January 18, 2013

[Link Fixed] Modern v. Postmodern arguing and the latest academic freedom disaster from Canada

Here's a long post (link fixed) by a Canadian professor Kenneth Westhues applying my ideas and those of Alastair Roberts to the tragicomic abused of another professor in Canada, Malcolm Mason.

January 17, 2013

The Oak Park "Black-a-Block" system in detail

Here's an academic paper explaining the black-a-block quota successfully (if illegally) imposed by the government of liberal Oak Park, IL many decades ago to keep Ernest Hemingway's hometown on the edge of Chicago from going all black. Commenter Silver points out that you can go to this NYT map of the racial makeup of the entire country in the 2010 Census, type in Oak Park, IL and zoom in. You'll see that the east side of Austin Boulevard (Chicago), where my wife grew up, is now virtually all black, while the west side of the street (Oak Park), where my father grew up, is quite white. 

It's not like there's a cliff there or something. Frank Lloyd Wright's Oak Park houses are called Prairie Style because it's dead flat. 

No, it's like this because the government of Oak Park back in the 1960s passed laws to let in some respectable blacks, but definitely not too many. People in Oak Park like to celebrate this as a triumph of liberal integrationism, which I guess is one way of putting it. But mostly they don't like to talk about it. Personally, I think it's a fascinating solution that has mostly been stuffed down the memory hole. 

Liberal white hypocrisy is a given. But, the techniques liberal whites (Oak Park voted for Obama 83-16) use to get what they want are well worth study by the less privileged.

By the way, here's a long review I wrote in VDARE five years ago of William Julius Wilson's book about Chicago real estate and race, There Goes the Neighborhood. Much of my output as a writer has been to integrate how everybody thinks about real estate in their personal life and how nobody thinks about policy as a public intellectual. Thus, this is one of my better efforts.

January 16, 2013

Next door neighbors: Oak Park and Austin

The Austin neighborhood on the far west side of Chicago and Oak Park, IL are contiguous neighbors. The border is the yellow stripe in the middle of Austin Boulevard.

According to this NYT map of homicides in Chicago neighborhoods over the last 12 years:
Austin: More than 450 homicides have happened in this neighborhood in Chicago’s West Side, one of the city’s deadliest places

In contrast, over the last dozen years in Oak Park, which has about half as many people as Austin, there have been six murders.

It must be the lack of gun control laws in Chicago.

Crown Heights gentrification and the salvation of Oak Park

Here's a long article at a website called Narratively:
The Ins and The Outs 
Along one of New York's most rapidly changing boulevards, a look below the surface exposes what—and who—is really driving gentrification in Crown Heights. 
By Vinnie Rotondaro and Maura Ewing

It's predictable for awhile, but gets interesting toward the end. 

What goes unmentioned in the article, but which all New York readers above age 40 will instantly recognize is the significance of the name "Crown Heights." In retrospect, the 1991 riot in Crown Heights was the Gettysburg or Stalingrad, the historic turning point in New York City.

My recent surmise that the Powers That Be in contemporary New York City can be summed up with some accuracy as a conspiracy to drive out African-Americans doesn't seem too far off the mark.

You definitely want the real estate agents in your neighborhood to be on your side, whatever your side is. When I was a gentrifier in Chicago's Uptown neighborhood in 1988-2000, the local real estate lady organized most of the neighborhood parties and encouraged residents to talk up the merits of that overlooked neighborhood. It was almost worth that she hustled you into a lowball price if you hired her to help you sell your condo. 

On the other hand, local real estate agents actively destroyed my wife's parents' Austin neighborhood on the West Side of Chicago from 1967 onward by stoking white panic selling in order to make fast commissions. Austin had been a terrific place for families to enjoy the benefits of urban living: safe, densely populated, excellent public transportation, tons of kids playing on the sidewalks and walking to school or to their grandparents' apartments. All gone ...

Frank Lloyd Wright's Moore House
(The house where my father was born is visible
in the background to right.
I'm reminded of one of the most occluded events in recent American history: the salvation of Oak Park, IL, where my father was born in 1917 (next door to Frank Lloyd Wright's Moore House). Oak Park is directly adjoining Chicago's doomed Austin neighborhood.

In contrast to the superb upkeep of the house where my father was born in Oak Park (a constant stream of international tourists walks past it to visit all the Wright houses on the street), the two-flat where my wife was born a couple of miles away in Austin appeared to be abandoned when she drove past it a few years ago.

The destruction of Austin next door threatened to spread to Oak Park, with its spectacular stock of Frank Lloyd Wright Prairie-style homes. But the city fathers responded with a wise (if presumably wholly illegal) racial quota system. The "black-a-block" system restricted real estate agents in Oak Park to selling only one home per block to a black family. 

Yet, as James Kabala pointed out once, it's hard to find any mention on the Internet of Oak Park's "black-a-block" quota, presumably because it violated federal law, but was winked at because important people felt it worthwhile to save Oak Park's architectural heritage.

The free market was allowed to run amok in Austin, but government regulation of real estate agents was deftly used in Oak Park to keep the black population down to a manageable number. You can see why this isn't talked about all that much, but, damn, it's an important bit of history to know about.

Fortunately, I discovered that The Encyclopedia of Chicago explains how Oak Park was saved in some detail:
Oak Park's eastern neighbor, Chicago's Austin neighborhood, had long been characterized by tree-lined streets of gracious homes and small bungalows, with residents who had lived in the community for generations. Both communities, however, also had aging housing stock and weak zoning and building codes. Over 50 percent of Oak Park's housing comprised apartment buildings, most concentrated along its eastern border. Oak Parkers watched first-hand in the 1960s as Austin's residents fought desperately to defend their community from a destabilizing influx of African American home-seekers, with little success—resegregation was rapid and tumultuous.

