My New Book: “Post-Recession Community College Reform: A Decade of Experimentation”

Dear Commons Community,

My colleague, Chet Jordan and I, have just had our new book, Post-Recession Community College Reform:  A Decade of Experimentation, published by Routledge/Taylor & Francis. This book focuses on recent developments in American community colleges specifically examining major new policy initiatives in several large public higher education systems in California, New York, Tennessee, Florida, Wisconsin and Connecticut. It takes a case study approach in describing and analyzing policies addressing issues of student retention/attrition, finance, remediation, and large-scale restructuring. 

Here is what two colleagues who reviewed our book had to say.

“In a time when the value and structure of community college are simultaneously questioned and offered as a solution to workforce and societal needs, Jordan and Picciano’s volume breaks new ground in the study of community colleges.  By shedding light on what has happened in the community college environment since the recession, they give us a wealth of ideas to think about regarding future opportunities.”

        –David Podell,
          President, Massachusetts Bay Community College


“Picciano and Jordan explore the transformational work taking place across our nations Community Colleges. The authors have compiled a review fueled and steeped in the kind of data, narrative, and storytelling that posits more than documenting post-secondary shifts, but have created a compendium that will spark further discussion about educating our citizenry for success.”

          — Michael Torrence, Ph.D.
              President, Motlow State Community College

If you are at all interested in the state of the American community college, you will find this book an important read.


Trade Group Leader of the National Farmers Union Scorches Trump: He’s Offended ‘Pretty Much Every Ally’ on Earth!

Image result for National Farmers Union, Roger Johnson,

Roger Johnson

Dear Commons Community,

Trade group leader and president of the National Farmers Union, Roger Johnson, sounded the alarm for U.S. farmers’ dire situation because of President Trump’s failing trade war.  Johnson said in a radio interview Thursday that it will take “decades” to reverse damage caused by Trump.  China, he added, is now a “lost market” for American farmers because of Trump’s trade war. 

Trump has “offended the leaders of pretty much every ally we have on Earth,” and America’s reputation in markets around the world has taken a long-lasting hit, Johnson said in an interview on KFGO radio in Fargo, North Dakota. “It’s going to take much different behavior from future presidents in order to repair this damage,” he said.

Johnson, whose organization represents some 200,000 family farms, ranches and fishing enterprises in 33 states, agreed that China needs to be “held to account” for trade relationships and behavior. But he said that Trump would have been wiser to approach the world’s second-largest economy with a team of allies.

“I would … argue that it would be far more effective if we did it with the rest of world, instead of first ticking off the rest of the world and then trying to do it all by ourself,” he said.

As for how Trump is dealing with China, Johnson added: “I don’t think you can expect to make the fundamental changes that are being asked of China while every other day you’re offending them, you’re forcing them to lose face. No country’s going to make changes when they’re embarrassed along the way. That’s just not how you do things.”

He said “a lot of folks believe that China needs to be held accountable,” but it’s the way it’s being done that’s troubling. “You’re increasingly going to find people who sort of say, ‘This was just a mistake. This isn’t the way you solve a real problem. It’s just making things worse.’”

He called many of Trump’s policy decisions “very harmful to agriculture; all the trade disruption has been enormously damaging.”

Johnson said the U.S. will suffer “reputational damage … for literally decades.” He also noted that “trade actions that this president have taken have done damage to lots of other parts of the economy” as well.

Johnson slammed the decision by the Environmental Protection Agency — reportedly ordered by Trump — to grant waivers to 31 petroleum refineries effectively exempting them from having to use more corn-based ethanol in their products. It was yet another blow to struggling corn farmers in deference to what Johnson called the “wealthiest oil companies on the face of the planet.” 

KFGO interviewer Joel Heitkamp noted: “You can see how mad ag producers are when they see that big oil got the exemptions … it’s like the light finally got turned on and some of these guys woke up.”

Farmers “are in a lot of financial stress right now; net farm income is half of what it was six years ago,” said Johnson.

“This is really tough,” he warned. “We’re in a really, really difficult spot right now.”


