When Iztapalapians Fear Crime, Their Government Paints Murals

(p. A6) MEXICO CITY — Observed from a soaring cable car, the city is a sea of concrete stretching to the horizon, ruptured only by clusters of skyscrapers and the remains of ancient volcanoes.

. . .

The 6.5-mile line, inaugurated in August [2021]When I, is the longest public cableway in the world, according to the city government. As well as halving the commute time for many workers in the capital’s most populous borough, the cable car has an added attraction: exuberant murals painted by an army of local artists, many of which can be viewed only from above.

. . .

The rooftop paintings are the latest step in a beautification project from Iztapalapa’s government, which has hired some 140 artists over the past three years to blanket the neighborhood with almost 7,000 pieces of public art, creating explosions of color in one of the most crime-ridden areas of Mexico City.

. . .

But despite the government’s efforts, most in Iztapalapa continue to live in fear: According to a June survey from Mexico’s national statistics agency, nearly eight of 10 residents said they felt unsafe — among the highest rate for any city in the country.

Women in particular face pervasive violence in Iztapalapa, which ranks among the top 25 municipalities in the country for femicide, in which a woman is killed because of her gender. From 2012 to 2017, city security cameras recorded more instances of sexual assault against women in Iztapalapa than in any other Mexico City borough, according to a 2019 report from the National Autonomous University of Mexico.

That gender-based violence is what prompted the mural and lighting project in the first place, according to the mayor: to create pathways where women could feel safe walking home. Many of the murals celebrate women, either residents like Ms. Bautista or famous figures from history as well as feminist symbols.

. . .

Daniela Cerón, 46, was born in Iztapalapa when it was just a rugged community, with open fields where farmers grew crops.

“It was like the little town,” Ms. Cerón recalled. “You used to see the beautiful hills.”

. . .

As far as the murals go, she says they look beautiful but have done little to make her feel safer.

“It does nothing for me to have a very pretty painted street if three blocks away, they’re robbing or murdering people,” she said.

Alejandra Atrisco Amilpas, an artist who has painted some 300 murals across Iztapalapa, believes they can make residents prouder of where they live, but she admits they can only go so far.

“Paint helps a lot, but sadly it can’t change the reality of social problems,” she said.“A mural isn’t going to change whether you care about the woman being beat up on the corner.”

For the full story, see:

Oscar Lopez. “MEXICO CITY DISPATCH; A Respite for Lives Battered by Poverty and Crime.” The New York Times (Thursday, October 14, 2021): A6.

(Note: ellipses, and bracketed year, added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the same date as the print version, and has the title “MEXICO CITY DISPATCH; Frida Kahlo, Aztec Gods: Can Art Lift Up a Poor Neighborhood?”)

Most of Supply-Chain Delays Occur in U.S.

(p. A17) Mr. Levy, 53, says he doesn’t see the supply chain’s “unprecedented crisis” ending before 2023. He’s chief economist for Flexport, a San Francisco-based tech company for global-logistic services.

. . .

The typical transit time for a container in pre-pandemic days was 71 days, Mr. Levy says. That’s how long it took for a full container to depart from Shanghai; discharge in Los Angeles; proceed to a warehouse near, say, Chicago; get trucked empty back to California; and then return to Shanghai. The current transit time is 117 days or more. The greatest delays are in the U.S., owing to port bottlenecks and trucking shortages. The Los Angeles to Chicago leg, for instance, now takes 22 days, 12 more than before. It takes 33 days for the empty container to return to California, compared with 20 in the old days.

Not only does it take much longer to import goods, it’s also become eye-wateringly expensive. “Where it might have cost $1,500 to move a container across the Pacific,” Mr. Levy says, “you’re seeing them go for more like $15,000 per container.”

This surge in transport costs has hit lower-value goods hardest and made quick restocking all the more of a challenge. Mr. Levy talked to a company that sells office supplies. “They were moving a container whose contents were in the order of $15,000 in value. Well, if that now costs $15,000 to move, you have a problem, right?”

