Tuesday’s Forum

Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. Kurtz says:


    Legit curious about the basis for this assertion. Something like 72% of all rental properties are owned by individual investors, with another 16% owned by LLCs or partnerships (according to HUD anyway). All of those folks are going to be taxed on rental income at the same marginal rates as the guy doing substantive work, because the tax system treats it as individual income. From the perspective of the IRS, it might as well be on a W2.

    [this concerned a question of rental income]

    I didn’t see this the other night, so I’ll respond now.

    Part of it is the depreciation deduction, which can be manipulated with some clever accounting to show losses on income. (Yes, upon sale of property some of this can be clawed back by the IRS. But per usual for that sector, there are ways around that as well.)

    On mom and pop landlords:

    The number using a pass-through has risen over the last few years, and that is only one of the deductions available to landlords anyway.

    It’s important to distinguish between rental properties and rental units, because if we look at units–individual landlords own less than half the rental stock. (This is also a tax issue, because the depreciation deduction doesn’t include the value of land, but we will return to that in a second.)

    The specific point is the tax system gifts real estate investors enough tax breaks that, yes, a good accountant can reduce the rate actually payed absurdly low.

    The more general point is the tax system incentivizes passive income over physical, knowledge, and skill based labor. Capital gains taxes are lower than income taxes, and that’s patently absurd. Rewarding financial activity over production is exactly the type of policy that I criticize first.

    Classical political economists were critical of passive-derived wealth, in particular land ownership. Mill specifically argued that wealth derived from land ownership should be taxed, even arguing that it should be considered a taking.

    Indeed, the anti-tax crowd–Republicans all the way to the extremist taxation-is-theft libertarians–love to namecheck Smith and Mill. But either through ignorance or deception, tend to ignore much of what they wrote.

    And yes, I agree with you that it requires more than pointing at France or the Scandinavian countries and saying we should do that. We should look at the whole system.

    Where we disagree is just how much of America would out of hand reject it. It’s pretty clear that a majority (or at least plurality) of Americans want to tax the rich more. I suspect that if ignorance, apathy, and religious belief weren’t cynically exploited by politicians and supported and narrated by a dishonest portion of the media, there would be more support than you think.

  2. Kathy says:

    Happy Star Wars Day!

  3. CSK says:
  4. OzarkHillbilly says:

    ‘Out-of-control’ Chinese rocket falling to Earth could partially survive re-entry

    Part of a huge rocket that launched China’s first module for its Tianhe space station is falling back to Earth and could make an uncontrolled re-entry at an unknown landing point. The 30-metre high core of the Long March 5B rocket launched the “Heavenly Harmony” unmanned core module into low Earth orbit on 29 April from Wenchang in China’s Hainan province. The Long March 5B then itself entered a temporary orbit, setting the stage for one of the largest ever uncontrolled re-entries. Some experts fear it could land on an inhabited area.
    On Tuesday the core was orbiting Earth around every 90 minutes at about 27,600km/h and an altitude of more than 300km. The US military has named it 2021-035B and its path can be seen on websites including orbit.ing-now.com. Since the weekend it has dropped nearly 80km in altitude and SpaceNews reported that amateur ground observations showed it was tumbling and not under control. This, and its speed, makes it impossible to predict where it will land when Earth’s atmosphere eventually drags it down, though McDowell said the most likely outcome is that it will fall into the sea, as the ocean covers about 71% of the planet. But McDowell says some pieces of the rocket will survive re-entry and that it would be the “equivalent of a small plane crash scattered over 100 miles”.

    Since 1990 nothing over 10 tonnes has been deliberately left in orbit to re-enter uncontrolled. The Long March 5B core stage is thought to be about 21 tonnes.

    “What’s bad is that it’s really negligent on China’s part. Things more than ten tonnes we don’t let them fall out of the sky uncontrolled deliberately,” McDowell said.

    Based on its current orbit the rocket is passing over Earth as far north as New York, Madrid and Beijing and as far south as southern Chile and Wellington, New Zealand, and could make its re-entry at any point within this area. Given its velocity, a small change in its path could make a big difference to where it ends up. It’s expected to return to Earth on 10 May, plus or minus two days. McDowell said once it’s clear the day it is returning to Earth, experts could predict its landing time within a six-hour window.

    Heavenly Harmony could end it’s sonata on a rather discordant note.

  5. Kathy says:


    That subway line has had all sorts of troubles since it opened. It was closed for close to a year for repairs, and there was at least another major accident before.

