90 thoughts on “Politics Open Thread, Feb 7-14

  1. DHs closest friend (we last saw them 10 years ago, but guys) from high school, best man, etc, passed away suddenly over the weekend from Covid. Not yet vaccinated in Rockland County NY. Access to vaccine not that good there. We spoke with his wife. They considered themselves cautious, so who knows how he got it. 78 yrs old. Ordinary health profile for that age, i. e. somewhere on the continuum between Dr Fauci and DH.

  2. I’m so sorry, Mémé.

    DH’s best friend lost his dad to COVID over the weekend. 84 years old, not in great health but not terrible. There’s something extra bitter about losing people right as the vaccinations are finally here.

  3. “There’s something extra bitter about losing people right as the vaccinations are finally here.”

    This. I’m so sorry.

  4. My condolences Meme.

    Over the weekend I was reading an article about the manufacturing of vaccine. Apparently it takes like 90 days to make it, which is why it it taking so long to get it out, and why the medical community is saying that by June everyone should have access to it. The article focused on pfizer. It begins the manufacturing process at one plant, then transfers to another for the second step in the process, and finally to a third plant for the final stage. Pfizer is working on speeding up the process, and has been making significant cuts to the number of days, but usually when they develop a vaccine they have years to tweak the process, not weeks.

  5. Because if liberals offer to dismantle the New Deal and return to genuine federalism, they might just find that Republicans are eager to take that deal.

    Now that’s funny. That’s certainly something the Republican donor class would support. But the average rank and file Republican voter has no interest in cutting SS and Medicare. Republicans couldn’t even pass changes to Medicaid.

  6. From that article
    “But think carefully before you make that proposal. Because if liberals offer to dismantle the New Deal and return to genuine federalism, they might just find that Republicans are eager to take that deal.”

    “Hands off my Medicare” Republicans are not eager to take that deal.

  7. “But the average rank and file Republican voter has no interest in cutting SS and Medicare. ”

    True, but many Republican politicians are. Not getting rid of it, per se, but decreasing it, replacing it, etc. W tried to privatize SS and most Republicans are against ACA.

  8. and most Republicans are against ACA.

    But they really aren’t in terms of polling each component of the ACA individually. For example 63% of Republican voters and 94% of Democratic voters oppose ending the protection of people with pre-existing conditions. The only part of the ACA that Republican voters consistently opposed was the mandate. And the mandate is no more.

    https://www.kff.org/policy-watch/a-conundrum-majority-of-republican-voters-want-to-overturn-aca-but-keep-protections-for-people-with-pre-existing-conditions/

  9. “W tried to privatize SS and most Republicans are against ACA.”
    That is right, and that shows that Republican voters won’t let their reps dismantle the New Deal. That has been one of the big lessons of the Trump era. Paul Ryan style Republicanism is dead

  10. DH initially said that he wanted to wait a bit before signing up his parents for the vaccine. There is a balance between waiting to hear of ill effects and the danger of the seniors contracting Covid while waiting. I have to tell DH to quit waiting.

  11. Louise, please convince him. Our friend was ordinary, 78 year olds do not need to have have severe underlying conditions to be especially susceptible, and I imagine FIL is even older than that.

  12. Meme, I’m so sorry.

    Louise, I hope you can smack your husband upside the head and sign your in-laws up asap!

  13. Cass – my house is poster child for the category “people of color not signing up for the vaccine”. To this, I would say, bypass and move on to the people wiling to take it now. Note; my own parents will be done with both shots.

  14. Nearly 60 percent of the people facing charges related to the Capitol riot showed signs of prior money troubles, including bankruptcies, notices of eviction or foreclosure, bad debts, or unpaid taxes over the past two decades, according to a Washington Post analysis of public records for 125 defendants with sufficient information to detail their financial histories.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2021/02/10/capitol-insurrectionists-jenna-ryan-financial-problems/

  15. Massachusetts is still in a phase where they are vaccinating only over-75 folks (health care workers and first responders were done in a prior phase). But the state just announced that starting now, a person who brings a 75+ person to their appointment can also sign up to get themselves vaccinated at the same appointment. The “companion” can be anyone — a spouse, an adult child, a neighbor, a caregiver, whoever. There has been a lot of criticism about MA’s low vaccination rate, so officials are trying to drive the rate up, and I guess this seemed like a relatively easy way to do so.

  16. Nearly 60 percent of the people facing charges related to the Capitol riot showed signs of prior money troubles, including bankruptcies, notices of eviction or foreclosure, bad debts, or unpaid taxes over the past two decades, according to a Washington Post analysis

    Well perhaps they should become Republicans. Live an upright, hard-working, Christian life. Get a job, keep your nose to the grindstone, keep that same nose clean. That’s the conservative way.

