March 15, 2009

The Bush-Obama Era

From my new VDARE.com column:

Are we in the middle of what future historians will refer to as the Bush-Obama Era?

That might sound bizarre—until you notice the continuity of policy on crucial issues such as the economy and immigration. Remarkably, under Obama, much of the conventional wisdom of the Bush years continues to reign unquestioned.

Education policy showcases the stability of the Bush-Obama Age. Last week’s big speech on schools given by President Obama to the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce was essentially a sequel to President Bush’s speeches on the same topic in 2001.

Granted, Bush didn’t start his orations on American education by leading mass chanting in Spanish as Obama just did:

THE PRESIDENT: “Thank you. [Applause.] Si se puede.

AUDIENCE: “Si se puede!
Si se puede! Si se puede!

Somehow, though, I suspect that Bush is now kicking himself that he didn’t think of that cool opening. Si se puede!” That rocks!

Since the topic is schooling, let’s take a test.

Which President orated:

“The highest percentage increase in our budget should go to our children's education. Education is my top priority and by supporting this budget, you will make it yours as well. … Measuring is the only way to know whether all our children are learning—and I want to know, because I refuse to leave any child behind. … “

  1. Barack Obama

  2. George W. Bush

  3. Dwight Eisenhower

It definitely wasn’t Eisenhower. When Sputnik alerted America in 1957 that we were in a dead-serious competition with the Soviet Union for technological mastery of ballistic missiles, the 1958 National Defense Education Act responded by delivering stronger education to the stronger students—where the highest return on investment was attainable. In contrast, both Bush and Obama believe in investing more where the ROI is lowest.

OK, you can tell from the clunky prose style that the quotes above come from Bush in 2001. But the philosophy remains the same.

In his speech last week, Obama told the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce:

“And yet, despite resources that are unmatched anywhere in the world, we've let our grades slip, our schools crumble, our teacher quality fall short, and other nations outpace us. Let me give you a few statistics.”[Transcript, March 10, 2009]

Uh-oh. Obama is into words, not numbers, so his rhetorical statistics tend to be half-digested factoids that raise more questions than they answer:

“In 8th grade math, we've fallen to 9th place. Singapore's middle-schoolers outperform ours three to one. Just a third of our 13- and 14-year-olds can read as well as they should.”

How do American students do compared to foreigners?

For the answer, click here

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

26 comments:

Anonymous said...

achievement scores of white students in the U.S. were consistently higher than those of students in the Western G5 nations, even though these nations were predominantly white.

Could this be explained by the fact white Americans are a blend of European nationalities marrying eachother? Steve has noted that white American facial features don't *quite* look like Europeans do anymore. Maybe this has had an effect on white American intelligence?

Suetonius said...

The really big continuities are between Clinton and Bush, though you can drive partisans of both presidents up the wall by making this claim. They had the same policies on trade, immigration, civil liberties, financial regulation and "bubble" economics. Clinton didn't invade any countries, but bombed Iraq frequently enough and started the policy of sending US troops into some hellhole because the government there wasn't joining the globalization bandwagon.

Obama has surrounded himself with people from the Clinton administration, so this indicates he will fall in with the consensus, but really at this point its too early to tell. The first six months of the GW Bush administration looked very different from the other seven and a half years.

David Davenport said...

Steve has noted that white American facial features don't *quite* look like Europeans do anymore.

Has he? Steve, could you comment on this?

Anonymous said...

A few days ago there was some discussion here about whether or not Armenians are all that smart. Armenia's result in that table was close to the European average and significantly above the figures for other Middle Eastern countries.

Anonymous said...

Has he? Steve, could you comment on this?

Here:

http://www.vdare.com/Sailer/marriage.htm

It's at least arguable that the mixing of various European nationalities that has been going on in America for generations, especially since the immigration cutoff of 1924, has been more important than the much more limited mixing of different continental-scale races that began a few decades ago. When you peer closely enough, white Americans just don't look that much like Europeans anymore, apparently due to genetic blending among white Americans.

Anonymous said...

Has he? Steve, could you comment on this?

