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Editor Daily Rundown: Schools Confront Severe Learning Losses Amid Lockdown Fallout

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Vince Coglianese Editorial Director
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MORE FALLOUT FROM LOCKDOWNS… EXPERTS: THIRD-GRADERS WHO CAN’T READ OFTEN BECOME ADULTS WHO CAN’T FUNCTION…WSJ: Schools Are Back and Confronting Severe Learning Losses

The U.S. Department of Education last Thursday released data showing that from 2020 to 2022, average reading scores for 9-year-olds slid 5 points—to 215 out of a possible 500—in the sharpest decline since 1990. Average math scores fell 7 points to 234, the first statistically significant decline in math scores since the long-term trend assessments began in the 1970s. […]

While some students have begun to make up ground, researchers say that, on average, it could take five years or more for today’s fourth-graders to read proficiently unless the pace accelerates. […]

These students are at a pivotal stage. Educators pay particular attention to 9-year-olds’ literacy rates because research shows that reading ability by the end of third grade can be predictive of educational success, career earnings and the risk of incarceration. A study released in 2011 by the Annie E. Casey Foundation found that 16% of students who don’t read proficiently in third grade fail to graduate from high school on time, a rate four times that of proficient readers.

 

RELATED…WSJ: Wealthy Families Stick With Full-Time Tutors Hired Early in Pandemic

Adam Caller, who founded Tutors International in Oxford, England, 23 years ago, said too few schools impart the skills necessary to succeed in a rapidly evolving society, and his clients want a more forward thinking approach to prepare their children to be leaders.

Traditionally, he said, most of his clients have had a net worth north of $100 million, and tutors often traveled between homes with families, as part of their entourage. He said one such client is discussing hiring a tutor to drive down the coast of South America in a recreational vehicle and teach lessons to the children in different ports as the family sails down the coast in their yacht. The cost for the tutor’s services would be about $400,000.

 

MORE PROOF TEACHERS UNIONS SAW PARENTS AS POLITICAL ENEMIES…FEDERALIST: EMAILS: California Teachers Union Ran Oppo Research On Parents Who Wanted Schools Open

Shortly after parents in California sued the state to reopen schools for their children to attend in-person learning, a California teachers union conducted opposition research on those parents.

April 2021 emails, obtained by the Parent Association via open-records requests and shared in tweets by Reopen California Schools, show Ann Swinburn, a strategic research specialist at the California Teachers Association, asking lockdown activists for information about “various ‘reopen’ groups around the state.”

Swinburn specifically expressed interest in Parent Association, the group that believes “Parents are the best advocates for students” and strongly advocated for the reopening of schools during the state’s Covid-19 panic.

 

‘QUIET QUITTERS’ GROW TO HALF OF US WORKFORCE…GALLUP: Is Quiet Quitting Real?

“Quiet quitters” make up at least 50% of the U.S. workforce — probably more, Gallup finds.

The trend toward quiet quitting — the idea spreading virally on social media that millions of people are not going above and beyond at work and just meeting their job description — could get worse. This is a problem because most jobs today require some level of extra effort to collaborate with coworkers and meet customer needs.

U.S. employee engagement took another step backward during the second quarter of 2022, with the proportion of engaged workers remaining at 32% but the proportion of actively disengaged increasing to 18%. The ratio of engaged to actively disengaged employees is now 1.8 to 1, the lowest in almost a decade.

 

AMID ENERGY CRISIS, GERMANY BEGRUDGINGLY KEEPS NUCLEAR ONLINE…NYT: Breaking Taboo, Germany Extends Life of 2 Nuclear Reactors

BERLIN — Germany will keep two of its three remaining nuclear power plants operational as an emergency reserve for its electricity supply, its energy minister announced on Monday, delaying the country’s plans to become the first industrial power to go nuclear-free for its energy.

The latest decision is aimed at giving the government more room to cushion the blow of a deepening energy crisis spurred by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, to which the European Union has responded with a string of sanctions against Moscow. Soaring energy costs have thrown the bloc into an economic tailspin — especially Germany, Europe’s largest economy.

Many governments are now pushing through special measures to ease the impact on their citizens and are scrambling to buy liquid natural gas, as prices rise steeply. Germany is no exception. It has already embarked on broad conservation measures, setting guidelines for heating and cooling public offices and switching the lights off landmarks at 10 p.m., and it has pivoted sharply from its dependency on Russian gas.