  17. At last my state made a sensible decision and moved teachers and school personnel to the head of the essential workers line.
    The Governor wants school to open but realistically teachers aren’t going back till they are offered the vaccine.

  18. SO got his first shot on Saturday. Vaccine distribution around me seems like a crap shoot. I see people who either I didn’t know they had underlying conditions to make the eligible or they are jumping the line. Once the word got out that if you volunteer at a shot clinic you will get a shot, the number of people I see volunteering has sky-rocketed. The goal was to encourage volunteers with shots, but with the idea that they would volunteer multiple times. I don’t doubt this will be going away soon as it appears too many shots are being diverted from those in the 1A and 1B categories.

    When a good friend got COVID from her mom and spread it before knowing to her husband, I was surprised that she said she thought hers was so mild because she’d had the first shot. Then it came out that she’d jumped the line. I think she was really embarrassed to admit it, but at the same time thankful she’d had it.

    Meme – Sorry about your friend.

  19. Everyone I know is either unwilling to get the vaccine or actively trying to finagle a shot.

    My serf county has received enough vaccine for slightly less than 5 percent of the population.

    Any teacher who hasn’t been in the classroom should get absolutely no priority. Lots of us masked up and got to work. They didn’t. And they harmed kids.

  20. From the article Louise linked:

    “In 2016, one in five Americans lived in a house with two or more generations.”

    This surprised me a bit. I’m thinking that most households with kids would fall into the category of households with two or more generations.

    Or perhaps I’m not reading it literally enough, and the reference to house rather than household is important, as in excluding those whose living quarters are other than houses, e.g., apartments.

    Of course, if you really get into literal reading, that’s one big house.

  21. I think if it’s still 75+, they would get a better response if they bring the vaccine to smaller sites within communities. The mass vaccination sites are better suited to the 65+ and able to drive, mobile seniors. We had a tremendous response with the 65+ group at the mass vaccination sites.

  22. Technically the accompanying persons are only eligible at mass Vax sites. But at 3pm on Valentines Sunday at a small site, maybe Ill get lucky. It would be so much more convenient…

  23. This is a long piece by Matt Yglesias discussing Mitt Romney’s proposed Child Allowance Plan, which Mitt wants to pay for by entirely eliminating state and local tax deductions. Guaranteed to make rich progressives like me scream and writhe, because of course I want families to have more money for their children but I also want my already-curtailed SALT deductions. But I have no principled justification for allowing SALT deductions, so I’ll just whine and sulk and pay more so poor families can have better circumstances.

    If this isn’t readable for non-subscribers, let me know.

    https://www.slowboring.com/p/mitt-romneys-child-allowance-plan

  24. I have a feeling 2021-22 is going to be a long school year here. There is resistance towards “summer school” but there is limited resistance to starting early. Starting early means starting in the middle of August or earlier. In recent weeks there has been a lot of push to get school districts that are all remote to reopen for some in person learning. Our case numbers are going down and if there isn’t quick action, it will be the end of the school year.
    The change in sentiment resulted in a sudden change in the vaccine priority for teachers. Older school personnel can get the vaccine now under the 65+ category. The rest will follow shortly.

  25. I normally go to our school board meetings (Zoom meetings) because I am on some weird subcommittee but I had to miss the one a couple of evenings ago because I had too much work. Man, I wish I had tuned in! Evidently It got very contentious, with parents yelling and the union president yelling, and I am not sure what happened next but the acting board president and the superintendent ended up sending out an apology by email last night….

    I don’t really get why, but there is a certain core of our local parents who just seem really angry.When I hear what is happening in schools around the country, it makes me realize that our district is doing fine under the circumstances. These parents, though, want everything to be exactly like it was before the pandemic. And at the same time, I really dislike the union president. My dislike isn’t even about union policies, it is more the lady herself. She is loud, coarse, and really combative. If a parent dares squeak out anything that is a slight complaint, she starts screaming. Evidently that is what set things off at the meeting. If she toned down her manner, they might get more cooperation from everyone.

  26. Vaccine appointments continue to be hard to come by in my area.

    After an announcement that a local pharmacy was accepting Covid vaccine appointments I checked their website only to find this message:

    Please Stand By
    We’re experiencing heavy traffic. This page will automatically refresh every 30 seconds.

    Additionally, I received an email from one of my doctors not to contact them despite an announcement that their affiliated hospital received an allotment of about 1000 vaccines.

    There is no need to call or message the hospital or your doctor’s office for a vaccine appointment, or to request documentation of your medical condition for vaccination purposes at this time. We appreciate your patience and will reach out to you when more information becomes available.

