Good Morning. Here’s what you need to know to start the day, along with perspective from both sides for calmer coffee conversations with your family, friends, colleagues, and co-workers. Plus, a bit of good news: He was among the second wave of infantry that stormed Omaha Beach in Normandy nearly 76 years ago. Now he just celebrated his 96th birthday.
📰 TOP STORY
The SAT Debate: Given the fact that it’s been nearly impossible to administer standardized tests during a pandemic, several higher education institutions are choosing to forego testing scores as part of their applications. The deliberation over the ethics and value of standardized testing existed long before the coronavirus, but the present climate has stoked the flames of this contentious debate. With that said, the Wall Street Journal let students weigh in on the subject. Their responses and arguments are summarized below.
Those in favor of using standardized tests believe it provides an institution’s admissions office with an unbiased perspective of prospective students. The inherent nature of a numerical test score lends itself to a purely objective assessment of a candidate’s potential. Viraj Mehta, a student at Carnegie Mellon, admits “that the full context of an applicant’s life story should be considered … However, some triage of applications is necessary to sort likely candidates from the rest.” David Liu, a student at The University of Chicago, adds that standardized testing serves to supplement an American culture of meritocracy, where the hardest workers and most intelligent students are rewarded. He responds to criticism directed at the apparent inequality of standardized tests by saying, “[this critical energy] should be focused on leveling the playing field, not hiding the scoreboard; on giving people more of an equal start, not doing away with the race altogether.”
Those against standardized testing overwhelmingly point to the racial and socio-economic disparities in the scoring system. Currently, students in wealthier communities and schools receive higher scores, and this has been a leading criticism against standardized tests for years. Shoshi Hansen, a student at Wake Forest University, explains that, “Parents can and do spend thousands of dollars…to maximize scores. Lower-income families often do not have the [resources] to invest in these materials, at least not to the same extent.” Amid the pandemic, some have also highlighted that the testing requirement would only become a greater barrier to college admission. Rebecca Leppert, a student at George Washington University, explains that with “more than 35 million Americans [filing] for unemployment…the disparity in test scores will only worsen.” Plainly stated, lower-income families who may be disproportionately impacted by job losses would find it even more burdensome to access the resources needed to boost test scores.
Flag This: There’s no way a number will ever be able to quantify the value of a potential student. The Virgin Group founder, Richard Branson dropped out of high school at 15. He’s now worth nearly $5 billion. David Karp also dropped out at 15 and developed Tumblr, the blog-hosting and social network company which he ultimately sold to Yahoo for $1.1 billion. Aretha Franklin, Joe Lewis, and Quentin Tarantino also all dropped out of high school when they were 15 years old. The point is that they likely never even took the SAT and they did pretty well for themselves. At the same time, college applications are reaching all-time highs and there has to be a way to sort through candidates. The real scandal that needs more review is the College Board’s role in the process. Long time readers will remember that in November we noted how the College Board is using SAT data to tell test-takers’ names and personal information to universities. In a nutshell, colleges can buy student information for 47 cents per name. They will then target these candidates with marketing materials for their schools, knowing that the student may not get in. This increases the amount of applications a college processes, even though the amount of students they admit stays the same. This makes their “acceptance rate” lower and more exclusive, which hypothetically indicates that the college has greater value, thus justifying the rising cost of tuition. The SAT debate is healthy and should continue to be discussed. The college board backroom data swapping is a way to rig the system that needs to be investigated further.
🦅 US NEWS
Kids Are Running Our Country
Schools around the country were forced to close due to the coronavirus pandemic. Therefore, the finger pointing, tattle-tailing, and name calling that usually acts as a vibrant soundtrack on elementary playgrounds across the nation has simply shifted to Washington D.C. Take a listen with the headlines below:
- Trump threatens to withhold Michigan, Nevada funding over mail-in voting (The Hill). Meanwhile ‘Historic’ Michigan Flooding Threatens Town With 9 Feet Of Water (NPR)
- Top US Democrat Nancy Pelosi has been accused of fat-shaming President Donald Trump after she called him “morbidly obese.” (BBC)
- Trump responded: “Pelosi is a sick woman. She’s got a lot of problems, a lot of mental problems.” (The Hill)
- Pelosi on calling Trump ‘morbidly obese’: ‘I didn’t know that he would be so sensitive’ (The Hill)
- Sec. Pompeo accused Sen. Bob Mendez (D-N.J.) of leaking stories about him. (The Hill)
- Kellyanne Conway Mocks Biden for Considering Female Running Mates: ‘Like a Co-Ed at the End of a Frat Party’ (Mediaite)
- Flag This: Behind the scenes there have actually been amazing displays of unity taking place around our country. We highlight them on our instagram. While the children in Washington continue their bipartisan bickering, individual responsibility and action has never been more important.