  6. CSK says:

    Yes; I read about that. It’s still awful.

  7. Sleeping Dog says:


    Maybe we’ll be lucky and it will land on Mar-a-Lago

  8. OzarkHillbilly says:

    “Tuckems…” Joy Ann Reid takes Tucker Carlson to task. Too damned funny.

  9. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Sleeping Dog: God likes me that much.

  10. just nutha says:

    @Kurtz: Now when I read HL’s comment, I thought he was off point because my impression was that you had been talking about rent seeking in the economics sense rather than the business sense. Interesting how reading works. It’s too bad we don’t have systems in place where we can teach students to be more careful about how they express what they mean when they are writing. (Not accusing you, specifically, of being a careless writer.)

  11. just nutha says:

    @Sleeping Dog: I thought I read somewhere that Trump had decamped to Bedminster already. Don’t care enough to look it up, but I would like the debris to fall someplace where it will have a positive outcome.

  12. OzarkHillbilly says:
  13. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Edit fail. That was suppose to be “God doesn’t like me that much.”

  14. CSK says:

    @just nutha:
    I’ve been trying to teach college students to write what they mean for decades. My favorite response from them was: “Well, I know what I was saying.” To which my answer was: “So what? If no one else understands you, you might as well not have written anything.”

    They may not have grasped that the purpose of language, written or spoken, is to communicate, not babble to yourself.

    Even brilliant people can fall into this trap. I knew an engineer at Harvard who invented his own words (no definition provided). When I challenged him on this, he replied, rather petulantly, “Well, I know what I mean.” He insisted that “infact” meant something different than “in fact”—though he could never explain what.

  15. CSK says:

    May the fourth be with you.

  16. Kathy says:


    And with you.

  17. Sleeping Dog says:

    @just nutha:

    I understand the move to Bedminster is the plan, but not aware that it has been executed.

  18. wr says:

    @CSK: “I’ve been trying to teach college students to write what they mean for decades. ”

    I teach graduate students screenwriting and TV writing, and I’d say that one of my most given notes is “If you want something to be in your script, you actually have to write it in there — you can’t just think it and hope it will somehow get there.”

  19. sam says:
  20. CSK says:

    Excellent advice. Do they heed it?

  21. Kathy says:


    Quote them one of Niven’s Laws: If you’ve nothing to say, say it any way you like. Stylistic innovations, contorted story lines or none, exotic or genderless pronouns, internal inconsistencies, the recipe for preparing your lover as a cannibal banquet: feel free. If what you have to say is important and/or difficult to follow, use the simplest language possible. If the reader doesn’t get it then, let it not be your fault.

  22. just nutha says:

    @CSK: I always used to make the comparison to writing as talking over time and space and noting that when your listeners don’t understand what you said they say, “Stop! I didn’t get that” but your readers are stuck with what you wrote. Sometimes, my students even got it (but I don’t recall any of them ever saying “Stop! I didn’t get that”).

  23. CSK says:

    The real dullards wouldn’t understand a word of that.

    I’ve had the odd experience of teaching at some of the best colleges/universities (Tufts and Harvard, undergraduate and graduate) and the worst. The worst I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. Well, yeah, actually, I would.

  24. Kathy says:

    I met a coworker today I hadn’t seen in a few weeks (she works at another location). She managed a trip to California to get vaccinated. She wanted the J&J vaccine, because it’s one dose and therefore only one trip. but she got caught in the “pause.” So, she got Pfizer and needs to travel again later.

    My plan was also to get the J&J vaccine up north. I had seen a trip to Vegas, including one night’s hotel, for a decent prize early in April for May 7th, but I wanted to wait to make sure I could get an appointment.

    Then the pause happened, and in the interim the prices for both flight and hotel went way up.

    By the time I started looking for flight prices again, they announced my age group would get vaccinated now. So depending on what vaccine I get, maybe I did even better not booking a trip.

    As to the vaccines available, there are five options: Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Sputnik V, Canisno, and Sinovac. What I get depend son what’s on hand and what the government sends to my vaccination site.

    According to what I’ve read, the best bet is Pfizer, including against some variants. Next should come the Russian vaccine, but I mistrust the little info the Putin regime has allowed to be released, so I place it on third place. Second is AstraZeneca, even it does poorly against the South African variant and has a small risk of blood clots. I don’t trust either Chinese vaccine at all, and experience from Chile indicates Sinovac is at best 50% effective.