David Brooks:  Jim Mathis is the Man that Trump Wishes He Were!

Image result for jim mattis

Dear Commons Community,

New York Times columnist, David Brooks, has a piece today comparing Former United States Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis and President Donald Trump.  His conclusion is that Mattis is everything that Trump wishes he were.  Here is an excerpt:

“In the first few months of his presidency, Donald Trump surrounded himself with a certain sort of ramrod military man: John Kelly, Michael Flynn, H.R. McMaster and Jim Mattis. These men had or appeared to have the kind of manly virtues and bearing that Trump likes to see in himself: courage, toughness, combativeness.

But when you look at how someone like, say, Jim Mattis forged his character, you realize that he is actually the exact opposite of Trump. Mattis built strengths and virtues through the steady application of intense effort over decades. Trump is a man who has been progressively hollowed out by the acid of his own self-regard.

Mattis is a man who is intensely loyal to others and attracts loyalty among those around him. Trump is disloyal to others and attracts disloyalty in return.

The contrast between how these two men were forged is so stark that it throws into relief how character is and isn’t formed.

Mattis barely mentions Trump in his new book, Call Sign Chaos, and doesn’t describe what must have been one of the truly challenging tasks of his life — working under Trump without getting tainted.

He didn’t write about Trump because he didn’t want to undermine the people still working inside the administration. But, he told Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic: “There is a period in which I owe my silence. It’s not eternal. It’s not going to be forever.”

Like Goldberg, I think it would be proper for Mattis to end his silence about Trump before the next election. Voters need his firsthand perspective to make a judgment about the fitness and character of the commander in chief.”

End your silence, Mr. Mattis.  The country needs to hear what you have to say.


Fox News People Fire Back at Trump for His Attack that “Fox News isn’t working for us anymore”

Dear Commons Community,

Fox News has not responded to President Trump’s tweet  that “Fox isn’t working for us anymore.”  Trump cried out on Wednesday that news anchor Sandra Smith offered “zero pushback” in an interview with Democratic communications director Xochitl Hinojosa.   Trump tweeted:

“The new Fox News is letting millions of great people down,” he wrote. “We have to start looking for a new News outlet. Fox isn’t working for us anymore.”

In the past few days, however, Fox personalities Brit Hume, Bret Baier, and Juan Williams have fired back..  As reported by The Washington Times:

“That’s so scary that the president of the United States thinks that a media organization is his,” said Juan Williams, the commentator called on to give a liberal point of view, on a Fox radio program. “You know, that’s not good.”

Fox’s elder statesman Brit Hume tweeted in response to Trump on Wednesday : “Fox News isn’t supposed to work for you.”

It’s worth noting that even as Trump has attacked Fox, he still seeks its audience more than any other outlet. He gave an interview Thursday to Fox’s Brian Kilmeade.

Fox News is routinely the most watched cable network, with an average of 2.33 million viewers in prime time last week.

Williams is among the few at Fox to directly answer a Trump attack through a column he wrote this week for The Hill . Trump last week called Williams “pathetic,” ”nasty” and “wrong,” yet “he couldn’t be nicer as he asked to take a picture of him and me for his family.”

Williams said that when Trump was a candidate, he and Fox’s Ed Henry ran into him in the lobby of the network’s Manhattan headquarters. A Fox maintenance man asked if he could get a picture with Trump, and Williams took it. The man then offered to reciprocate by taking a picture of Williams and Trump; Williams said he never asked for it or brought his family into the conversation.

Bret Baier, on his show last week, defended Fox’s pollsters from attacks. “Fox has not changed,” Baier said. “We have a news side and an opinion side.”

After one hostile tweet, Shep Smith addressed one viewer Wednesday by looking at the camera and saying, “Good afternoon, Mr. President. It’s nice to have you with us.”

To a certain degree, responses like Baier’s make a network comment unnecessary, said Alex Conant, a Republican communications consultant.  Fox can also perversely benefit from certain Trump attacks – they make the point that there’s more to the network than Hannity’s unabashed love, he said.

