August 30, 2010

"Bad Students, Not Bad Schools"

From my new VDARE.com column:
The new book by sometime VDARE.com contributor Robert Weissberg, Bad Students, Not Bad Schools, has become even timelier following the recent popping of the test score bubble in New York City public schools.

Weissberg, a professor of political science emeritus at the U. of Illinois, wittily surveys in his conversational prose style a half century of educational research. He debunks the fluff that comprises most of this fad-driven field, while highlighting the replicable social science whose lessons go ignored.

Weissberg’s conclusion: the quality of students—intelligence and motivation—is by far the most important factor in whether a school is “bad” or “good”. ...

What makes Bad Students, Not Bad Schools particularly interesting is that in early 21st Century, New York City emerged as the glamor spot of school reform. The rich, the powerful, and the influential teamed up to fight the racial “gap” in school achievement allegedly caused by bad schools. And from 2004 onward, Weissberg was there, watching the idols of the hour up close.

Years before, as it happened, Weissberg himself had grown up in New York City. After a brief (but instructive) spell in 1953 at Booker T. Washington Junior High School on the border of the Upper West Side and Harlem—an expensive new school rapidly deteriorating under the assault from its less scholarly students—Weissberg’s mom yanked him out and headed for the Jersey suburbs.

That bad students can make a school bad is a lesson that tens of millions of Americans besides Weissberg have learned the hard way. Yet, when it comes to thinking about education, we’re not supposed to draw any insights from our own lives. In contrast, you can win fame and, if not fortune, at least a pleasant career by loudly proclaiming that bad schools make good students bad.

Weissberg documents the almost innumerable boondoggles tried out in the public schools in the name of closing the racial gap in achievement.

Over the last decade, New York mayor Michael Bloomberg epitomized the media / governmental / philanthropic complex that has come to dominate discussion of school reform. A Democrat turned Republican turned Independent, Bloomberg struck the press as the perfect non-ideological technocrat to bring “business-like” methods to the public schools to eliminate the gap. 

 Read the whole thing there and comment upon it here.

73 comments:

Henry Canaday said...

Maybe we ought to be outsourcing education consulting to India. India seems to have done a decent job, on the very slim budgets a very poor country can afford, at maximizing the literacy and academic performance of a huge population that varies widely in intellectual abilities.

Thank the ghosts of Crane and Mr. Chaudhuri. H/t to Paul Scott.

Anonymous said...

LA Times says that teacher quality matters above all!

http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-teachers-value-20100815,0,258862,full.story

Of course, that is precisely the argument the educational establishment would make if they wanted more money. If teacher quality is decisive, why then we should pour endless billions more dollars into the educational establishment to ensure that all teachers are of very high quality! The teachers union is only scared of this approach to the extent that "bad" teachers might be held accountable for their badness; what they want is more money without any such accountability.

Anonymous said...

One funny story I heard about Bloomberg was that during a birthday party/roast some of his staffers put together a video making fun of the Mayor's penchant for putting his company logo, which is of course his name, on everything. The video was a montage of various and sundry items emblazoned with the logo flashing before the audience's eyes to the cadence of "Bloooooom-berg...Bloooooom-berg..." The audience found it hilarious but the Mayor went apoplectic and fired the staffers responsible.

Anonymous said...

You bring home the point when you note that Bloomberg made a fortune on in his statistics machines. He must have been aware of the fallacy of these numbers. But what's a little truth and integrity when you are already spending millions of dollars to wear a crown? He's trying to be president and if he needs to pretend that he's helped some black kids to get there, so be it.

TH said...

India seems to have done a decent job, on the very slim budgets a very poor country can afford, at maximizing the literacy and academic performance of a huge population that varies widely in intellectual abilities.

India's literacy rate is 68 percent.

Erin Gruwell said...

Like, India, America seems to heading towards a model of "maximizing the literacy and academic performance of a huge population that varies widely in intellectual abilities."

The qualifiers are that:

* It maximizes performance for the shrinking upper middle class and above that can afford private and prep schools ($40k/yr). It seems many mediocre scions can be polished, passed off and poised for outsized success with year after year of intensive training, access to the best resources, careful tracking and customized cirrculum, and selective class socialization.

* It minimizes the performance for the the much larger middle class relegated to public schools brought low by an unfortunate combination of importation of an massive underclass, the corruption of our existing underclass and a toxic set of liberal ideology that denies individual responsibility, provides a bogus moral framework for anti-social self-destructive behaviors, glorifies in toxic cultural values and financially such self-destructiveness via strategically targeted tax-payer largess.

The difference is that America spends more than any other nation on our educational bureaucracy yet turns out precious few meaningful degrees relative to the opportunities here (thus over half of American STEM PhDs are earned by foreigners).

Joseph Dart said...

The Indian educational system seems to be afflicted with the same ills as the US one. Civil service teachers who are impossible to fire even in the face of gross misconduct, schools being used as the battleground for linguistic nationalisms on the part of minority tribes, and, of course, affirmative action (reservations, as the Indians call the issue), which are so important that they are even constitutionally guaranteed.

