Part 2—A disturbing situation obscured: In last week’s Economic Scene column, the New York Times’ Eduardo Porter painted a remarkable portrait of some American schools.

Porter discussed “the persistent gulf in the test results between the rich and the poor” in our public schools. For our previous report, click here.

On average, kids from lower-income families perform much less well in reading and math. Next week, we’ll quantify some of these gaps in academic achievement.

Low-income kids do much less well. In this remarkable passage, Porter described the size of the gaps which can be found in some of our middle schools:
PORTER (5/21/14): Addressing the vast disparities between students’ abilities will not be easy. In some public schools, children who are entering the sixth grade with the measured proficiency of first graders are mixed in with children who perform well above the sixth-grade standard.

Schools struggle to teach this mix. Teachers are frustrated: Almost half leave the profession within five years.
How wide can the achievement gap be within a middle school? In some middle schools, some entering sixth graders are “working with the measured proficiency of first graders,” Porter said. Other sixth-graders in these same schools are performing “well above sixth grade level.”

Porter didn’t say how many schools are struggling with this “vast disparity between students’ abilities.” (For our money, “student achievement” would be the more accurate term.) Truth to tell, he didn’t say how he knows there are any such schools at all.

That said, Nikole Hannah-Jones recently offered a similar, sobering portrait of the vast achievement gap which seems to exist within one city’s high schools. In a 10,000-word report in The Atlantic, she described the underside of our achievement gaps, as displayed by the senior class at Tuscaloosa’s Central High.

Hannah-Jones describes Central High as follows: “A struggling school serving the city’s poorest part of town, it is 99 percent black.”

How poor are the students at Central High? “More than 80 percent of them come from families with incomes low enough to qualify them for free or reduced-price lunches,” Hannah-Jones reports. (According to greatschools.org, the current statistic is 83 percent.)

For the record, this is not a measure of poverty. Nationwide, about 50 percent of public school students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. By federal measures, the number of children living in poverty is more like 20 percent.

That said, Central High is plainly a low-income school. And as Hannah-Jones described the school’s senior class, she described the academic performance which obtains at the lower end of the “vast disparities” in achievement to which Porter referred.

Based on Hannah-Jones’ report, the students in this low-income school are not performing well academically. Hannah-Jones focused on one student, D’Leisha Dent, a superb young person who is president of Central High’s senior class.

Hannah-Jones reports that Dent is one of Central’s brightest students. At one point, she even says that Dent “excels in school.”

But other parts of Hannah-Jones’ profile of Dent should be extremely sobering. In the following passage, Hannah-Jones captures a scene from Dent’s Advanced Placement English class:
HANNAH-JONES (4/16/14): [Dent] eventually broke free from a tangle of girls to enter Tyrone Jones’s Advanced Placement English class and take her seat at the front. She dropped two black bags taut with notebooks and binders beside her desk.

Jones didn’t waste time setting the boisterous class to task. The AP exam was approaching. Students who didn’t score high enough wouldn’t get college credit for the class. Even though the 17 girls and boys gathered in front of him made up Central’s brightest, their practice essay about a poem hadn’t gone so well.

D’Leisha raised her hand, her brow furrowed. How many kids had made the cutoff last year? she asked. Only two students had, but the teacher dodged the question. “I really do believe all of you can make those scores,” he said.
Only two seniors at Central High had passed the AP exam last year. Nor do things look much better for Dent’s group, though Hannah-Jones makes no attempt to complete a full portrait.

Given Dent’s status as one of Central High’s brightest seniors, Hannah-Jones’ portrait of her struggle to attend college ought to be deeply distressing. Based upon enrollment figures, those 17 kids in that AP class seem to be roughly the top ten percent of Central High’s senior class. Dent’s inclusion in that group might lead you to think, or even to say, that she “excels in school.”

