Episode 32

Journalists Under Attack, SCOTUS Reform, 2 Years of COVID, Standardized Testing

In today’s show, the hosts discuss the two-year mark of the pandemic, challenges to standardized testing, journalists under attack in Ukraine, and the debate around reforming the Supreme Court. The hosts also give updates on a few stories we’ve covered in previous episodes: Uber/Lyft driver polls and another recall in San Francisco.


The hosts reflect on 2 years of life in the age of COVID-19 before laying out all the seismic changes the pandemic has brought to our society. (00:54)

Ravi brings the discussion around to our preparedness for future pandemics, or lack thereof, and Congress’ role in keeping it that way. (04:55)

Rikki lays out a growing trend in education: changes to standardized testing. Ravi and Cory refer to John McWhorter’s NYT op-ed this week on the racialized element of that debate, and why they agree with McWhorter that some progressive objections to testing miss the mark. (06:03)

Rikki explains how schools have inflated GPAs over the course of decades, making them a deeply flawed measure of objective achievement. (10:37)

They close the testing discussion by touching on Florida’s decision to switch their state-level system, splitting one year-end test into three throughout the school year. (13:12)

The hosts then turn to the tragic deaths of journalists in Ukraine, the apparently targeted Russian hits that are leaving reporters dead, and the overall effort to suppress the truth of the conflict. (18:37)

Cory explains the public consensus around Supreme Court reform before outlining the various proposals on the table, including: expanding the court, term limits, a code of ethics, and greater transparency. The hosts debate each of those areas for improvement, where the arguments for change succeed, and where they fall short. (23:19)

Ravi and Rikki finish with updates on gig worker polling and another recall election in San Francisco, this one for the city’s district attorney. (35:37)