“This could be an opportunity for Fox to boast,” said Carl Cameron, a longtime Fox News Washington reporter who’s left the network. It would help the morale of its remaining news reporters if Fox took out an ad highlighting times that news reporters had gotten under the president’s skin. “That’s what news divisions are supposed to do,” he said.

“Silence sends a message of its own,” Cameron said.”

If Trump does not have Fox News in his corner, he is toast in 2020.



After I posted the above, Neil Cavuto added commented on Trmp’s attack on Fox News.

Fox News host Neil Cavuto defended himself and his network after a series of attacks by President Donald Trump.

Earlier this week, Trump complained about his coverage on the network and griped that “Fox isn’t working for us anymore!” He even encouraged his supporters to change the channel.

But Cavuto fired back with a declaration of independence.

“First of all, Mr. President, we don’t work for you. I don’t work for you,” he said on Thursday. “My job is to cover you, not fawn over you or rip you. Just report on you ― call balls and strikes on you.”

Both Fox News and Fox Business feature numerous opinion shows where hosts routinely shower Trump with praise. But the networks also have news operations that report on his plunging poll numbers, his failure to keep campaign promises and his many lies.

Cavuto shared some of those falsehoods on Thursday:

“I’m not the one who said tariffs are a wonderful thing. You are. Just like I’m not the one who said Mexico would pay for the wall. You did. Just like I’m not the one who claimed that Russia didn’t meddle in the 2016 election. You did. I’m sorry if you don’t like these facts being brought up, but they are not fake because I did. What would be fake is if I never did.”

Then, Cavuto told Trump that he was not going to get a free pass in the network’s news coverage.

“Hard as it is to fathom, Mr. President, just because you’re the leader of the free world doesn’t entitle you to a free pass,” he said. “Unfortunately, just a free press.”

Goldie Blumenstyk:  Purdue Global’s Growth Is Slower Than Expected, and More Takeaways From a Forum on Higher-Ed Innovation

Dear Commons Community,

The Chronicle of Higher Education’s senior writer, Goldie Blumenstyk, shared her time at a Forum on Higher Education Innovation. Her interview with Purdue President Mitch Daniels is most interesting.  Here is her account of her takeaways.

The things you learn at a forum on innovation.

Enrollment growth at Purdue University Global isn’t as robust as Purdue expected, and building brand recognition for the renamed online institution it acquired in 2018 isn’t a snap, either.

Those were some of the nuggets that Mitch Daniels, president of Purdue, shared publicly when I interviewed him onstage at a forum on innovation for university leaders held on Monday in Indianapolis. “We’re not achieving the growth that we thought we might,” he said of the operation.

Despite the inherent limitations of events like this — I had only about 20 minutes to question Daniels, and a lot of ground to cover — I came away from the day of panels and talks with some new information and several new perspectives. They include some thoughts on the leadership necessary to ensure colleges make better use of all that data they’re gathering on students. (More on that below; but as Jennifer Engle of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation put it, it starts with “a really motivated provost with a spreadsheet.”)

Other takeaways from the day.

From my “fireside chat” with Daniels:

Nationally, overall enrollment in higher ed has been slowing, especially (as readers of The Edge already know) in online master’s degrees. Purdue’s trends reflect that, although Daniels said enrollment among students seeking bachelor’s and master’s degrees has been stronger than for those looking to earn a certificate or associate degree. Yet when Purdue first announced this deal, Daniels talked often about how it would give the university a vehicle for reaching that latter population.

He didn’t share specific numbers, and the information the university supplied me on deadline — overall enrollment of 29,000 and “double-digit growth in the bachelor’s and master’s” — wasn’t enough for me to really understand the interplay with the associate and certificate programs. I’ll ask for more and pass along what I learn. Purdue Global leaders said they didn’t expect this overall market slowdown. Meanwhile, Daniels noted some advantages in those enrollment wrinkles. Students taking those upper-level degrees tend to have better rates of retention and graduation. “That’s good for them and good for the business,” he said.