I've been following this blog for a few years now and I don't remember anything on that either. There's such a diversity of facial types among both Europeans and European Americans that it would be hard to generalize. But if Steve indeed has some thoughts about this, I'd love to hear them too.

Anonymous said...

It's not the Obama Era, or the Bush-Obama Era, or the Clinton-Bush Era, or any such. It's the Era of Diversity, marked by the Diversity Depression. Diversity and the biological equality of the races is the one thing you cannot question, and any case of races not equaling each other (or, I should say, a race being inferior to whites - being superior is OK) is a case granting the government unlimited, irrevocable power to waste any amount of taxpayer resources and limit every freedom in order to eliminate the disparity.

Diversity is the new Pope. One wonders whether the eventual battles will be as bloody.

Steve Sailer said...

It came up in the context of Margaret Thatcher, who is very English looking. She was much celebrated in England for her looks when she appeared on the political scene in her 20s. I've read conservative gentlemen of a certain age, such as Alec Guinness, David Lean, and Kingsley Amis, nostalgically reflecting on the young Mrs. Thatcher as a true English rose.

You don't see that very English look much in the U.S. Perhaps it's genetic, perhaps it's just how people wear their facial expressions. I don't know.

It would be interesting to hear both a casting director's and an actor's thoughts on who can play who. For example, Cliff Curtis, who is part Maori, has made a career playing Latin American and Middle Eastern characters, and playing them pretty well. I wonder if he holds his face in a different default neutral expression when he's playing an Arab than when he's playing a Colombian.

agnostic said...

This poor-performing schools nonsense goes back to at least 1983, A Nation at Risk.

And the huge amnesty to illegals was written and signed during the mid-'80s.

So, it looks more like a Neoliberal era than just Bush-Obama -- you didn't hear this kind of balderdash from Truman through Eisenhower, or even Kennedy really. They were focused on higher ed, not racial gaps at the pre-college level. Johnson through Carter is the transition stage to Neoliberalism, for example when Bretton Woods was dismantled.

There's some connection between the culture of deregulation, free marketeering, etc., and the culture of public self-flagellation about poor schools. I'd say the complaining about schools is a way to convince the public that they should be privatized.

It's clear why the Neoliberal Republicans would support that. But the Neoliberal Dems would too -- in their wet dream, the schools would be run by wise non-profits, like if you privatized HUD and let ACORN run things!

Anonymous said...

The phenotypical continuity of Americans with their European forebears is masked by different body language and facial expressions. Also Americans are fatter.

Nora Helmer said...

Steve said: Oil-rich Norway, for instance, did poorly relative to the rest of Europe. Are the schools bad in Norway? Were the test-takers unmotivated? I don’t know …

I tried to find out which schools in Norway took part in the TIMSS 2007. No luck.

But, I did find out which schools took part in 2003 (Norway ranked 21 in math that year, same as 2007 - avg. score 451).

A total of 139 Norwegian schools took part in TIMSS 2003 -- a total of 4155 students. Twelve (12) of those schools are located in Oslo, which currently has a ca. 25% immigrant population. Pakistanis, Somalis and Tamils are three of the largest immigrant groups.

On the Norwegian Dept of Education's website, I found the total number of students in each grade for every school in Norway -- for 2004/05, not 2003/04 unfortunately.

So, I looked up each of the Oslo schools that took part in the TIMSS 2003, found out how many 9th graders they had in 2004, and used this figure as a guesstimate of how many 8th graders they would've had in 2003.* Probably a pretty good estimation.

The number of Oslo 8th graders who took the TIMSS 2003, then, was around 1389 (out of the 4155 grand total) -- and something like 523 of them, or 12.5% of the grand total, were "minority language [speaking]" students, i.e. Norwegian is not their first language. (This percentage is calculated using 2007 figures for foreign language speaking students from each of the schools, so the numbers are, again, not quite precise.)

So at least ca. 12.5% of "Norwegian" students taking the 2003 TIMSS were immigrant children. I say at least 'cause I didn't look up numbers for all the schools across the country that took part, and there are sizable minority populations in other cities/towns in Norway like Bergen and Trondheim, and scattered immigrant families across the country. One school in Trondheim that took part in 2003, for instance, brags about its "spennende flerkulturelt miljø" ("exciting [read: VIBRANT!] multicultural environment") where up to 17 different languages are spoken!