But at the very end of her lengthy report, Hannah-Jones profiled Dent’s college prospects. The great disgrace, and the challenge, of American history are both on vivid display in this passage:
HANNAH-JONES: Standing one day last fall outside the counselor’s office at Central, D’Leisha looked up at the college bulletin board. It was dominated by National Guard and Army flyers, with some brochures for small Alabama colleges tucked among them. Students with D’Leisha’s grades and tough honors coursework often come home to mailboxes stuffed with glossy college brochures. But most days, nothing showed up in the mail for her, and no colleges had come calling. She had taken the ACT college-entrance exam twice already. The first time she scored a 16, the second time a 17. Her mother’s alma mater, the University of Alabama, expects a 21, the national average. Many four-year colleges will not even consider students who score below an 18.


Because D’Leisha excels in school and everything else she’s involved in, her teachers and counselors don’t worry about whether she’s on the right track. They’re stretched thin trying to keep in class the seniors—roughly 35 percent of them—who fail to graduate each year. But in December, at home texting with her boyfriend, D’Leisha admitted that she’d filled out only one college application. Lately, she said, she’d been looking more closely at those military brochures, just as her grandfather had, something that angers her mother. “I am kind of clueless how to get stuff done for college,” D’Leisha told me, looking down and fidgeting with her phone. “They are supposed to be helping us, but they think because I am the class president I know what to do. Sometimes I don’t speak up, because I know people have expectations of me.”

For black students like D’Leisha—the grandchildren of the historic Brown decision—having to play catch-up with their white counterparts is supposed to be a thing of the past. The promise was that students of all colors would be educated side by side, and would advance together into a more integrated, equitable American society. Polls show Americans embracing this promise in the abstract, but that rarely translates into on-the-ground support for integration efforts.

Late last year, D’Leisha took the ACT for the third time, but her score dropped back to 16. So early on a Saturday in February, she got up quietly, forced a few bites of a muffin into her nervous stomach, and drove once again to the community college where the test is administered. A few weeks later, she got her score: 16 again. She contemplated a fifth attempt, but could see little point.
Dent seems to have been in the top ten percent of Central High’s entering freshman class. Hannah-Jones describes her as one of Central’s brightest students.

She says that Dent “excels in school.” She seems to say that Dent has received good grades in classes with “tough honors coursework.”

By the standards of her low-income high school, Dent is a top student. But by the standards of her nation, she rather plainly is not.

Her score of 16 of the ACT places her around the 20th percentile among test-takers nationwide. Even though she’s a three-time individual state champion in track, she can’t get a nibble from a four-year college.

In his column in the New York Times, Porter referred to the “vast disparities” in academic achievement between “the rich and the poor” in our public schools.

Almost surely, Dent’s family isn’t “poor.” According to Hannah-Jones, her mother, a university graduate, has had a substantial full-time job for many years. She owns the family home.

But Dent keeps scoring poorly on the ACT—and she seems to be one of her high school’s best students! Inferentially, this supports the claim Porter made about those vast disparities in academic achievement.

How can an entire high school be performing this poorly? Put another way, if Dent is one of Central’s best students, what is the academic profile of the bottom half of her senior class?

Despite the great length of her report, Hannah-Jones makes no real attempt to answer that second question. She complains that Dent and most of her classmates have always attended all-black schools. She describes this state of affairs as “resegregation,” recalling the days when an Alabama governor stood in the schoolhouse door.

In a fleeting set of claims, Hannah-Jones suggests that Dent would likely be doing better academically had she attended schools with black and white kids.

That may be true, although it's a supposition. But Hannah-Jones makes no attempt to quantify this supposition, which she says is based on research. And she makes no real attempt to develop a fuller profile of Central High’s many struggling students, many of whom are presumably faring much worse than Dent.

How poorly are all those other kids doing? Hannah-Jones makes no real attempt to say.

In his column in the Times, Porter discussed the achievement gaps which obtain between “the rich and the poor.” In the process, he completely ignored the very large gaps which obtain between our white kids and our black kids—and as we’ll see next week, those two gaps are not two different versions of the same phenomenon.

