America’s Catastrophic Learning Loss

Happy Friday! Elon Musk is officially in charge of Twitter after his $44 billion deal to acquire the social media platform finally closed late last night. His first move? Fire the company’s CEO, CFO, general counsel, and head of trust and safety.

“The reason I acquired Twitter is because it is important to the future of civilization to have a common digital town square, where a wide range of beliefs can be debated in a healthy manner, without resorting to violence,” Musk said yesterday. “That said, Twitter obviously cannot become a free-for-all hellscape, where anything can be said with no consequences!”

Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories

  • The Bureau of Economic Analysis reported Thursday that real gross domestic product (GDP) grew at an annual rate of 2.6 percent in the third quarter of 2022 after two quarters of contraction. The bulk of this growth came from a reduction in the trade deficit, as U.S. oil and gas exports increased while imports fell; consumer spending grew just 1.4 percent over the period. Nevertheless, President Joe Biden pointed to the numbers as evidence the economy “is continuing to power forward” in a statement.
  • During a speech Thursday in which he sought to portray Russia as a defender of traditional Christian values and a rising force in a multipolar world, President Vladimir Putin claimed that—despite senior Kremlin officials’ warnings—Russia has no intention of using nuclear weapons against Ukraine. “We see no need for that,” Putin said. “There is no point in that, neither political, nor military.” President Joe Biden didn’t buy it. “If he has no intention, why does he keep talking about it?” Biden asked. “He’s been very dangerous in how he’s approached this.”
  • After a months-long stalemate, the Iraqi parliament officially selected Mohammed Shia al-Sudani—a 52-year old Shiite former labor and human rights minister—to serve as prime minister. The move is likely to strengthen the regional ties between Baghdad and Tehran.
  • The Labor Department reported Thursday that initial jobless claims—a proxy for layoffs—rose by 3,000 week-over-week to a seasonally adjusted 217,000 last week. The measure is up from earlier this year, but it remains near historic lows, signaling the labor market—though cooling—continues to be tight.
  • The number of weekly confirmed COVID-19 cases in the United States increased about 0.7 percent over the past two weeks according to CDC data, while the average number of daily deaths attributed to the virus—a lagging indicator—increased 1.9 percent. About 20,600 Americans are currently hospitalized with COVID-19, down from approximately 21,400 two weeks ago.

Reading the Nation’s Report Card

Teaching from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by Olivier Douliery / AFP via Getty Images.)

There are plenty of time-honored ways to deal with a bad report card. “Forget” it in your locker, bury it deep in your book bag—tear it up and eat it if you’re really desperate. But no amount of deception would be enough to hide the lousy grades America’s schools got this week from the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP).

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