Merle Haggard, back in the day!

FRIDAY, JULY 19, 2019

Gene Brabender gets the assist:
Way back when, it was Merle Haggard who managed to corner the eternal "love it or leave it" market.

He'd already scored with Okie From Muskogee, a song which captured white working-class disdain for coastal elites. Then, along came The Fightin' Side of Me.

At the time,
the advice was offered to pot-smokin' hippies, not to four women of color:
I hear people talkin' bad
About the way we have to live here in this country
Harpin' on the wars we fight
An' gripin' about the way things oughta be.
I don't mind 'em switchin' sides,
And standin' up for things they believe in.
But when they're runnin' down my country, man,
They're walkin' on the fightin' side of me.

Yeah, walkin' on the fightin' side of me.
Runnin' down the way of life
Our fightin' men have fought and died to keep.
If you don't love it, leave it!
Let this song that I'm singin' be a warnin'.

When you're runnin' down our country, man,
You're walkin' on the fightin' side of me.
Anthropologically speaking, the late Jim Bouton captured this part of the human mind in his iconic book, Ball Four.

Out in the bullpen, Bouton got in a pointless debate with Gene Brabender, a big raw-boned right-hander.

Finally, Brabender had had enough. As quoted by Bouton, he flawlessly expressed one key part of the human condition:

"Where I come from, we just talk for a little while. After that we start to hit."

So said the late Gene Brabender. So pretty much say we all.

Sometimes, a single excellent joke...!

FRIDAY, JULY 19, 2019

Lyons gets it right:
Sometimes, the very good joke is the best, perhaps the only, viable form of rebuttal.

A very good joke goes straight to the brain. It bypasses the neural pathways where mere logic all too often gets hauled down from behind.

With that in mind, we think Gene Lyons has landed the very good joke. He does so in his current syndicated column:
LYONS (7/17/19): So anyway, that’s where I’m coming from as a direct descendant of refugees [from Ireland]. What we have here is a perfect storm of Trumpism: equal parts ignorance and bigotry. Only Trump (born in Queens) could tell Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (born in the Bronx) to go back where she came from.
It isn't like the current challenge can be turned back by a good joke. At the end of roughly three decades of lunacy, we let a crazy person get into the White House—and our "press corps" has a sacred rule against discussing the fact that he's nuts!

One good joke can't turn that back. But only Trump could be that dumb? That isn't a bad place to start!

Hidden claim: "Dumb" is much more potent than "racist."

Anthropologically, "dumb" is a judgment that's hard to avoid. "Racist" triggers a fight.

Death by excellent joke: Ronald Reagan ended the 1984 campaign with the excellent joke about refusing to take advantage of Mondale's youth and inexperience.

Even Mondale had to laugh. The campaign ended right there.

SCHOOLED ON CHARLOTTE: Today we have naming of test score gains!

FRIDAY, JULY 19, 2019

At long last, has the Times no shame?
"Today we have naming of parts."

So wrote British journalist and poet Henry Reed in a rueful, ironic war poem. Long ago and far away, as we prepared to march on Iraq, Roger Rosenblatt discussed the poem on the PBS Newshour.

His presentation started like this:
ROSENBLATT (7/29/02): By now one ought to be used to the collision of basic human impulses. Familiar business, especially today, when summer is in full swing all over, and people are going to war all over, all over.

Summer explodes, a bus explodes; grill the suspect, grill the suspect. In the middle of the season of hang gliding, helicopters patrol; and again we take in the harsh attachment of destruction and celebration–the usual, old hat. We've been through it lots before.
In Reed's poem, Reed and his fellow soldiers are subjected to "naming of parts." Today, we ourselves, for the ten millionth time, will have naming of test score gains!

This too is part of an ugly and stupid war. We refer to the war the New York Times runs against the interests of the nation's black and Hispanic children, though always in the most high-minded, lofty way.

The silly, daft, upper-class Times builds its public school reporting around a couple of pretty tales—stories it very much likes. One such story goes like this:
The nation's (giant) achievement gaps are all just a function of test prep.
You'd almost think that nothing could be any dumber than that. But last Sunday, the paper returned to another beloved tale:
Black kids gained ground under desegregation. It's been downhill from there.
At long last, has the Times no shame? At long last, is there nothing that will make its employees stop reciting the pretty stories which make Times readers feel high-minded and good?

We ask this question because, today, we have naming of test score gains!

We've conducted this naming many times in the past. That said, you aren't allowed to know about such gains if you read the New York Times. Nikole Hannah-Jones kept this destructive nonsense alive with her lengthy report this past Sunday. The interests of black kids get thrown down the drain as the Times pursues pleasures like these.

