March 16, 2009

Is this Bush or Obama? (Part II)

Is this from a 2001 George W. Bush speech on education or from a 2009 Barack Obama speech on education:

So let's challenge our states -- let's challenge our states to adopt world-class standards that will bring our curriculums to the 21st century. Today's system of 50 different sets of benchmarks for academic success means 4th grade readers in Mississippi are scoring nearly 70 points lower than students in Wyoming -- and they're getting the same grade. Eight of our states are setting their standards so low that their students may end up on par with roughly the bottom 40 percent of the world.

That's inexcusable. That's why I'm calling on states that are setting their standards far below where they ought to be to stop low-balling expectations for our kids. The solution to low test scores is not lowering standards -- it's tougher, clearer standards. (Applause.) Standards like those in Massachusetts, where 8th graders are -- (applause) -- we have a Massachusetts contingent here. (Laughter.) In Massachusetts, 8th graders are now tying for first -- first in the whole world in science.

Judging from the inelegant diction, misunderestimated statistics, dubious logic, and MBA buzzwords, you might think it's Bush in 2001. But it's Obama last week in his big education speech. The shout-out to Massachusetts is the most obvious give-away.

But it's the same cargo cult mentality that thinks that the big difference between students in Mississippi and students in Massachusetts is that Massachusetts' grades them tougher on state achievement tests to see if they are "proficient" in math and reading, so, therefore, the Massachusetts students Rise to Meet the Challenge.

In reality, Massachusetts has been the intellectual center of North America since the 1600s, and Mississippi has not. And the toughness of the grading of the Massachusetts test doesn't have much of anything to do with it. As I pointed out in VDARE a couple of years ago, Massachusetts is one of the toughest graders, but the toughest grader of all is ... Louisiana.

As I explained, The basic problem, which Obama didn't mention, is the NCLB's
most important and implausible requirement: "that all children should reach a proficient level of academic achievement by 2014" in math and reading.

It's nuts.

... In the current NCLB, which was largely the result of an alliance between President Bush and Senator Kennedy ... . Each state is allowed to concoct its own test to determine whether its own students have reached "proficiency," which the state can define however it pleases.

Not surprisingly, practically every single state cheats in order to meet the law. For example, Mississippi, that intellectual powerhouse, recently declared that 89 percent of its 4th graders were at least "proficient" in reading.

Unfortunately, however, on the federal government's impartial National Assessment of Educational Progress test, only 18 percent of Mississippi students were "proficient" or "advanced."

(The most honest state, surprisingly enough: Louisiana—with Missouri, Massachusetts, and South Carolina deserving honorable mentions.)

Overall, the typical state claimed that 68 percent of its 4th graders were proficient readers, compared to the 30 percent found by the honest NAEP.

But, Obama is pretending, just like Bush, that we can make NCLB come true just by wishing hard enough.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer


Anonymous said...

Obama cannot change nature. He'll just blow more non-existent billions on trying to get Mississippi scholars to all make entrance to Harvard, and then leave the mess to the next fellow in 2016, who will probably be a Republican, to clean up. Snazzy businessmen will try and divert some of that cash with phoney education products.

Anonymous said...

The shout-out to Massachusetts is the most obvious give-away.

Not that this is really your point (right?), but from the first sentence it's obviously Obama, because of diction.

Anonymous said...

Most of you probably know that 1950's was the last U.S. Census in which every state had a white majority. But were you aware that 1950's was also the first Census since 1810 in which that was true?

Whites were a minority in Mississippi and South Carolina every decade from 1820 to 1940, and that was also true of Louisiana for most of those as well, though they were close enough to 50% there to pass it on the occasional enumeration, e.g. 1860's. (So whether "future white minority" is a frightening term per se may depend on where you are...)

As for the northeast, the black population grew slowly during that period, but its percentage plummeted as the white population boomed. In the mid-20th century, things got shuffled, what with the shutting-off of white immigration, blacks moving north and west, and whites moving south and west.

But Massachusetts is still overwhelmingly white, and drawing brainy whites from other states, and her immigrant stream is also probably (relatively) more select than other states.

Anonymous said...

I think we need to set a new goal,a bold and corageous goal: By 2029 I want 75% of our children to be able to levitate! Yes thats right! Sit on the ground in the lotus position and rise up into the air! And to stay there for at least 5 seconds!To those who may scoff at this ambitious plan,I say: Let us not give in to the soft bigotry of low expectations! Our children will levitate higher and longer than any others in the world!

Anonymous said...

Reg, in order to maintain the ecomony here in Taxachusetts, our colleges and universities need to keep attracting those "brainy whites" and keep them here, as has been the case for 300 years. The issue that we have now is these brainy whites are graduating and getting the hell out of Dodge. Our generous welfare benefits assure that we continue to attract the immigrant stream, which is no more select than any other state.

The real laugher is the fact that Obama came out so heavily in favor of testing (called the MCAS here), and the Massachusetts liberals, especially the politicians in the pockets of the Massachusetts Teachers Association, have been fighting it tooth and nail since Day 1!

Anonymous said...

In reality, Massachusetts has been the intellectual center of North America since the 1600s...

And that is why this country is run by idiots.

AmericanGoy said...

"In reality, Massachusetts has been the intellectual center of North America since the 1600s, and Mississippi has not."

That's putting it mildly.

Offense meant to be taken.

And enough sweet tea already!

Anonymous said...


Answer? Thanks for the vacuum, Steve!

Anonymous said...


I thought she was one of The Bangles.

Or have I missed something here?

And, no, I dont know why she has a boys name.

Anonymous said...

[Obama will] just blow more non-existent billions on trying to get Mississippi scholars to all make entrance to Harvard

"Mississippi scholars" here = blacks.

Seriously, when you hear "Mississippi," who do you think Obama thinks of when formulating a social program?