Something that should tell you a lot about the priorities of the two societies: America's 1st constitutional amendment is about what the government may not do to your religion or speech. India's 1st constitutional amendment is about affirmative action.

Wikipedia: First Amendment of the Constitution of India

Wikipedia: State of Madras v. Champakam Dorairajan

RandyB said...

I went to a pretty integrated high school in a suburban jurisdiction noted for the high quality of its public education. Although the school was about 20% African-American, I don't think there was a single one in any of my academic courses, except for the two immigrant girls. Not sure what the motivation was, but my exposure to NAMs was PE and Shop.

Kylie said...

Henry Canaday said..."Thank the ghosts of Crane and Mr. Chaudhuri. H/t to Paul Scott."

I love The Raj Quartet. They are four of the most brilliant novels ever written.

Have you read Staying On?

Anonymous said...

The same thing is happening in England, but in a slightly different form.
In England, every yera, inexorably, for the past 25 years scores in the school leaving exams (GCSEs and 'A'- levels) have risen, although the government (which directly grades the exams) denies that this due to 'dumbing down' but is solely down to 'beter standards'.However a cursory knowledge of the facts proves this to be untrue.
More pointedly is the enormous difference in exam scores between private schools (often confusingly called 'public' schools in England), and state schools.Bsaically private schools sh*t all over the state schools when measured by exam success.Virtually every pupil leaving a private school gets the maximum score possible in their leaving exams - this was the reason in the first place the British government dumbed down the leaving exams - it was well and truly embarrassed by the shocking differential between the state and private schools and sought to close the gap by dumbing down the exams so that more stae pupils passed.
Because virtually all private schol pupils get maximum possible grades at leaving, the universities find it very hard to ration the small number of places offered.
Private schools in England are excellent, academically.Their secret is that they are almost all selective in their intake, selecting pupils by the 'common entrance test' - a tough, challenging exam based on English, Math and Logic that is taken by 12 year olds.
By contrst the state sector never practises selection, but is ideologically committed (due to the Labour Party) to 'mixed ability classrooms', apparently it's fine and dandy to select pupils by their sporting prowess but not their academic ability.
The Tories did have a voucher type system to enable bright but poor pupils enter private schools, but Labour abolished it.
English private schools are very expensive, even by the stadards of private schools worldwide.Probably only 5% of families can afford the fees.

Anonymous said...

Is it really so unlikely that bad schools can ruin potentially good students? This seems to me a separate question from whether a good school can remake bad students, although the two may seem on the surface to be the same issue.

After all, if bad schools made no difference to student outcomes, then Weissberg's mother need not have worried about the quality of the education he was receiving in his Harlem school.

And because it is difficult to know, at least at the outset, whether a young pupil is performing poorly because he is a bad student (lacking in intelligence, motivation, or both), or attends a bad school, the whole thorny problem of bad school/bad student remains before us, unresolved.

alias clio

Florida resident said...

1. Bravo, Mr. Sailer.

2. John Derbyshire has reviewed this book on June 9, 2010:

http://johnderbyshire.com/Reviews/HumanSciences/badstudents.html

It was so long ago that your humble servant (F.r.) had enough time to purchase the book on Amazon, to read it in _full_, and even to mention it several times on "isteve" comments.

3. Sure, the statements of the book already have been repeatedly done by my favorite author, Steven Sailer.
But, in referernce to the book "Bad students, not bad schools" and Sailer's review of it,
"A PLATITUDE MUST BE STATED WITH FORCE AND CLARITY" (supposedly John Galsworthy.)

4. As for Henry Canaday's comment, apparently he has not read the book in question.

Why blame the factory, which produces lead and zinc, for not producing copper and silver --- the latter being two most electrically conductive metals ?
(again, analogy borrowed from Sailer's articles.)

Apparently, Mr. Canaday still assumes the validity of "The Blank Slate" model of humans: whoever is the infant, the proper education will create "New Humans" (see communist experiment in USSR.)

Respectfully yours, F. r.

Bantam said...

Steve, let me disagree with you; environment is all.

Just look how, in the Douce France, so-called "Bad Boys" can quickly learn the delicate intricacies of famously subtile French Romantic courtship.

Anonymous said...

You mention a couple times that Bloomberg's expensive monitors seem irrational. Maybe so, but in those kind of circles that's the rule not the exception.

Two examples. Among Wall Streeters you will probably find men wearing Rolex watches. Why? I have a Casio digital watch that is more accurate, lighter and stylish. What did I pay for it? Nothing. It was given to me when I bought something else. Personal timekeeping is now perfectly accurate and free. A Rolex is styled like a 1958 Buick, only moderately accurate and very, very expensive.

Example number two. The sun evaporates the Pacific Ocean and the clouds migrate east. The clouds run up against the Sierras and drop their water as snow. The snow melts and accumulates in granite basin called Hetch Hechy.

This is how San Francisco gets its drinking water - the best in the world - free from the tap. Yet Gavin Newsom the handsome yuppie mayor has had to run a campaign against civil servants spending tax payer money on bottled water. Supposedly environmentally sensitive San Franciscans have created a demand for plastic bottles for their water at the same time that the city government has outlawed plastic bags.