    Other sites have no appointments available. Meanwhile, a new group eligible for vaccination will be added on Feb. 15.

  27. The Feb 15 cohort is going to be huge because it includes people with high blood pressure. That means I am eligible along with huge numbers of other post 50 folks. I would love to get vaccinated but don’t have the time or mental cycles to find an appointment

  28. Mooshi, we have the same type of parents in our district. Some just seem so angry and nothing the school board does will satisfy them. The trade off is they can send their kids to the several $30K private schools nearby. Instead they just argue over everything. This week one parent pleaded to keep distance learning for all kids because the distractions at home are less than the distractions at school. I thought that parent sure lives in a bubble and has no idea what life is really like for most families. At the beginning of the semester, only 20% of students opted to remain in distance learning.

    We also learned this week that our Superintendent, who has only been here 3 years is “retiring from the district after the school year.” This messaging rubbed a lot of parents the wrong way, and now the school board is scrambling, and will have to throw money at a search firm and with so many recent retirements in education pickings will be slim.

  29. We have those parents, too. They seem to view the pandemic as a personal attack on them instead of a virus that has upended the entire world. The last year with politics and the pandemic has really changed my opinion of some people. In other news, I ended up getting my vaccine yesterday (earlier than my appointment). A slightly sore arm, but am otherwise in good shape.

  30. Mooshi and Kim – the NYTs ran an article yesterday about user friendly vaccine appointment aggregators developed by volunteers. They looked helpful.

  31. And after the vaccine has been taken, proof of vaccination is hard to come by. The state gov helpfully sent out a link to the vaccine portal where you can get a proof of vaccination but I didn’t get a welcome email to actually register on the site. I realized I was missing this step after several interactions with the vaccine IT department. My parents did get a card after their first dose but that was it. So, I am not done with this yet.

  32. Kerri, the aggregator app featured in the NYT only works for NYC and he has no plans to expand to the rest of the state.

  33. So I just got an email from my provider chain saying they are going to automatically send us letters verifying eligibility, using info from our electronic health records. So I guess I have to wait and see if I get one. They don’t have vaccine, so they are drecting people who get the letters to go to the standard signup portals

  34. I was talking to an older couple this morning who recently got vaccinated at Gillette Stadium (where the Patriots play). They said that the process at Gillette was a model of efficiency, unlike the appointment system, which they said was a mess.

  35. It looks like DD2 has managed to finagle a vaccination today. The system is completely based on who you know.

  36. Thanks for that article, RMS! It is a very interesting idea and I wish I thought it would get some thoughtful consideration.

  37. Another one from Matt Yglesias.

    “The misguided exam school debate
    Selective public high schools have few Black and Hispanic students — there’s also no evidence these schools are any good”

    San Francisco’s Board of Education has been in the news lately, thanks largely to a bizarre school renaming spree that didn’t just target hard-core racists, but also Abraham Lincoln — who was bad on Native Americans — and Paul Revere, who is said to have led an expedition aimed at suppressing the Penobscot Nation of indigenous people in Maine. The Penobscot Expedition was in fact directed at British forces who’d occupied the town of Castine (I visited a relevant fort with my 5-year-old over the summer) but in an interview with the New Yorker’s Isaac Chotiner, Gabriela López, the board’s chair, was unrepentant.

    San Francisco’s public schools also remain closed due to the pandemic, contrary to the advice of most public health agencies. López did herself no favors by explaining that this is fine because even without in-person instruction, her students “are learning more about their families and their culture spending more time with each other. They’re just having different learning experiences than the ones we currently measure. And the loss is a comparison to a time when we were in a different space.”

    Last on the list of woke excesses, the city is looking to change up Lowell High School’s admissions policies, which are currently based on standardized tests and grades and lead to very few Black or Latino students being admitted.

    The San Francisco Chronicle slammed this decision; meanwhile, a long-standing controversy surrounding New York City’s exam-based high schools and related changes at an exam-based school in Fairfax County have all provoked similar arguments.

    On the one hand, there’s a view that these schools promote segregation and undermine critical racial justice goals. On the other hand, there’s the view that this is a form of woke politics run amok that is ruining meritocratic institutions. Hanging awkwardly overhead is the fact that in almost all of these cases, the most salient demographic overrepresentation is of people from Asian backgrounds rather than white. And I think it is right to look a bit askance at a political system that chooses to address racial inequity by targeting what are often immigrant families from Asia rather than considerably more privileged white ones.

    That said, I’ve tried to look at this issue several times, and every time I do, what I come up with is that there’s no evidence that selective schools actually benefit their students. Rather than leaving them in place or changing their admissions policies to somehow fudge the fact that different groups have different test scores, I think we ought to just get rid of them.