. . .

The key question: “When will we start seeing people behave the way they used to in their consumption?” It’s possible we won’t. “People are creatures of habit,” Mr. Levy observes, and the pandemic has led them to take on new habits. So far, at any rate, “we have not seen a reversion to the previous patterns.”

The supply-chain crisis, Mr. Levy contends, has no parallel in history. We’ve had shocks before, such as the oil crisis of 1973. But “global-trade liberalization and distributed specialization,” allied to an ease of shipping and transport, fueled by ideas like “just-in-time inventory”—that’s all new.

. . .

There are specific short-term measures that governments can take, such as liberalization of trucking rules, traffic control, land-use regulation for stacking containers and port-opening hours. But Mr. Levy is “loath to put a small subset of these forward as a panacea.”

For the full interview, see:

Tunku Varadarajan. “THE WEEKEND INTERVIEW; An Insider Explains the Supply-Chain Crisis.” The Wall Street Journal (Saturday, Dec. 18, 2021): A17.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the interview has the date December 17, 2021, and has the same title as the print version.)

Small Modular Reactors Are Safer and Cheaper Than Older Reactors and Generate More Predictable Carbon-Free Energy Than Can Wind and Sun

(p. B13) Nuclear energy is a rare thing—a carbon-free energy source that isn’t hyped and enjoys bipartisan support in Washington. The big question now is whether new technologies that might lower the costs actually work.

Governments are reconsidering nuclear power, given its ability to provide predictable carbon-free energy.

. . .

“Modular” nuclear fission plants are where the real promise lies. Simpler designs, standardized components and passive safety features all help reduce costs. Being smaller can make it easier to find sites and integrate into a grid with intermittent renewables. Proponents estimate that modular reactors could more than halve the cost and build time associated with traditional ones.

One approach uses existing technologies to build small modular reactors, known as SMRs. They generate anything from a few megawatts to 500, compared with around 1,000 or more for a typical conventional reactor. The controlled fission reaction splits uranium, which heats water into steam, driving a turbine to generate electricity. Water also cools the reactor. SMRs use passive safety features, such as placement underground or in a pool of water, to reduce the need for some more expensive measures. It makes them cheaper to build, but opponents worry it could be a recipe for more disasters.

. . .

Others are trying to build modular reactors with new technology, such as novel nuclear fuels or cooling systems involving gas or salt instead of water. These advanced designs are intended to reduce the risk of accidents and build in more flexibility for intermittent power.

. . .

In 2020, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program co-founded two advanced nuclear reactor demonstration plants to be completed by 2027. The first is designed by Bill Gates-backed TerraPower in partnership with GE-Hitachi. It will feature a 345 MW sodium-cooled fast reactor with integrated energy storage on the site of a retiring coal plant in Wyoming. The second will be built in Washington state by X-Energy using four of its 80 MW helium gas-cooled reactors fueled by special uranium pebbles.

. . .

There is also innovation in nuclear fusion—combining atoms to generate energy—which comes with fewer safety and waste concerns. This month, Commonwealth Fusion Systems secured $1.8 billion in funding with promises to build reactors in the 2030s. But many think commercially viable fusion remains a very long shot.

For the full commentary, see:

Rochelle Toplensky. “Nuclear Power’s Second Chance.” The Wall Street Journal (Tuesday, Dec. 21, 2021): B13.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date December 20, 2021, and has the title “Nuclear Power Has a Second Chance to Prove Itself.”)

“Endless” Trial-and-Error Experiments Led to Creation of Islet Cells to Cure Type 1 Diabetes

(p. 1) Brian Shelton’s life was ruled by Type 1 diabetes.

. . .

His ex-wife, Cindy Shelton, took him into her home in Elyria, Ohio. “I was afraid to leave him alone all day,” she said.