New York also has excellent free public water. Yet I'm sure that the brokers sitting at their desks look up from their Bloomberg terminal, glance at their Rolex watches and take a swig from their water bottles.

Albertosaurus

dearieme said...

Some lies probably don't do much harm; some might even be beneficial. But some can bring a whole country down. This might be one such.

Lucas said...

Someone's probably passed this along to you, Steve, but:

'Are Tests Biased Against Students Who Don't Give a Shit?'
http://www.theonion.com/video/in-the-know-are-tests-biased-against-students-who,17966/

For my money, the 'Onion News Network' may be the sharpest and funniest media/cultural satire around, but these 'In The Know' segments are often the cream (because they're where the opinions come out).

Bone Fire said...

Eliminate compulsory education.

Most of what passes for public education is just "socialization" and mindless propaganda rather than education. At worst, it's a mild and polite form of slavery. The public schools can stay, but without compulsory attendance, and with the power to exclude students-in-name-only and real troublemakers.

Packing the schools full of unmotivated bestial dummies of all races doesn't make them learn anything, and wastes valuable resources that could be used for motivated intelligent ("NUUUUURDY" in media-speak) young persons. 90% of the discipline problems in school - gangs, bullying, vandalism - are caused by the tribal dummies. The other 10% are caused by schools unable to meet to needs of bright students because they waste so much catering to the dummies.

If these dummies are so bloody tough and so full of self-esteem - they will have no trouble suriviving on their own on the streets. That's where they belong - or in a zoo, or a reservation. Or vocational training, if they can muster enough discipline to drag their asses to the nearest vocational school.

Anonymous said...

as someone who has only recently left the public school system, I whole-heartedly disagree with you.

it's bad teachers.

now bad teachers are not evil or dangerous---they just do nothing, teach nothing, does not inspire, very rote.

since this is the HBD-sphere, I can say with absolutely honesty that minority teachers are in general--pretty crappy.

they just suck.

the best teachers i've had were jews.

Justin said...

Speaking of keeping kids out of the "bad schools", I recently did a research project on the real estate in the Phoenix suburbs.

I found that people are willing to pay double to live away from minorities. Or to put it another way, houses sold at a 50% discount in minority (meaning, in this case, Mexican) neighborhoods.

Keep in mind, this is in a region with total school choice, between charters and neighborhood schools, and even open-enrollment, so you can send your kids to better public schools in different neighborhoods if you want.

So, it is NOT just about the quality of the schools. White people simply don't want to live in minority neighborhoods. They will pay double for the exact same house (in terms of square footage, lot size, and age of house) if it is in a (mainly) White neighborhood.

Anonymous said...

Yes, the PR and promise-the-moon rhetoric was deeply misleading and in bad faith.

However, even if we take the Sailer-approved goal as a reasonable program -- raise everybody by half a std. deviation -- many of Klein/Bloomberg's ideas will still appear on the agenda.

True, firing the worst teachers, merit pay for the best, etc., won't Close The Gap, but it will be better than the status quo.

Look at this LA Times series on teachers in the LAUSD. It's apparent that, without the reform crusade pushed by the press, the establishment would have less than zero interest in even asking whether they can figure out who is doing a good job and who isn't. This is absurd. Firing the bottom 5 percent should not be that hard.

The golf analogy used previously by Sailer - "either Tiger Woods's coach can coach Tiger, or coach me" is really a false dichotomy. Rather, marginal improvement in resource allocation is an entirely attainable goal.

"No gold stars for successful L.A. teachers"
http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-adv-good-teacher-20100828,0,7982823,full.story

http://www.latimes.com/news/local/teachers-investigation/

headache said...

Great read, thanks Steve. Helps to intepret a few misleading graphs in the MSM.
Why is Bloomberg so obsessed with black education? Was it a reelection strategy?

Anonymous said...

I see that you are trying to popularize the ideas of La Griffe du Lion by presenting them without the integral calculus. This is excellent, but they need to be even more widely circulated. Do you think that someone in your HBD discussion group would be willing to write an editorial for the Wall Street Journal and get a lot of prominent people to sign on to it? I am thinking of something like "Mainstream Science on Intelligence" by Linda Gottsfredson. It is ridiculous that our ruling elites need to have such things explained to them, but it is even more ridiculous that no one bothers to do so.

Anonymous said...

"Maybe we ought to be outsourcing education consulting to India."

Why don't we just outsource the bad students to India? Kill two birds with one stone.

Though it would be amusing to see education bureaucrats losing their jobs to India, politically it won't happen. Outsourcing is for us schlubs in the dreaded private sector; none of that nonsense for government workers.

Joe-6 said...

Not a surprise here. Students with mush for brains, missing fathers, awful family lives..... They couldn't learn in a Taj Mahal of a school. They will trash it within years anyway. They will trash and drive out the best teachers

90% of these "impossible to teach" are from our own third world nations within this nation. They are wild and ungovernable

Anonymous said...

http://www.theonion.com/video/in-the-know-are-tests-biased-against-students-who,17966/

hehe

Anonymous said...