    The false promise of exam schools
    It’s obvious if you speak to parents — or just participate in society — that people generally have a strong intuitive belief in the power of peer effects. When someone refers casually to a place having “good schools,” what they typically mean is that the schools draw from students in upscale neighborhoods where the parents are well-educated and the kids have high test scores. They’re not using the phrase “high-productivity schools,” in which the kids learn more than you would expect based on their demographic background. I think that’s because people believe that being surrounded by good students will help their kid succeed.

    At any rate, around the country and around the world, you often see a strategy of giving everyone a test and then taking the kids who do really well on the test and putting them in a school together.

    New York City actually takes this to an extreme degree — kids from the Bronx will commute all the way down to Brooklyn Tech while other kids from Brooklyn commute all the way up to Bronx Science. Those schools are number two and number three in the city’s hierarchy of exam-based schools (number one is Stuyvesant in Manhattan), and the logic of sorting is considered so important that it trumps basic common sense about commuting patterns.

    The theory, at least implicitly, seems to be that the highly selective schools will also be highly productive. But the evidence says they are not.

    Dobbie and Fryer (2013) look at New York City, comparing kids whose test scores are just-above versus just-below the cut points, and find that “exposure to these higher-achieving and more homogeneous peers has little impact on college enrollment, college graduation, or college quality.”

    Abdulkadriglu, Angrist, and Pathak (2014) look at Boston and find that “the marked changes in peer characteristics at exam school admissions cutoffs have little causal effect on test scores or college quality.”

    Barrow, Sartain, and de la Torre (2020) look at an effort in Chicago to give a boost to lower-scoring kids who came from high-poverty neighborhoods and find that “for students from low-SES neighborhoods, we estimate negative effects on grades and the probability of attending a selective college.”

    The hypothesis that affirmative action actually hurts Black students has been frequently offered in the context of college admissions, and it appears to be untrue, making the finding on Chicago high schools striking. A perhaps relevant issue is that Dale and Krueger show that attending a highly selective university is generally not beneficial except for students from disadvantaged backgrounds — another point of contrast to high school, where there seems to be no benefit regardless of background.

    It’s not entirely clear why college and high school are different in this regard, but my guess is it has something to do with networking. If you’re from an underprivileged background, going to a Fancy College and meeting other Fancy College People plausibly has some concrete labor market benefit. But in high school, you’re better off (at least in terms of college acceptance and later test scores) being at the top of your class in a poor neighborhood in Chicago than being at the bottom of your class at an exam school.

    The upshot of this is that cities tweaking their admissions policies to try to generate more diversity are probably making a mistake and will fail in their goal of helping Black and Latino kids. But it’s not exactly the mistake their critics think they are making, where they are going to somehow ruin the good schools and mess things up for the families they currently serve. We’d just arguably be better off without these schools at all so that everyone could have a more convenient commute.

    Gifted and talented programs can maybe do some good
    This has not been as much in the air recently, but you see somewhat similar questions around admission to “gifted and talented” programs that usually start at younger ages.

    Here, though, David Card and Laura Giuliano show that more reliance on testing might improve racial equity by finding talented students from underrepresented backgrounds that are being overlooked in the traditional referral-based system. They looked at one large school district that shifted from a system of just testing kids who were recommended by teachers to one where they tested everyone, and they found that “blacks and Hispanics, free/reduced price lunch participants, English language learners, and girls are all systematically ‘under-referred’ in the traditional parent/teacher referral system.”

    So that’s something you can do that’s beneficial.

    But it’s still not clear that sifting and sorting students like this actually accomplishes anything. Bui, Craig, and Imberman “find that achievement for marginal students neither improves nor worsens from GT services in the short run.”

    March, Chessor, Craven, and Roche find that being sorted into a gifted and talented program ends up making students feel less academically competent.

    A separate Card and Giuliano study finds that for the high-IQ kids who make up the bulk of the gifted and talented population, the G&T program doesn’t help. But, there’s a small group of kids who were just shy of the IQ threshold and were let in on the basis of the quality of their schoolwork. Those kids did better with the positive impact “concentrated among lower-income and black and Hispanic students.”

    Rachana Bhatt finds that gifted and talented programs increase math scores. But, in a separate paper, she cautions that these programs are administered in wildly different manners from place to place, and you probably can’t make valid generalizations.

    What are we doing here?
    As I argued in “Culturally Relevant Pedagogy is Good,” it’s dangerous to let education policy become consumed by our culture war hangups.