Hannah-Jones seemed to tell a certain story about black kids' progress in school. For the last time, we'll once again post her nugget presentation.

After that, we'll run through the endless, encouraging test score data which are never allowed to bark. In place of such data, you are handed performative portraits like this:
HANNAH-JONES (7/14/19): For years, North Carolina’s Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools, where the community decided to make busing work, were some of the most integrated in the country, and both black and white students saw achievement gains. The district was forced to return to neighborhood schools after a white family brought down the desegregation order, and Charlotte is now the most segregated district in North Carolina. We should question why in the narrative of busing we remember Boston but not Charlotte.

[...]

We now know that school desegregation significantly reduced the test-score gap between black and white children—cutting it in half for some black age groups without harming white children. No other reform has reduced the gap on this scale. Rather, the opposite is true: The test-score gap between black and white students reached its narrowest point ever at the peak of desegregation and has widened as schools have resegregated.
In the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS),"both black and white students saw achievement gains" during the era of desegregation. At one point, Hannah-Jones says this era reached its peak in 1988.

During the current era of "resegregation," CMS has become "the most segregated district in North Carolina," Hannah-Jones says. She doesn't say anything about academic progress in Charlotte-Mecklenburg during this era, but she paints a gloomy picture of progress nationwide.

According to Hannah-Jones, desegregation "significantly reduced the test-score gap between black and white children." Unfortunately, the achievement gap has widened in the era of resegregation, she says.

With these claims in mind, today we have naming of test score gains! We're going to run through those test score gains because the picture painted by Hannah-Jones is highly selective at best and may perhaps even be wrong.

Before we have naming of test score gains, we'll need to have naming of National Assessment of Educational Progress (Naep) programs.

Hannah-Jones links to the Naep at several junctures, though in one case her link is a phantom. Before we have naming of gains, we may need naming of programs:
The Long Term Trend Assessment:
This, the Naep's original program, started in 1971. It tests 9-year-old, 13-year-old and 17-year-old students in reading and math. Its most recent data come from 2012.

As part of the passage posted above, Hannah-Jones links to this Long Term Trend Assessment report to support her claim about CMS schools during the era of busing. Tgat said, there is nothing in that lengthy report about the Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools. Simply put, the Naep can't tell us about the system's black and white kids during that bygone era.

The Main Naep:
The so-called Main Naep is, in effect, a companion to the Long Term Trend Assessment. In its main component, it tests students in grades 4, 8 and 12 in reading and math.

The Main Naep started in 1990; its most recent published data date from 2017. It produces scores for the kids of every state, and for several dozen urban systems, along with scores for the nation as a whole.

In effect, the Main Naep provides a type of second opinion when combined with results from the Long Term Trend Assessment. As the program's name implies, the Main Naep is now the more commonly cited of the two Naep studies.

The Trial Urban District Assessment:
The Trial Urban District Assessment is a subset of the Main Naep. Within this program, several dozen urban systems participate in such a way that reliable test scores are produced for each system's kids.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg joined the TUDA in 2003. There are no Naep data for CMS in the earlier years which Hannah-Jones describes.
Now that we've had naming of programs, let's proceed with naming of gains. Our basic point is simple:

All groups of kids have produced large score gains during the era of "resegregation!" In various areas, achievement gaps have been reduced during this era, but nowhere have gaps gotten larger. These facts fly in the face of the gloomy picture people like Hannah-Jones simply refuse to quit.

Since Hannah-Jones linked to the Long Term Trend Assessment report, let's review that program first. We'll start with the year 1992, thereby creating a 20-year time span during the era of "resegregation."

Despite the picture Hannah-Jones fashions, score gains have been very large during "resegregation." We calculate these gains directly from the graphs in the 2012 report to which the gloomy Hannah-Jones linked:
Gains in average scores, Long Term Trend Assessment
9-year-old students, reading, 1992-2012

White kids: 13 points
Black kids: 24 points
Hispanic kids: 22 points
Those were enormous score gains over a 20-year period. Beyond that, you'll note that the black/white and Hispanic/white achievement gaps shrank during this period.

Based on a standard but very rough rule of thumb, black kids progressed by something like two academic years during this period. White kids progressed by just one!

We can't vouch for the "accuracy" of such assessments. But this is the study to which Hannah-Jones linked, and those are the data which have emerged during "resegregation."