The solution is to abolish the public school system and to provide no education funds to anyone. Public schools have morphed into day care centers for the underclass which makes it very convenient for Latinas to birth 3 - 5 kids. However, they might consider a tubal ligation if they had to stay home supervising a tribe of underage hyperactive savages 24/7 x 365 AND provide breakfast and lunch to boot.

Parents with at least mentally average offspring will sacrifice for their kids education, and promising kids with negligent parents will easily find sympathetic sponsors. My grandfather, a poor 13 year old illegal immigrant from Wales in the early 20th century got a scholarship from a wealthy industrialist to attend Mt Hermon, then Harvard.

Anonymous said...

"Maybe we ought to be outsourcing education consulting to India. India seems to have done a decent job, on the very slim budgets a very poor country can afford, at maximizing the literacy and academic performance of a huge population that varies widely in intellectual abilities."
Did you outsource your brain function? India education system is horrible and india government is one of the worst in educating their poors/women. you can hardly called 50% illiteracy among women is decent,

Nine-of-Diamonds said...

You're out of your mind. What would Indians know about finding employment for 1,000's of Education majors each year? If the system ain't broke, don't fix it.

In all seriousness, you might want to check out some of John McWhorter's writings - plenty of good stuff about certain demographic groups' educational misadventures. Even when the groups in question earn as much as whites, and have their kids enrolled in model high schools & the ivies.

rightsaidfred said...

Why do our rulers have an overbearing need to create conformity? Stalin and Molotov shipped their non-conformers off to the gulag. Modern elites are happy to gulag-ize society in their quest to have a compliant, equalized society.

Anonymous said...

Bad teachers, bad schools, bad textbooks, bad education schools, bad kids, bad parents, bad standards, bad testing method (multiple choice), bad music, bad borders, bad principals and guidance, bad nutrition, bad health, bad job prospects, bad internet, bad movies, bad current employment, bad environment: good luck coming up with a plan for this mess.

helene edwards said...

Echo Nine of Diamonds re McWhorter. In his book, "Losing the Race," McWhorter really hit on something when he floated the term "therapeutic alienation" to describe the psychological condition of the last two generations of black youth. The effort on this board to ignore McWhorter has been rather obvious, and I gueess the reason is that HBD'ers don't want to have to eliminate discrete black pyschology as the most likely reason for black educational failure. Intelligence gap would still stand as the reason blacks don't make it onto science faculties, but apparently this isn't good enough for Steve's crowd.

Anonymous said...

Did you outsource your brain function? India education system is horrible and india government is one of the worst in educating their poors/women. you can hardly called 50% illiteracy among women is decent

How about we outsource our feminists from the Evil White Male Patriarchy of America, so they can educate Indian women, and mentor them in their professional careers?

Bone Fire said...

India's literacy rate is 68 percent.

So what? As long as its smart fraction gets its needed education, the rest can go to hell. India does have a large undereducated underclass for the simple reason that this underclass is also under-brained.

Ditto with America, and much of Europe. That's why I'm so skeptical about literacy rates. They mean little.

Nations with rates close to 100%, such as Finland and Japan, are uniformly highly intelligent, and don't have a real underclass. Also traditional European migration to America was a reverse brain drain, that increased the average IQ and decreased the spread of many European countries. It was the hardworking dummies that emigrated.

Anonymous said...

this vdare column of yours, i find it very odd.

undoubtedly there are good teachers, the point of reform is to keep good teachers and get rid of bad teachers (or to make them good teachers, if it's possible.)

what do you have against that?

Anonymous said...

Poor performance by blacks and Hispanics in K-12 wouldn't be an issue if the private sector and critical government agencies weren't compelled to hire them or face an EEOC/DOJ lawsuit. The four fifths rule is a handy way to make minority deficiencies EVERYBODY's problem.

Renaming the racial talent gap an achievement gap is a lie all in itself. When everybody gets the one-size-fits-all public education and big differences persist, it is no longer an achievement gap. It's a talent gap. The only real achievement gap is when some kid seems to be academically failing in spite of an objectively measured high IQ and manifest talent for language and math.

Anonymous said...

"The effort on this board to ignore McWhorter has been rather obvious,"

You must be new here.

McWhorter has been raked over the coals many times by Steve. Google it.

As for the rest of your post, blah blah blah. We're quite familiar with the endless excuses from the HBD-denial crowd. It's all been refuted before yet you show no knowledge of the debate, whatsoever.

Curvaceous, etc. said...

"this vdare column of yours, i find it very odd.

undoubtedly there are good teachers, the point of reform is to keep good teachers and get rid of bad teachers (or to make them good teachers, if it's possible.)"

This post of yours I find very odd.
In a thread about bad students vs. bad teachers, you fail to use proper punctuation and capitalization.
Are you a bad student or a victim of a bad teacher?
Should we get rid of you or make you use good grammar (if it's possible)?

ben tillman said...

So, it is NOT just about the quality of the schools. White people simply don't want to live in minority neighborhoods.

"Minority" does not mean "non-White". Whites are a minority in the world, and in most political subdivisions of the world, including many US states and cities.

Do not use "minority" when you mean non-White. It connotes a White numerical and political dominance that simply does not exist.