I.e, most of Austin went black and underclass. There have been 450 homicides in Austin over the last 12 years according to this New York Times map.
Oak Park devised a different strategy, which would use planning to ensure that desegregation would not lead to resegregation. The village board created a Community Relations Commission charged with preventing discrimination, forestalling violent neighborhood defense mechanisms, and setting a high standard of behavior as the community prepared for imminent racial change. 
Village officials, often joined by clergymen, visited blocks to which families of color might move and carefully sought to control the fears and rumors generally associated with neighborhood succession. They identified white families who would welcome the newcomers. They encouraged African American families to disperse throughout the village to counter concerns of clustering and ghetto formation. In 1968, after lengthy and angry debate, and the passage of the federal Fair Housing Act, the village board passed an open-housing ordinance allowing officials to control many aspects of racial integration that otherwise were likely to lead to resegregation. Real-estate agents were banned from panic-peddling, blockbusting, and the use of “for sale” signs. A community relations department would address rumors, monitor the quality of services and amenities throughout the village, and establish block clubs to promote resident cohesion and local problem-solving. The police force expanded by one-third, with a residency requirement whose impact was magnified because police generally lived in areas most likely to be threatened by resegregation. An equity assurance program for homeowners would reassure residents that they were financially protected against a downward spiral of property values. Leaders acted on a vision of Oak Park as a community strong enough to achieve integration, and able to challenge the Chicago pattern of block-by-block resegregation with a policy of managed integration through dispersal. 
The most controversial policies involved racial steering. A group of residents led by Roberta (Bobbie) Raymond established the Oak Park Housing Center, which retrained real-estate agents to prevent racial steering and encouraged black home-seekers to live throughout Oak Park. The center worked with the village to improve areas that white home-seekers or residents might find unattractive and steered whites towards these areas to limit the concentration of black residents in a particular neighborhood. A public relations campaign targeted white home-seekers across the country to promote an image of Oak Park as a multicultural, cosmopolitan middle-class community, close to the city, with good transportation and schools. 
Despite these programs, during the 1970s the village experienced a net loss of 10,000 white Oak Parkers, coinciding with a net increase of only 5,500 black residents. Urbanologists' predictions that the ghetto would roll over Oak Park, however, proved inaccurate. Oak Park maintained its majority white population through extensive and white-oriented planning, and has remained an integrated village. Pockets of racial segregation have persisted, but the community has succeeded in maintaining a public culture that takes pride in racial diversity.

I believe Oak Park has a sizable white gay population, attracted by the fabulous aesthetics.

In 2012, Obama won 82.5% of the vote in Oak Park.

Look, you can whine about the hypocrisy of white liberals all you want, but you'd be better off studying their methods.

Race quotas have been popular with the Establishment in hiring and college admissions, so why, since they worked out well in Oak Park, weren't they encouraged elsewhere in housing?

"Who? Whom?" of course. Race quotas to increase the numbers of Designated Victim Groups are good, race quotas to limit their numbers are bad, and that's all you need to know.

I can recall reading about Oak Park's "black-a-block" quota in a newsmagazine, probably Newsweek in 1988. As a young idealist, I was totally against racial discrimination. Yet, having taken my father and uncle to visit their boyhood home, driving through the endless desolation of un-quotaed Austin only to suddenly arrive in suburban paradise as imagined by F.L. Wright in Oak Park ... well, maybe there are worse things than racial quotas ...

January 15, 2013

Conquistador-American and Slavetrader-American near a deal over immigration

From the Washington Post:
White House sounds hopeful on immigration
David Nakamura and Felicia Sonmez 
President Obama has promised that immigration reform is at the top of his second-term agenda, and his spokesman says proposals from Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) “bode well for a productive, bipartisan debate.”

"Silver Linings Playbook:"

From my Taki's Magazine movie review:
Few disagree with the line from the old Jimmy Buffett song that “If we couldn’t laugh, we’d all go insane.” Yet in movies, humorless characters are funnier. There’s nothing more painful onscreen than somebody who is supposed to be witty and wise delivering a line that all the other characters find a riot. 
Then, again, in real life, people who are professionals at making others laugh are often, contra Buffett, not quite right in the head. 
Consider writer-director David O. Russell and his Best Picture-nominated comedy, Silver Linings Playbook, one of 2012’s most consistently entertaining movies.

Read the whole thing there.

Edge.Org: What Should We Be Worried About?

Science book agent John Brockman rounds up the usual suspects for his annual January high-brow pow-wow. This year's question, "What Should We Be Worried About?"

So far, Geoffrey Miller's contribution is getting the most attention: "Chinese Eugenics."

David Berreby worries about "Global Greying" making society less creative and innovative. Fortunately, America has more immigrants so it will have less of a problem. (After all, who can't quickly come up with a long list of innovations our vibrantly creative young Mexican-American population has blessed us with recently? There's, like ... no ... well, let me get back to you on this one.) The real danger, Berreby says, is that aging could lead to "xenophobic nationalism," and when is that not the real danger?

What I worry about, personally, is that smart people don't worry about many problems that manifest themselves in ceteris paribus fashions: i.e., all else being equal, more of X means more of Y. But more of Y probably won't cause the End of World. We're likely to muddle on through thanks to Moore's Law and other blessings.

So, why worry about it? In fact, don't even ever think about it. When we find ourselves in a hole, we must keep on digging because ... uh, all we have to do is hire another construction crew to push the dirt back in as we dig it out. But that sounds kind of expensive ... Hey, I've got a great idea! Let's hire a really low wage construction crew to push the dirt back in, which is, obviously, when you stop and think about it, a job Americans just won't do. Those American bastard workers, always wanting to get paid like Americans. We'll fix them. ... Where was I? Oh, yeah, so keep on digging!

