Over at Symposium, I recently did an interview with Tim Sandefur about “substantive due process”—one of the primary ways in which the Supreme Court defends individual rights—and recent attacks on it by Justice Clarence Thomas and other conservatives. (See also Tim’s recent article on this at The Unpopulist.) We discuss how conservatives adopted a theory of constitutional interpretation originated by “Progressives” and what the whippersnapper James Madison contributed to the earliest American conception about rights.
This weird interchangeability of legal doctrines, in which each side turns against the protection of rights when it gets in the way of their ideological goals, is becoming a common theme these days.
Ignorant and Free
The New York Times recently published an exposé on the failure of Ultra-Orthodox Jewish religious schools in New York City. And by failure, I mean failure.
The Hasidic Jewish community has long operated one of New York’s largest private schools on its own terms, resisting any outside scrutiny of how its students are faring. But in 2019, the school, the Central United Talmudical Academy, agreed to give state standardized tests in reading and math to more than 1,000 students.
Every one of them failed….
The [50,000] students in the boys' schools are not simply falling behind. They are suffering from levels of educational deprivation not seen anywhere else in New York, The Times found. Only nine schools in the state had less than 1 percent of students testing at grade level in 2019, the last year for which full data was available. All of them were Hasidic boys’ schools.
See the graph that accompanies this statistic. It shows a big gap in test scores between New York’s average private school and its average public school—but an absolute chasm between the public schools and the Ultra-Orthodox schools.
Sure, standardized tests are not the only measure of academic achievement (and one of the big failures of public schools is that they turned standardized tests from a measure to a target, in violation of Goodhart’s Law). But they can be a measure, and when your schools are failing comprehensively by comparison to New York City public schools, that’s really saying something.
You can’t achieve such a failure by accident. It requires purposeful planning.