    The fact that just about everyone has been to school and thus has first-hand knowledge of it only makes the situation more dangerous. The same Barrow, Sartain, and de la Torre study cited above showed that while Chicago’s move to bring a more diverse group into its exam school hurt the people it was supposed to help, they subjectively enjoyed their high school experience more. The policy was supposed to benefit them, and the students felt that it did, and they would no doubt recommend that your city make the same change. And yet, it didn’t help academically.

    The only studies I can find where strict sorting at the secondary school level is helpful are from much poorer countries where it seems like they genuinely don’t have the resources to run proper high schools for everyone.

    The gifted and talented literature, by contrast, does indicate some scope for identifying promising youngsters from disadvantaged backgrounds and some prospect of running programs that actually help students. But it’s fairly murky. I think we can say with confidence that universal testing will generate a less discriminatory outcome than letting subjective recommendations drive the bus.

    Ultimately, though, fussing over exactly how to sort the best students seems to me like an awful case of chattering class navel-gazing. The much bigger policy issue is finding scalable ways to improve the quality of instruction across the board. I’ve become pretty convinced by the evidence in favor of phonics and “direct instruction” as a superior method to teach kids to read (see John McWorter if you like argumentative takes or Dana Goldstein if you prefer an elegantly reported narrative), which is something that in principle we could do everywhere. It also seems that dumb stuff like putting air conditioners in schools helps a lot.

    Education is hard
    Long story short, I think the argument around exam schools is misguided. The reformers aren’t going to help the people they think they are going to help, but the noble fight to save these schools is also not helping anyone. The real problem here (along with mangling the history of the Penobscot Expedition) is that every day spent having basically symbolic fights is a day you’re not spending doing real evaluations of whatever programs your city has in order to see which of them are working and which aren’t.

    Student and parent intuitions about what is and isn’t an effective instructional program are an incredibly poor guide, and if your district isn’t trying to measure and test, then it’s not going to end up doing a good job just by accident.

    Fighting about admissions policies at specific prestigious schools feels good because it’s easy to get your arms around and measure whether you succeeded in tweaking the demographics. But it’s not just that there isn’t much reason to believe that fussing with the diversity metrics will accomplish very much here — there isn’t much reason to believe that these high-prestige schools are even any good at teaching! If you want to effectively improve the education system’s results, you need to put in some genuinely hard work to try to understand what ideas are actually promising. The fact that you can spin up huge political controversies over who gets access to schools that may not even be worth going to shows how easy it is to go astray here.

  38. RMS, thank you for sharing that you posted this article on this page because I would not have ventured over to politics so I would have missed this discussion.I disagree with the author because my brother went to the local HS and he was in honors etc. I attended one of the three schools mentioned above. This author never mentions the amount of crime, drugs and other stuff that goes on in the local high schools in NYC or other major cities. Even though I took an entrance exam, I still had to walk through a metal detector everyday. I know it isn’t the 80s, but safety is an issue in some of these local high schools.

    Also, I can only speak to NYC, but some of the best teachers try to teach in the selective high schools. Several of my teachers were great and most were very good. This is not the case if you just attend the local neighborhood school. In addition, there isn’t as much donated money from parents or alums so they don’t have the type of “extras” that donated money buys to secure equipment for labs, arts and even upgrading the seats in the auditorium.

    I wish that my experience could be duplicated today because my high school was more diverse when I attended in the 80s. I recently shared a photo with some of you and it was clear from this one photo that many of my friends were not white. I had friends that lived in housing projects in the Bronx and Queens. I also met kids that were from wealthy families on the upper east and west sides of Manhattan. The high schools don’t have as much diversity in terms of skin color or ethnic background, but I know the schools have economic diversity because I volunteer with current students. My high school recently hosted a virtual event to help kids with college interviews and essays. Many of these kids will be first in their families to attend college.

    I don’t think that the test in NYC is fair and I do think that something has to change, but this author misses the friendships and relationships that re formed when kids commute together for hours. He misses the independence and freedom that is forged as kids learn to navigate a large transit system. He makes everything a negative and it just isn’t the case. I can’t remember much from all of my classes, but i certainly can remember long bus rides with my friends after school. We didn’t care that we had to commute for an hour a day because we were together.

  39. RMS – from my volunteering I saw an intense need to improve the standards across the board in schools drawing from disadvantaged neighborhoods. No amount of futzing around with magnets, school names, introducing gobs of technology etc etc. will make up for students failing to perform at a certain standard. I hate to think of the impact of the pandemic.

  40. Lauren, I obviously defer to you on NYC schools. But I will say I wanted to stand up and clap at the line about teaching phonics and direct instruction. I know everyone hated NCLB but I really appreciated the push to try to use methods that had been proven effective instead of, for example, whole language.