    A note I read recently says the Cansino vaccine has been reserved for teachers and school personnel, because it requires only one dose. If so, that increases my chances for the others. I’ve also read of large(ish) shipments of Pfizer having arrived recently. But, really, there’s no point in guessing. I’ll find out tomorrow.

  25. CSK says:

    @just nutha: @wr:

    It says something about the American public that such a large percentage of them claimed to find the gibberish spoken by Sarah Palin and Donald Trump comprehensible. It says something even more about this percentage that they felt that Palin and Trump spoke like “real Americans”: incomprehensibly.

  26. Kathy says:


    Well, depending who’s your worst enemy, they may wind up in the situation of the halfwit teaching the nitwit.

  27. CSK says:

    The blind leading the blind.

  28. Teve says:

    @wr: When I was going through a very bad time in my life an ex girlfriend gifted me the complete Buffy series. It seemed like the episodes I liked most were written by Jane Espenson. I wonder if you’ve ever worked with her.

  29. NYC to end snow days for “remote learning.”

    Thanks to the pandemic the snow day may be no more.

    This is sad. When I was a kid was like a vacation day. You could play in the snow, go sledding, or make some money by shoveling out people’s driveway.

    If the decision in New York City is adopted nationwide those days will be like milkmen, a th8ng of the past

    Let kids be kids and play in the snow!


  30. Kathy says:

    Biden will announce today a “use it or lose it” policy on vaccines. This means vaccines not being used by one state will be given to other states which will use them.

    Maybe this will work in red states: “Get your vaccine now, or it will go to some pinko liberals in California!”

  31. Kathy says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    You can add some irony to the piece. “Nix” is Latin for “snow.”

  32. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Farmer moves border stone for tractor – and makes Belgium bigger

    The boundary between France and Belgium is believed to have been inadvertently redrawn by a farmer who found the 200-year-old border stone marking the divide in an inconvenient location for his tractor. The French farmer could theoretically face criminal charges after making Belgium bigger by moving the stone that has marked the border since after the defeat of Napoleon at the battle of Waterloo.

    A local amateur historian taking a walk in forest near to the Belgian village of Erquelinnes discovered two weeks ago that the stone dating back to 1819 had been moved 2.29 metres (7.5ft). The farmer’s perimeter fence had also been shifted.

    The Franco-Belgian border, stretching 390 miles (620km), was formally established under the Treaty of Kortrijk of 1820.
    “If [the farmer] shows goodwill, he won’t have a problem, we will settle this issue amicably,” Lavaux added with a smile.

    If the farmer fails to comply, the issue could be referred to the Belgian foreign ministry, which might have to summon a Franco-Belgian border commission, dormant since 1930, to settle the exact delimitation of the border.

    “We should be able to avoid a new border war,” Aurélie Welonek, the mayor of Bousignies-sur-Roc, told La Voix du Nord.

  33. just nutha says:

    @Doug Mataconis: This was inevitable when school districts started providing laptops, tablets, Chromebooks, and such to all students in the district. It can still be a day where the work will be available on databases rather than attending Zoom sessions. In fact, it most likely will be. Part of the reason my state decided to have teachers work from their classrooms rather than from home is because of how ill-suited most peoples homes are to the role of temporary classrooms.

  34. Kurtz says:

    @just nutha:

    To be fair, I was also talking about economic rent in the broadly defined sense–non-productive activity.

    One distinction that clarifies my point is trading vs. investing. The former activity–focused on volatility is different from funding businesses with an eye toward growth.

    I think the one market benefit that trading could possibly claim is liquidity, but I’m not sure it really works that way. And I wonder if it often works against stable markets.

  35. Kurtz says:

    @just nutha:

    Oh, I will admit to some sloppiness in my writing and reading. I would like to think that part of it is the venue, here. But aside from maybe editing and revising a bit more, my style remains much the same in more formal settings.

    To the reading point, I got slightly confused as to your comment until after I responded. HL had a good point, and it took my a little while to get my mind around the moving parts. I halfway expect someone to give more detail that may cut against the specific problems in the market here.

    Then again, I read much more about the tax structure from sources that are very much for low taxation.

  36. Former Florida Governor Charlie Crist running for Democratic nominee for Governor of Florids.

    A Crist v. DeSantis General Election would be a huge 2022 battle.