Elsewhere, large gains were recorded by all groups, leaving the size of the achievement gap unchanged. Here we see the gains in 9-year-old math:
Gains in average scores, Long Term Trend Assessment
9-year-old students, math, 1992-2012

White kids: 19 points
Black kids: 21 points
Hispanic kids: 23 points
Those are huge gains for all three groups. But alas! Because white kids did much better too, the gaps were only slightly reduced.

Again, these large score gains were recorded during "resegregation." Nothing in Hannah-Jones' gloomy dreamscape would prepare a reader to imagine any such state of affairs.

Those were results for 9-year-old students through 2012. The 13-year-old kids produced some large gains too. Here are the score gains in math:
Gains in average scores, Long Term Trend Assessment
13-year-old students, math, 1992-2012

White kids: 15 points
Black kids: 19 points
Hispanic kids: 13 points
As with any data which result from sampling, the numbers jump around a bit depending on the year you cherry-pick as your starting point. If we started with 1996, those gains would look like this:
Gains in average scores, Long Term Trend Assessment
13-year-old students, math, 1996-2012

White kids: 13 points
Black kids: 17 points
Hispanic kids: 16 points
Black kids gained seventeen points in sixteen years on the Long Term Assessment. This occurred during "resegregation," Hannah-Jones' tears to the side.

We've shown you data from the Long Term Trend Assessment. Data from the so-called "Main Naep" tell a similar story, though the data now extend through the year 2017.

We'll stick with data from grade 8, and we'll begin where the program began. Ignoring a minor statistical blip along the way, current score gains in math look like this:
Gains in average scores, Main Naep
Grade 8 math, 1990-2017

White kids: 23.48 points
Black kids: 23.09 points
Hispanic kids: 23.83 points
For all Main Naep data, start here.

On their face, those are very large gains. Those gains were achieved, by all three groups, during "resegregation."

Alas! Because all three groups scored so much higher, the gaps didn't shrink on this measure. If we accept those test scores at face value, the achievement gaps remained the same, though at a much higher academic level.

In grade 8 reading, the gaps did shrink. Starting with the initial testing, the score gains look like this:
Gains in average scores, Main Naep
Grade 8 reading, 1992-2017

White kids: 8.77 points
Black kids: 12.42 points
Hispanic kids: 16.23 points
As a general matter, score gains have been smaller in reading. In Charlotte-Mecklenburg, score gains in grade 8 math were very large from 2003 to 2017, but score gains in grade 8 reading were rather small.

Now we're going to have naming of a few basic points:

We've adjusted for a minor statistical blip in our calculation of the gains in the Long Term Trend Assessment. (On the graphics, you can see the blip occur in 2004.) We haven't done this with the Main Naep. The changes would be minor.

We don't review Grade 12 students or 17-year-old students. Changes in nationwide drop-out rates make year-to-year and decade-to-decade comparisons basically meaningless among these older groups.

The Naep may share our view on this. It doesn't even include Grade 12 in its voluminous Naep Data Explorer, a phenomenal research tool which, as far as we can tell, has never been used by any journalist down through the annals of time.

There of course is a reason for that. As you know, our mainstream journalists rarely traffic in information, data or facts. They traffic in preferred story lines, in the fictions their weak minds prefer.

At any rate, today we've had naming of test score gains! All these gains have occurred during the era of "resegregation." In many areas, gaps have shrunk. During these roughly 25 years, gaps haven't gotten larger.

You'd almost think that score gains like these would be seen as major news. Indeed, you'd almost think that score gains like these would be seen as major good news.

You'd almost think that journalists would want to tell the public about these score gains. But if you thought that, you don't understand the way our "press corps" works.

Also, you may not understand the basic workings of the human brain.

Our journalists love to tell us their stories, their favorite fictional tales. At the Times, Eliza Shapiro jumps over the moon pretending that Gotham's giant achievement gaps are just a result of test prep.

Hannah-Jones likes to suggest that we can only produce academic gains in schools which have been "integrated" on a mid-60s, Leave It To Beaver demographic model.

Also this:

For many years, no one could report test score gains because elites were in thrall to the "education reform" preferred tale, according to which "nothing has worked." These are the novels which determine which facts you're allowed to encounter.

Back to Hannah-Jones. Is it true that progress can only occur in the world of Leave It To Beaver?

We'd better hope that's not true! Given the basic facts of our nation's residential sorting, big urban systems like New York City's will never be "integrated" in the wonderfully pretty, childish way the New York Times likes to imagine.