  41. Thanks for your comments, Lauren. You make good points. We’ve discussed before that part of the benefit of tracking in general is that you have the opportunity to make friends with other smart kids. Yglesias suggests that peer group doesn’t matter to professional outcome, but it does matter to happiness.

    There are a ton of links in the original article that naturally didn’t come through with a cut-and-paste.

  42. I completely agree with Lauren’s assessment from what I have seen.

    Also – the question is when they say it’s not better….better than WHAT? His zoned school is under provisional state support, has very few advanced classes, is rated a “1” on Great schools, has gang activity (including racial issues between the Latin and Black gangs), and is also 3% white. I know it’s not polite to say out loud, but the experience of being one of just two or three white kids in his grade would not be something that I would want him to have to deal with even if there weren’t other serious issues. His zoned school is not an option at all. Yes, my rich white kid will probably be just fine if he doesn’t get into his school of choice. We’d pay for him to go to the prestigious Catholic school instead or somewhere similar. We’d even move if we had to.

    These articles always make it seem like the alternative choice is something that is just fine – like the choice between a uber wealthy school district and a merely UMC suburban district. But that is not the reality.

    Also – it’s never going to be perfect. Our district system tries to mitigate the discrepancies by having 4 socioeconomic tiers – test score cut offs are different for each. The test scores in the lower two tiers are significantly lower – which I’m sure is a reflection on both the lack of $$ for test prep and the resources at the K-8 neighborhood schools. It’s a good try. The racial makeup seems to be more diverse than the NYC exam schools – but that’s only from reading about them. They are still “overrepresented” by Asian kids if you look at the city population as a whole.

  43. Yglesias reminds me of Rhett in how he focuses out outcomes, but he actually takes it a step further and presents data about the experience, then dismisses that.

    “The same Barrow, Sartain, and de la Torre study cited above showed that while Chicago’s move to bring a more diverse group into its exam school hurt the people it was supposed to help, they subjectively enjoyed their high school experience more. The policy was supposed to benefit them, and the students felt that it did, and they would no doubt recommend that your city make the same change. And yet, it didn’t help academically.”

    So it didn’t help academically. Did it hurt them? If they did at least as well academically, but enjoyed the experience, I think that should be considered a successful outcome.

    IMO, the more kids enjoyed their HS experiences, the better socialized they will be, and society as a whole will benefit from that.

  44. Yglesias sounds like someone who’s never read books under his desk while waiting for the other kids in his class to catch up to him, or was never challenged in class because the curriculum had to match kids several sigmas below him, or had a hard time finding a peer group because of differences in cognitive ability.

    He cites a bunch of studies, but I’m curious as to whether there are any studies of things like HS and college graduation rates among the kids well above the exam school cutoff scores, comparing those rates for such kids who attended exam schools vs. those who didn’t.

    It seems to me that those kids are some of the primary direct beneficiaries of the exam schools. And indirectly, society benefits from socializing those kids. As Cass has pointed out, really smart kids who aren’t socialize can be a threat to society.

  45. “Ultimately, though, fussing over exactly how to sort the best students seems to me like an awful case of chattering class navel-gazing. The much bigger policy issue is finding scalable ways to improve the quality of instruction across the board.”

    I agree with him here. From all accounts I’ve read, the exam schools and similar schools are working for the kids who attend them, so why mess with them when there are so many other schools that aren’t working, or aren’t working well, for their students? Focus is a limited quantity that would be better spent on those schools.

    If anything, as I’ve proposed here before, the exam schools should be expanded, and more such schools added.

  46. “Yglesias suggests that peer group doesn’t matter to professional outcome, but it does matter to happiness.”

    +1000.

    And happiness leads to better socialization. And better socialization leads to fewer evil geniuses. And all of society benefits from that.

    Not to mention that very bright people who are socialized can advance knowledge in ways that benefit all of us, e.g., medical discoveries, technological advances.

  47. “I don’t think that the test in NYC is fair”

    Perhaps, but what would be fairer?

    BTW, I’ve read that one reason for the racial imbalance at TJ is that some Black kids don’t bother because even if they got in, they wouldn’t want to go there. I wonder if that’s also the case for the NYC exam schools, or Lowell.

  48. Yglesias sounds like someone who’s never read books under his desk while waiting for the other kids in his class to catch up to him

    He went to the Dalton School and then Harvard, so he was always surrounded by smart kids. He had a lot of success as a writer and co-founded Vox with Ezra Klein. He’s left Vox because he didn’t like the groupthink and the pressure to always have the correct leftist attitude.

  49. So it didn’t help academically. Did it hurt them? If they did at least as well academically, but enjoyed the experience, I think that should be considered a successful outcome.