  37. Stormy Dragon says:


    One thing is that the rocket article leaves out: this uncontrolled rentry isn’t the result of some unexpected mishap, but rather the Long March as designed can’t do a controlled deorbit of its first stage and it’s going to happen every time one of them is launched and China just doesn’t care.

  38. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    If I were DeSantis, I’d seriously consider pulling a Romney and not run for reelection in 22. If he loses or even if the election is close, he could blow his chance to be the R nominee in 24. He could make some self serving statement, like, I will be running for prez and the citizens of FLA deserve a governor that will give the state and the governors job, their full intention.

  39. Kylopod says:

    @Doug Mataconis: I don’t know if I’ve ever heard of a politician who’s quite taken the journey of Charlie Crist. He serves as Republican governor, then he runs as an independent for Senate, and loses, then he runs to reclaim his governorship as a Dem, and loses, then he wins as a Dem House member, then he tries again to get the governorship back as a Dem–to be continued. If he somehow manages to win, it would be one of the more bizarre and impressive comeback stories in politics.

    I guess he thinks he’s got some crossover appeal as a former Republican, but I’ve got my doubts. For the record, his district is rated EVEN by Cook, whereas FL at large is R+3.

  40. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Stormy Dragon:


    In order to avoid rockets falling over our heads, standard practice calls for one of two things, according to McDowell.

    The rocket stage is built with a booster to steer it into a safe landing point in the water after it reenters Earth’s atmosphere, or …
    built with a rocket stage with some kind of stabilization system and a restartable engine whereby you can slow it down and turn it 180 degrees to land in the ocean.

    China’s Long March 5B was not built with either of those options. “And so it’s just left in orbit the old fashioned way to reenter uncontrolled and that is very unusual nowadays,” McDowell says.

  41. Mu Yixiao says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    I was going to post that before I left work, but didn’t get around to it.

    A couple choice quotes:

    “All students deserve powerful mathematics; we reject ideas of natural gifts and talents,” reads a bulletpoint in chapter one of the framework. “The belief that ‘I treat everyone the same’ is insufficient: Active efforts in mathematics teaching are required in order to counter the cultural forces that have led to and continue to perpetuate current inequities.”

    “Teachers can support discussions that center mathematical reasoning rather than issues of status and bias by intentionally defining what it means to do and learn mathematics together in ways that include and highlight the languages, identities, and practices of historically marginalized communities.”

    The comments on the story keep mentioning Harrison Bergeron. It’s interesting how progressives never seem to realize that “equity” is going to mean denying opportunities to people.

  42. KM says:

    @Doug Mataconis :
    The point of a snow day wasn’t a day off for the kids; it was that there was no way to get to school easily or safely. A physical blockage prevented kids and teachers from getting to a physical location. If you don’t have to be at the physical location to accomplish the action, then why should you have the day off? There’s plenty of school districts that have to stay late in the year because they went over their allotted days and with global warming making unpredictable snow happening later and later in the year, being able to learn from home is necessary.

    As for letting kids be kids in the snow, make mental health days a thing. Students need a break too and if that break happens when there’s plenty of the white stuff to play in, well…. we won’t tell 🙂

  43. CSK says:

    @Doug Mataconis: @Mu Yixiao:

    “…we reject the idea of gifted and talented…”

    Swell. There goes everyone whoever excelled at anything. Such as Grace Bumbry, Leontyne Price, Zora Neale Hurston, Romaire Bearden, Miles Davis, Ruby Dee, Ossie Davis, Barack Obama, Michael Jordan, Bernie Casey, Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, Langston Hughes, James Baldwin, Audre Lord, Gwendolyn Brooks, Lebron James, Olaudah Equiano, Lorraine Hansbery, Gale Sayers…

    This is idiocy.

  44. Kylopod says:

    @KM: I’d just add that kids who have grown up in non-snow areas like Miami don’t exactly have deprived childhoods, last I knew.

  45. wr says:

    @Teve: I have not, just admired her work from afar. Marti Noxon’s too. I did meet with Joss Whedon once as he was staffing up for the show’s second season — he’d liked a comedy/horror/romance show my partner and I had done called She-Wolf of London. But the day before the meeting Les Moonves called personally to say he was going to bring back the show we were working on, fire our boss and give us his job, and there was no way we could say no to our first network showrunning gig, especially considering we would have been number three or four on Buffy.