I suspect Norway (and presumably many other Western countries) are suffering the same sort of problem that Boe and Shin describe about the U.S.

~~~~~

*School (% of students speaking a foreign language as their first language) - Total number of 8th graders taking TIMSS 2003 math test/estimated number of 8th graders taking test that were foreigners

Hersleb skole (92%) - 86/79
Haugen skole (73%) - 46/33
Haugerud skole (64%) - 129/82
Hauketo skole (42%) - 129/54
Tokerud skole (60%) - 92/55
Nordseter skole (8%) - 182/14
Bjørnholt skole (51%) - 107/54
Apalløkka skole (48%) - 106/50
Uranienborg skole (34%) - 59/20
Midtstuen skole (9%) - 166/14
Ruseløkka skole (42%) - 87/36
Nordberg skole (16%) - 200/32

Steve Sailer said...

Thanks for all the info on Norway.

Can you imagine being some Third Worlder from some hot, humid equatorial country, and you think you've got it made because you get a refugee visa for rich Norway, and you wind up in Trondheim at the Arctic Circle?

There's an amusing negative correlation between the latitude of the refugee sending countries and the latitude of the refugee receiving countries. Iceland was one of the few European countries that didn't insist that its Kosovo refugees go home after the 1999 Kosovo war. And Lewiston, Maine is a notorious sucker city.

Anonymous said...

"When Sputnik alerted America in 1957 that we were in a dead-serious competition with the Soviet Union for technological mastery of ballistic missiles, the 1958 National Defense Education Act responded by delivering stronger education to the stronger students—where the highest return on investment was attainable. "


Steve, as an American you would not know because, as often, it does not fit the public propaganda. Just like in the USSR, the US ballistic program was engineered by ex-Nazi rocket scientists who were either captured [USSR] or invited [USA] (I think the US indicated that war crimes trials may be in the offing if they did not comply, but the rocket scientists were treated well in the US). This included the crucial ICBM nose-cone shape of the missile designed to prevent if from disintegrating as it returned through the atmosphere. There is anecdotal evidence that the soviet ICBM nose-shape, which was developed before the US had it, developed exclusively by German rocket scientists in captivity, was passed along to von Braun by the Germans who returned from captivity. The engine designs were available from the Nazi A4 program, and were simply re-engineered by von Braun and Rudolph to provide the thrust necessary for an ICBM. The only major additional development was the electronics for guidance. (Naturalised) Germans were involved here as well since Siemens had already developed the first circuits during the war.

I'd say that the ICBM program was mostly engineered by Germans and implemented by your smart Ike Americans.

Anonymous said...

"A few days ago there was some discussion here about whether or not Armenians are all that smart."

I'd say they are smart enough to be successful. And they are also Christians which helps a lot. However, they have been badly hurt by Turkey (Armenian genocide) and the USSR, and Nato and the EU's insistence that Turkey be propped up with enormous funds and not criticised.

Anonymous said...

Nor Helmer said
I suspect Norway (and presumably many other Western countries) are suffering the same sort of problem that Boe and Shin describe about the U.S.


Quite correct. Same thing is happening in Germany. But don't expect the pols to figure it out. They just apply more of the solutions which did not work. And get more immigration. Using what Einstein said about repeating a filed idea as a measure, these pol's are idiots.

Steve Sailer said...

I had a girlfriend in college from Cocoa Beach, FL. She told me her 1580/1600 (old style) SAT score was the fourth highest in her high school.

Me: "Really? Who are the other three kids' parents? Rocket scientists?" I said in a scoffing tone.

Her: "Well, _yeah_."

They were each the children or grandchildren of WWII German rocket scientists who had spent time at Cape Canaveral.

Anonymous said...

Me: "Really? Who are the other three kids' parents? Rocket scientists?" I said in a scoffing tone.


I'm studying rocket science at the German uni which was the fulcrum of the A4(V2) program during the war. I'm doing it to prove to myself that I am not an idiot, because you see my pa is a plasma physicist with a 160 IQ, so it’s a little tough on me.
I have to say its both not as bad as I thought and sometimes really tricky stuff. I guess it is a sort of divider of persons because you either get it or you don’t, and in Aeronautics there is less room for error than say civil engineering or finance.