 

CALIFORNIA GOV TELLS CITIZENS THEY HAVE TO BEAR THE BRUNT OF THE STATE’S THIRD-WORLD ENERGY SYSTEM… NR: Newsom Urges Californians to Turn Up Thermostats as Heat Wave Tests Energy Grid

Governor Gavin Newsom urged Californians on Tuesday to turn up their thermostats and “double down to save energy” as a record heat wave threatens to overwhelm the state’s energy grid and cause power outages.

“Everyone has to do their part to help for just a few more days. Individuals, the state, industries, business, all doing their part to help reduce strain on the grid,” he said. “Today and tomorrow afternoon, after 4 p.m., in particular 4 p.m., please turn your thermostat up to 78 degrees or higher and avoid to the extent possible using any really large appliances.”

Residents can also help by pre-cooling their homes by using the air conditioning only in the mornings “when more power is available,” as well as to close windows and blinds to trap the cool in, he said.

 

CALIFORNIANS OBEDIENTLY POWER DOWN… LAT: California averts widespread rolling blackouts as energy demands ease amid heat wave

For nearly three hours Tuesday night, California officials warned of imminent rolling blackouts as the state’s electrical grid struggled to keep up with surging demand during a punishing heat wave.

The Golden State avoided widespread outages, though three Northern California cities experienced brief losses of power.

At 8 p.m., the California Independent System Operator downgraded its level 3 alert, the final step before calling for rolling blackouts, saying that “consumer conservation played a big part in protecting electric grid reliability.”

There were “no load sheds for the night,” the grid operator said; however, Alameda, Palo Alto and Healdsburg officials said they implemented short “rotating outages.”

 

CAN INVESTORS BAND TOGETHER TO RESCUE AMERICAN FOSSIL FUELS? …WSJ: Anti-ESG Activist Investor Urges Chevron to Increase Oil Production

A conservative activist turned investor who has criticized Wall Street’s efforts to address climate change and other issues is publicly urging Chevron Corp. CVX -0.46%▼ to pump more fossil fuels over the next decade.

Vivek Ramaswamy, who launched an energy-focused exchange-traded fund nearly a month ago, is among the most prominent critics of so-called environmental, social and governance—or ESG—investing. He quickly turned his sights on Chevron, arguing the country’s second-biggest fossil-fuel company should slow spending on its energy-transition plan, which he said was partially motivated by pressure from top shareholders such as BlackRock Inc. BLK 1.29%▲

In the letter Tuesday to Chevron CEO Mike Wirth and the company’s board, Mr. Ramaswamy said he wanted to “liberate you from constraints imposed on Chevron by its ESG-promoting ‘shareholders.’ ” Mr. Ramaswamy writes that he looks forward to engaging with the company before next year’s proxy voting season. The Wall Street Journal previously reported on the letter.

 

RAMASWAMY’S ENERGY ETF IS LISTED AS DRLL…

 

SPEAKING OF ESG… DID BLACKROCK USE ESG TO HURT EXXON AND HELP A CHINESE ENERGY COMPANY? …JED RUBENFELD & BILL BARR: ESG Can’t Square With Fiduciary Duty

Last week Attorneys General Jeff Landry and Todd Rokita of Louisiana and Indiana, respectively, went further. Each issued a letter warning his state pension board that ESG investing is likely a violation of fiduciary duty. […]

First, Mr. Landry’s guidance spotlights potentially explosive, undisclosed conflicts of interest in the Big Three’s “selective” promotion of ESG criteria against U.S. companies but not Chinese companies. According to Mr. Landry, in 2021 BlackRock exercised its proxy voting rights as Exxon’s second-largest shareholder to lead “an activist campaign that forced Exxon to cut oil production,” without disclosing that many of the “oil fields dropped by Exxon” are “poised to be acquired by PetroChina” and that BlackRock is “one of PetroChina’s largest investors.”

Mr. Landry has a point. BlackRock has an enormous stake in PetroChina, reporting holdings of between one trillion and two trillion shares, representing between 5% and 10% ownership, from 2018-22. If Mr. Landry’s allegations are correct, BlackRock’s ESG-based promotion of oil production cutbacks at Exxon might have been a staggering conflict of interest.