Human Varieties

Veteran super-commenter Jason Malloy and Chuck have teamed up to start a new data-intensive blog on high end psychometric topics, Human Varieties.

Speaking of inventive octogenarians

I won't pretend to understand this, but physicist Freeman Dyson, now 89, recently helped come up with a what may be a breakthrough in evolutionary theory:
Iterated Prisoner's Dilemma Contains Strategies that Dominate Any Evolutionary Opponent

The Tunefulness of Crowds

When Francis Galton was 85 years old, he went to a country fair where there was a contest to guess the weight of a prize specimen of livestock. Galton loved getting his hands on data, which was far less abundant a century ago, so he tabulated all the slips upon which entrants had written their guesses. His initial assumption was that this would show what bad guessers random people are, but it proved the opposite. The average guess was quite close to exactly right. This became known as the Wisdom of Crowds. (How many other 85-year-olds have come up with a significant new concept that contradicted their initial impression?)

You can see something similar with a crowd singing. A crowd derisively chanting "Air-ball!" at a basketball game will hit the two notes well. The errors cancel out. (Of course, it helps that some people who know they can't carry a tune will silently lip-sync so that their friends will assume they are singing along correctly. Not me, of course, but I have a friend who does this.)

Here's a press release type article from 2008:
Despite the hilarity of early-season "American Idol" episodes, nearly everyone can carry a tune, new research shows. 
Of those who can't, there are two types — those that know they sound bad and those that think they sound fine. 
In a series of studies led by researchers at the University of Finance and Management in Warsaw and the University of Montreal, more than 150 people in Canada and Poland were asked to sing familiar songs — such as Quebec's version of "Happy Birthday" – as a capella solos. In the final study, 40 people were also asked to sing isolated notes after hearing them played once. 
To control for self-selection, the majority of subjects were initially unaware the study would involve singing. While none balked at the task, many joked about having a terrible voice. 
They needn't have worried. The researchers found that more than 90 percent of the participants could sing in tune.

Okay, but there's probably a Darwinian winnowing of which songs get to be universally sung and thus included in this study. I don't know what Quebec's version of Happy Birthday sounds like, but America's version of Happy Birthday is popular in part because it's easy for 3-year-olds to sing. In contrast, Bacharach and David's "I Say a Little Prayer" would never become universal because you pretty much have to be Dionne Warwick or Aretha Franklin to get through the chorus without running out of breath.
And almost 100 percent nailed each melody's timing. 
The results, most of which are detailed in the February 2007 issue of the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, will be presented July 2 in Paris at the largest ever meeting on the science of acoustics. 
Among out-of-tune singers, lead researcher Simone Dalla Bella explained, "there are two categories of people." The majority is tone deaf; they can't hear when a note is off and have no idea they are singing poorly. But there are also lousy singers with great hearing ability — those who can accurately say whether an instrument is properly tuned or a sung note is off-key. These squawkers know they are singing badly but, for some unknown reason, cannot correct themselves. They are, in a sense, tone mute. ...

I'm a little (or a lot) of both. I can usually approximate the first three to six notes of, say, "Old Man River," but then, inevitably, something goes noticeably wrong. But even if I get through a line in a manner satisfactory to my ear, when I ask my wife to sing it, it immediately becomes evident to me that I had only had a coarse notion of the melody in my head (usually, my notion of how to sing a song is something like "Start in the middle, go up, then down, down even more, up a little ...)

On the other hand, I can notice quite well when a bit of one song is lifted from another.
"I am not saying that most people are as good as professional singers in every task," Dalla Bella explained. The studies measured pitch and timing, but not timbre or musical expression. Also, many recreational songbirds are only in-tune when singing slowly. 

The popularity of "auto-tuning" among pop superstars today suggests that the ability to sing really well is  not super widespread. In particular, staying on one key throughout a live performance of a song is not easy, even for top amateurs, such as American Idol finalists. And, among the judges, only Randy was sure to notice a single lapse in key.
Evolutionarily speaking, carrying a melody's timing may be more important than its tune. Singing as a group is popular in cultures worldwide, and researchers hypothesize that singing together strengthens social bonds. While crooning off-key can be muffled by other voices, belting out when everyone else pauses is sure to garner unwanted attention.

I hate it when everybody in the audience starts to clap along with the song. I have to look out of the corner of my eye and watch my neighbor to avoid embarrassing myself. Oh, wait, that's not me, that's a friend of mine who does that, the poor bastard.

I have a theory that a sense of rhythm is pretty much crucial for success in arts and entertainment, not just in music, dance, and comedy but perhaps even in media as far afield as political rhetoric, literature, or even drawing.

I wonder which celebrities don't have much rhythm or timing? Vince Vaughn comes to mind as an exception that supports the tendency, but maybe he has some genius sense of rhythm that I just don't get.

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss

George W. Bush and George P. Bush
From the Dallas News:
George P. Bush raises $1.3 million from family and friends for statewide office in Texas
The 36-year-old Fort Worth attorney, who operates a real estate private equity firm in Dallas, is a member of the Naval Reserve and has spent considerable time in recent years attempting to attract young professionals to the GOP. Bush speaks Spanish, and his mother Columba is from Mexico. In a party struggling to win over a growing Latino constituency, some conservatives view George P. Bush as a candidate on the state, and eventually on the national, scene with strong appeal to Hispanics.  

I pointed out how the Bush Dynasty saw amnesty and guest workers as a way to make George P. Bush President nine years ago.