    In retrospect, Buffy might have been the better career move… if it had worked out there (and we never got as far as an offer, as I recall), but going into its second year there was no way to see what it was going to become. And running Diagnosis Murder turned out to be the best professional experience of my career, so it all worked out…

  46. wr says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Did you actually read the article? If you can screen out the standard Reason messaging — we should make sure that the rich white kids get all the resources, and for the other ones we should have shop classes because some people are just genetically inferior, and for them are there no workhouses? — the state’s push seems to be to find ways to teach math that don’t just separate out the naturally talented and let everyone else fail, but that actually teach math to those who are not already inclined towards it.

    That actually seems to be the basis of a much better curriculum. I was never good at math, and so I was simply left behind. No math teacher ever explained how math worked, how it was not just a boring subject on its own but actually vital in many real world ways. Finding a new way to teach math sounds like a really good idea to me.

    Except to the “libertarians” at Reason, who apparently think it’s woke socialism to try to get kids who aren’t natural mathletes to learn.

  47. wr says:

    @CSK: “This is idiocy.”

    This is the opposite of what’s being called for. The idea, as far as I can glean from reading past Reason’s Upper Class Twit of the Year sneer, is that the natural superstars are not the only ones who can excel, and that the current system simply skims off the cream and dumps everyone else back in the muck.

  48. wr says:

    @Mu Yixiao: Did you actually read what you quoted? “Active efforts in mathematics teaching are required in order to counter the cultural forces that have led to and continue to perpetuate current inequities”

    That’s saying there’s more to math ability than innate genius, that there are cultural forces that keep large numbers of children from learning or wanting to learn math, and that the current system of teaching reinforces that.

    Of course to the political Calvinists at Reason, that’s exactly how it should be. If the kids aren’t natural superstars, then they can work for minimum wage at Target because they don’t deserve any better. Of course, at Reason they don’t think they deserve minimum wage, either, because that’s an affront to capitalism and an early iteration of woke socialism.

    If all kids are able to learn math, who will we get to cut our lawns?

  49. Monala says:

    The NYT has an interactive tool that lets you see your “bubble” – that is, how many people in your neighborhood agree with you politically or not.

    I’m in a huge bubble in my neighborhood in Western Washington, with only 10% of my neighbors voting Republican. And you know what? I’m so freaking glad about that!

    I’ve mentioned that I could not socially distance in the before vaccine era, because I work in human services, and we had to be available to meet in person with people in need. But to set up appointments, we told our clients that they had to wear a mask, sanitize their hands, and follow other Covid safety measures. Their reaction, almost universally? “Of course!” “Oh, thank God!” or other similar responses. I would have gone nuts having to work with my client population if I had to regularly deal with Covid deniers and anti-maskers.

  50. Kylopod says:

    @Monala: The article repeats uncritically an old urban legend:

    The film critic Pauline Kael once said that she lived in a “rather special world” because she only knew one person who voted for Richard Nixon.

    People in the Bay Area, the country’s most Democratic metropolitan enclave, may have felt similarly after Donald Trump won in 2016.

    Residents of Gillette, Wyo., where about nine out of 10 voters are Republicans, might have been equally shocked by President Biden’s victory.

    While Pauline Kael did once comment that she only knew one person who voted for Nixon, the notion that she was expressing surprise at Nixon’s victory due to the lack of Nixon voters in her social circle is a myth.

  51. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Monala: I would have gone nuts having to work with my client population if I had to regularly deal with Covid deniers and anti-maskers.

    My wife does exactly that every day:

    Wife: OK we will send you a tech, but I have to ask a couple questions first: Have you or anyone in your household been suffering (covid symptoms)?
    Customer: Yes
    Wife: The tech will drop off the modum at your door.
    Customer: No, no covid symptoms here.
    Wife: Will you mask up and observe social distancing?
    Wife: Have a nice day.


  52. OzarkHillbilly says:

    OK, this gave me a good giggle:

    Dean Tāne

    Today is the tenth anniversary of the day the uni gave me an emergency extension on my dissertation “Where’s Bin Laden? The Use of Bogeymen In Western Geo-Political Discourse” because the CIA found and killed the fucker on the day of the deadline

    Mentioned it on here before but for those curious it focused on a bunch of stuff going back to the Cold War. I argued the ‘War On Terror’ filled the void left by the USSR for a political bogeyman, and how this role is always served by former Western allies who fell from grace.

    As well as Bin Laden, I also used Muammar Gaddafi’s rise and fall as Western darling to illustrate this point (the Libyan Civil War was happening at the time); months later he was himself deposed and executed in October 2011

    I still have a hard copy of my dissertation in storage somewhere, might actually upload it online someday lol

  53. Kathy says:


    He should have written a dissertation on trump between 2015 and 2020!