Bantam said...

In an *IQ-themed* thread, commenters making fun of dummies could at least learn how to correctly link.

Anonymous said...

This dude gets it:

'All Jews share a certain gene': German banker sparks outrage with 'stupid' comments
By Michael Woodhead
Last updated at 7:43 AM on 30th August 2010
dailymail.co.uk

...In the book he claims the country is on the road to ruin because of the influx of immigrants from the Middle East which would overwhelm the indigenous population and create a nation of 'dunces'.

In particular he singles out Muslims for failing to integrate and having low IQs.

This influx, he claims, has been going on virtually since the war while the birthrate of native Germans has been steadily falling.

He asserts the result has been a 'dramatic fall' in literacy and numeracy. 'Germany is becoming more stupid,' he said...

Anonymous said...

...the point of reform is to keep good teachers and get rid of bad teachers (or to make them good teachers, if it's possible.) what do you have against that?

Have you read Murray's infamous Footnote #44?

He has some terrifying data which [if I understand it correctly] indicates that the African-American average IQ plummeted, from 83.7 in 1979 [on the part of the mothers], to 80.2 in 1997 [on the part of the children].

Or have you seen Lynn & Vanhanen's guesstimate of 79 as the average IQ for the entire nation of Guatemala?

Which is probably fairly typical of the average illegal alien Mexican Indian in this country.

The cynics on this thread are trying to get you to realize that the very best teacher in the world can't teach Reading, 'Riting, nor 'Rithmetic to children with IQs of 79 or 80.

Ain't no way.

No how.

Not from now until the end of time.

Will. Not. Happen.

Anonymous said...

"Also traditional European migration to America was a reverse brain drain, that increased the average IQ and decreased the spread of many European countries. It was the hardworking dummies that emigrated."

Can you support that claim with any kind of evidence? Is "hardworking dummies" a meaningful statistical category, or just something you pulled out of your @ss?

Obviously the top of the society would not generally immigrate, but the bottom wouldn't either (it took both motivation and at least some free capital to immigrate), except in rare cases like the Irish Potato Famine when the entire population was motivated to immigrate.

Anonymous said...

""Minority" does not mean "non-White". Whites are a minority in the world, and in most political subdivisions of the world, including many US states and cities.

Do not use "minority" when you mean non-White. It connotes a White numerical and political dominance that simply does not exist."

Probably an older guy who, like me, was raised on the whole "majority/minority" propaganda where minority simply meant "black". Obviously those days are long gone, but we still carry the affects of this thinking around in our heads.

Somewhere, it is, and always will be, 1976.

Bone Fire said...

Use the word "ethnoid" instead of "minority".

europeasant said...

It is simply incredible that in this day and age there are so many people out there that believe that every human being has the same IQ! and that all population groups have the same IQ! These people are totally brainwashed.

Anonymous said...

now bad teachers are not evil or dangerous---they just do nothing, teach nothing, does not inspire, very rote.

Bad teachers are evil and dangerous. If they abuse kids, take their petty bigotries out on kids (typically the good smart ones), or enable suicide, for instance.

What you are describing is not so much bad teachers as mediocre ones, which are thankfully more common. Sadly, the good teachers are rare. They don't get paid for being good.

One way to tell the difference is to see how the All-Powerful Union treats a teacher. The Union loves and cherishes and supports bad teachers, leaves mediocre ones alone, and does everything it can to sabotage the careers of good teachers.

Anonymous said...

the best teachers i've had were jews.

In my experience ethnicity makes little difference to teaching. Teachers who are (Ash-Reform) Jews have plenty of technical knowledge, but can be mighty sarcastic, and some of them have the standard Jewish paranoia of seeing Nazis under every manhole cover. Asians are much like Jews, but more demanding of students, lacking in social skills, and no Jewish hangups. WASP teachers have both knowledge and social skills - but no empathy. Mediterraneans are sweet and laid-back. I had no black or hispanic teachers so I can't comment.

My best (science) teacher ... part Armenian and Burmese Jew, but extremely white and nerdy in outlook. He was small (and had tons of body hair) but he tolerated no educratic bullshit from anyone - even opening up a gifted club despite the principal forbidding it. He spoke and wrote better English than most English teachers, and made Carl Sagan's Cosmos look like a flea circus. This teacher was fired when he lost it in class, karate-chopping a notorious ethnic bully (a foot taller and twice the weight of the teacher!) and putting the tard in a wheelchair for a few months. The teacher actually went to jail for this, but later opened up his own gifted private school.

Paul DeReno said...

Yes, but this contradicts another fellow that Steve has found interesting: John Taylor Gatto.

I'm more in Gatto's camp, in that schools ARE bad, unfathomably bad, compared to what they should be. They teach nothing except following orders and propaganda.

The reason people don't understand this is that they compare our supposed bad schools with our supposedly good schools, and find that the only difference is the students. True, but our supposedly good and bad schools both have terrible systems and many inept teachers, meaning that the good students can put shine to the sh*t.

none of the above said...