Early this year, she spotted a call for people with Type 1 diabetes to participate in a clinical trial by Vertex Pharmaceuticals. The company was testing a treatment developed over decades by a scientist who vowed to find a cure after his baby son and then his teenage daughter got the devastating disease.

Mr. Shelton was the first patient. On June 29, [2021] he got an infusion of cells, grown from stem cells but just like the insulin-producing pancreas cells his body lacked.

Now his body automatically controls its insulin and blood sugar levels.

Mr. Shelton, now 64, may be the first person cured of the disease with a new treatment that has experts daring to hope that help may (p. 18) be coming for many of the 1.5 million Americans suffering from Type 1 diabetes.

“It’s a whole new life,” Mr. Shelton said. “It’s like a miracle.”

. . .

One problem was the source of the cells — they came from unused fertilized eggs from a fertility clinic. But in August 2001, President George W. Bush barred using federal money for research with human embryos. Dr. Melton had to sever his stem cell lab from everything else at Harvard. He got private funding from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Harvard and philanthropists to set up a completely separate lab with an accountant who kept all its expenses separate, down to the light bulbs.

Over the 20 years it took the lab of 15 or so people to successfully convert stem cells into islet cells, Dr. Melton estimates the project cost about $50 million.

The challenge was to figure out what sequence of chemical messages would turn stem cells into insulin-secreting islet cells. The work involved unraveling normal pancreatic development, figuring out how islets are made in the pancreas and conducting endless experiments to steer embryonic stem cells to becoming islets. It was slow going.

. . .

The next step for Dr. Melton, knowing he’d need more resources to make a drug that could get to market, was starting a company.

. . .

His company Semma was founded in 2014, a mix of Sam and Emma’s names.

One challenge was to figure out how to grow islet cells in large quantities with a method others could repeat. That took five years.

The company, led by Bastiano Sanna, a cell and gene therapy expert, tested its cells in mice and rats, showing they functioned well and cured diabetes in rodents.

At that point, the next step — a clinical trial in patients — needed a large, well financed and experienced company with hundreds of employees. Everything had to be done to the exacting standards of the Food and Drug Administration — thousands of pages of documents prepared, and clinical trials planned.

Chance intervened. In April 2019, at a meeting at Massachusetts General Hospital, Dr. Melton ran into a former colleague, Dr. David Altshuler, who had been a professor of genetics and medicine at Harvard and the deputy director of the Broad Institute. Over lunch, Dr. Altshuler, who had become the chief scientific officer at Vertex Pharmaceuticals, asked Dr. Melton what was new.

Dr. Melton took out a small glass vial with a bright purple pellet at the bottom.

“These are islet cells that we made at Semma,” he told Dr. Altshuler.

Vertex focuses on human diseases whose biology is understood. “I think there might be an opportunity,” Dr. Altshuler told him.

Meetings followed and eight weeks later, Vertex acquired Semma for $950 million. With the acquisition, Dr. Sanna became an executive vice president at Vertex.

. . .

Less than two years after Semma was acquired, the F.D.A. allowed Vertex to begin a clinical trial with Mr. Shelton as its initial patient.

For the full story, see:

Gina Kolata. “A Cure for Severe Diabetes? For an Ohio Patient, It Worked.” The New York Times, First Section (Sunday, November 28, 2021): 1 & 18.

(Note: ellipses, and bracketed year, added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date Nov. 27, 2021, and has the title “A Cure for Type 1 Diabetes? For One Man, It Seems to Have Worked.”)

Wisconsin Hospitals Increasingly Sue Patients

(p. A8) Hospitals in Wisconsin have sued patients over medical debt at a rate that amounts to one out of every 1,000 residents a year, especially people in low-income areas and who are Black, a new study found.

The study, published Monday [Dec. 6, 2021] in the health-policy journal Health Affairs, found some hospitals were more likely than others to take patients to court and low-income and Black patients were disproportionately sued.