January 14, 2013

Conquistador-American demands more warm bodies for him to be the imaginary leader of

From the New York Slim Times:
Rubio Pushes His Party on Immigration 
Senator Marco Rubio of Florida is asserting his leadership among Republicans with a proposal that includes measures to give legal status to millions of immigrants. 
As President Obama and Democratic leaders are preparing a major push to overhaul the immigration system, Senator Marco Rubio of Florida is asserting his leadership among Republicans on the volatile issue, previewing a proposal that includes measures to give legal status to millions of illegal immigrants. 
Mr. Rubio, a Cuban-American in his first term whose star is rising rapidly in his party, has outlined views in recent days that set him apart from many other Republican conservatives, who reject any legalization as a form of amnesty that rewards immigrant lawbreakers. Mr. Rubio said he would not rule out some kind of legal status for immigrants in the United States illegally, although he insists that any measures should not penalize immigrants who have tried to come here through legal channels. 
Mr. Rubio described his proposals in interviews last week with the Wall Street Journal editorial page and with The New York Times. By Monday he was already gathering support, as Representative Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, a conservative who was the Republicans’ vice-presidential nominee last year, endorsed Mr. Rubio’s ideas. 
Mr. Rubio laid out three: aside from fair treatment for foreigners who play by the rules, he said, any legislation should also recognize that legal immigration has been a boon to the United States in the past and is “critical to our future.” 
He would also insist on new measures to ensure strict enforcement at the border and within the country. 
“We can’t have the kind of vibrant growth we need and the economy we want, based on limited government and free enterprise, if we don’t have a legal immigration system that works,” Mr. Rubio said. “And in order to have a system that works, we have to deal with those people who are already here illegally.”

Pure comedy gold.
Mr. Ryan, on his Facebook page, wrote that Mr. Rubio was “exactly right on the need to fix our broken immigration system.”

I was under the impression that Mr. Ryan was a Big Loser who couldn't carry his home county and cost Romney Florida, but apparently, he's Mr. Good Judgment on Immigration. Rubio and Ryan, they're like the Boy Band that took over the GOP.
“I support the principles he’s outlined,” Mr. Ryan said, “modernization of our immigration laws; stronger security to curb illegal immigration; and respect for the rule of law in addressing the complex challenge of the undocumented population.” 
  As one of three Hispanics in the Senate, Mr. Rubio, who won his seat in 2010 with support from the Tea Party, seemed to be trying to set a new tone for his party to discuss immigration. Many Republican leaders have been reconsidering the party’s stance on the issue since the November election, when Latinos, the electorate’s fastest-growing group, overwhelmingly supported Mr. Obama. 
Strikingly, Mr. Rubio’s principles did not sound that different from proposals for an immigration overhaul by Mr. Obama, Democratic leaders and a handful of other Republicans.

Uh-huh ...
Aside from work under way at the White House on legislation, a bipartisan group of Senators has been meeting to draft a bill. 
Where Mr. Rubio differed significantly with Democrats was on the legal pathway illegal immigrants would follow, with him proposing a long and indirect course before some of those immigrants could apply to become American citizens. 
... But, he said, “ultimately it’s not good for our country to have people permanently trapped in that status where they can’t become citizens.” After a certain period, he said, immigrants would be allowed to apply to become legal permanent residents, a status that would eventually allow them to become citizens.

More votes for President Rubio. Or at least that's the plan. Doesn't anybody else find this comically transparent? Probably Rubio and George P. Bush will cancel each other out in the GOP's 2020 primaries, allowing, in a breakthrough for feminism, the nominee to be Meghan McCain.
... “To me the most surprising thing was that he was talking about a pathway to citizenship,” Lorella Praeli, a leader of the organization, said on Monday. “There has been such a shift in the tone, in his vision.” 
Some conservative Republicans made it clear they would not support Mr. Rubio. In a statement, Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama ...

More on America's overlooked smart kids

Here's an awesome research paper on America's overlooked smart kids:
Caroline M. Hoxby - Stanford 
Christopher Avery - Harvard

Among kids with good test scores and grades, who grabs for the brass ring of elite colleges and who doesn't bother?

First, Hoxby and Avery look at kids who scored in the 90th percentile or higher on the SAT or ACT and had at least an A- average in high school. (I'm even more interested in the kids with even higher test scores but who don't have A- averages, but they want to look at kids with plausible numbers for getting into swanky colleges.)

75.8 percent of high achievers say that they are white non-Hispanic and another 15.0 percent say that they are Asian. The remaining 9.2 percent of high achievers are associated with an underrepresented minority. They are Hispanic (4.7 percent), black non-Hispanic (1.5 percent), Native American (0.4 percent), or mixed race/ethnicity (2.6 percent). 

Then they try to estimate family income. Many high school students don't really know their family income, so the economists made some guesses based on where they live and other factors. 

I'm not sure if they do a great job of this because the correlation between being a high achiever and high income is fairly moderate. For example, 17% of the high achievers come from the bottom 25% of estimated family income. 

The correlation with parents' education is much higher. Among high achievers, 51% have a parent with a graduate degree, while it looks like about 82% are children of bachelor degree holders.

Then they grouped the high achieving kids from the lowest 25% of estimated income into those whose college application behavior is "Achievement Typical" (i.e., ambitious -- Ivy League here I come!) or "Income Typical" (unambitious -- I don't know, maybe I'll join the Army and then go to State). 