The gains we've shown you have occurred during the era the Times likes to call "resegregation." At the Times, they weep and cry and hide these score gains. In the process, they throw black kids under the bus as they relish their sick tribal tales.

Down in Charlotte-Mecklenburg's schools, lower-income black eighth graders seem to have made a lot of progress in math. Let's revisit the picture we showed you in Wednesday's report:
Gains in average scores, Main Naep
Lower-income black kids, grade 8 math, 2003-2017

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools: 11.21 points
Public schools nationwide: 8.44 points
Public schools statewide, North Carolina: -1.26 points
Their peers across their state have lost ground as North Carolina has staged a conservative retrenchment. But as this was happening, lower-income black kids in CMS were gaining more than a year!

You'd think a person might want to know why that seems to have happened. But at the Times, score gains like those will always be disappeared. Black kids get thrown under the bus in the process, but our "journalists" retain their prize tales.

Full disclosure! Anthropologists keep telling us that this was the best our species could actually hope to do.

"The human brain was wired for gossip and fiction," these future experts have repeatedly said. Sadly speaking in the past tense from the years which follow Mister Trump's War, they sadly say that Professor Harari basically got it right.

Test scores have gone up and up. The public has never been told!

Inaccurate, false don't register!

THURSDAY, JULY 18, 2019

The shape of the cable news brain:
Today, at the start of Morning Joe, Mika played tape of a certain fuhrer holding forth at last evening's event.

Roughly one minute into the program, she was airing this videotape of the crackpot's crazy remarks:
TRUMP (7/18/19): Representative Ilhan Omar—

AUDIENCE: BOOING

TRUMP: Omar laughed that Americans speak of Al-Qaeda in a menacing tone and remarked that, "You don’t say America with this intensity. You say, 'Al-Qaeda makes you proud. AL-QAEDA makes you proud.' You don’t speak that way about America."

She looks down with contempt on the hardworking American, saying that ignorance is pervasive in many parts of this country. And obviously and importantly, Omar has a history of launching vicious antisemitic screeds.

AUDIENCE: Send her back! Send her back! Send her back! Send her back!
You have to watch the tape to see the crazy way the fuhrer performed Omar's alleged remarks. For ourselves, we were struck by what occurred when the videotape ended.

Mika had just played some ridiculous tape of Trump engaged in a vicious and ludicrous slander. Creative paraphrase hasn't had such an outstanding day since the boys and girls of cable news spent twenty months pretending that Candidate Gore had said all kinds of crazy things.

Dearest darlings, did Rep. Omar actually say what Trump said she said about the greatness of al Qaeda? Was he delivering an accurate account of her actual remarks?

Just yesterday, the Washington Post's Fact Checker site reviewed a similar gong show by Trump in which he attributed the same remarks to Omar. And sure enough! Early in his Fact Checker piece, Salvador Rizzo said this:
RIZZO (7/17/19): He seemed to be referencing an interview Omar gave in 2013 to a local television show in Minnesota. But Trump completely twisted and falsely characterized Omar’s remarks.
For Rizzo's full report, click here. But people who watched Morning Joe today didn't receive any information about what Omar really said.

The gang took turns mouthing words like "shocking," "low point," "disgusting" and "depraved." Also, needless to say, "racism," "racist" and "bigot." But none of these lunkheads made any attempt to challenge the accuracy of the claim they themselves had just put on the air.

We're fairly sure that we'll hear tonight from Future Anthropologists Huddled in Caves (TM), the trademarked yet disconsolate group which reports to us from the years which follow Mister Trump's War through the peculiar nocturnal submissions the haters refer to as dreams.

These experts have often spoken to us about this peculiar aspect of the wiring of the elite human brain in these, the last few days before the nuclear attack on Somalia.

"Due to chance mutations connected to their endless tribal interbreeding, the concept of accuracy had ceased to register on what was left of their failing brains," these rueful future scholars have repeatedly noted.

"In the face of slanderous claims, they would turn to cascades of denunciation," these top future experts have told us. "It rarely seemed to occur to them that they should start by telling their viewers that the presentations in question were factually bogus."

You can watch this morning's proceedings here.
Just as soon as the tape was done, the children began to display their moral greatness. The prevailing state of their intellect was possibly not as impressive!

Or so some future anthropologist will likely tell us tonight. When they refer to our failing species, they'll do so in the past tense!

SCHOOLED ON CHARLOTTE: In this era of "resegregation"...

THURSDAY, JULY 18, 2019

...the data may diverge from the tale:
Darn those voluminous math and reading scores from the Naep!

In this era of "resegregation," it can be hard to maintain preferred tribal tales in the face of those darn test scores!