In our view, Hannah-Jones largely avoided this topic too—the size of the very troubling gap between our white kids and our black kids. Tomorrow, we’ll see her joined by other writers in a form of open deception about this enormous national problem, which needs to be fully discussed.

Black kids are doing much better in school! For years, we’ve begged the nation’s journalists to report this important good news, all to no avail.

The public is almost never told about the large score gains which have been recorded by black kids on our one reliable testing program. That said, a very large black/white achievement gap still exists.

A great deal of energy is expended in avoiding that basic fact. We think those efforts to avoid and evade are bad for the future of black kids.

Tomorrow: Outright avoidance

Our plan for this series: We expect this series, “Our month of the gaps,” to extend four or five weeks.

All next week, we’ll be discussing the size of our nation’s various achievement gaps. How large are the achievement gaps between higher- and lower-income kids? How large are the gaps between our black kids and our white kids?

Beyond that, how large are the gaps between lower-income and higher-income kids of various groups? A lot of energy is expended in avoiding such facts.

Our achievement gaps are very large; they ought to be very troubling. Hannah-Jones’ evasive report has finally convinced us of one point—all these gaps should be discussed, every single one.


  1. Are you really going to spend a month on a topic that found probably be summarized in 2-3 paragraphs?

    1. Bye, we'll miss you while you're gone.

    2. Figure out how many times he has repeated the same things with reference to the Hannah-Jones article in the Atlantic. Mulitply by 2.

    3. Somerby will singlehandedly replace the "Cult of the PISA"
      with the "Cult of the Gap."

      This will be a game changer. Bookmark it. It will be a handy reference for all interested in public education for many decades.

    4. It would be interesting to see which of TDH subjects have offended each troll. Usually they're just brain dead Obama worshippers whose feelings were hurt by criticism of Rachel Maddow or Lawrence O'Donnell but for some it could be a specific post or series that similarly ruined their days.

    5. Are you aware that your sarcasm communicates a disinterest in gaps in scores? Is that because you don't care about black children, don't care about education, or don't care about living in a well-educated and literate society in which voters have the basic tools to inform themselves on issues?


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  2. Anonymous @ 10:13 wrote:

    "Are you really going to spend a month on a topic that found probably be summarized in 2-3 paragraphs?"



  3. "The public is almost never told about the large score gains which have been recorded by black kids on our one reliable testing program. That said, a very large black/white achievement gap still exists."

    Alas, I cannot recall a TDH post postulating a theory on why the gap has been closed or why it remains so large. Surely I am wrong and more observant readers can link all of us who follow TDH to posts I have missed. Assuming I am right, perhaps TDH will get around to it in this series sometime later in the month.

    1. I am not sure if that sound is crickets or some TDH reader with a calculator figuring out how many PB&J sandwiches uncaring black mamas could have been making for their little ones in the absence of a lunch program.

    2. Score gains that amount to only 7% of black high school seniors (7% of the half who do graduate) achieving proficiency in math and 14% proficient in reading are anything but impressive. And the gap is larger than it used to be. This represents what's known as "failure" to a regular person, and "progress" to a progressive.

  4. All you ever need to know about the accuracy of TDH and the attentiveness of Bob Somerby:

    "Even though she’s a three-time individual state champion in track, she can’t get a nibble from a four-year college."

    1. She didn't. She went to an open admissions college -- one that accepts any student with a high school diploma. She was not competitive in applying to selective colleges. How many times must this be explained to you?

    2. "How many times must this be explained to you?"

      How many times will you defend outright inaccuracy?

    3. It wasn't inaccurate as a quote from Hannah-Jones article and that wasn't inaccurate at the time it was written. Further, it is still not inaccurate unless you insist on the narrowest, most-literal meaning of the word college and ignore the context in which that word was used. However, reading that literally is a sign of mental-illness or brain injury. It is not normal to parse language that way. I am hoping that you are a troll and not someone so unfortunate as to be unable to read a passage and understand its larger mean separate from the dictionary definitions of individual words.