The authors don't use the terms ambitious and unambitious but I'm going to use those words. What the researchers call "Achievement Typical" is applying to colleges more like other kids with the same test scores and grades. I call it Ambitious. (E.g., Wesleyan has a pipeline to Hollywood, so I may go Early Decision there.) What the researchers call "Income Typical", I'll call Unambitious (E.g., Everybody at school who isn't a total meathead usually goes to the JC for a year or two, so I guess I'll do that, but my cousin graduated from Southeastern, so maybe I'll apply there, too.) The great majority of poor kids with high achievement follow either an unambitious path in applying to college or simply an odd one (e.g., Harvard or the local JuCo).

If I'm reading Hoxby's Table 7 correctly, among low income but high achieving Asians, the ratio of ambitious "Achievement Typical" college applicants to unambitious "Income Typical" kids relative to all high achievement / low income kids is about four to one (31.8% of ambitious Achievement Typical low income high achievers are Asians compared to only 7.3% of unambitious Income Typical low income high achievers). In other words, the Tiger Mother myth ain't a myth, even at the bottom of the income level for Asians.

Among Hispanics who are high achievers and low income, the relative ratio of ambitious to unambitious among low income high achievers is a little over two to one (12.6% to 6.0%). For blacks, the relative ratio of ambitious to unambitious is a little under two to one (5.2% to 2.9%).

But, low income high achievers, the ratio of ambitious to unambitious is much lower for whites than for minorities: 45.1% of the ambitious smart but poor kids are white, while 79.5% of the unambitious smart but poor kids are white. By these ratios, smart but poor Asians are about seven times more ambitious in their college application behavior than smart but poor white kids, with Hispanics and blacks several times more ambitious.

A reader emails:

- For every low-income, high-performing white kid who applies to college like a smart kid, there are 11.7 who apply like poor kids.  
- For every low-income, high-performing black kid who applies to college like a smart kid, there are 3.7 who apply like poor kids. 
- For every low-income, high-performing Hispanic kid who applies to college like a smart kid, there are 3.2 who apply like poor kids.  
- For every low-income, high-performing Asian kid who applies to college like a smart kid, there are 1.5 who apply like poor kids.  
 So, for every group, there are more low-income high-performing kids who are acting like poor kids than like smart kids - but as you can see, there's enormous variance.

More good stuff from Hoxby:
What the map demonstrates is that critical masses of high-achieving students are most likely to be found in urban counties in southern New England (Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island), the Mid-Atlantic (New York, New Jersey, eastern Pennsylvania), southern Florida, and coastal California from the Bay Area to San Diego.  
The other critical masses are more scattered, but a person familiar with U.S. geography can pick out Chicago (especially), Houston, Dallas/Fort Worth, Atlanta, and some smaller cities. In short, if one's goal were to visit every county where one could gather at least 100 high achievers, one could concentrate entirely on a limited number of cities on the east and west coasts and a few cities in between.  
Some part of the above statement is due to the fact that high-income, highly educated parents are somewhat concentrated in the aforementioned areas and such parents, we have seen, are more likely to have high-achieving children. 
However, some part of the above statement is due purely to population density. That is, even if children in all counties of the U.S. were equally likely to be high-achieving, there would still be critical masses of them in densely populated counties and vice versa. The choropleth map in Figure 7 illustrates the role of population density by showing the number of high-achieving students per 17 year old in each county. The darker a county is, the higher is its decile on this relative measure. The map makes it clear that this relative measure is far less concentrated than the absolute measure that favors dense counties. In fact, there is a belt of  counties that tend to produce high achievers that runs from Minnesota and the Dakotas south through Missouri and Kansas. There are also a good number of Appalachian, Indiana, and non-coastal California but still Western counties that tend to produce high achievers. In short, if one's goal were to meet a representative sample of high achievers, one's trip could not be concentrated on a limited number of counties on the Coasts and a few cities in-between. ...

However, achievement-typical students' block groups are less white, and more black, Hispanic, and Asian that those of income-typical students. Achievement- typical students also have more baccalaureate degree holders in their block groups--both in absolute number (207 versus 144) and as a share of adults (22.0 percent versus 16.8 percent). This last fact suggests that income-typical students may be less likely to get advice about college from a neighbor with a degree. 
Table 9 compares the geography of income-typical and achievement-typical students, and the contrast is striking. 65 percent of achievement-typical students live in the main city of an urban area, whereas only 30 percent of income-typical students do. Even within the main city residents, achievement-typical students are much more likely to live in a large urban area (one with population greater than 250,000). Indeed, 70 percent of the achievement-typical students come from just fifteen urban areas: San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles, San Diego, Dallas, Houston, Chicago, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Portland, Boston, Providence, New York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore. Only 21 percent of achievement-typical students live in a non-urban area (not necessarily rural, but a town rather than an urban area suburb). 47 percent of income-typical students live in a non-urban area. Put another way, income-typical students tend to be the high-achievers who live in counties that had a large number of high-achievers per 17-year-old (Figure 7) but not a large number of achievers in absolute terms (Figure 6). 
... The radius needed to gather 50 high-achievers is 37.3 miles for the average income-typical student, where as it is merely 12.2 miles for the average achievement-typical student. 

January 13, 2013

Who are the "smart, low-income kids" who aren't going to good colleges?