 

CLOCK IS TICKING ON ‘SPECIAL MASTER’ TIMELINE…WSJ: DOJ Considers Next Move After Judge Greenlights Trump’s Request for Special Master

Prosecutors could appeal the order from U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon—both to prevent it from serving as a basis for precedent and to try to have it overturned so the investigation can continue, but that potentially risks a long legal battle. Or they could acquiesce to the order in hope that a special master could swiftly review the core documents at issue, which could get the investigation moving again sooner. […]

The Justice Department, which together with the Trump legal team has a Friday deadline to present the judge with potential options for a special master, could appeal the ruling before that. Any appeal would come before the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta. The Justice Department could ask Judge Cannon to reconsider her ruling, and present their arguments again before her, rather than file an outright appeal.

The prospect of the Justice Department and Mr. Trump’s team agreeing on any potential candidates for the role also seemed remote.

 

DOJ THROWS A TANTRUM? … MORE LEAKS TO WAPO… WAPO: Material on foreign nation’s nuclear capabilities seized at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago

A document describing a foreign government’s military defenses, including its nuclear capabilities, was found by FBI agents who searched former president Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence and private club last month, according to people familiar with the matter, underscoring concerns among U.S. intelligence officials about classified material stashed in the Florida property.

Some of the seized documents detail top-secret U.S. operations so closely guarded that many senior national security officials are kept in the dark about them. Only the president, some members of his Cabinet or a near-Cabinet-level official could authorize other government officials to know details of these special-access programs, according to people familiar with the search, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe sensitive details of an ongoing investigation.

 

THE LEFT SETS ITS SIGHTS ON PURGING ELECTED OFFICIALS, COPS, MILITARY…AP: Elected officials, police chiefs on leaked Oath Keepers list

The names of hundreds of U.S. law enforcement officers, elected officials and military members appear on the leaked membership rolls of a far-right extremist group that’s accused of playing a key role in the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, according to a report released Wednesday.

The Anti-Defamation League Center on Extremism pored over more than 38,000 names on leaked Oath Keepers membership lists and identified more than 370 people it believes currently work in law enforcement agencies — including as police chiefs and sheriffs — and more than 100 people who are currently members of the military.

It also identified more than 80 people who were running for or served in public office as of early August. The membership information was compiled into a database published by the transparency collective Distributed Denial of Secrets.

 

AFTER BIDEN MISUSES MARINES, FORMER PENTAGON LEADERS ISSUE WARNING ABOUT ‘CIVILIAN-MILITARY RELATIONS’… WAPO: Past Pentagon leaders warn of strains on civilian-military relations

The Pentagon’s former defense secretaries and top generals warned Tuesday that political polarization and other societal strains are creating an “exceptionally challenging” environment for maintaining the traditional relationship between the military and civilian worlds.

The assessment is the basis of an extraordinary open letter signed by eight former defense secretaries and five former chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Adhering to the military’s tradition of nonpartisanship, the leaders do not blame any political leader or party for the situation, but note that the last presidential election was the first in more than a century to have the peaceful transfer of power disrupted.

The former Pentagon leaders said the current environment is challenging for a variety of reasons, including deep political divisions and the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, and say they fear that the situation could worsen.

 

OOPS… NEW BRITISH PM ONCE SAID IT’S ‘DISGRACEFUL’ FOR PEOPLE TO BE ‘BORN TO RULE’ … KAREN TOWNSEND: Liz Truss’s opinion of the monarchy as a student surfaces and it’s awkward (VIDEO)

This one is just kind of fun. Imagine being elected the next prime minister of the U.K. and having a video clip surface on social media of yourself as a student. The video from 1994 shows Truss when she was a student in Leeds speaking about the monarchy. At the time, Liz Truss was not a fan of the monarchy and called it “disgraceful”. Today she went to Balmoral to meet with the Queen and be appointed by her as the new prime minister.

For the first time in her 70 year reign, the Queen received both the outgoing and incoming prime ministers at her Balmoral estate in Scotland. She remains there after her traditional summer vacation, reportedly due to health concerns. She normally appoints prime ministers from Buckingham Palace or Windsor Castle. Truss is the 15th British prime minister appointed by Queen Elizabeth II. Winston Churchill was the first in 1951.

 

TODAY…CNN: Apple set to unveil iPhone 14 at ‘far out’ event

Apple is widely expected to give a first look at its latest iPhone lineup on Wednesday, as the tech giant has done every year in September for about a decade.

The latest iPhone is expected to be slimmer, but with a larger screen. It’s rumored that Apple will debut a 6.7-inch phone that is not a Pro model – meaning it will have the bigger size but not carry the higher price tag. That much-disliked notch around the front-facing camera system is also expected to go away. And Apple watchers forecast the company will ditch its cheaper, mini-sized iPhone as part of the 14 lineup.