We also talked about Purdue’s tuition freeze, which began in 2013 and is slated to run until at least 2021. One way the university has been able to afford it is by getting bigger and enrolling more out-of-state and international students, who pay more to attend. Should other selective institutions be doing that too? He demurred on that one, but said that for Purdue, as a land-grant institution, the decision was easy. “That’s the assignment.”

On the topic of colleges trying new things, Daniels, a former governor of Indiana and businessman, was more provocative. He described higher education as “the most reactionary culture I’ve seen.” The reason certain institutions get tagged as “innovative” is because many others don’t seem to change much. In higher education, he quipped, “you don’t have to do much to look like Thomas Edison.”

As for the growing resentments toward colleges, especially among people who identify as Republicans, Daniels offered little comfort. “These things are not without foundation,”

he said, noting the public’s suspicion that colleges “haven’t offered convincing proof that students are learning and growing” at levels commensurate with the cost. To that list, he added the “lopsided” liberal bent of the academy and concerns about the abridgement of free speech on campus.

“I’m not surprised people look askance,” he said, but added, “We can’t leave it there. This is one of the most precious assets this nation has.” Getting defensive isn’t the solution, Daniels said, and higher-education leaders need to do more self-examination. When companies fall out of favor, he said, “usually there’s something about that product that needs improvement.”

One more thing: I asked Daniels if he regretted not running for president. His long answer was all about how skipping the race in 2012 had allowed him to complete his gubernatorial term on a high note and paved the way for him to become a university president. So, no, he said, “No regrets, and thanks for asking.” But I still wonder if his first, off-the-cuff reply to my question — “Don’t you read the newspaper, Goldie?” — was more telling.

From a conversation on making data more useful:

For all the data colleges collect these days on students — based on their activities in learning-management systems, engagements with campus administrative and advising systems, and even swipes of their student IDs at extracurricular events — making sense of it all for the betterment of students is still more haphazard than it should be.

Jennifer Engle, the deputy director for data, measurement, learning, and evaluation at the Gates Foundation, said the problem is not so much a lack of willingness to use the data but “a huge capability issue in our field” because many colleges have yet to develop the in-house expertise to use the data effectively. It helps, she said, when a provost shows up to a meeting, data in hand, “saying ‘What are we going to do?’’’ But colleges need more than that. They need more people from academic and administrative departments with the data literacy to take the information and use it to pinpoint problems and solutions.

“We spend a lot of time identifying, collecting, and cleaning up the data,” she told me, and “then we don’t have the capacity to use it.”

Even as I wrote down what Engle was saying, it struck me that this might sound like a commercial for Salesforce, the company that sponsored the invitation-only Innovation Leadership Forum held at event space at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where dessert included the chance for participants — me included — to take a 100-mph spin around the track. (Closed course, professional driver, at speeds nothing close to what they hit at the 500, but seriously cool, nonetheless!) Still other companies also sell data-analysis software to colleges, and I think the issue Engle raised is more than legitimate and merits attention in its own right, considering how pervasive these student-data systems are becoming.

And software isn’t any kind of magic bullet. As Engle said, “It’s technology, it’s people, it’s leadership.”

Colleges have some of this expertise in their institutional research offices, Engle noted, but often “they’re buried under compliance reporting” and don’t have the time or the mandate to do the kind of analysis that can help home in on a problematic administrative or teaching practice that may be impairing student success.

I was intrigued by one emerging solution that Engle told me about: “data fellows.” These are people trained in data analytics who embed in departments so they get to understand the nuances of the challenges students are facing. Already, a few colleges, including Miami Dade College, have tried the idea. And a group at Harvard that has used this practice at elementary and secondary schools, the Strategic Data Project, has just won a federal grant to explore the idea of expanding it into higher education.

Two other things I heard that seemed relevant and thought-provoking:

Alana Dunagan, a senior research fellow at the Christensen Institute, on things higher ed should stop doing: “I really wish we would stop talking about free college,” she said. The idea is unaffordable, she said, and a distraction from “rethinking our higher education system” to be more effective. 