From NPR:
Elite Colleges Struggle To Recruit Smart, Low-Income Kids 
After Harvard offered what was, in essence, a free college education to students whose families earned under $40,000 a year, Hoxby says, "the number of students whose families had income below that threshold changed by only about 15 students, and the class at Harvard is about 1,650 freshmen." 
Hoxby says some college administers had confided to her that they had reluctantly come to the conclusion that the pool of low-income students with top academic credentials was just limited, and there wasn't much they could do to change that. 
But in an analysis published with Christopher Avery in December, Hoxby has shown that this conclusion isn't true. There is in fact a vast pool of highly talented, low-income students; they just aren't ending up in top schools. 
Hoxby says in an interview that she asked herself why talented students might escape the attention of college administrators, when the administrators were looking so hard for these students. 
"The students whom they see are the students who apply," she says, of admissions officers. "And if a student doesn't apply to any selective college or university, it's impossible for admissions staff to see that they are out there." 
Hoxby found that the majority of academically gifted low-income students come from a handful of places in the country: About 70 percent of them come from 15 large metropolitan areas. These areas often have highly regarded public high schools, such as Stuyvesant in New York City or Thomas Jefferson in the Washington, D.C., area. 
Low-income high-achieving students at these schools have close to 100 percent odds of attending an Ivy League school or other highly selective college, Hoxby says. 
The reasons are straightforward: These schools boast top teachers and immense resources. They have terrific guidance counselors. Highly selective colleges send scouts to these schools to recruit top talent. And perhaps most important, students in these schools are part of a peer group where many others are also headed to highly selective colleges. 
Hoxby and Avery found that top students who do not live in these major metropolitan areas were significantly less likely to end up at a highly selective school. These students were far less likely to find themselves in a pipeline that ended at an Ivy League school. 
"Imagine a student who is the only student who is a likely candidate for a place like Harvard or Stanford or University of Chicago — and he's not just the only student in his or her high school, but he's the only student that that high school has graduated like that in, say, three or four years," Hoxby says. 
Without mentors and academically talented peers, Hoxby says, many of these students fail to apply to schools that can offer them a premium education free of charge. And because the students are widely dispersed across the 42,000 high schools in the country, college recruiters have a hard time finding them.

Here's the abstract of Hoxby's latest paper. Here's an earlier one. A few points:
- We can argue over what the long term effects of going to, say, Stanford over Cal State Fresno are, but if you spend, say, 5% of your life in college, wouldn't you rather spend that 5% at Stanford than at Cal State Fresno, especially if Stanford is picking up the tab?

- I believe Hoxby is defining her pool of smart kids as 1300 or higher out of 1600 on the SAT (post-1995 scoring), which is very good but to get into Stanford or Harvard, a 1300 needs some sort of hook ("I started a petition drive to have my high school's LGBTQA alliance changes its name to LGBTQIA to stop discriminating against the Intersexed" or something like that which will catch the eye of an admissions officer -- "This boy/girl reminds me of when I was a boy/girl! Admitted!")

- Hoxby doesn't talk about race much, so I'm guessing that most of this reserve of ignored smart kids are white. My guess would be that there are a fair number of smart white kids out there whose family situations aren't finely tuned for generating the perfect college application. Dad's gone, mom's been feeling blue, that kind of thing. Or everybody in this hick town with anything on the ball just goes to Southeastern State.

- The other source of low income smart kids are probably ones who aren't really from a lower class, they just don't report a lot of income on their tax returns. Maybe they are from extended families with family businesses where the exact identity of who earns what can be manipulated as needed when applying to college.

A commenter adds:
The study basically shows that the colleges do their "lower-income" recruiting at high schools in big metro areas, for reasons of efficiency (hence the "lower-income" students the schools come in contact with are mostly minority). 
The "lower-income" students they miss are from smaller towns in rural states (it's not efficient for college recruiters to travel to each of these), hence presumably the "missed" students are mostly white. 
Referring to Unz's recent analysis, we might wonder how much the colleges really want to up the number of red-state whites, even if it would get them more economic diversity.

This is a little bit like how Goldman Sachs recruits only at a tiny number of Northeastern colleges because, you know, if it also recruited at Purdue and Texas A&M it would go broke from the rent-a-car fees alone. Same with Yale. Yale only has $15 billion or whatever in the bank, so it can hardly afford to send recruiters out to nowheresvilles. Motel bills add up!

Overseas adoptions over time

Here's a graph from the New York Times on source countries for adoptions by American parents. The usual pattern appears to be that American agencies discover a country where orphans are poorly cared for, kind-hearted Americans looking to adopt offer to take unwanted children off their hands, the frequency builds, but then generates a nationalist backlash of shame and anti-Americanism that encourages the source countries to crack down on adoptions by Americans and (hopefully) start being more civilized toward their own kids. 

As tumultuous as these cycles must feel to all concerned, I would say the process generally represents progress.

Obama: Government to elect a new people right now

From the NYT:
Obama Will Seek Citizenship Path in One Fast Push 
Published: January 12, 2013 482 Comments 
WASHINGTON — President Obama plans to push Congress to move quickly in the coming months on an ambitious overhaul of the immigration system that would include a path to citizenship for most of the 11 million illegal immigrants in the country, senior administration officials and lawmakers said last week.

Mr. Obama and Senate Democrats will propose the changes in one comprehensive bill, the officials said, resisting efforts by some Republicans to break the overhaul into smaller pieces — separately addressing young illegal immigrants, migrant farmworkers or highly skilled foreigners — which might be easier for reluctant members of their party to accept. 
The president and Democrats will also oppose measures that do not allow immigrants who gain legal status to become American citizens one day, the officials said. 
Even while Mr. Obama has been focused on fiscal negotiations and gun control, overhauling immigration remains a priority for him this year, White House officials said. Top officials there have been quietly working on a broad proposal. Mr. Obama and lawmakers from both parties believe that the early months of his second term offer the best prospects for passing substantial legislation on the issue.