    4. It wasn't a quote from the article. It was posted today. Dent accepted one of what she reports as three scholarship offers in April.

      There is no context to distinguish one college from another.

      Reading accurately is a sign of literacy. Writing what you have just posted is a sign of lunacy.

    5. Actually, here is all you need to know about the blind loyalty of Bob's few remaining fans/sheep.

      Somerby: " . . . she can't get a nibble from a four-year college."

      Truth: Dent accepted one of three scholarship offers over a month ago to a four-year college.

      Bob fan/sheep: It's not a "real" four-year college. Even though it is an NCAA member institution and bound by all NCAA athletic scholarship requirements.

      This is truly pathetic. Bob couldn't be more wrong, and his sheep continue to defend him.

      And yes, this mistake, easily checked online with google, demonstrates both how intellectually lazy Somerby is and how disinterested he is in facts and truth once his own narrative is in place.

      In short, Somerby has finally become that which he condemns the most.

    6. "It is not normal to parse language that way."

      Right. It's merely parsing language in a mentally irregular manner to note that Dent accepted one of three college scholarship offers and a month later, Somerby continues to write that she "can't get a nibble."

    7. "In short, Somerby has finally become that which he condemns the most."

      Anonymous at 1:56 I think you are wong. Replace "has finally become" with "has always been the same as."
      Bob is human.

    8. irishguy -- it is processing language in a mentally irregular manner to confuse an open admission college (that takes everyone) with a selective college in a discussion of how low someone's ACT scores are. The insistence that the two are the same and thus Somerby is wrong is messed up.

    9. Right. Miles is an institution that will take any ol' dummy, including Dent.

      This only demonstrates how little you know about both Miles College and Dent.

      But while you are pretending that only a low-rank "open admissions" institution like Miles would take her in, what about the other two colleges that offered her scholarships?

    10. We have quoted from Miles own webpage. It says it takes anyone with a high school degree (or GED) -- it says it is open admission. Please name the other two colleges that offered her scholarships and cite a source. The last I read here in comments, she was thinking about the University of Kentucky (not offered a scholarship there). Where did these two additional scholarships come from all of a sudden?

    11. 7:22

      Bob wrote several times she could not get into college after she had already accepted an offer to attend Miles. Period.

    12. Whatever happened to Dent, someone with her scores would be unable to be admitted to a selective college despite being a top student at Central High. That is the point these trolls have no interest in discussing.

    13. TDH wrote something that wasn't true, namely that Dent couldn't get admission to a four-year school when she had already been accepted at Miles College, a fully-accredited, four-year school. He should correct that.

      Anonymous @9:33, I would rephrase your comment as "whatever happened to Dent, someone with her scores would be unable to be admitted to any college that had selection criteria based on the ACT despite being a top student at TCHS."*

      This seems an important point worth discussing, a point unaffected by TDH's error. But that's where trolls want to stop. Check your namesake at 8:18P. He's done. "Period."

      *This does not mean that DD is stupid or that a Miles diploma is worthless.

    14. There is also a myth floating around that Dent's ACT score is 16. It's not. It's 17. She took the test three times. On her second try, she got a 17, according to Hannah-Jones. That's the score that colleges are looking at. There is no penalty for retaking the test and scoring lower. ACT always uses the highest score.

      18 seems to be the standard for many of the so-called "selective" schools. But even those schools will look beyond the ACT to the student's total resume, including her high school transcript, her extra-curricular activities, and references from teachers the principal and others who know her and won't let one ACT point stand in her way.

      Hannah-Jones clearly states in her article that focused on the Dent family that D'Leisha's mother received a far better education at the integrated Central High than D'Leisha received at the re-segregated Central High. D'Leisha even expresses her surprise at about how much more the kids from Northridge High seemed to know than her while attending an ACT prep class with them.