Dane Linn, vice president for immigration, work force, and education at the Business Roundtable, on employers and the college connection: Higher education gets a bad rap for its supposed failure to understand the needs of employers, but those human-resource officers at companies aren’t necessarily any better, Linn said. Many employers still do a poor job of articulating the real competencies they’re looking for, he said. They’re “using some of the same hiring practices they’ve used for years.”

Data, career connections, and online education are all topics I’ve been thinking a lot about these past few weeks, because to me they’re all elements of the changing higher education landscape I’ve been covering here in this newsletter. They’re also what I reflected on when writing a section of a Chronicle report coming in September on, what else, innovation. Now I’m wondering, what would you add to that mix? What trends reflect changes you’ve seen in higher ed? What trends are still missing? Please send me your thoughts so I can share them in a future newsletter.

Book corner: How automation will fuel global inequality.

With Hong Kong democracy protests and trade wars with China all over the news, a book suggestion I heard this week from the new president of the University of Colorado system seemed especially apt. The book is AI Superpowers: China, Silicon Valley and the New World, by Kai-Fu Lee, an expert in AI, venture capitalist, and former president of Google China.

Mark Kennedy, the Colorado president, told me about the book as part of a broader dinner conversation we were having before the forum about the potential impact on the American economy of the so-called “fourth industrial revolution.” (We both agreed the automation it entails presents a real risk of a further divide between the educational haves and the have-nots.)

As for the book, Kennedy told me he found the author overly optimistic about the influence of China and about technology. But even if “he’s at least half right” (Kennedy thinks he is), that’s a cause for attention in the academy and society writ large.”

Thank you Ms. Blumenstyk for this recap.


California Moving to Provide Full-time Students with 2 Years of Tuition-Free Community College!

Dear Commons Community,

Governor Gavin Newsom included $42.6 million in the new budget to support a second year of free tuition for first-time, full-time California community college students.  California will now provide first-time, full-time students in the state free tuition for two years of community college, joining nearly a dozen other states that promote similar programs.

The governor’s office announced Tuesday that Newsom is traveling the state to promote the free community college option.

“This is real help for students trying to improve their lives and build their future,” Newsom said in a statement. “No one can argue with the fact that the full cost of attending institutions of higher learning is still far too high ― both in California and across the country. But by offering two years of community college tuition-free, California is taking a meaningful step toward chipping away at the cost of higher learning for students and their families.”

Previously, the California College Promise program offered one year of free tuition for first-time, full-time students who attend community college in the state. Newsom’s signed legislation expands the program to cover two years, something he said he’s talked about since taking office.

The California Community Colleges system is the largest higher education system in the country, serving about 2.1 million students, or a quarter of community college students in the U.S., according to the governor’s statement.

California is one of 12 states, along with the District of Columbia, that have created promise programs, according to the Campaign for Free College Tuition. The nonprofit coalition said that an additional eight states are working on some legislative activity to enact programs.

Some 2020 presidential candidates, such as Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), have called for making public four-year colleges and universities tuition-free, as well as eliminating student debt. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) does not support free college for all but has talked about supporting free community college programs.

According to a June poll from PSB Research, more than 70% of respondents agree their state should provide free tuition at public colleges or universities to any academically qualified student.

Good move on the part of Gov. Newsom and a real benefit for students.


Sackler Family to Give Up Ownership of Purdue Pharma Under Settlement Proposal!

Dear Commons Community,

Purdue Pharm, which introduced the prescription painkiller OxyContin in 1996, is being blamed for much of the opioid epidemic. Lawsuits allege that the company aggressively sold OxyContin despite knowing that it was addictive.  The Sackler family would give up ownership of Purdue Pharma and pay $3 billion of their own money under terms of a proposal to resolve thousands of federal and state lawsuits, according to a person familiar with the negotiations.  The discussions have been going on for months as Purdue and the Sacklers have sought to prevent any new lawsuits against individual members of the family as well as their company.  As reported in the New York Times:

“If all the parties agree and the settlement is completed, Purdue would be the first among some two dozen manufacturers, distributors and retailers of prescription opioids facing lawsuits nationwide to settle all claims against it for its role in a public health crisis that has killed hundreds of thousands of people in the past two decades.