    Speaking of Trump, if he’s allowed back by Facebook, I plan to delete my account in protest.

  54. Jax says:

    @Kathy: There were only 36 people in my graduating class, and 25 of them deleted their accounts because Facebook banned him.

    I don’t miss them.

  55. Kurtz says:

    @Doug Mataconis: @Mu Yixiao:

    I carry a lot of self-loathing, but I don’t hate myself enough to read through all the documents. But I’m guessing I read a little bit more of than either of you.

    And I suspect I may have read more of them than Libertarian bro. Maybe he didn’t have time, because he didn’t want the Rack to sell out of Tom Ford A-Shirts. Gotta always be ready for both the gym and the kegger at you your old first, amirite?

    Call me old fashioned, but I’m pretty sure the starting point for “reason” includes reading the documents. It’s almost as if trying to improve math education for more than six million students takes more than galaxy braining it with an opt-out clause for math.

    Or…maybe he’s both lazy and a disingenuous writer. Notice he didn’t point out that there is a whole chapter devoted to an approach that allows all students to take a data science course. Call me crazy, but data science is pretty important for just about everything outside the humanities.

    For one thing the quotes he clipped lack something pretty important to a document like this–citations that warrant the approach. Not to mention that they aren’t talking about doing away with calculus at the high school level. (I left the quote at the bottom. Emphasis mine.)

    Oh, and Chapter 2…not the Neil Simon play. If he had bothered to look at it all, he would have noticed that rather than being devoted to connecting math to social justice, it outlines an approach that departs from rote learning and engages students. And emphasizes how important math is in the world. I’d expect a Libertarian to understand the connection between analytic philosophy, logic, and math.

    Last thing: I don’t think he read the Scientific American article that he cited at the end. If he had, he would have realized rather quickly that it actually lends support to the documents he attempts to dismantle. And even if it didn’t justify a different approach–it’s generic evidence weighed against a mountain of specific evidence presented in the reform proposal.

    You two are better than this. You guys can disagree with my politics all you want…but one thing I don’t do is decide I’m an anarcho-syndicalist and pretend that anything that doesn’t fit in that framework isn’t based on reason.

    Many factors contribute to mathematics exclusion. As one example, consider a system described in more detail in Chapters 7 (Grades 6–8) and 8 (Grades 9–12): Though many high schools offer integrated mathematics, high school mathematics courses are often structured in such a way (e.g., algebra-geometry-algebra 2- precalculus) calculus is considered the main course for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM)-oriented students, and is only available to students who are considered “advanced” in middle school—that is, taking algebra in eighth grade. In order to reach algebra in grade eight, students must cover all of middle grades math in just two years (or else skip some foundational material). This means that many school systems are organized in ways that ultimately decide which students are likely to go into STEAM pathways when they begin sixth grade.


    Considering that many competitive colleges and universities (those that accept less than 25 percent of applicants) hold calculus as an unstated requirement, the inequitable pathway becomes even more problematic. Many students remain unaware that their status at the end of fifth grade can determine their ability to attend a top university; if they are not in the advanced mathematics track and on a pathway to calculus in each of the subsequent six years of school, they will not meet this unstated admission requirement. This mathematics pathway system, typical of many school districts, counters the evidence that shows all fifth graders are capable of eventually learning calculus, or other high-level courses, when provided appropriate messaging, teaching, and support.

  56. CSK says:

    Trump has started a blog. It’s called “From the Desk of Donald J. Trump.” DO NOT miss the May 4 video intro.


  57. Grewgills says:

    Doug Mataconis, I suspected that Reason’s argument was misleading. I work in math and science education and know people working on updating math curricula.

    Thanks, wr for your rebuttal and thanks Kurtz for your more robust rebuttal. That was more or less what my intuition said the CA approach was based on the Reason snark.

  58. Jay L Gischer says:

    @Doug Mataconis: I don’t think this is a “dumbing down”. It’s maybe a slowdown in the insane acceleration of tracked courses, but that doesn’t matter.

    What we need is more people who like and can do math, not acceleration for those few who like and can do it despite our culture-wide hate of it.

    As a data point – I had no AP calculus available to me in high school. What advanced math I did, I did on my own. And yet, I finished college with a math major and went to an elite grad school in a math-related field. I completed my program there.

    AP Calculus is a luxury, not an essential.