Two studies suggest COVID-19 antibodies provide immunity
Can people who have recovered from COVID-19 get it again, or do they become immune? The Boston Globe’s Jonathan Saltzman reports that, “Research teams led by a Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center vaccine specialist have published two studies of laboratory monkeys that suggest the answer is yes ― antibodies do provide protection, whether they are triggered by an infection or a vaccine. Both studies, which appear to be among the first peer-reviewed papers studying immunity to COVID-19 in primates, were published Wednesday in the journal Science. Dr. Dan Barouch, head of Beth Israel’s Center for Virology and Vaccine Research and lead author of the studies, said more research must be done to determine whether the findings apply to humans. But he’s hopeful.”
- Flag This: Overseas, researchers are finding evidence that patients who test positive for the coronavirus after recovering aren’t capable of transmitting the infection, and could have the antibodies that prevent them from falling sick again. The result is a positive sign for regions reopening economies.
🌎 WORLD NEWS
The COVID-19 pandemic has opened the world’s eyes to the true nature of the Chinese regime, Noah Barkin writes for Foreign Policy “…but in Europe, it is the U.S. response to the virus, even more so than China’s, that is deeply unsettling politicians and the wider public.” What’s happening: A new poll released on Monday, shows that Germans are now almost equally divided on whether Washington or Beijing is the more important partner. When they look to the United States, they see chaos—a country where even in the face of a disease that has killed more than 91,000 Americans, politicians are unable to put aside partisan sniping and come together. Plainly stated: In the growing confrontation with China, Europe is starting to take sides—just not America’s.
- Flag This: It’s important to note, however, that few Europeans expect transparency from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). They also hold the United States to a higher standard and are thus more easily disappointed when Washington fails. Keep reading.
Russia’s Economy Suffers Double Hit From Oil Slump and Coronavirus
Russia has recorded 308,705 coronavirus cases, the world’s second-largest tally after the U.S., and 2,972 deaths as of Wednesday. Unemployment has doubled to 1.4 million since early April, and Mr. Putin has warned the worst has yet to come. The coming recession could exceed the slump in 2008 to 2009, he said, which ended a decade of oil-fueled growth and slashed the nation’s gross domestic product by 7.8%. As infections grow, Russia finds a shortfall in oil revenue hurts its ability to offer the kind of emergency support provided in the West.
- Flag This: The fallout is now threatening Mr. Putin’s long-term plans to strengthen Russia’s economy and buttress his own dwindling approval ratings. The long read: How Is Putin Still Hanging On?
🗞️ BIZ, SPORTS, & TECH
Coffee Spill: Luckin Tanks After Resuming Trading
Shares of Luckin Coffee sank over 35% after its trading resumed on Wednesday. Nasdaq Inc. said it is planning to delist the Chinese coffee company after it was rocked by an accounting scandal last month.
Bizarre Sports News Roundup
Strange sports news hit the tape yesterday. For starters, an unnamed NFL player is suing United Airlines, alleging he was sexually harassed, assaulted and violated by a female passenger on a February flight from Los Angeles to Newark, New Jersey, and that the airline failed to properly respond to complaints. Secondly, the body of former WWE star, Shad Gaspard, was found early Wednesday on Venice Beach. Lastly, FC Seoul was hit with a record fine for placing sex dolls in the stands.
The Pentagon Grabs Google
Google Cloud landed a seven-figure deal with the Defense Department to help protect against cyber threats. Google hopes this will be the first of many projects between the search giant and the Pentagon as many in Silicon Valley believe most businesses, including the government, will use multiple cloud providers in the future.
📢 PRESENTED BY VINCERO
🗳️ FLAG POLLS
Results From Last Week’s Flag Poll
If there is a “second wave” of coronavirus infections, do you think the United States should implement the same lock down measures? 33% said Yes, 67% said No. Full results and comments.
This Week’s Flag Poll
Should unauthorized immigrants receive coronavirus relief funding? Click here to vote. Click here to vote.
Singles and Couples Are More Divided Than Ever (The Atlantic)
How an Inmate Serving a Murder Sentence Made a Huge Math Discovery (Popular Mechanics)
What it’s like to fly internationally right now (LMT Online)