Within our hapless modern press culture, elementary data and basic facts really aren't "stubborn things." Quite routinely, elite journalists prefer to tell tribally pleasing tales.

This is especially true when the New York Times reports on public schools.

Nothing will change the preferred story lines; our brains aren't wired for such work, especially on elite levels. But as we showed you yesterday, actual data from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) complicate a preferred story line:

Over the past several decades, CMS has become "the most segregated school district in North Carolina," or so we were told in a lengthy report in Sunday's New York Times. Depending on how you measure such things, that assessment may even be accurate.

That said, wouldn't you know it? According to data from the so-called Main Naep, Charlotte-Mecklenburg's score gains in grade 8 math have gone through the roof in the past fourteen years, for black and white kids alike! It's "the most segregated school system" in the whole state—but its score gains have come thick and fast!

How awkward are those actual facts—the actual facts which went unmentioned and undiscussed in Sunday's New York Times? In yesterday's report, we showed you the score gains which have occurred since Charlotte-Mecklenburg began taking part in the Naep's Trial Urban District Assessment (TUDA) in 2003.

The systems's score gains in grade 8 math have gone through the roof. For an additional framework, here's how lower-income black kids scored in grade 8 math on the last administration of the Naep, with CMS ruling the world:
Average scores, lower-income black kids
Grade 8 math, Naep, 2017

Public schools nationwide: 255.02
Public schools statewide (North Carolina): 252.84

Atlanta: 253.50
Austin: 253.44
Baltimore: 249.36
Boston: 258.97
Charlotte-Mecklenburg: 262.92
Chicago: 257.24
Cleveland: 255.50
Dallas: 257.12
Denver: 255.27
Detroit: 243.17
Houston: 261.50
Los Angeles: 243.15
Miami: 254.65
Milwaukee: 240.29
New York City: 253.10
Philadelphia: 247.00
San Diego: 255.53
For all Main Naep data, start here.

Applying a standard though very rough rule of thumb, lower-income black kids in CMS outperformed their peers statewide by roughly one academic year.

They also outperformed their peers nationwide, and in every other urban system which takes part in the TUDA. (It's part of the Main Naep.) Among the big urban systems which were tested, only Houston, and maybe Boston, really came all that close.

That said, uh-oh! As CMS was "resegregating," performance substantially grew! Compared to other North Carolina systems, black kids in CMS showed tremendous score gains in grade 8 math, even as their system allegedly became the most "segregated" in the entire state.

This complicates the pleasing tale we were fed in Sunday's Times. In a lengthy report by Nikole Hannah-Jones, we were basically told, without quite being told, that this sort of thing can't/doesn't happen.

In our view, it's better when kids get to go to school with kids of other "races" and ethnicities. If we could bus in kids from Tibet, we'd support that approach.

That said, our liberal academics and journalists often substitute fairy tales for data and basic facts.

All too often, they seem to love their tribal tales more than the truth itself. Because they want their tales to stand, they may throw basic facts under the bus, with the interests of black kids to follow.

Let's be thorough! Charlotte-Mecklenburg hasn't recorded similar gains in the area of grade 8 reading. We'll look at those data tomorrow.

That said, it's amazing to see a major journalist go out of her way to cite CMS as a prime example of a familiar, pleasing tale—a familiar tribal tale which isn't gigantically accurate.

To offer a larger perspective, let's outline the story Hannah-Jones told about overall national progress in the years since the Brown decision outlawed dual school systems. Tomorrow, we'll compare the picture she drew to the actual national data.

Below, we reproduce two paragraphs from Sunday's Times report. We think they define a familiar story, one we were basically told in Sunday's Times without quite being told:
HANNAH-JONES (7/14/19): For years, North Carolina’s Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools, where the community decided to make busing work, were some of the most integrated in the country, and both black and white students saw achievement gains. The district was forced to return to neighborhood schools after a white family brought down the desegregation order, and Charlotte is now the most segregated district in North Carolina. We should question why in the narrative of busing we remember Boston but not Charlotte.

[...]

We now know that school desegregation significantly reduced the test-score gap between black and white children—cutting it in half for some black age groups without harming white children. No other reform has reduced the gap on this scale. Rather, the opposite is true: The test-score gap between black and white students reached its narrowest point ever at the peak of desegregation and has widened as schools have resegregated.
Hannah-Jones makes the following claims. In the process, other impressions may be conveyed—impressions which may be inaccurate:
Five basic claims:
1) School desegregation significantly reduced the test-score gap between black and white children.