Here’s Why 20% of Americans Have Changed Careers Since the Pandemic Began (The Motley Fool, 01/04)
Churches Changed During the Pandemic and Many Aren’t Going Back (The Wall Street Journal, 11/12/2021)
‘We need this money’: Covid funding stalls as Congress, White House point fingers (Politico, 03/15)
A covid surge in Western Europe has U.S. bracing for another wave (The Washington Post, 03/16)
COVID-19 Coronavirus Pandemic (Worldometer, 03/17)
Estimating excess mortality due to the COVID-19 pandemic: a systematic analysis of COVID-19-related mortality, 2020–21 (The Lancet, 03/10)
COVID Data Tracker (CDC, 03/14)
Statistics on Remote Workers that Will Surprise You (2022) (Apollo Technical, 01/16)
US Shoppers Spent $1.7T Online During Pandemic, Another Trillion Forecast for 2022 (E-Commerce Times, 03/16)
So Apparently a Quarter of Single People Aren’t Interested in Monogamy (Cosmopolitan, 03/14)
Thanks to Animal Shelters and Rescues, Nearly 1 Million Pets Found Homes in 2021 (BeChewy, 12/02/2021)
The Pandemic Has Changed Us, Permanently (WebMD, 2022)
Remote Work Persisting and Trending Permanent (Gallup, 10/13/2021)
New HHS Study Shows 63-Fold Increase in Medicare Telehealth Utilization During the Pandemic (HHS, 12/03/2021)
Congress looks unlikely to provide more coronavirus dollars soon (The Washington Post, 03/16)
Republicans reluctant on $15 billion in virus aid, as White House warns about pandemic readiness (The Washington Post, 03/15)
Biden administration requests $30 billion for COVID response (Axios, 02/15)
The White House wants $65 billion for an ‘Apollo’-style pandemic preparedness program (Stat, 09/03/2021)
Congress Clears $1.5 Trillion Spending Bill, Including Ukraine Aid (The New York Time, 03/10)
Preventing Pandemics Requires Funding (Institute for Progress, 03/14)
Pandemic preparedness (World Health Organization, 2022)
High school grades are up, but test scores aren’t. Why? (Chalkbeat, 03/16)
Grade Inflation, Higher and Higher (Inside Higher Ed, 03/29/2016)
1,820+ Accredited, 4-Year Colleges & Universities with ACT/SAT-Optional Testing Policies for Fall, 2022 Admissions (FairTest, 03/01)
These four charts show how the SAT favors rich, educated families (The Washington Post, 03/05/2014)
SAT scores based on race (Nation Center for Education Statistics, 2021)
Making the SAT and ACT Optional Is the Soft Bigotry of Low Expectations (The New York Times, 03/15)
Florida will dump standardized tests in favor of progress monitoring in public schools (WFSU, 03/16)
Gov. Ron DeSantis signs bill overhauling Florida’s standardized testing in schools (Orlando Weekly, 03/16)
Florida to become first state to implement education progress monitoring (The Capitolist, 03/15)
It looks like the beginning of the end of America’s obsession with student standardized tests (The Washington Post, 06/21/2020)
Will There Be Standardized Tests This Year? 8 Questions Answered (Education Week, 02/09/2021)
Ron DeSantis Tweet (Twitter, 03/15/2022)
Florida Senate panel backs bill to overhaul students’ annual testing (Tampa Bay Times, 01/12)
The Racist Beginnings of Standardized Testing (National Education Association, 03/20/2021)
How to Address Racial Bias in Standardized Testing (NGLC, 03/31/2020)
Why Colleges Should Ditch the SAT—Permanently (Politico, 06/28/2021)
One Man Standing Against Race-Based Laws (The New York Times, 02/23/2012)
By Ditching the SAT, Harvard Hurts Minority Students (The Wall Street Journal, 12/21/2021)
Killing The SAT Means Hurting Minorities (The Weekly Dish, 03/05/2021)
Admissions Tests Discriminate Against College Admission of Minority and Low-Income Students at Selective Colleges (Student Aid Policy Analysis Papers, 05/20/2021)
How Admissions Tests Discriminate Against Low-Income And Minority Student Admissions At Selective Colleges (Forbes, 05/21/2021)
Sky News team’s harrowing account of their violent ambush in Ukraine this week (Sky News, 03/05)
What Are War Crimes? What to Know as Biden Accuses Putin (The Wall Street Journal, 03/17)
More journalists killed on the job as reprisal murders nearly double (Committee to Protect Journalists, 12/19/2018)
Number of journalists behind bars reaches global high (Committee to Protect Journalists, 12/09/2021)
Brent Renaud, Crusading Filmmaker, Is Killed at 50 (The New York Times, 03/13)
Shot Journalist Tweet (Twitter, 03/13)
Ukrainian journalist Oleksandra ‘Sasha’ Kuvshinova assisting Fox News in Ukraine killed in attack (Fox News, 03/15)
Fox News journalist Benjamin Hall injured covering Ukraine war (Fox News, 03/14)
Ukrainian camera operator Yevhenii Sakun killed in Russian shelling of Kyiv TV tower (Committee to Protect Journalists, 03/02)
Five people killed in Russian hit on Kyiv TV tower (Guardian News YouTube, 03/01)
Fight till victory, says soldier’s widow as Ukraine military deaths rise (Reuters, 05/12)
Ukraine’s Human Rights Chief Facebook Statement (Facebook, 03/15)
Journalists flee Russia as Putin cracks down after Ukraine invasion (NBC News, 03/16)
In danger and “on their own”: The perils of freelance war reporting (CBS News, 08/28/2014)
UNESCO observatory of killed journalists (UNESCO, 2022)
55 journalists killed in 2021, impunity ‘alarmingly widespread’ – UNESCO (United Nations, 01/06)
Practice Relating to Rule 34. Journalists (ICRC, 2022)
War Crimes (United Nations, 2022)
59 Journalists Killed in Syria (Committee to Protect Journalists, 2015 – 2020)
Russia committed war crimes in Syria, finds UN report (The Guardian, 03/02/2020)
Blinken: Intentional targeting of civilians, journalists ‘would constitute a war crime’ (The Hill, 03/16)
Term limits, transparency, and other proposed Supreme Court fixes (SCOTUSblog, 12/27/2021)
Reform the Court, but Don’t Pack It (The Atlantic, 08/08/2020)
Many of the Supreme Court’s decisions are reached with no hearings or explanation (The Economist, 08/26/2021)
The Risks of Supreme Court Term Limits (Vanderbilt University Law School, 2019)
A Code of Conduct for the Supreme Court? Legal Questions and Considerations (Congressional Research Service, 02/26/2019)
Transparency and Its Limits at the Supreme Court (10/05/2021)
Most Americans want to end lifetime Supreme Court appointments (Reuters, 04/18/2021)
Poll: Majority of Americans oppose expanding the U.S. Supreme Court (The Center Square, 04/20/2021)
Only 32% of Americans Support Increasing Number of Supreme Court Justices: Poll (Newsweek, 09/25/2020)
The Court as an Institution (Supreme Court of the United States, 2022)
Mitch McConnell: Democrats, leave the Supreme Court alone (The Washington Post, 11/11/2021)
117 years of data show why today’s Supreme Court nominees have more influence than ever (Quartz, 07/10/2018)
The Need for Supreme Court Term Limits (CAP, 08/03/2020)
H.R.8424 – Supreme Court Term Limits and Regular Appointments Act of 2020 (Congress.gov, 09/29/2020)
Most Americans Don’t Think Supreme Court Acts In A ‘Serious And Constitutional Manner’ And Want Reforms, Poll Finds (Forbes, 03/15)
New Poll Shows SCOTUS Term Limits Still Popular Across Party Lines (Fix The Court, 06/10/2020)
New poll indicates most Americans want to end lifetime appointments for Supreme Court justices (Insider, 04/18/2021)
No other democracy gives life tenure to judges on its version of the Supreme Court (Vox, 02/16/2016)
Three-Fourths of Americans Agree: The Supreme Court Needs Term Limits (Fix The Court, 2022)
A Weakened Supreme Court Needs a Code of Ethics (Bloomberg Law, 11/05/2020)
Wife of Clarence Thomas says she attended Jan. 6 ‘Stop the Steal’ rally (The Hill, 03/14)
Murphy, Johnson Introduce Bicameral Bill Requiring SCOTUS to Follow Code of Ethics (Chris Murphy, 07/29/2021)
Judges Held Off Congress’s Efforts to Impose Ethics Rules—Until Now (The Wall Street Journal, 12/23/2021)
Do judges want cameras in the Supreme Court? A resounding poll result (The National Judicial College, 05/21/2018)
Senate Panel Approves Bill Requiring TV Cameras In Supreme Court (Forbes, 06/24/2021)
Poll: Should cameras be allowed in the Supreme Court? (The Washington Post, 07/02/2015)
Time for TV in the Supreme Court (The New York Times, 07/02/2015)
End the ban on cameras in the Supreme Court (The Washington Post, 11/25/2011)
Justice pleads with Senate: No cameras in high court (USA Today, 02/14/2007)
Eighty Organizations Urge Supreme Court to Make Live Audio Streaming Permanent and Accessible (POGO, 09/08/2021)
The U.S. Supreme Court Will Resume In-Person Oral Arguments This Fall (NPR, 09/08/2021)
Americans’ respect for the Supreme Court has dipped. That might affect the justices’ decisions this term. (The Washington Post, 10/04/2021)