A document outlining a tentative negotiated agreement, which was described to The New York Times, valued the family’s and company’s contributions at between $10 billion and $12 billion, including the $3 billion Sackler contribution.

But it would not be a straightforward cash payout. The bulk of the funds would come from restructuring the company under a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing that would transform it from a private company into a “public beneficiary trust.” That would allow the profits from all drug sales, including the opioid painkiller OxyContin, to go to the plaintiffs — largely states, cities, towns and tribes.

In addition, the company would give its addiction treatment drugs to the public without cost. Those drugs are currently under development and have received fast-track review status by the Food and Drug Administration. They include tablets to blunt opioid cravings and an over-the-counter nasal spray to reverse overdoses.

The value of the profits from the new trust and the drug donations is estimated to total between $7 billion and $8 billion.

In addition to their $3 billion cash payout, the Sacklers would sell another drug company they own, Mundipharma, and contribute an additional $1.5 billion from the proceeds.

The settlement talks were first reported by NBC. Purdue emailed a statement in response to the reports: “While Purdue Pharma is prepared to defend itself vigorously in the opioid litigation, the company has made clear that it sees little good coming from years of wasteful litigation and appeals. The people and communities affected by the opioid crisis need help now. Purdue believes a constructive global resolution is the best path forward, and the company is actively working with the state attorneys general and other plaintiffs to achieve this outcome.”

For all the harm they have done, the Sacklers deserve much more of a punishment than a $3 billion payout.  Their estimated worth is $13 billion, much of it earned from selling opioids.    Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán was recently given a life sentence for being a drug lord.




Rockefeller Institute: Déjà Vu Artificial Intelligence – What Can We Learn from the Digital Revolution?

Image result for AI

Dear Commons Community,

In July 2019, New York established a commission to explore how rapidly evolving artificial intelligence (AI) and automation technologies can be used to benefit New Yorkers and the state’s economy. This is a question the Rockefeller Institute has addressed in its blog series AI:NY. The first installment found that 53 percent of New York could be facing automation in the near future. A panel of experts saw big opportunities for AI in the fields of healthcare, finance, and education, and called for an educational system that would prepare New Yorkers for the high-skills workforce of the future. The recent AI predictions are very similar to those made at the beginning of the digital revolution in the 1980s and 1990s. As policymakers consider how to respond to new technologies, it can be useful to see how accurate previous predictions have been in forecasting the impacts of other game-changing technologies.  Here is a preliminary forecast

“Looking back, we see that, in fact, the Luddites were right; the digital revolution brought job losses in manufacturing. Since the 1980s, the US has lost over 3.5 million manufacturing jobs. But what these forecasters failed to take into account were the gains generated to offset losses. For every manufacturing job lost since 1980, 15.8 new jobs in service industries were created.

It takes decades of hindsight to identify the technologies that will change the structure of our economy and society. Every few years, economists ask if nanotechnology, 3-D printing, the internet of things, or (enter your favorite trendy tech here) is the innovation that will dramatically change the way our economy and labor force functions.

We are presently at the moment where we can ask if AI is going to bring about dramatic structural changes. Many of the changes predicted at the dawn of the digital age are the same ones promised by AI’s proponents: programs that diagnose illnesses, immediate translation of spoken language, and automation of mundane office tasks. The concerns regarding job loss due to automation are the same that are repeated when new technologies are introduced. The most important lesson to be learned by previous forecasters is that it is very easy to see the jobs that will be replaced by technology, but nearly impossible to imagine the opportunities that will be created.”

AI and its effect on employment will be a major issue for people around the globe starting in a decade or so. It is my sense secondary and higher education will be among the sectors that will be significantly impacted.


New York Times Editorial on the G-7 Meeting:  Don’t Get the Spoiled Child (Trump) Mad or He Will Throw a Hissy Fit!

President Trump’s chair remained empty during a climate-focused session on the final day of the Group of 7 summit.