Stop the presses: Upper West Siders don't practice what they preach when it comes to their own children

Manhattan's Upper West Side is home to the people who are most responsible for the Conventional Wisdom of the media. Wikipedia writes:
The Upper West Side is a neighborhood in the borough of Manhattan, New York City, that lies between Central Park and the Hudson River and between West 59th Street and West 110th Street. The Upper West Side is sometimes also considered to include the neighborhood of Morningside Heights. 
Like the Upper East Side, the Upper West Side is an upscale, primarily residential area with many of its residents working in more commercial areas in Midtown and Lower Manhattan. While these distinctions were never hard-and-fast rules and now mean little, it has the reputation of being home to New York City's cultural and artistic workers, while the Upper East Side is traditionally perceived to be home to commercial and business types.

Not surprisingly, people who have made it all the way to the Upper West Side by preaching one set of messages don't see why those principles should apply to their own children. 

A half century ago, the people running New York City were more naive. They thought their public ideals weren't just for the rest of country, they were for their own city. In their lack of hypocrisy, they managed to almost wreck the world's most important city. On the whole, the people currently running New York City aren't making that mistake.

It can be hard for us poor dumb out-of-towners to figure out how things actually work in 21st Century New York, but, I increasingly believe, it's worth making the effort.

The NYT has been running a series of articles on the Gifted and Talented system within New York City's public schools. Here's the fourth and last article:
Gifted, Talented and Separated 
IT is just a metal door with three windows, the kind meant to keep the clamor of an elementary school hallway from piercing a classroom’s quiet. Other than paint the color of bubble gum, it is unremarkable. 
But the pink door on Room 311 at Public School 163 on the Upper West Side [on 97th Street a block and a half west of Central Park] represents a barrier belied by its friendly hue. On one side are 21 fourth graders labeled gifted and talented by New York City’s school system. They are coursing through public school careers stamped accelerated. 
And they are mostly white. 
On the other side, sometimes sitting for reading lessons on the floor of the hallway, are those in the school’s vast majority: They are enrolled in general or special education programs. 
They are mostly children of color. [Assuming Asians are people of pallor, of course.] 
“I know what we look like,” Carolyn M. Weinberg, a 28-year veteran of P.S. 163, said of the racial disparities as she stood one day in the third-floor hallway between Room 318, where she and a colleague teach a fourth-grade general education class, and the one where Angelo Monserrate teaches the gifted class, Room 311. 
“I know what you see,” said Ms. Weinberg. 
There are 652 students enrolled at P.S. 163 this year, from prekindergarten through fifth grade. Roughly 63 percent of them are black and Hispanic; whites make up 27 percent; and Asians account for 6 percent. 
This reflects the flavor of the neighborhood, and roughly matches the New York City school system’s overall demographics. 
Yet in P.S. 163’s gifted classes, the racial dynamics of the neighborhood, the school itself and the school system are turned upside down. 
Of the 205 children enrolled in the nine gifted classes, 97, or 47 percent, are white; another 31 of the students, or 15 percent, are Asian. And a combined 65 students, or 32 percent, are black and Hispanic. 
In the 21 other classes that enroll the school’s remaining 447 students, only 80, or 18 percent, are white. 
The disparities are most apparent in the lower grades. 
Of the 24 students in Karen Engler’s kindergarten gifted class, one is black and three are Hispanic. Ayelet Cutler’s first-grade gifted class has 21 students, one of them black and two Hispanic. There are two blacks and two Hispanics among the 26 students in Athena Shapiro’s second-grade gifted class. 
On a recent morning, a line of Ms. Cutler’s students moved from the classroom to the corridor, ahead of the general education class of Linda Crews. A string of mostly white faces and then a line of mostly black and Hispanic ones walked down the hall of a school named for a New York politician who sought to end inequities in education: Alfred E. Smith. 
It was 11:25 a.m., and the classes wound their way to the cafeteria, a cavernous room at the school’s western edge. Once there, the children sat with those in their own class, each one at a separate long white table that, for a moment, froze the divisions. 
For critics of New York City’s gifted and talented programs, that image crystallizes what they say is a flawed system that reinforces racial separation in the city’s schools and contributes to disparities in achievement. 
They contend that gifted admissions standards favor middle-class children, many of them white or Asian, over black and Hispanic children who might have equal promise, and that the programs create castes within schools, one offered an education that is enriched and accelerated, the other getting a bare-bones version of the material. Because they are often embedded within larger schools, the programs bolster a false vision of diversity, these critics say, while reinforcing the negative stereotypes of class and race. 
Despite months of repeated requests, the city’s Education Department would not provide racial breakdowns of gifted and talented programs and the schools that house them.

That's a good lesson: stonewall.

In the long run, discrimination lawyers, as part of settlements of lawsuits, will make you publish data by race so they can trawl for disparate impact for future lawsuits. But, if you are NYC's Upper West Side, you can get away a lot longer with stonewalling than can some podunkville that the Obama Administration can push around.
But the programs tend to be in wealthier districts whose populations have fewer black and Hispanic children, and far more children qualify for them in affluent districts than in poorer ones. 
In District 3, which stretches for 63 blocks along Manhattan’s Upper West Side and includes P.S. 163, there are five gifted programs for elementary school children, including the Anderson School, one of five citywide programs. 
Farther north, for all of Districts 5 and 6, which are poorer and more heavily black and Hispanic, there are just two programs. 
And though programs are clustered in affluent neighborhoods around Prospect Park, Brooklyn, and in northeastern Queens, the accelerated classes are absent from broad swaths of central Brooklyn and southeast Queens, where more families are poor and black or Hispanic. 
In District 7, in the South Bronx, there is not a single gifted program. The area, dominated by Hispanic and black residents, is among the poorest in the nation, with many people living below the official federal poverty mark. 
James H. Borland, a professor of education at Teachers College, said that looking at the gifted landscape in New York City suggests that one of two things must be true: either black and Hispanic children are less likely to be gifted, or there is something wrong with the way the city selects children for those programs. 
“It is well known in the education community that standardized tests advantage children from wealthier families and disadvantage children from poorer families,” Dr. Borland said. 
And the city’s efforts to fix the system seem to have only made it worse.
Until recently, each of the city’s 32 school districts could establish the classes as it saw fit and determine its own criteria for admission. They varied, but educators often took a holistic approach; they looked at evaluations from teachers and classroom observations, relying on tests only in part, by comparing the results of students from within a district. 
That changed in September 2008, when the Bloomberg administration ushered in admission based only on a cutoff score on two high-stakes tests given in one sitting — the Otis-Lennon School Ability Test, or Olsat, and the Bracken School Readiness Assessment. 
The overhaul was meant to standardize the admissions process and make it fairer.