When I read about the latest antics on Wall Street, what jumps out at me is the intellectual imprecision of the numbers and much of what is being said. My impression is that the much touted “high performers” on WS are not as smart as they make out. Generally a sign of high IQ is precision in formulation and conduct, both of which are lacking in WS. They're probably more people-smart as in high EQ.

Anonymous said...

In S. Spain, several time I saw a family that I thought was American tourists. Little give-aways, like a facial type, red hair with freckles, even demeanor. iStevers will not guess who they were because it doesn't fit the usual stereotypes floating around here: French.

It's important to remember that much of American pop-ideas (including among the set who think they know about this stuff) about what Europeans are like is based on a lack of knowledge combined with Hollywood stereotypes. Also the aggressive American sense of "cultural standardization" ("this is the right way to do it and any hick who doesn't know that needs to be educated") prevents the development of any good eye or nose for culture (which requires a far more observant and accommodating approach).

On a street in Europe, it's hard to really know who "could" pass as locals because Americans seem to go out of their way to project American-ness. Loud talking, gesturing, styles of clothing, and a certain intangible relation to the environment that has elements of incomprehension, awe, and dismissal. Even the the more cultivated SWPL types stand out in Europe in this way. Europeans have a world weary sense of subtlety and finesse that Americans do not.

Spain by the way is nothing like the way it is imagined by Americans or even the way Latin Americans talk it up. It is not spicy or boisterous. The Spanish are somewhat dignified, plain, dour, and physically maladroit. They do not have the flair or sense of beauty of the Italian, but they do kiss on the street in a way that would seem garish in the US. They are more Ichabod Crane than Zorro. The only people smiling on the streets of Spain are Latin Americans, who physically stand out for the most part.

Stopped Clock said...

I think most Somalis have now given up on Lewiston and moved to nearby Portland. Lewiston was the city that made the headlines, but Portland had a Somali community even before Lewiston did, and unlike Lewiston Portland has never tied welfare benefits to English language proficiency. Lewiston also was unable to make an accreditable public school ESL program appear out of nowhere whereas Portland already had entire schools designated for ESL students.

There are still definitely a lot of hangers-on in Lewiston, however.

Anonymous said...

I'm reminded of a fly that slowly beats itself to death by flying repeatedly into a glass window.

John Seiler said...

The Ike-era interventions after Sputnik were the beginning of the destruction of school standards because they sharply reduced control and accountability by local parents. Another big disaster was when Kennedy lifted the federal ban on negotiating with government unions. The states soon followed suit. Doing so greatly increased the power of the unions, especially the teachers' unions, which now control much of "education" in many states, including California, with disastrous results. Fed control + teachers' union control = generations of politically correct idiots.

David Davenport said...

Just like in the USSR, the US ballistic program was engineered by ex-Nazi rocket scientists who were either captured [USSR] or invited [USA] (I think the US indicated that war crimes trials may be in the offing if they did not comply, but the rocket scientists were treated well in the US). This included the crucial ICBM nose-cone shape of the missile designed to prevent if from disintegrating as it returned through the atmosphere. ...

No, wrong. Baron Von Braun and his seventy-one colleagues from the A4-V2 era worked on rocket motors, not on Mercury, Gemini, or Apollo re-entry vehicles:



National Aeronautics and Space Administration

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

This New Ocean: A History of Project Mercury
By
Loyd S. Swenson Jr.
James M. Grimwood
Charles C. Alexander
Published as NASA Special Publication-4201 in the NASA History Series, 1989.
Page numbers from the original publication are included within the text within

...