The findings highlight how the financial and legal jeopardy that patients face depends on which hospital they go to. The findings also add to mounting research on the consequences of medical debt, a problem that research shows is more acute among people who are uninsured.

Medical-bill lawsuits “are not a fait accompli,” said Zack Cooper, an economist with the Yale University School of Public Health and an author of the new lawsuit analysis. “This is very much a choice that these hospitals are making.”

. . .

Hospitals were suing people more for unpaid bills, the study also found. The rate increased to 1.53 lawsuits for every 1,000 residents in 2018, up from 1.12 lawsuits per 1,000 residents in 2001.

. . .

Dr. Cooper called for more data to better understand potential factors driving the disproportionate number of lawsuits among Black patients.

“First, Black patients could have a higher burden of unpaid medical bills, which leads them to get sued more on a per-capita basis,” he said. “Second, Black patients could have a similar amount of debt, but were more likely targeted by hospitals.”

For the full story, see:

Melanie Evans and Tom McGinty. “Hospital Debt-Collection Practices Vary.” The Wall Street Journal (Tuesday, Dec. 07, 2021): A8.

(Note: ellipses, and bracketed date, added.)

(Note: the online version of the story was updated December 6, 2021, and has the title “Hospitals in Wisconsin Pursued Medical Debt Collection Widely but Unevenly, Study Finds.” The online version says that the title of the New York print version is “Hospitals Faulted on Medical-Debt Suits.” The title of my National edition of the print version is “Hospital Debt-Collection Practices Vary.”)

The article co-authored by Cooper, and discussed above, is:

Cooper, Zack, James Han, and Neale Mahoney. “Hospital Lawsuits over Unpaid Bills Increased by 37 Percent in Wisconsin from 2001 to 2018.” Health Affairs 40, no. 12 (Dec. 2021): 1830-35.

High Inflation Most Hurts the Poor

(p. B2) Inflation has become central to the American zeitgeist in 2021 in a way that it hadn’t been for decades. Google searches are up. Supply chain issues feature into popular Instagram posts. The satire website The Onion warned in a recent headline that “higher prices may force Americans to eat reasonable portions on Thanksgiving.”

Even as inflation hits its highest level since 1982 and inserts itself as a topic of popular discussion, trying to understand it can be a mind-bending task.

. . .

High or unpredictable inflation that isn’t outmatched by wage gains can be especially hard to shoulder for poor people, simply because they have less wiggle room.

Poor households spend a bigger chunk of their budgets on necessities — food, housing and especially gas, which is often a contributor to bouts of high inflation — and less on discretionary expenditures. If rich households face high inflation and their wages do not keep up, they may have to cut back on vacations or dining out. A poor family may be forced to cut back on essentials, like food.

“For lower income households, price increases eat up more of their budget,” said Laura Rosner-Warburton, a senior economist at MacroPolicy Perspectives, pointing out that some research suggests that poor people may even end up paying comparatively more for the same products. That may be partly because they lack the free cash to take advantage of temporary discounts.

Around the world, poor people historically have reported greater concern around inflation, and that is also the case in the United States in the current episode.

For the full story, see:

Jeanna Smialek. “Inflation 101: Stark Facts And Nuance.” The New York Times (Saturday, December 25, 2021): B1-B2.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date Dec. 24, 2021, and has the title “Inflation Has Arrived. Here’s What You Need to Know.”)

“People Come to This Country to Build Amazing Businesses”

(p. 1) WASHINGTON — ADW Capital Partners would appear to be the kind of hedge fund that Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee would like to tax more heavily: small but growing fast, with $330 million in assets, an incorporation in Delaware but doing business in Florida, and an offshore “feeder” corporation shielding some of its clients from U.S. taxation.

No wonder, then, that its owner, Adam Wyden, has come out as a vocal and vociferous critic of the tax increases being pushed by the committee’s chairman, Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon — his father.

. . .