One question I have is where the impact of bad students mainly comes from. Is it a smallish number of really badly behaved kids? Or a larger number of kids who just aren't learning the material? Anecdotally, the first set is often blamed for problems. And yet, it's not all that hard to solve that problem by expelling troublemakers. The second problem is much more intractable. I mean, if you've got a bunch of students reading on a 4th grade level, it's just going to be hard to get through Macbeth, even if the kids are doing their level best and behaving pretty well.

There's an obvious overlap between these two problems. Take the average American and drop him into a graduate level class on number theory, and the poor bastard will fidget, look longingly out the window, ask to go to the bathroom six times an hour, chat with his friends, etc. Because what's going on on the blackboard and in the homework will just make no sense at all to him. ("What's with that fraction there? A Jacobi symbol? Wait, who's Jacobi? And what's he got to do with that fraction there?")

none of the above said...

Is there good publicly available data that shows clearly how much of the variance in school test score performance can be explained by racial mix or SES of students? Certainly, around here, the good schools are mostly white/Asian, while the bad ones are mostly black/hispanic.

This will surely vary with the difficulty of the tests. But while people always talk about this effect in terms of why it makes it hard to judge teachers by their kids' test scores, I never seem to see any hard numbers on this.

Anonymous said...

India is academically successful because it's full of Indians, who tend to be the equivalent of East Asians in terms of their industriousness, conformity, and strong families. Not every child is smart, but the smart kids tend to work hard, get lots of parental support/pressure, and are rewarded with immense and prestige.

Also, the mean Indian IQ is often reported as 80ish for the country. This is bull. The average level of competence is probably lower than in the West or the wealthy parts of East Asia, but it can't be too much lower. I know lots of Indo-Carribeans and Indo-Fijians whose ancestors were peasant laborers. While not particularly intellectual, they are quite a bit more cerebral than NAMS and seem about as competent as working class whites.

Studies of non-selected Indian populations have found means IQs in the low 90s range. So I suppose that something like 92 or 93 makes sense for India, which isn't too low and puts most Indians in the normal IQ range. Given the population size and variance, there likely are also a lot of really smart high IQ people too. When you combine all that with the high degree of motivation, industriousness, parental/societal expectations, pro-education culturre, and the economic/social rewards...... well that's a good combination for producing lots of engineers, doctors, and programmers in India.

Of course there's downside. For one thing, the level of innovation is not very high. Another problem woud be that students learn in a rote memorization fashion. Also, while the number of smart people is large, the bulk of the people are of medicore or sub-mediocre competence/skills. India is basically like China, more or less.

Svigor said...

Why do our rulers have an overbearing need to create conformity? Stalin and Molotov shipped their non-conformers off to the gulag. Modern elites are happy to gulag-ize society in their quest to have a compliant, equalized society.

Wow, great comparison. The commies were more benevolent than our masters are. Except for the mass grave thing, heh. But no sarcasm intended, great comparison; they can't send the undesirables off to the gulag so they turn the whole country into a gulag instead. It's the kind of thing that should be in the Screwtape Letters.

Anonymous said...

"How about we outsource our feminists from the Evil White Male Patriarchy of America, so they can educate Indian women, and mentor them in their professional careers?"


Ha, ha, ha! I love it. Slap on a few buzz words and the feminist chicks would volunteer!

Very cute.

Anonymous said...

We know the bad-teachers-cause-the-gap theory is a crock because of all the other theories which really going to explain it, finally after all.

What happened to NAMs failing due to exposure to murder and gang related violnce?

What happened to stereotype threat?

What happened to fear-of-acting-white?

What happened to racist teachers?

What happened to racist teaching materials?

What happened to segregation?

They all explained the gap too, where is the unified theory that includes those? Seems to be an unspoken agreement that they werent the cause of the gap after all. In which case, where is the big public apology for all those dead ends we've been steered down.

Jack said...

The chart shows the standard deviation difference between blacks and whites at about 0.8. This seems kind of low, considering it is supposed to be 1.0. Plus, aren't there some Jews still in NYC public schools, therefore making the standard deviation GREATER than 1? Is it possible there has been "progress"?

Anonymous said...

"The commies were more benevolent than our masters are. Except for the mass grave thing, heh."

There is something to be said for keeping the state-imposed violence in the gulag rather than having it loose on the streets as we do. Moscow and Leningrad were pretty safe at night.

Anonymous said...

Just completed "Race, Wrongs, and Remedies" by Amy Wax. Its overall theme is that the only way that the gap between whites and blacks can be narrowed is by a change in black culture and that most of our 'programs' have had little effect.

David said...

>Obviously the top of the society would not generally [emigrate] [from the other side of the pond before the Potato Famine], but the bottom wouldn't either (it took both motivation and at least some free capital to [emigrate])<

Motivation: we get put in prison if we stay. Free capital: a small number of men own a ship and need indentured servants. That's pretty close to the bottom.

Anonymous said...

"The cynics on this thread are trying to get you to realize that the very best teacher in the world can't teach Reading, 'Riting, nor 'Rithmetic to children with IQs of 79 or 80."

Originally, IQ measured "mental age" versus real age. Admittedly, they don't calculate it that way anymore, but it works as an illustration.

