VERY POOR CHILDREN: A very big story!

MONDAY, FEBRUARY 13, 2012

Part 1—Also not even a peep: Last Friday, a very important news report appeared on the New York Times’ front page.

The report was written by Sabrina Tavernise. It appeared above the fold.

The New York Times is our most famous newspaper, except perhaps for the Wall Street Journal. And Tavernise wrote an important report; “Good for her,” we incomparably said. But if you live in the liberal world, you haven’t read a single word about this important report.

The report appeared on the Times’ front page. After that, all was silent. Forgive the snark which follows:

Why has this report been ignored? Simple! Tavernise’s report dealt with very poor children in very poor neighborhoods—and we liberals quit on such children several decades ago.

Don’t get us wrong! We’ll screech and yell and drop R-bombs when the other tribe talks about very poor children. But aside from that tribal play, we rarely show signs of giving a fig about information like this:
TAVERNISE (2/10/12): Rich and Poor Further Apart in Education

Education was historically considered a great equalizer in American society, capable of lifting less advantaged children and improving their chances for success as adults. But a body of recently published scholarship suggests that the achievement gap between rich and poor children is widening, a development that threatens to dilute education’s leveling effects.

It is a well-known fact that children from affluent families tend to do better in school. Yet the income divide has received far less attention from policy makers and government officials than gaps in student accomplishment by race.

Now, in analyses of long-term data published in recent months, researchers are finding that while the achievement gap between white and black students has narrowed significantly over the past few decades, the gap between rich and poor students has grown substantially during the same period.
As you can see from that hard-copy headline, Tavernise’s report focused on an unfortunate finding— “the achievement gap between rich and poor students has grown substantially” in recent decades. If true, that’s an important fact. But for ourselves, we were even more struck by her subordinate finding:

“The achievement gap between white and black students has narrowed significantly over the past few decades.”

Say what? The achievement gap between white and black students has narrowed significantly in recent decades? Question: Has the New York Times ever reported that remarkable alleged fact? Have readers of our greatest newspaper ever been told that this has occurred? Have they ever been asked to ponder the way that narrowing may have occurred? And how about this:

Have black kids ever been given their day in the sun? Have Times readers ever been told that these kids have been erasing the poisonous legacy left by our benighted ancestors, whose miserable judgments gave us the backwash of our brutal racial heritage? Have readers of the New York Times ever been told about the way those kids have been doing that?

Hve readers been given the chance to consider what those children are doing?

The achievement gap between white and black students has narrowed significantly? We don’t think we’ve ever seen the New York Times report that fact; more on that question tomorrow. But it seems that this must be the case—or at least, that scholars have started to say so. We continued to read the Tavernise piece, and we’ll be danged if she didn’t state both of her key findings again—several more times, in fact:
TAVERNISE (continuing directly): “We have moved from a society in the 1950s and 1960s, in which race was more consequential than family income, to one today in which family income appears more determinative of educational success than race,” said Sean F. Reardon, a Stanford University sociologist. Professor Reardon is the author of a study that found that the gap in standardized test scores between affluent and low-income students had grown by about 40 percent since the 1960s, and is now double the testing gap between blacks and whites.

[...]

In the study he led, researchers analyzed 12 sets of standardized test scores starting in 1960 and ending in 2007. He compared children from families in the 90th percentile of income—the equivalent of around $160,000 in 2008, when the study was conducted—and children from the 10th percentile, $17,500 in 2008. By the end of that period, the achievement gap by income had grown by 40 percent, he said, while the gap between white and black students, regardless of income, had shrunk substantially.

Both studies were first published last fall in a book of research, “Whither Opportunity?” compiled by the Russell Sage Foundation, a research center for social sciences, and the Spencer Foundation, which focuses on education. Their conclusions, while familiar to a small core of social sciences scholars, are now catching the attention of a broader audience, in part because income inequality has been a central theme this election season.
“Their conclusions are now catching the attention of a broader audience?” We don't want to be critical here. But Tavernise doesn’t seem to be spending much time on the “liberal” web!

Snark to the side, let’s return to that one finding: “The gap between white and black students, regardless of income, has shrunk substantially.” Here at THE HOWLER, we’ve been trying to call attention to this appparent fact for years, with absolutely no success. With the exception of Kevin Drum, you couldn’t get liberals to discuss that fact with dogs, a rope and a shotgun! And we’re the people who care so much when members of the other tribe discuss the lives and the interests of very poor children!

But how about this: Has the New York Times ever reported that startling subordinate fact? Has the New York times ever told its readers that “the gap between white and black students, regardless of income, has shrunk substantially” in recent decades? Last Friday, above the fold on page one, Tavernise included that claim as her subordinate finding. But has the Times ever given that fact its day in the sun?

We were struck by this front-page report, which tossed off an important fact—a fact the Times has failed to discuss. We were also struck, though not surprised, by this mammoth disinterest displayed all through the “liberal” world.

When Newt discusses very poor children, we strike. Otherwise, silence invades the suburbs.

Funny but obvious that.

Tomorrow: Has the New York Times ever said that?

34 comments:

  1. So Bob posts about Paul Krugman, and there are comments out the wazoo, mostly dealing with Social Security and whether GW Bush argued for privitization or just partial privatization. Write a post about the education of black and/or poor kids, though, and it's nothing but crickets. Damn, Bob, when you're right, you're right.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It could be that you are right, that the lack of comments here mean that Bob's reader don't care about this issue.

      It could also be that you simply wish to appear more concerned than the remainder of the readers, by posting your own comment, adding nothing but speculation.

      For there is another reason, beyond the one you snarkily provide, for the lack of comment on this post:

      It may well be the case that no one can find any evidence at all against Bob's position. It may be that no one reading here is able to disagree in the slightest with Bob's point.

      We have nothing to argue over.

      Perhaps rather than your (ugly, unproven, and unfalsifiable) insinuation that the readership here don't care about the issue, you'd like to suggest something? That it would be better if these posts were accompanied by a nodding chorus?

      Add something real or prove yourself a mere concern troll.

      Delete
    2. So the only "discussion" we can have is to argue with one another?

      I've been a regular reader of The Daily Howler for several years now. I donated to Bob's first fund raiser with monthly payments out of my Paypal account. If he were to publish How He Got There as an ebook, I'd be among the first to buy it. Bob regularly praises Paul Krugman as "our" side's most valuable player, but I'd nominate Bob for a close second. When Bob moved The Daily Howler over here to blogspot, I was thrilled that we'd now get to comment on his posts.

      And during that time, I've noticed that no one comments when Bob posts about education. Is it because the bulk of the readership is in full agreement? Or is it because the bulk of the readership doesn't care? I think Occam's Razor slices toward that second option. (I see no reason why Bob's readership would be substantially different from the public at large when it comes to misinformation and apathy about education.)

      And, for the record, I don't care if you think I'm a concern troll or not. There are few things more pointless than two anonymous posters trying to decide who's the troll.

      Delete
    3. OK first Anonymous,

      A) You don't make any claim that your first post added anything to the discussion,

      B) You tell us you are a good person, a reader, a donor.

      Occam's razor indeed cuts toward the simple explanation: you want to be thought a better person than those who haven't commented on education posts.

      It probably won't work out that way. And you yourself could have added something of substance at anytime in the past, or now.

      On your "logic," that you didn't comment earlier proves that you didn't care about the issue before now, when your concern has finally blossomed into a comment. A comment essentially saying "Everyone else doesn't care, but look at me."

      But since that logic is crap, let's give you and the rest of us the benefit of the doubt, huh?

      Delete
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