(p. 25) “The issue is bigger than my father. I’m not interested in discussing anything personal,” he said in a brief phone call before declining to go further. He said he was “not a Trumper” and “not an Ocasio” — referring to Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, an icon of the Democratic left. He is a libertarian, he said, raised in Washington, D.C., who moved to Florida “to get away from the food fight.”

But he has gone public with his grievances against his father’s proposals, in an appearance last month on CNBC that he recommended for viewing, and in a tweet responding to the elder Mr. Wyden’s assertion that Elon Musk and other billionaires should not get to decide whether to pay taxes based on a Twitter poll.

“Why does he hate us / the American dream so much?!?!?!?!” Adam Wyden said in the Twitter post last month. “Reality is: most legislators have never built anything … so I guess it’s easier to mindlessly and haphazardly try and tear stuff down.”

. . .

“Thankfully, I think I can compound” investment gains “faster than my dad and his cronies can confiscate it,” Adam Wyden wrote.

Lauded on CNBC’s “Squawk Box,” he elaborated on air. “Amazon, Netflix, Google, Tesla: I mean, we are the envy of the rest of the world,” he said. “People come to this country to build amazing businesses, and I want that to continue.”

Without referring to his son, the elder Mr. Wyden suggested a possible reason for his stance: “Many millionaires perhaps may consider themselves tomorrow’s billionaires.”

For the full story, see:

Jonathan Weisman. “Rift Between Senator and Son Shows Challenge of Taxing the Ultrarich.” The New York Times, First Section (Sunday, December 12, 2021): 1 & 25.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the story was updated Dec. 11, 2021, and has the title “Rift Between Senator and Son Shows the Challenge of Taxing the Ultrarich.” The online version says that the article appeared on p. 24 of the New York edition of the print version.)

Taking “Capital Allocation Away From People Who Have Demonstrated Great Skill in Capital Allocation”

(p. 1) The richest people on earth typically devote a share of their vast resources to charity. That is the bargain and the expectation, anyway.

Jeff Bezos, until very recently the world’s richest human, has been applying himself dutifully if a bit cautiously to the task, giving money to food banks and homeless families while pledging $10 billion of the fortune he earned through the online retailer Amazon to fight climate change.

The latest richest human, Elon Musk, has taken a rather different tack. There was the public spat with the director of the World Food Programme on Twitter, for instance, announcing, “If WFP can describe on this Twitter thread exactly how $6B will solve world hunger, I will sell Tesla stock right now and do it.”

. . .

And, of course, there is the ongoing insistence that his moneymaking efforts, running both the electric carmaker Tesla and the rocket company SpaceX, are already better-(p. 8)ing humankind, thank you very much.

Mr. Musk is practicing “troll philanthropy.”

That’s what Benjamin Soskis, senior research associate in the Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy at the Urban Institute, has called it, noting that Mr. Musk seems to be having fun with this novel approach.

“He doesn’t seem to care much about using his philanthropy to curry public favor,” Mr. Soskis said. “In fact, he seems to enjoy using his identity as a philanthropist in part to antagonize the public.”

. . .

“The particular barrier for donors from a tech background is they don’t just think their genius has made them good at what they do, they also think what they do commercially also makes society better,” said Rhodri Davies, a philanthropy commentator who wrote a piece on Mr. Musk called “The Edgelord Giveth.”

Mr. Musk, for instance, has said that getting humankind to Mars through SpaceX is an important contribution and has written and spoken acerbically about what he calls “anti-billionaire BS,” including attempts to target taxes at billionaires.

“It does not make sense to take the job of capital allocation away from people who have demonstrated great skill in capital allocation and give it to an entity that has demonstrated very poor skill in capital allocation, which is the government,” Mr. Musk said on Monday at an event hosted by The Wall Street Journal.