By that standard, 80 IQ works out to a mental age of 12-13 (an average 16yo being 100).

Average 12-year-olds can learn the three Rs.

Truth said...

"They all explained the gap too..."

Maybe they all DO explain the gap--taken concurrently.

Curvaceous, etc. said...

"By that standard, 80 IQ works out to a mental age of 12-13 (an average 16yo being 100).

Average 12-year-olds can learn the three Rs."

Sure, when they get to BE 12. But in American schools populated by White kids, we don't teach reading at age 12. We teach it at age 6.
Those 80-IQ 6 year olds are mentally 4.8, and normal 4-year-olds can't be taught to read and add yet.

So if we actually had the nerve to stare down the "disparate impact" howlers, we'd go ahead and track non-White children and just teach most of those kids just cutting and pasting and being read to until age 8 (mental age 6.5), and then go verrrry slowly, emphasizing decoding for several years. The dullards would be much happier for not having their limitations on display.
Sounds like a plan to me.

Too bad non-White advocates say, perish the thought. Better they sit in White classrooms and make everyone sloooooowww down.

Or, the other outcome. The 80-IQs at age 12 cannot read because everything has been over their heads the whole time. Because they're mad about it, they refuse to even try to do the 2nd grade work they now could master.

Curvaceous, etc. said...

"They all explained the gap too..."

"They all explained the gap too..."

Maybe they all DO explain the gap--taken concurrently.."

Aristotle thought the sun and planets revolve around the Earth. But then he realized it didn't explain everything. So he needed a few epicycles. Then a few more. Just a few more would do it, for sure. Just take them all concurrently, and everything is sort-of explained.

One day Copernicus said, hm, maybe the Earth revolves around the sun.

""They all explained the gap too..."

"Maybe they all DO explain the gap--taken concurrently.."
-- or --
Maybe it's genetic.

Anonymous said...

With extremely intensive instruction, you might be able to get them to memorize some basic addition tables...

Let me expound on that point.

Even if, after months upon months of intensive instruction - flash card drills, computer software drills, singing/clapping/chanting/beating-of-the-tambourine drills, etc etc etc - even if you could get them to memorize the 100 [or, modulo commutativity, only the "10 choose 2"] different sums of the numbers from 1 to 10, they will never [and I mean NEVER] be able to apply that memorization to any sort of "word" [or "story"] problem.

Not even if you could get them to the point where they could parrot the words in the word problem [which words, at IQ 80, they will never be capable of comprehending]:


See Dick drop seven doggy treats on the floor by accident. See Spot scurry over and eat three of the doggy treats. See Jane pick up the remaining doggy treats before Spot can eat them. How many doggy treats does Jane now have?

a) Jane has five doggy treats.

b) Jane has three doggy treats.

c) Jane has seven doggy treats.

d) Jane has four doggy treats.

e) Jane has two doggy treats.



At IQ 80, this will NEVER happen.

And even out towards IQ 90-95, it's going to be a difficult problem in [societal-wide] pedagogy to figure out how to burn into their brains the ability to retain a strategy for tackling problems like this when they become adults who are a decade or more removed from formal edumakashun.

Anonymous said...

"Moscow and Leningrad were pretty safe at night."

Well, except for roving rapists like Lavrenty Beria.

Anonymous said...

"By that standard, 80 IQ works out to a mental age of 12-13 (an average 16yo being 100).

Average 12-year-olds can learn the three Rs."

That's true, but the average 12 year old will have a lot of trouble successfully completing a high school curriculum. If you look at the combined statistics for students dropping out or failing to graduate from a CA high school, the percentages by race are 35%, 25%, 11%, and 8% for blacks, Hispanics, Whites, and Asians, respectively. Assuming an IQ of 80 is the threshold for squeaking by, you would predict an average IQ of 85, 89, 98, and 101 for blacks, Hispanics, Whites, and Asians, respectively. Eerily similar to direct measurements, eh?

Of course this also explains why you don't meet too many black or Hispanic engineering majors at the University of California. Fewer than 0.1% of blacks and 0.3% of Hispanics would be mentally qualified, and those that did would probably prefer going into banking, consulting, or some other money making profession. Engineering and science are intellectually challenging, and pay relatively little unless combined with entrepreneurial talent and effort.

Bill said...

Relevant to the question of whether it is schools/teachers or studentss is this interesting study of students who were randomized into different Chicago schools of differing alleged quality:

Is Gaining Access to Selective Elementary Schools Gaining Ground? Evidence From Randomized Lotteries

Julie Berry Cullen, Brian A. Jacob

NBER Working Paper No. 13443
Issued in September 2007

In this paper, we examine whether expanded access to sought-after schools can improve academic achievement. The setting we study is the "open enrollment" system in the Chicago Public Schools (CPS). We use lottery data to avoid the critical issue of non-random selection of students into schools. Our analysis sample includes nearly 450 lotteries for kindergarten and first grade slots at 32 popular schools in 2000 and 2001. We track students for up to five years and examine outcomes such as standardized test scores, grade retention and special education placement. Comparing lottery winners and losers, we find that lottery winners attend higher quality schools as measured by both the average achievement level of peers in the school as well as by value-added indicators of the school's contribution to student learning. Yet, we do not find that winning a lottery systematically confers any evident academic benefits. We explore several possible explanations for our findings, including the possibility that the typical student may be choosing schools for non-academic reasons (e.g., safety, proximity) and/or may experience benefits along dimensions we are unable to measure, but find little evidence in favor of such explanations. Moreover, we separately examine effects for a variety of demographic subgroups, and for students whose application behavior suggests a strong preference for academics, but again find no significant effects.