2) The gap was cut in half for some age groups.

3) This was done without harming white children.

4) The test score gap has widened as schools have resegregated.

5) When Charlotte-Mecklenburg was forced to integrate, "both black and white students saw achievement gains."
Quickly, let's run through those claims. After that, we'll identify the important fact which didn't bark.

In our view, the first of those five statements clearly seems to be accurate.

Based on the Naep data to which Hannah-Jones links, the achievement gap was indeed "significantly reduced" during roughly the first two decades of testing, starting in 1971. (Hannah-Jones describes 1988 as the point where "desegregation had peaked.")

(Warning: the large changes which occurred in this era would have been concentrated in the South. They would perhaps have reflected a one-time-only gain as southern systems were forced to abandon their horrendous "blacks only" schools and procedures.)

The second statement is also true, though we note the key word "some."

Within the "Long Term Trend" Naep data to which Hannah-Jones links, the gap wasn't cut in half, or anything like it, for 9-year-old students—not in reading, not in math. It was cut in half for 13-year-old students, though only if we assume that the "best" year of testing represents an "accurate" statistical representation.

Was this achieved "without harming white children?" White test scores stayed largely the same during this period. There's no way to know what would have happened if integration hadn't been forced on the South during this era. Nor does this matter, of course.

So far, Hannah-Jones' portrait is largely accurate. But when we reach statements 4 and 5, accuracy may start to suffer.

Is it true that "the test score gap has widened as schools have resegregated?" We'd score that as significantly misleading at best, possibly as flatly false. We'll show you data tomorrow.

With that, it's on to Charlotte! Is it true that "both black and white students saw achievement gains" in CMS during the era of busing?

There are no data which address that question at the link Hannah-Jones provides. At this point, Hannah-Jones has started to tell us a pleasing story without providing any actual facts.

She also declined to tell us this:

In CMS, "both black and white students" have made large gains in grade 8 math during the era she describes as "resegregation." But then, that's also true on a national basis.

This brings us to a major fact which almost never barks:

Over the past twenty-five years, black, white and Hispanic students have all recorded very large gains in math on the Naep, accompanied by fairly large gains in reading.

Those gains have been recorded during the era of "resegregation." In one very basic sense, that should be seen as good news.

Guess what! There is no way that our big urban systems will ever produce "integration" drawn from the era of Leave It To Beaver. Sadly, though, it's from that thoroughly bygone era that people at the New York Times seem to fashion their unhelpful dreams.

Moving forward, our big urban systems will continue to be heavily "segregated." Urban population patterns make that abundantly clear.

We can't "integrate" our way out of our current achievement levels or out of our current achievement gaps! But so what? In destructive service to a simple-minded dream, Hannah-Jones failed to mention the substantial test score gains the public should, at long last, be told about—the substantial score gains which could prove to be our salvation.

How did Charlotte-Mecklenburg produce those score gains in grade 8 math over that 14-year span? Why are its lower-income black kids outperforming their peers nationwide?

A decent person would wonder about the answer to such questions. But at the Hamptons-based New York Times, the very fact of those scores and those score gains must be disappeared!

As we've noted for years, this is a long-standing, amazingly uniform journalistic practice. You're allowed to hear about the gaps, but you can't be told about the gains! In such ways, basic facts keep getting disappeared in service to preferred tribal tales.

The public isn't allowed to know about the score gains which have occurred. In this way, the interests of black and Hispanic kids keep getting thrown under the court-ordered buses which aren't going to reappear.

Tomorrow: Some actual national data

Someone lied to Lawrence when he was young!

WEDNESDAY, JULY 17, 2019

The fellow has never recovered:
How silly is the drivel we're handed on our tribe's favorite shows?

Consider the way Lawrence O'Donnell began Monday night's Last Word. He started with a silly claim about Trump's alleged racism.

He followed with a claim about the press corps' use of the tricky word "lie," a claim which was simply sad:
O'DONNELL (7/15/19): Tonight, the great national debate about “is Donald Trump a racist” appears to be over.

The debate started eight years ago in earnest in 2011, when Donald Trump first started talking about President Obama's birth certificate. That's when I started using the word "racist" about Donald Trump on this program, and the word “lie”.

But the American news media was not ready for either one of the words and it took the New York Times five full years after that to use the word “lie” to describe what Donald Trump says on a daily basis.

The New York Times finally called Donald Trump a liar in September 2016, when he already lied his way to the Republican presidential nomination.