    Of course these “diverse” kids took away spots from non-diverse kids who would have enjoyed the experience just as much.

    As Finn has said many times, since there are so many kids that want to go to “exam schools”, it would be much more productive to open more of them instead of spending all this time and effort trying to make admissions to the existing ones fairer.

  50. “He went to the Dalton School and then Harvard, so he was always surrounded by smart kids.”

    Sounds like he never went to a public school either.

    “The fact that just about everyone has been to school and thus has first-hand knowledge of it only makes the situation more dangerous.”

    But a lot of people haven’t been to public schools, which are the topic of his essay.

  51. “instead of spending all this time and effort trying to make admissions to the existing ones fairer.”

    “Fairer” is a very subjective term. Many people would say that the changes being made or proposed to admissions to the NYC exam schools, TJ, and Lowell are not making them fairer.

    Expanding them, or creating more of them, would reduce the pressures to be “fairer,” whatever that means.

  52. “I think it is right to look a bit askance at a political system that chooses to address racial inequity by targeting what are often immigrant families from Asia rather than considerably more privileged white ones.”

    That’s not just the exam schools. That also describes what happens at a lot of HSS.

    OTOH, I don’t know that that’s the case at Lowell. When I was in SV, I met a lot of Lowell alums, and many of them were not 1st or 2nd generation Asians. I imagine by now, even more of the kids of Asian ancestry aspiring to Lowell (or whose parents aspire for them to attend Lowell) are neither immigrants themselves nor the offspring of immigrants.

  53. I am puzzled at the headlines that state “CDC’s New Guidelines” for opening schools. I don’t see anything new or improved in what many schools have already been doing for in person attendance or what the previous guidance stated. The guidance has however become more insistent that it’s safe to open. Next time the CDC should command “ Open Sesame”.

  54. Louise, I have noticed one change to the CDC guidelines. On page 25, Close Contacts section, there are options available to shorten quarantine. I believe this is new. It was definitely not there in October when DD was quarantined. Close contact is still defined as contact for 15 minutes within 6 feet regardless of mask usage, as the paper surgical masks or cloth masks used by the general public are not as effective as N95 masks.

    I am convinced that although cloth masks are not as effective as N95 masks, they are the reason that transmission of Covid has not been widespread in schools.

  55. Swim – my kids school has been sending revised quarantine guidelines for more than a month now. In fact I think the newer quarantine guidelines, though calling for shorter lengths of time offer three choices that are not as easy to remember as stay home for 14 days.

    What has changed is parent sentiment in places where there are no options except remote. I confess I am surprised by the change in sentiment.

  56. I’m guessing this might upset Cass, and I sympathize with her if it does:

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/covid-vaccine-foreign-nationals/2021/02/12/7d5edbb4-6d2f-11eb-ba56-d7e2c8defa31_story.html

    “But Origel and possibly thousands of other foreign nationals who have been vaccinated in the United States did not violate federal policy. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has yet to tackle the issue of foreign nationals getting vaccinated. The agency did not address the issue of Americans crossing state lines for shots until Monday, when it told states they could restrict coronavirus vaccinations to their residents.”

    “California’s vaccination website explicitly states that residency is not a requirement for receiving the vaccine.”

  57. Legal residency in the U. s. is not required, although the state says that people can only get vaccinated in their county. My county gets 200 doses of vaccine every two weeks. The California sign up portal is only for Los Angeles, San Diego and Orange counties.

    Getting a vaccine is a matter of knowing the right people.

  58. I’m trying to move past upset. I’m going to keep trying to get DH and DS a vaccine. Based on my brothers, nieces, and nephews, I’m probably ok getting COVID. It’s probably best that I get it before I get much older.

    The girls managed to finagle shots. They live in a different county.

    The way the vaccines have rolled out make it very clear how much power the elites have. The vaccine debacle is probably going to give impetus for Trump or a Trumplike figure for the next Presidential election.

  59. The vaccine debacle is probably going to give impetus for Trump or a Trumplike figure for the next Presidential election.

    That’s funny because the Trump administration is the primary reason for the “vaccine debacle”. Their pan for the rollout was “let the states deal with it.” As with the overall pandemic response, there was no coordination at all.

  60. Their pan for the rollout was “let the states deal with it.” As with the overall pandemic response, there was no coordination at all.

    Don’t forget “Let’s lie about having a reserve of vaccine.”