Back in 2008, Half Sigma and I predicted that making gifted admissions fairer and more objective would reduce black and Hispanic numbers.
But the new tests decreased diversity, with children from the poorest districts offered a smaller share of kindergarten gifted slots after those were introduced, while pupils in the wealthiest districts got more.

Back then, I assumed that the Bloomberg Administration had been made stupid by political correctness. But, the more I think about it, the notion that Michael Bloomberg, one of the 20 richest people on Earth, is stupid is stupid. Isn't it more likely that Mayor Bloomberg wanted a system that would benefit the most prosperous and taxpaying whites and Asians and persuade them to not move to the suburbs when their children reached school age?

On the other hand, since nobody is allowed to explain that they want what they want, the system has lots of mindless churn in it.

This year, the department changed the process again, substituting a new test known as the Naglieri Nonverbal Ability Test — Second Edition, or NNAT2, for the Bracken exam. This is what children competing for placements next year started facing this month, in tests that began on Jan. 7.

Last April, I discussed this switchover.
Shael Polakow-Suransky, the city’s chief academic officer, said data showed that a “more diverse range of kids” excelled on the new test because it was less rooted in test preparation and would allow educators to more accurately identify gifted pupils.

The new test "relies on abstract spatial thinking and largely eliminates language" because, as we all know, African Americans are at an unfair disadvantage with use of the English language, but are aces at abstract spatial thinking. That's why so many topologists are black, but practically no rappers.

Seriously, if you conceive of the Bloomberg Administration as essentially a conspiracy to drive African-Americans out of New York City, much that would otherwise be inexplicable begins to make sense.
... Urban districts were seen as using the programs to help prevent white flight from the schools, in essence offering a system within the system that was white-majority and focused on achievement. “There have been claims that gifted education resegregates the public schools,” Dr. Borland said. 
“Certainly there was concern with keeping middle-class families involved in public schools, and to the extent that we use tests to select kids for gifted programs, that tends to skew the programs toward children from wealthier, white families,” he added. 
... “I guess it is a question of, ‘How much diversity do you feel comfortable with?’ ” said the parent of one child in the gifted program, who did not want to be identified for fear of animosity from other parents. “Do I want him to be the only white kid in an all-black school? No. Would I like it if the racial mix was more proportionate? Yes, whatever the percentage of the makeup. That’s an honest answer, from my soul. Is it hypocritical for parents to say, ‘We’re sending our kids to public school,’ but they’re sending them to an all-white gifted and talented program? But it’s not our fault. We want the best for our children.” 
Carrie C. Reynolds, a co-president of the PTA, said parents seemed to be basing choices not on race but on the academic environment and on socioeconomic factors. 

The concept of disparate impact should only be applied to bad people, like New York City firemen, not to good people, like Upper West Side parents.
“If you were upper income, well educated, you want your kid to have a more enriched education,” she said. “I think it is more economics than race. They tend to go hand-in-hand in New York City, but I certainly know families that have made a different choice, that are here at this school, that are white and are not in gifted and talented.” 
But one afternoon at the school, Ms. Lindner, the fifth-grade teacher, said she was “always surprised” when she saw more than two or three white children in her general education classes. 
As a parent herself, and a resident of Manhattan’s Upper East Side, she said, “there’s no way I’d put my kid in a general-education class here, no way, because it’s right next to the project and all the kids in general education come from the projects.” 

She said her experience was that many of the children in her general education classes were at grade level or below and did not get the same support from their parents that the children in the gifted classes got. “They’re tougher kids,” she said of the general education students in the school. “They’re very street-savvy. They don’t have the background; their parents are hard on them but don’t know what to do with them.” 
Andi Velasquez, who as the school’s parent coordinator has helped lead tours of the school for prospective parents over the last two years, said she had occasionally heard very “vocal” parents expressing surprise in seeing even a few black and Hispanic children in a gifted class. 
“They say, ‘It has too many minorities to be a G&T class; that can’t be a G&T class,’ ” said Ms. Velasquez, 48, who is white and is married to a Hispanic man from Colombia, and whose two children attended the dual-language program at P.S. 87. ...
SANDRA M. ECHOLS, 46, a single mother who is black, has sent all three of her children to the gifted classes at P.S. 163, beginning with her oldest son who, in 1998, when he was entering fourth grade, gained admission to the program. 
“It is an elitist program,” Ms. Echols said. “They don’t advertise it the way it should be advertised, but I’m glad I was savvy enough to navigate the system and give my children what they need.” 

Los Angeles isn't quite as privileged as New York in terms of immunity from disparate impact persecution, but that's how the magnet system works in L.A.. As I explained in VDARE in 2007, to get your kid into the magnet middle or high school of your choice, they have to first be rejected when applying to a magnet elementary school. So, you have to pick an extremely popular magnet elementary school where the odds are there won't be room in order to build up "points." It's such a counter-intuitive method that few people figure it out from reading about it in the official instructions. We only figured it out from listening in to other baseball parents talk about it.