On Wednesday, the U.S. Senate confirmed Judge Merrick Garland to the role of U.S. attorney general.
President Joe Biden‘s nominee to lead the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) received overwhelming bipartisan support, with the Senate voting 70-30 in favor of confirming Garland, a federal appeals court judge.
Previously, Garland was put forward by then-President Barack Obama as a moderate nominee to fill the U.S. Supreme Court seat left vacant after conservative Justice Antonin Scalia died in early 2016. However, Senate Republicans led by then-Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) controversially blocked hearings on his nomination, arguing that no appointments should be made to the Supreme Court during a presidential election year.
“After Donald Trump spent four years—four long years—subverting the powers of the Justice Department for his own political benefit, treating the attorney general like his own personal defense lawyer, America can breathe a sigh of relief that we’re going to have someone like Merrick Garland leading the Justice Department,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) before the vote, per the Associated Press. “Someone with integrity, independence, respect for the rule of law and credibility on both sides of the aisle.”
Even Minority Leader McConnell—despite blocking Garland’s 2016 nomination—said he was voting to confirm the judge due to “his long reputation as a straight shooter and a legal expert” and that his “left-of-center perspective” was still within the legal mainstream, per the AP.
“Let’s hope our incoming attorney general applies that no-nonsense approach to the serious challenges facing the Department of Justice and our nation,” the Kentucky Republican added.
You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.
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Remote Learning Lowered Test Scores in Every State; Minority Students Hit the Worst
A paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) shows remote learning has had a negative impact on students’ test scores in every state. Not only were students across the country affected, minority students were impacted the most.
According to the publication, remote learning led to declines in test scores for English and math, when compared to scores of students who went to schools with more in-person learning. “Our research shows that test score losses are significantly larger in districts with less in-person learning,” said Emily Oster, professor of economics at Brown University.
“This suggests, yes, that virtual learning was – and is – less effective than in-person learning, at least as measured by school-based testing” added Oster. “Passing rates in math declined by 14.2 percentage points on average; we estimate this decline was 10.1 percentage points smaller for districts fully in-person,” the study found.
The research combined “district-level schooling mode data from the 2020-21 school year,” “district-level test score data from 2015 to 2021” and “demographic data from the NCES,” according to the study.
Data was collected from students in third to eighth grades in 12 states: Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, Ohio, Rhode Island, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
Score declines showed variations by state, as well. Virginia “which had the most complete virtual learning time, along with Colorado, saw an almost 32% drop on math test scores in the 2020-21 school year when compared to the 2018-19 school year” reports Tampa Free Press.
Wyoming, however, “which had the most in-person learning, along with Florida, saw just a 2.3% drop in English, the study found.”
“Changes in English Language Arts (ELA) were smaller than math scores overall, but drops in scores were greater in districts with larger black and Hispanic populations and students eligible for free and reduced lunch prices” reports Tampa Free Press.
“Districts that have a larger share of black and Hispanic students and less in-person schooling also saw a greater decline in ELA test scores than those with more in-person schooling. “
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