The New York Times was five years late on "lying," but most of the rest of the news media was later than that. By the second year of the Trump presidency, though, everyone in the American news media had called Donald Trump a liar repeatedly. The Washington Post now keeps an official count of Donald Trump's lies.
To watch this monologue segment, click here.

Lawrence's claim about the "racist" debate was basically childish and silly. That debate is far from over. It isn't clear who's winning.

Regarding the claim about the word "lie," consider what Lawrence did:

Lawrence said that the Washington Post "now keeps an official count of Donald Trump's lies." As he said this, an image of this June 10 report flashed upon the screen.

The report was published by the Post's "Fact Checker" site. The headline on that report says this:
President Trump has made 10,796 false or misleading claims over 869 days
Newsflash: The Washington Post's Fact Checker site doesn't refer to misstatements as "lies." It tabulates "false and misleading statements." That's as far as it goes.

That's as far as the Fact Checker goes! Rightly or wrongly, it hasn't stampeded after Lawrence when it comes to the tricky term "lie."

Let's summarize:

Lawrence claimed that the Washington Post now keeps an official count of Trump's "lies." His point was that the Times and the Post finally bower to his own wisdom by using that tricky word.

As proof, he pointed to an official count by the Washington Post. That said, the Post's official count doesn't use the term "lies!"

You could almost say that Lawrence conned his viewers that night. An excitable person might almost decide to say that the gentleman lied!

SCHOOLED ON CHARLOTTE: Charlotte's black kids fight "resegregation!"

WEDNESDAY, JULY 17, 2019

Math gains through the roof:
What happened to achievement patterns in public schools after the Brown decision?

That question encompasses a 65-year span. In Sunday's New York Times, Nikole Hannah-Jones constructed the Standard Pleasing Fable concerning what has occurred.

Some of what Hannah-Jones wrote in her lengthy report was accurate. A good chunk of what she wrote pretty much was not. As always, the lives and the interests of the nation's black kids got thrown under [the story our team likes to tell concerning the use of] the bus.

In yesterday's report, we posted several passages which define the Hannah-Jones story line. This was her nugget account concerning what happened in the nation as a whole after the Brown decision:
HANNAH-JONES (7/14/19): We now know that school desegregation significantly reduced the test-score gap between black and white children—cutting it in half for some black age groups without harming white children. No other reform has reduced the gap on this scale. Rather, the opposite is true: The test-score gap between black and white students reached its narrowest point ever at the peak of desegregation and has widened as schools have resegregated.
In some respects, we'd score that account as true. In some respects, our grading would be less generous.

We'll look at that global account in the next few days. For today, let's consider Hannah-Jones' account of what has happened in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg (N.C.) Schools (CMS) in the past four or five decades.

Currently, CMS is the nation's 18th-largest school district. For several decades, it engaged in large-scale busing as a result of a major 1971 court order.

According to Hannah-Jones, this is the CMS story up to the present day. This helps flesh out her larger account of what occurred nationwide:
HANNAH-JONES: [T]o say busing—or really, mandated desegregation—failed is a lie.

It transformed the South from apartheid to the place where black children are now the most likely to sit in classrooms with white children. It led to increased resources being spent on black and low-income children. There’s a story black people ruefully tell of the day they knew integration was coming to a black high school in Charlotte, N.C.: A crew of workers arrived to fix up the facilities because now white children would be attending. This is how two-way busing worked and why integration was necessary—white people would never allow their children to attend the types of inferior schools to which they relegated black children.

For years, North Carolina’s Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools, where the community decided to make busing work, were some of the most integrated in the country, and both black and white students saw achievement gains. The district was forced to return to neighborhood schools after a white family brought down the desegregation order, and Charlotte is now the most segregated district in North Carolina. We should question why in the narrative of busing we remember Boston but not Charlotte.
Once again, here's what we've been told:

During the era of mandated busing, Charlotte-Mecklenburg's schools "were some of the most integrated in the country." During this era, "both black and white students saw achievement gains," we're told.

In support of these claims, Hannah-Jones links to this 57-page report by the National Assessment of Education Progress (the Naep). Unfortunately, that report doesn't say a single word, or present a single statistic, about anything that has happened in Charlotte-Mecklenburg's schools at any point in time.

In Charlotte-Mecklenburg, did "both black and white students" record "achievement gains" during the era of busing? That Naep report doesn't say.

That Naep report does present test score data, in both reading and math, for the nation's kids as a whole. Depending on which years you want to cherry-pick, we'd say that some of Hannah-Jones' claims are true, while some are misleading or maybe even false.