Dear Commons Community,

The New York Times editorial staff reviews the G-7 meeting held in Biarritz, France this past weekend and comments on the fact that the leaders of the major economies agreed to avoid setting off President Trump so he would not throw a hissy fit.  Below is the entire editorial.



New York Times

Group of 7, Minus Trump

By The Editorial Board

Published Aug. 26, 2019 – Updated Aug. 27, 2019.

One of the few concrete pledges to come out of the Group of 7 summit in Biarritz, on France’s Atlantic coast, was an aid package of $20 million for Brazil and its neighbors in the Amazon basin to fight fires raging through the rainforest. The sum was a trifle, given the scale of the fires and the size of the economies of the donors (the charity of the actor Leonardo DiCaprio separately pledged $5 million), but it was meant to highlight a more ambitious program of protection and reforestation in the works.

More noteworthy than the token action was the fact that President Trump skipped the session at which it was taken, which happened to be devoted to climate, oceans and biodiversity. Even more noteworthy was that neither French President Emmanuel Macron, the convener of this year’s summit and champion of action on the Amazon fires, nor hardly anyone else seemed to find this particularly disturbing.

In fact, they seemed relieved. Other American officials were there, said Mr. Macron, and it had never been his goal to challenge Mr. Trump’s climate denialism. In fact, he said he and the American president had a “long, rich and totally positive” discussion on the Amazon fires. Maybe they did, but by now Mr. Macron should know better than most that the Trump who likes being agreeable face to face can quickly turn mean at a distance.

That, in fact, was the real theme of the Biarritz summit in the third year of the Trump presidency, as described by Peter Baker of The Times: “Rule 1 at the G7 Meeting? Don’t Get You-Know-Who Mad.” Mr. Macron cautiously avoided trying to draft a joint communiqué, perhaps recalling how Mr. Trump pulled his signature off the one reached last year in Canada in a tantrum over something Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said.

Mr. Macron’s conciliatory efforts were not all in vain. One unexpected development was his announcement that Mr. Trump may soon have a direct meeting with Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani. Mr. Macron and other European leaders have worked hard to ease tensions between Iran and the United States and to salvage what they can of the agreement they and President Barack Obama reached with Iran in 2015 limiting Iran’s nuclear potential.

Still, there were plenty of hazards at this summit. One was Mr. Trump’s keenness to get his pal Vladimir Putin back into the Group of 7, from which he was expelled over Russia’s seizure of Crimea in 2014. Mr. Trump blames Mr. Obama for expelling Mr. Putin, and said he “certainly” would explore inviting him to next year’s summit meeting, which the United States is hosting, perhaps at Mr. Trump’s Doral golf resort near Miami.

Mr. Trump also created some unease with seesaw statements on the tariff war with China, but the assembled heads of government bent over backward not to provoke his ire.

Boris Johnson, the disheveled newly installed prime minister of Britain normally never balks at speaking his mind, provided the best example of Trump-fear. On the eve of the summit, Mr. Johnson strongly criticized those who support tariffs — read Mr. Trump. But in Biarritz, in front of cameras alongside the president, Mr. Johnson offered only gentle criticism of Mr. Trump’s belligerent trade policies, “just to register a faint, sheeplike note of our view on the trade war.

And so it went. No tantrum, like the one Mr. Trump recently threw over Denmark’s refusal to sell him Greenland.

On the contrary, his tweets suggested he felt himself among kindred spirits. “The question I was asked most today by fellow World Leaders, who think the USA is doing so well and is stronger than ever before, happens to be, ‘Mr. President, why does the American media hate your Country so much? Why are they rooting for it to fail?’”

Unless one of the World Leaders confesses to saying this, it is probably another lie. The pity of the entire Group of 7 show was that it was part of a new normal in which the world’s major liberal democracies basically accept that they are out of sync with the president of the nation that should be leading their efforts to manage the world and its resources wisely and responsibly, but isn’t.

There may be no consensus on just how much damage is being done by the fires raging through the Amazon basin. But when countless fires are ravaging one of the world’s greatest rain forests, the threat is global. The president of the United States should be standing with Mr. Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel in demanding that the world address it.

