granholm—will further constrain fossil-fuel supply.

The only way for the U.S. to make a significant dent in greenhouse-gas emissions, Mr. Rice says, is increasing liquefied natural gas exports. By his calculations, the U.S. could increase gas production 50% and LNG exports fourfold over the next decade based on existing natural-gas plays. Replacing coal power overseas with American LNG, he says, would “have the environmental impact of electrifying every vehicle in the United States, putting solar on every household in America, and adding 54,000 industrial-scale windmills—like that would be double the U.S.’s wind capacity—combined.”

This could be done quickly and would require no technological breakthroughs. Already, he says, the climate impact of U.S. LNG exports replacing international coal over the past five years is greater than that of the U.S. solar industry from 2005 to 2019.

Most of the country’s 20 or so proposed LNG export facilities are on the Gulf Coast. But gas from Texas’ Permian Basin won’t be enough to supply them. So gas from Appalachia would have to be pushed through pipelines to the Gulf. Opponents will surely continue their effort to block any new pipelines. One solution is to build additional pipelines along rights of way for existing pipelines. That can fast-track permitting and minimize environmental disturbance. “There’s space in these right of ways to add another 3 feet worth of pipe,” he says.

The Biden administration’s energy policies are a study in contradiction. On one hand, the president says he wants to help wean Europe off Russian gas. On the other, his administration is making it harder to build more pipelines and LNG export terminals. The White House Council on Environmental Quality this week revised its National Environmental Policy Act regulations to require agencies to consider the “indirect” climate impact of infrastructure projects such as pipelines. That could make it nearly impossible to approve new pipelines.

Surging energy prices since the Ukraine invasion have led European politicians to recognize they can’t replace fossil fuels with renewables overnight. But American politicians haven’t received the wake-up call. “There’s signs of energy insecurity happening here in America too,” Mr. Rice says, pointing to New England’s high energy prices.

“I think, because a lot of people don’t see us—and that’s a good thing by the way, that’s by design—I think a lot of people maybe take us for granted,” he adds. “A lot of people maybe think that they can live in a world that doesn’t rely on hydrocarbons.” That goal is a long way off, if it’s possible at all.

Mr. Rice says his letters are intended to educate politicians. “When you attack oil and gas energy producers here in the United States, you’re attacking their customers, plain and simple,” he says. That makes “it harder for us to do what we do—and that’s to provide cheap, reliable, clean energy to the world. It’s going to have unintended consequences.”

Has he heard back from Ms. Warren? “Not yet. It’s been a couple of months. I’m still waiting for a conversation. I’m still optimistic.”

Ms. Finley is a member of the Journal’s editorial board.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/fossil-fuels-toby-rice-eqt-pipeline-natural-gas-lng-emissions-reduction-climate-change-warren-granholm-energy-prices-white-house-council-environmental-quality-11650634990?mod=opinion_major_pos7

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Wikipedia Deletes Hunter Biden Investment Firm Entry

Hmm. I will think three times about supporting Wikipedia in the future. mrossol

The Epoch Times, 4/24/2022

 

Wikipedia editors deleted an entry for Hunter Biden’s investment company Rosemont Seneca Partners, according to comments on the Talk Page of the entry.

Hunter Biden, son of President Joe Biden, co-founded U.S. investment and advisory firm Rosemont Seneca Partners in 2009, along with Chris Heinz, the stepson of former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, and Devon Archer, one of his business partners. The firm has been under congressional scrutiny and has faced questions about the younger Biden’s overseas business dealings.

According to the Wikipedia Talk Page, the Rosemont Seneca entry was deleted on April 20. Some editors said the entry was “not notable” and suggested that it was thin on details.

“This organization is only mentioned in connection with its famous founders, Hunter Biden and Christopher Heinz,” said Wikipedia editor “Alex,” who claimed that “keeping [the page] around” could turn it into “a magnet for conspiracy theories about Hunter Biden.” That editor didn’t elaborate or provide any evidence.

 

“It’s a non-notable company with a tangential connection to some conspiracy-related thing that didn’t happen,” another wrote.

Other editors, meanwhile, suggested the entire page be merged with the main Hunter Biden entry, which briefly mentions his involvement with Rosemont Seneca. However, arguments in favor of merging the pages were rejected, according to the Talk page.

“There are no in-depth references that discuss the company, only passing references with a mention here and there of a transaction,” one editor wrote. “That fails our criteria for establishing notability. The Hunter Biden article already mentions this firm so I don’t see any need for a Merge or Redirect.”

Rosemont Seneca Partners became a shareholder of a Chinese investment fund called Bohai Harvest RST (BHR), which was incorporated in Shanghai in 2013. Biden resigned from his seat on BHR’s board of directors in 2019.

Curtis Houck, of the Media Research Center, told the New York Post that the decision suggests a double standard.

“If a Trump-linked company had its Wikipedia page wiped or one from the Russia probe, it’s more than a safe bet to say that CNN would be dedicating multiple reporters to following the internet trail,” he told the outlet.

The decision is sure to draw further criticism against Wikipedia’s editors, who have often been accused, including by one of its founders, Larry Sanger, of tilting far to the left.

“There’s a very big, nasty, complex game being played behind the scenes to make the article say what somebody wants them to say,” Sanger said in 2021, accusing the website of disseminating “propaganda.”

For example, editors have attempted to delete the page “Mass killings under communist regimes,” which includes documented atrocities committed by Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin, Chinese Communist Party founder Mao Zedong, Ethiopian communist leader Mengistu Haile Mariam, Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot, and North Korean founder Kim Il-Sung.

Representatives of Wikipedia didn’t respond by press time to a request by The Epoch Times for comment.

https://www.theepochtimes.com/

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