  61. Here’s wishing a good vaccine experience for our senior poster today. I hope the weather cooperates.

    One of our distant relatives heard that my parents had got the vaccine. They thought their daughter in healthcare was still waiting, implying that we had jumped the line somehow. Turns out their daughter did get the vaccine, neglected to inform her parents.
    After the initial posts on Next door asking how to sign up, people now know where to call/sign up. My state will soon be opening up to teachers and the first wave of essential workers. Grocery stores and pharmacies will be able to vaccinate people. The weather has been nasty these past few days but no big vaccine events are scheduled so there won’t be a ton of second dose delays. At this point the rollout is limited by supply.

  62. I think it’s going as well as it can go here. With more vaccine providers in the community it should save people from having to travel far. This should increase the numbers of disadvantaged people getting the vaccine. One thing our local paper fails to note when they provide statistics by race, is that there is vaccine hesitation in pockets that still has to be overcome. Sometimes, there is lamenting without considering that not everyone in groups the powers that be, want to sign up are signing up.

  63. We already wasted an hour trying to get DH a vaccine appointment this morning. NY state opened the registration at 8AM to anyone with certain preexisting conditions and he has one of the underlying conditions. The problem is that NY state does not allow anyone under 65 to receive the vaccine at a pharmacy so that just leaves the state run facilities. Some of those are only for residents of that county- for example my parents got vaccines because they live in the Bronx so they qualified for certain facilities that were only for Bronx residents. Since my county is not considered “poor”, there is just one state run site and we were unable to even get into the online queue for the location. Other states allow under 65s to get the vaccine at pharmacies so it is frustrating that Cuomo let in millions of people today, but just left them with the state run sites.

    BTW, I think it is very interesting that the seniors don’t seem to have the sever side effects that the hunger folks get from either vaccine. My parents had no side effects except that they were tired.

  64. Colorado’s rule is that you have to have two preexisting conditions. DH has one on the list, and I have one on the list. I joked we should go in together and insist that after marriage the two had become one. Also if we could go on Jeopardy! together, we’d KICK ASS. Individually, we’d be lucky to win two days in a row.

  65. He got an appointment in March for the convention center in Manhattan. It isn’t ideal, but I would rather deal with traffic to city vs. no vaccine. He seems relieved that he secured an appointment.

    RMS, it is so interesting and messed up that every state is different.

  66. My state is doing a pretty good job distributing the vaccine. Nursing homes and health care workers are done. Teachers are about half way done with the first vaccine. People 65+ are eligible to receive the vaccine, although it is still competitive to get an appointment. While I would have preferred a more uniform approach and a better plan from the feds, Trump and co was not going to do that. Republicans have spent the better part of 40 years trying to shove things on the states and telling us that local control is better. This is what you get from local control. A mishmash of policies that don’t always prioritize the right people. The states that turned everything over to local control seem to be handling things the worst. The ones that kept more control at the state level are doing better. West Virginia is doing great. They have assembled a team that makes decisions every week based on conditions and need with a focus on high risk people. It is interesting that Mass is doing so poorly. I think of that state as well run.

    In the not so distant future, supply won’t be a problem and it will solely become a distribution issue.

  67. RMS, it is so interesting and messed up that every state is different.

    See my previous comment.

    Colorado did a fantastic job getting it out to the long term care facilities. They seem to be doing pretty well at getting out to the community although there have been some glitches.

  68. In the observation room with DH. Next appt scheduled for him in a month. Moderna. I am guessing two more weeks before over 65s become eligible

  69. Congrats to everyone who is able to secure a vaccine spot!

    I’m not sure what to make of California’s rollout. Here the county with the highest % of the population vacinnated (38%) is a far northern rural county. In fact the top five counties are all very rural. Since the change in adminstration I have a deep sense of calm about this virus and the vaccine. Information is power, and having clear communication from both federal and state leaders has been so helpful. The rollout here was slow going in January, and now is picking up steam, with positive news (and science based) predictions.

    I will also say that Nextdoor and Facebook posts have helped young and old get informed and find vaccines. We also joke about how rotten those sites can be, but there were several in the two weeks by older women asking for help, and people going above and beyond to assist a complete stranger. Good things are happening.

  70. We celebrated across the street at Dunkin Donuts, deserted at the adternoon hour. Our first donuts since Before Times.

  71. RMS. The accompanying person qualification is only at the Small m mass vaccination sites, which are not swamped. DH is not able to spend hours in the car for travel to and from Gillette stadium or walk/get pushed from the paid private garages to Fenway or stand in the outdoor line at the other hotel type site 40 min away. This was a 12 min drive on a Sun aft in a medical office building with parking. On a major bus line too.

    The Commonwealth is pushing for large sites accessible by car. It facilitates distribution. But winter travel is chancy, and the very old werent clamoring for the appts. even urban Fenway requires a decent walk from subway or garage. In Winter. So they are trying stuff out.

Comments are closed.