Yet Mr. Trump’s decision to skip the meeting on the environment was treated as normal. It was left to the United Nations secretary general, António Guterres, to express the forlorn hope that the American people would demonstrate the commitment to fighting climate change that was absent from their president.

There is no point in trying to change Mr. Trump’s mind about joining in the fight on climate change — “You can’t rewrite the past,” as Mr. Macron put it. Just don’t get him mad.”



Panel to Recommend Desegregation Plan to Eliminate All Gifted Programs in New York Schools!

Dear Commons Community,

A group appointed by Mayor Bill de Blasio will propose major changes today to the New York City public schools.  A high-level panel appointed by Mayor Bill de Blasio will recommend that the city do away with most selective programs geared to students labeled gifted and talented in an effort to desegregate the system, which has 1.1 million students and is by far the largest in the country.  As reported by the New York Times:

“Mr. de Blasio, who has staked his mayoralty on reducing inequality, has the power to adopt some or all of the proposals without input from the State Legislature or City Council. If he does, the decision would fundamentally reshape a largely segregated school system and could reverberate in school districts across the country.

The mayor will now be thrust into the center of a sensitive debate about race and class at home, even as he is straining to stand out in a crowded field of Democratic contenders for president.

He risks alienating tens of thousands of mostly white and Asian families whose children are enrolled in the gifted programs and selective schools. If a substantial number of those families leave the system, it would be even more difficult to achieve integration.

The proposals, contained in a report to be released on Tuesday, may also face opposition from some middle-class black and Hispanic families that have called for more gifted programs in mostly minority neighborhoods as a way to offer students of color more access to high-quality schools.

Still, the plan could resonate with black and Hispanic families who believe that these selective programs unfairly divert money and attention from neighborhood schools.

The plan includes all elementary school gifted programs, screened middle schools and some high schools — with the exception of Stuyvesant High School and the city’s seven other elite high schools, whose admission is partially controlled by Albany.

Gifted programs and screened schools have “become proxies for separating students who can and should have opportunities to learn together,” the panel, made up of several dozen education experts, wrote in the report.

About a quarter of the city’s middle and high schools require that students be screened — through exams, attendance rates and grades — for admission. New York screens more students for its schools than any other city in the country, and those screened schools tend to have a disproportionately white and Asian enrollment.

Mr. de Blasio has been criticized by some on the political left for not demonstrating a willingness to implement major desegregation policies.

But Richard A. Carranza, the schools chancellor, made desegregation his signature issue when he took the job in 2018, denouncing racial inequality and promising sweeping action. He has specifically questioned whether too many students were being labeled “gifted.”

Mr. Carranza did not develop any significant integration policies of his own during his first year on the job, and his input on the proposals will be a definitive test of his willingness to push for disruptive and unpopular change in order to desegregate schools.

Still, the mayor has final say over whether to approve the recommendations.

The panel’s report, obtained by The New York Times, amounts to a repudiation of former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s education agenda, which reoriented the system toward school choice for families, including more gifted and screened schools, to combat decades of low performance.

Some of those policies deepened inequality even as student achievement rose. Mr. de Blasio has been sharply critical of his predecessor’s philosophy on education, but must now decide whether to dismantle some of the structures that Mr. Bloomberg helped to build.

The panel recommended that the city replace gifted and screened schools with new magnet schools — which have been used in other cities to attract a diverse group of students interested in a particular subject matter — along with enrichment programs that are open to students with varying academic abilities.

If the mayor adopts the recommendations, elementary and middle schools would no longer be able to admit students based solely or largely on standardized exams or other academic prerequisites, and high schools would have diversity requirements.

Alternative means of admission should be decided by the Department of Education and individual districts, the panel found.

Though it may be months before the mayor issues a decision, the release of the recommendations is likely to set off an intracity battle in a public school system that is nearly 70 percent black and Hispanic and mostly low-income.”

This will surely be a super hot issue for de Blasio and the City!