More on that tomorrow. For today, let's consider more recent data from the Naep—data which tell us what has happened in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools in this current era of "resegregation."

In our view, it would be better if kids went to school with kids of varied "races" and ethnicities. According to Hannah-Jones, this dream has died in Charlotte-Mecklenburg, which "is now the most segregated district in North Carolina."

We don't know if that latter assessment is accurate. We're not even entirely sure what it means.

That said, we'll assume the claim is essentially true. As we told you on Monday, the claim derives from this study by the North Carolina Justice Society, to which Hannah-Jones fails to provide a sound link.

According to Hannah-Jones, CMS "is now the most segregated district in North Carolina." According to that study, the hyper-resegregated district "would need to re-assign 55 percent of its students to achieve racial parity across its schools."

More than half the system's kids would have to move to a different school! Meanwhile, what has happened to academic achievement in this era of "resegregation?"

Uh-oh! CMS math scores seem to have have gone through the roof during the era in question! Whether compared to the rest of the state, or to the nation as a whole, black and white kids in CMS schools have recorded remarkable gains.

This is one of the stories you weren't told in Hannah-Jones' fabulized, feel-bad account. That said, the data sit right before us in the Naep's extremely detailed, largely unreviewed data.

Let's take a look at those data! First, though, a quick bit of background:

Ever since 2003, CMS has participated in the Naep's Trial Urban District Assessment. Within this program, the Naep has been able to publish statistically reliable data for several dozen large school systems, including those in New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago.

As such, the Naep has reading and math scores for CMS from 2003 through its most recent testing in 2017. This corresponds to the era of "resegregation" in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.

Uh-oh! Despite what you've been encouraged to believe, score gains in math have gone through the roof in CMS during this period! That's true "for both black and white students." In grade 8 math, the score gains look like this:
Gains in average scores
Grade 8 math, Naep, 2003-2017


Black kids, CMS: 12.35 points
Black kids nationwide: 7.85 points
Black kids, state of North Carolina: -1.54 points

White kids, CMS: 14.51 points
White kids nationwide: 5.62 points
White kids, state of North Carolina: 1.47 points
For all Naep data, start here.

You're reading those data correctly. During that 14-year period, the average score of North Carolina's black kids actually went down in grade 8 math, if only slightly.

Meanwhile:

In "the most segregated district in the state," black kids' average score went through the roof. Based on a standard though very rough rule of thumb, black eighth-graders in CMS progressed by more than one academic year in math during that 14-year period.

CMS is a somewhat unusual urban/suburban school district. For that reason, we'll also show you the gains by the district's lower-income black kids (by kids who qualify for the federal lunch program):
Gains in average scores
Grade 8 math, Naep, 2003-2017

Lower-income black kids, CMS: 11.21 points
Lower-income black kids nationwide: 8.44 points
Lower-income black kids, North Carolina: -1.26 points
Here too, CMS kids progressed by more than one academic year while their peers across the state were losing a bit of ground. Data like these complicate the pretty tale Hannah-Jones seemed to be telling.

Alas! In the most segregated school district in the whole state, grade 8 math scores went through the roof during the era of resegregation. Black and white students both gained, and the recorded gains were large.

Good lord! There's no way to know, but based upon these Naep data, it's entirely possible that "the most segregated district in the state" actually recorded the highest math gains in the whole state during this era. This complicates the story Hannah-Jones chose to tell while citing the Naep as her source.

Also, it's Hannah-Jones who focused on CMS. That was her choice, not ours.

In our view, it would be better if kids went to school with kids of varying "races" and ethnicities. If we can bus in kids from Nepal, we'd like to see it done.

On the other hand, our nation contains some very large urban school systems—New York City first among them—whose student demographics will never permit the Leave It To Beaver-era racial balance which polemicists at the New York Times apparently dream of during their five-day Hamptons weekends.

Gotham's black and Hispanic kids will never be going to school with Wally and the Beav seated on either side. If those data from CMS are real, you'd almost think we'd want to know what that hyper-"segregated" school system has actually been doing in its math instruction.

That said, we very rarely show any signs of wanting to know such things. As "humans," we more reliably want to persist with our memorized novels, with our tribally pleasing tales.

In certain major respects, Hannah-Jones presented a tribally pleasing tale this Sunday. Concerning the interests of black and Hispanic kids, those interests get thrown under a certain fabulized bus when we insist on pleasing ourselves with our gloomy stories.

Not unlike Homer of old, we memorize and repeat these stories. Whose interests get served by that?

Tomorrow: National patterns