From the beginning STG had sought to obtain the Nation's highest priority for the manned satellite program. But the White House, Congress, and NASA Headquarters at first regarded as equally important the development of a "106," [135] or one-million-pound-thrust, booster engine, and the elaboration of space sciences through the continuation of instrumented satellite programs similar to Vanguard. Hugh L. Dryden initiated a request to the Department of Defense as early as November 14, 1958, to put the "manned satellite and the one-million-pound-thrust engine" in the DOD Master Urgency List alongside the Minuteman and Polaris weapon systems. But the National Aeronautics and Space Council (NASC) had deferred this request on December 3, pending a scheduled meeting the next week of the Civilian-Military Liaison Committee (CMLC). The Space Council did recommend that NASA assign its highest in-house priority to Project Mercury. When it met, the Liaison Committee recommended the "DX," or highest industrial procurement priority, for the manned satellite. They assumed that the Vanguard and Jupiter-C projects would be dropped from that category and that the mullion-pound-thrust engine would be assigned the next lower, or a "DO," priority.3

...

By the first of the new year, it was fairly clear that the large Saturn booster would be continued by the Army's Wernher von Braun team and that the Defense Department was not about to release von Braun and his associates to NASA. Glennan, Dryden, and Silverstein had given Project Mercury the highest priority [136] within NASA itself, but among industrial suppliers and the Defense Department it ranked second to several more urgent and competing demands. By March 1959, definite evidence of equipment and material supply shortages accumulated. The new prime contractor warned of delivery schedule slippages resulting from Mercury's DO rating. Holaday's reports were favorable toward Mercury, and Glennan compromised on the "106-engines." For the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) had directed the Army Ordnance Missile Command and the Air Force Ballistic Missile Division, respectively, to start independent development of both a clustered first-stage booster (the Saturn) and a single-chamber rocket engine (the F-1) able to generate about 1,500,000 pounds of thrust.6

...



Meanwhile, within STG itself, the most urgent task in getting on with the program had already been accomplished by the end of 1958. On December 29 the Task Group had completed its technical assessments of the industrial proposals for manufacturing the capsule and its subsystems. Eleven complete proposals had been received. The narrowing of the field of possible manufacturers was facilitated by the fact that so many alternate configurations were submitted. Faget had invited the bidders "to submit alternate capsule and configuration designs if you so desire, provided that you incorporate the retrorocket principle, [137] the non-lifting principle and the non-ablating heat sink principle. You are not limited to this particular approach only."9 But some of the bidders had taken him altogether too literally in this statement.
...


... NASA informed McDonnell on January 12 that it had been chosen the prime contractor for the Mercury spacecraft. Contract negotiations began immediately; after three more weeks of working out the legal and technical details, the stickiest of which was the fee, the corporation's founder and president, James S. McDonnell, Jr., signed on February 5, 1959, three originals of a contract.11 This document provided for an estimated cost of $18,300,000 and a fee of $1,150,000. At the time, it was a small part of McDonnell's business and a modest outlay of government funds, but it officially set in motion what eventually became one of the largest technical mobilizations in American peacetime history. Some 4,000 suppliers, including 596 direct subcontractors from 25 states and over 1500 second-tier subcontractors, soon came in to assist in the supply of parts for the capsule alone.12
The prime contract was incompletely entitled "Research and Development Contract for Designing and Furnishing Manned Satellite Capsule." The omission of an article before the word "manned" and the lack of the plural form for the word "capsule" prefigured what was to happen within the next five months. The original contract began evolving with the program, so that instead of 12 capsules of identical design, as first specified, 20 spacecraft, each individually designed for a specific mission and each only superficially like the others, were produced by McDonnell. Contract change proposals, or "CCPs," as they were [138] known, quickly grew into supplemental agreements that were to overshadow the prime contract itself.13

The relative roles of STG and McDonnell engineers in pushing the state of the art from design into construction are difficult to assess. Cross-fertilization of ideas and, after the contract was awarded, almost organically close teamwork in implementing them characterized the STG-McDonnell relationship. For a year before the company's selection as prime contractor, original design studies had been carried on with company funds. From a group of 12 engineers led by Raymond A. Pepping, Albert Utsch, Lawrence M. Weeks, and John F. Yardley in January 1958, the Advanced Design section at McDonnell grew to about 40 people by the time the company submitted its proposal to NASA. The proposal itself stated that the company already had invested 32 man-years of effort in the design for a manned satellite, and the elaborate three-volume prospectus amply substantiated the claim.14