At the same time, Mr. Kharas said a more charitable reading of Mr. Musk’s exchange with the World Food Programme is possible. He could just genuinely want to know how the money will be spent and is putting in public, on Twitter, the due diligence work that institutional giving does behind closed doors.

“I think this idea that he was willing to engage was really good,” Mr. Kharas of the Brookings Institution said of Mr. Musk. “I think his response was extremely sensible. It was basically, ‘Show me what you can do. Demonstrate it. Provide me with some evidence. I’ll do it.’”

For the full story, see:

Nicholas Kulish. “Elon Musk, Trolling Away.” The New York Times SundayBusiness Section (Sunday, December 12, 2021): 1 & 8.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date Dec. 10, 2021, and has the title “Elon Musk’s Latest Innovation: Troll Philanthropy.”)

Climate Change Infrastructure Subsidies Mainly Benefit the Rich

(p. A9) Mr. Biden has insisted that at least 40 percent of the benefits of federal climate spending will reach underserved places, which tend to be low income, rural, communities of color, or some combination of the three.

But historically, it is wealthier, white communities — with both high property values and the resources to apply to competitive programs — that receive the bulk of federal grants. And policy experts say it’s unclear whether, and how quickly, federal bureaucracy can level the playing field.

. . .

The new climate provisions in the infrastructure bill inject billions of dollars into competitive grant programs. These are pots of money that towns, cities and counties can access only by submitting applications, which federal agencies then rank, with funds going to applicants with the highest scores.

That system is designed to ensure that funding goes to the most worthwhile projects.

But it also hinges on something outside the control of the federal government: The ability of local officials to use sophisticated tools and resources to write successful applications. The result is a process that has widened the gap between rich communities and their less affluent counterparts, experts say.

The disparity begins even before the application process begins. That’s because local governments must be aware of the grant programs in the first place, which means having dedicated staff to track those programs. Then they need to design proposals that will score highly, and correctly complete the reams of required paperwork.

Even if they are awarded a grant, communities are required to pay a share of the project — often 25 percent, which is unaffordable for many struggling towns and counties.

Governments that can clear those obstacles face a final hurdle: Demonstrating that the value of the property that would be protected is greater than the cost of the project. That rule often excludes communities of color and rural areas, where property values are usually lower than in white communities.

. . .

The Biden administration has touted the program, called Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities, or BRIC, as a model that should be expanded. The infrastructure bill provides billions more to the program.

But most of the first round winners were wealthy, predominantly white areas in a handful of coastal states, federal data show.

More than half the money went to California, New Jersey and Washington State. The largest single recipient was a $68 million flood-control project in Menlo Park, Calif., where the median household income is more than $160,000, the typical home costs more than $2 million and only one in five residents are Black or Hispanic. The project is in line to get $50 million from FEMA.

For the full story, see:

Christopher Flavelle. $50 Billion Conundrum: Who Gets Climate Protection?” The New York Times (Saturday, December 4, 2021): A9.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date Dec. 3, 2021, and has the title “Billions for Climate Protection Fuel New Debate: Who Deserves It Most.”)

Electric Copter Ventures May Soon Provide Better and Cheaper Transportation Than Subsidized Bus and Rail

(p. B5) While urban air travel is currently out of reach for most customers (think: Uber Copter), improvements in battery technology have driven down the cost of developing electric-powered aircraft that are viable as urban passenger transportation. These companies are betting they can bring electric urban and regional air travel to the masses, and have developed new aircraft to compete for a slice of this nascent market within the next few years.

“We want to create something that is available to a lot of people, that can do the job of a high-speed train without requiring the infrastructure,” said Daniel Wiegand, chief executive and founder of Lilium, based in Germany. “We won’t be at the ticket price of a high-speed train in Germany on our first day, but if we don’t get there within 15 years I would consider our mission failed.”

. . .

Adam Goldstein, the co-chief executive of Archer Aviation, said his company hopes to offer fares in the range of three to four dollars per mile traveled. That would make the trip from Manhattan to Kennedy, typically 17 miles, between $50 and $80. Several experts predicted the price of regional flights would be around the same cost as the luxury car service Uber Black.