Bone Fire said...

Curvaceous:

Too bad non-White advocates say, perish the thought. Better they sit in White classrooms and make everyone sloooooowww down.

While I agree with most of your statement, it isn't (just) a white vs non-white issue. There are plenty of white dummies too. Liberals and edu-liberals had to start by pimping their cause.

The problem with liberals is not that they are stupid; they are quite smart - but self-hating smart. Or perhaps by surrounding themselves by dummies they can be "big fish in small bowls". Witness how much liberals hate nerds, geeks, libertarians, autistic "aspie" types, etc.

The last item is really worrying because liberals are supposed to side with the underdog - yet to them there are huge cabals of evil nazi satanist IQ 120 aspies who somehow oppress their IQ 40 Down's syndrome precious poster children.

Anonymous said...

Curvaceous,

Your points about mental ages and their implications are all excellent. My issue was with the earlier poster who claimed the people with IQs of 79-80 can't learn the 3Rs under any circumstances.

Another poster discussed getting 80 IQs through high school. Yes, a problem. Calls for a streamed curriculum focussing on memorizing basic facts and learning manual skills. And into the workforce at 16. (The utopian assumption here is that there will be jobs for such people.)

Another poster claims that 80 IQs will never be able to solve a simple arithmetic word problem. If that's so, then my assumption that IQ 80 ~= mental age 12 must be wrong. In our current schools (possibly somewhat dumbed-down) we give those kinds of problems to 8- or 9-year-olds, don't we? Maybe he can provide a reference for that claim.

People with IQs of 80 are not mentally retarded - though equally they're not the brightest lights on the Christmas tree.

Truth said...

"-- or --
Maybe it's genetic."

Maybe it is.

sevier said...

Simpson's solution to the education quagmire- sensible and effective- all it needs is a p.r. campaign to mainstream it-

THOSE WHO SHOW MOST PROMISE THROUGH DEMONSTRATING THAT THEY BENEFIT FROM EDUCATION ARE PROVIDED MORE OF IT, THE MOST OF IT. OTHERS CAN SOLVE THEIR OWN PROBLEMS.

http://wwwm.biz.tc/wwwm11.html



"The aim in this arrangement of things would be primarily to find and to increase quality of life throughout our whole society, and attention would be especially concentrated on those who showed the most promise of quality. Our cultural heritage on its lowest levels and in its most elementary forms, we might well begin by setting before all alike (after the very manner desired by the proponents of “equal opportunity”), but from the start teachers would be trained to look for those who had responded to, and had made use of, what they had already received. Thus opportunity would be offered as a challenge, as a test, as a prize, and as a reward, all in one, to those who had shown signs of that rare and precious stuff of which quality, superiority, is made. From the lowest grades on, the rule would be, as Jesus put it, “To him that hath shall be given.” Let a youth first prove that he has taken advantage of what he has received, that he has thereby increased in mental and spiritual stature, before he is given any more! Thus will capability, and every manner of virtue, and every manner of genius, be lured out of young men and discovered not only to their teachers but to the young men themselves. Thus will they become aware of a life of their own taking shape within them, singling out a sure and definite direction, growing in vigor and sure-footedness, and making them increasingly conscious of a destiny. And the rare teacher will be at hand, the rare teacher for the rare youth, to feed him all that he can take. And for the youth who is one of the rarest of all, will be waiting one of the supreme teachers of the land."

ben tillman said...

Yes, but this contradicts another fellow that Steve has found interesting: John Taylor Gatto.

Gatto's son also has a lot of interesting things to say, but I understand his comments don't make it through moderation here.

Richard A. said...

Bad students are caused by bad parenting.

nicholi said...

I found the racist comments on this thread to be hilarious:

"Public schools have morphed into day care centers for the underclass which makes it very convenient for Latinas to birth 3 - 5 kids. However, they might consider a tubal ligation if they had to stay home supervising a tribe of underage hyperactive savages 24/7 x 365 AND provide breakfast and lunch to boot."

I can only guess what color you are.

I'm not posting to make excuses for anyone, but one thing i can say is that Public School should be an investment into our future workforce. With no jobs however, and no trade training in schools, the students have nothing to work towards, yet, they are set along on a path of subsidized failure by a government who uses the schools to create jobs rather than to educate.

I live in NYC with a businesswoman chancellor who knows about as much about education as I know about Pluto.

Minorities are USED to create educational staff jobs and then blamed for the countries economic shortfalls. That's the bottom line and as long as the racists continue to blame them - while China and india continue to uplift their people, America will continue to decline until it does go bankrupt and civil unrest does erupt.