In STG's 50-page set of final "Specifications for a Manned Space Capsule," drawn up in November, Faget and associates had described in remarkable detail their expectations of what the capsule and some 15 subsystems should be like. Now the McDonnell production engineers set about expanding the preliminary specifications, filling gaps in the basic design, preparing blueprints and specification control drawings, and retooling their factory for the translation of ideas into tangible hardware. Specification S-6 had enjoined the contractor to provide at his plant as soon as possible a mockup, or full-scale model made of plywood and cardboard, of the capsule system. With high expectations the Task Group awaited March 17, the date by which McDonnell had promised to have ready their detailed specifications and a dummy Mercury capsule and escape tower.15 But the debut was not to be achieved easily.

Before the company could finish building the mockup, at least two technical questions affecting the configuration had to be resolved: one was the type of heatshield to be used; the other was the exact design for the escape system. A third detail, the shape of the antenna canister and drogue chute housing atop the cylindrical afterbody, was also tentative when STG and McDonnell engineers began to work together officially on January 12, 1959.16


http://www.hq.nasa.gov/office/pao/History/SP-4201/toc.htm

David Davenport said...

Steve, please describe what the prototypical English person is supposed to look like, as compared to a Welsh person, a lowland Scot, an Irish lady or gent, or a native of the Shetland Islands.

Mr. Anon said...

"Anonymous said...

Steve, as an American you would not know because, as often, it does not fit the public propaganda. Just like in the USSR, the US ballistic program was engineered by ex-Nazi rocket scientists who were either captured [USSR] or invited [USA]

I'd say that the ICBM program was mostly engineered by Germans and implemented by your smart Ike Americans."

This is a common misconception. It is not really true. There were three ballistic missle programs in the U.S. in the 1950s - the Navy's, the Air Force's, and the Army's. Von Braun and his team worked for the army and developed the Redstone (derived from the V-2 (A-4)), the Jupiter, and eventually the Saturn. The Navy's program never lead to much in the way of an orbital launch vehicle (although they did of course develop sea-launched missiles). The Air Force sponsored development of the Titan and Atlas. And the various engines were developed mostly by Pratt and Whitney and Rocketdyne, and perhaps a few other manufacturers (the F-1 in particular - the first-stage engine on the Saturn V - was developed by Rocketdyne in the 50's as a motor for a ballistic missile - the Germans had little to do with it's original design).

Certainly, Von Braun and the Germans were instrumental in the U.S. space program - but they didn't do everything. The notion that Germans also built the Russian space program is even less true, as the Peenemunde people they got were fewer in number and lesser in talent.

Also, there has been no such thing as "rocket science" since at least the time of Tsiolkovsky - it is engineering, not science.

American Goy said...

"Si se puede"

Say that reminds me of America vs. Mexico football match, where 70%+ spectators (in America) were Mexicans chanting that... in between throwing pee and other stuff at the evil white people with American flags.

Nora Helmer said...

Steve said: Can you imagine being some Third Worlder from some hot, humid equatorial country, and you think you've got it made because you get a refugee visa for rich Norway, and you wind up in Trondheim at the Arctic Circle?

How about Alta, which is 69.5 degrees N! Here's some poor schmuck from Cameroon who got stuck up there. I hope they're giving him vitamin D supplements!

BTW -- I happened across some results from Nordic countries for the 2003 PISA maths tests broken down by "majority" versus "minority" students. [Slide number 5 on this PowerPoint presentation.]

The average scores of minority students born outside of the Nordic countries were consistently at least ca. 40 points below the majority. Minority students born inside the Nordic countries did better, but were still much lower than the majority students:

Country - majority avg./minority born in country avg./minority born out of the country avg.

Norway - ca. 500/ca. 460/ca. 440
Sweden - ca. 515/ca. 480/ca. 430
Denmark - ca. 517/ca. 450/ca. 448
Finland - ca. 540/no scores/ca. 475
Island - ca. 517/no scores/ca. 478