      And Earl Warren couldn't have stated the reason for that any plainer in the Brown decision.

    15. No, she took the test 5 times and got 16 four times and 17 once. ACT reports all the scores to a school. Most schools average the scores, not pick the highest one.

      All schools look beyond the test scores. So what? Dent is at the top of her high school class, in an AP class, and still cannot score the minimum required at second rate schools. Why is anyone arguing about this? Clearly she is not being well-educated and that what these stats and remarks were trying to illustrate. No one is maligning Dent or Miles. They are pointing out that she did not receive as good an education as she should have. Seems to me everyone should be on the same page about that but instead a bunch of trolls are playing gotcha with Somerby's use of language (and Dent's ACT score is the football). This is stupid.

    16. What is stupid is Somerby continuing to make the same error over and over about Dent's admission to a four year college. What is idiotic is are efforts by further commenters to deny he did that or justify it.

  5. All you ever need to know about trolls:

    DD never got so much as a nibble from a four-year college. She eventually ended up at Miles College, which doesn't require the ACT and which accepts anyone with a high-school diploma.

    We can ponder how that happened to a track star, class president, and enrollee in high-school AP classes. Or we can continue to discuss how TDH could have said that DD didn't get into a four-year college after it was reported that Miles had accepted her.

    1. We can also ponder whether the Hannah-Jones article was accurate to begin with. We know Somerby hasn't been. We know, based on the one report of her accepting a scholarship (nibble-nibble-nibble) that she reports getting two other offers and her boyfriend was given a football scholarship to Miles right before she accepted their offer. She reports selecting Miles because she preferred to stay "close to home." You may recall her mama went to college in her home town.

    2. Somerby has accurately stated the content of Hannah-Jones article, so it is unclear what you mean when you say "We know Somerby hasn't been". Somerby is not doing independent reporting about Dent. He is discussing what was written by someone else. I doubt you have done any independent reporting either -- else you would be reporting what Dent said to Miles College as she gratefully accepted their offer of financial aid -- how much was it again?

    3. You continue the lunacy. Let's give Bob credit for not having the snap to check out the accuracy of Hannah-Jones, or see if the situation changed after her article was finished. He does that from time to time with fairly obscure items he posts about. We'll excuse him despite the fact he has made this article and this young woman the subject of at least a dozen posts.

      Fortunately Bob did not have to do his own research. One of his commenters, and a commenter who generally sings his praises, did the work for him and posted a link. The inaccuracy has not only never been corrected, it has been compounded as it was today.

      As so has this idiotic defense.

    4. "DD never got so much as a nibble from a four-year college. She eventually ended up at Miles College, which doesn't require the ACT and which accepts anyone with a high-school diploma."

      So deadrat, you will continue to defend the indefensibly by pretending you know all there is to know about Miles College, when actually you know nothing.

      How Somerby of you. You have learned well, grasshopper.

    5. Anyone can verify that Miles College is open admissions using Google. A chart showing the gpa and ACT scores of those admitted shows that most scores are between 12 and 18 (the minimum for selective colleges).

      Here is what it says on their own webpage: "Miles College Admissions Policy: Miles College maintains a liberal open-door admissions policy and actively recruits students from diverse backgrounds (academic, social, economic, and racial) who manifest academic potential and ability for academic achievement at the collegiate level."

      You trolls don't care what you say as long as it attacks Somerby (or deadrat apparently).

    6. "You trolls don't care what you say as long as it [sic] attacks Somerby (or deadrat apparently)."

      Is there a difference?

    7. Anonymous @ 3:36.

      Anyone can verify that people who call others trolls in this comment box are hapless defenders of misinformation and/or promulgators of useless facts.