“The biggest cost is the batteries,” said Mr. Goldstein, which are “expensive, but get cheaper everyday.”

. . .

The largest area of investment is into electric vehicles that takeoff and land vertically, like helicopters or Harrier jets. Known as electric vertical takeoff and landing or eVTOLs, these aircraft can usually seat between two and 10 passengers and can travel up to 200 miles, making them ideally suited for traversing a metropolitan area or connecting two cities.

Mr. Wiegand of Lilium had a light bulb moment in 2014 when he watched a video of a military aircraft that took off vertically and realized that an electric version could solve all the traditional problems with using aircraft in dense urban areas: eliminating noise and air pollution, as well as the need for runways.

. . .

Mayor Francis Suarez of Miami said his city is embracing eVTOLs as a cost-effective, environmentally friendly alternative to legacy modes of transportation like buses and light rail, which are costly to build and rely on older technology. He said the city is looking at parking garages, rooftops and other potential takeoff and landing locations.

“We feel that one of the flaws in transportation planning and funding has been retreading yesterday’s ideas,” he said in an interview. “The sky obviously has multiple dimensions and gives you the ability to be creative.”

Mr. Suarez added that he has pushed Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg to embrace urban air mobility rather than focusing on older modes of transport.

For the full story, see:

Gautham Nagesh. “Flight Instead of a Ride? Electric Craft May Alter Urban Area Commuting.” The New York Times (Saturday, December 4, 2021): B5.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the story was updated Nov. 26, 2021, and has the title “Taxi! To the Airport — by Air, Please.” The print version of the first paragraph quoted above starts with the word “although,” instead of the word “while.”)

Bloomberg Will Donate $750 Million to Support Charter Schools

(p. A19) American public education is broken. Since the pandemic began, students have experienced severe learning loss because schools remained closed in 2020—and even in 2021 when vaccinations were available to teachers and it was clear schools could reopen safely. Many schools also failed to administer remote learning adequately.

Before the pandemic, about two-thirds of U.S. students weren’t reading at grade level, and the trend has been getting worse. Results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, commonly known as the nation’s report card, show that in 2019, eighth-grade math scores had already fallen significantly.

Teachers understand the severity of the problem, and many are doing heroic work, yet some of their union representatives are denying reality. “There is no such thing as learning loss,” said Cecily Myart-Cruz, head of the Los Angeles teachers union, in an interview with Los Angeles Magazine this past summer. “Our kids didn’t lose anything. It’s OK that our babies may not have learned all their times tables. They learned resilience.”

What nonsense. How about reading, writing and arithmetic, the critical skills we are funding schools to teach?

Instead of giving students the skills they need to succeed in college or in a trade, the public education system is handing them diplomas that say more about their attendance record than their academic achievement. This harms students, especially those from low-income families. When and if they graduate, they will try to find work in an economy that values knowledge and skills above all else, and their old schools will say to them: “Good luck!”

. . .

We know what works, because we can see it in real time. Success Academy’s network of 47 public charter schools is serving New York children whose families predominantly live below the poverty line. Their students are outperforming public-school students in Scarsdale, N.Y.—the wealthiest town on the East Coast and the second-wealthiest town in America—by significant margins. Yet a statewide cap on charter schools is blocking Success Academy from expanding.

. . .

Today there are long waiting lists for charter schools across the country, but mayors and governors aren’t getting the support they need from Congress and the White House to open new charter schools. To begin meeting the demand for charters, Bloomberg Philanthropies is launching a five-year, $750 million effort to create seats for 150,000 more children in 20 metro areas across the country.

For the full commentary, see:

Bloomberg, Michael R. “Why I’m Backing Charter Schools.” The Wall Street Journal (Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021): A19.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date December 1, 2021, and has the same title as the print version.)