      Take you for example. Nobody needs to verify anything about Miles College. It is a four year college from which D'Leisha Dent has accepted a scholarship offer, contrary to facts repeatedly stated by one B. Somerby after that scholarship offer had been made and accepted.

      Now, do you want to suggest Somerby devote one post or more in his comprehensive study of gaps to the gap between admission standards of historically black colleges and other institutions of higher education? If so, add that as a line to your comment and I will say you have turned it from useless to "thought provoking and challenging."

      Otherwise it is useless. In addition it calls people trolls. Point verified.

    8. Seems to me that Dent also got into the college of her choice. According to her own words, her boyfriend is going there on a football scholarship, it's close to home, and she got a better scholarship offer than the two other colleges that offered her scholarships.

      But now Bob's fans are reduced to running down Miles as a college that will take anybody, even on scholarship, rather than an institution that looks beyond ACT scores to the total student and her resume.

      Which, by the way, a whole heck of a lot of colleges are doing.

    9. So, do you think African American students should solve the problem of their low scores by lowering their horizons so that they are happy being accepted by the only places willing to have them? That's what it sounds like you are saying.

      You do know that her scholarship is for athletics, not academics, right? No one is running down Miles. It may be that she will do well there and get a fine education. It is much more likely that she will spend six or more years there and not graduate -- their graduation rate is 17%. ACT scores are not the measure of a person but they are predictors of stuff like ability to do college level work and earn a degree.

    10. MIles College is not the issue. The blogger who criticizes everyone for getting their facts wrong, the blogger who even criticizes corrections when they are made, the bloggers whose facts are wrong is the issue. Anyone who brings up Miles as an issue is in denial that their hero is just as bad as the people he takes to task in his blog.

    11. Right, this isn't about Dent, it is about hating on Somerby.

    12. No. It is about a factual error that is easily correctable by someone who makes errors of the press a primary point of emphasis. You just can't bring yourself to admit that.

      To your credit you haven't tried to argue "a nibble" doesn't mean an "athletic scholarship offer." The thought may have crossed the mind of those who never tire of parsing the difference between "invented" and "created."

    13. Anonymous @2:01P says,

      So deadrat, you will continue to defend the indefensibly by pretending you know all there is to know about Miles College, when actually you know nothing.

      It fascinates me that I've become the subject. Or rather that the deadrat of @2:01P's imagination has.

      I don't defend TDH's error. I have consistently said that TDH has made a statement in error and that he ought to correct that error. I have also said that the error doesn't invalidate his point. I say these things because I can keep two ideas in my head at the same time. It takes a little practice, but I recommend it to you.

      I have never posted anything that would lead a rational person to conclude that I claim to know "all there is to know" about Miles College. On the other hand, I know some things about Miles because on May 19, when this wrangling started, I took the trouble to look on the internet, at the school's own site and at sites with information about the school.

      I know where Miles College is located, and I know that it's a historically black college, with at least one notable alum, Autherine Lucy, the first black student admitted to the University of Alabama.

      I know that Miles College is an open admissions school, which requires only a high-school diploma or GED for admission. Miles does not require its applicants to take standardized tests, including the ACT.

      I know that Miles costs about $10K a year, and the school provides financial aid to almost every student, with a grant-to-loan ratio of about 50/50. It's my conclusion that Miles takes seriously its role in making a college education accessible to a largely black population.

      I know that regionally or nationally, Miles college is poorly regarded by ranking services. Part of this arises from a very low 4-year graduation rate of 14%; not much higher at 6 years. I've looked at their course offerings in their math department, and the curriculum seems more than adequate. It's my conclusion that no matter its rankings, Mills is certainly no degree mill.

      Nice bluff on the "you know nothing." Major fail, though.

    14. Well, deadrat, I am glad that you googled up Miles and learned so much about it in five minutes.

      Now if only your hero was as enterprising, he would have discovered that Dent got into a four-year college weeks before he wrote -- and continues to write -- that she can't even get a "nibble."

    15. She got into Miles the same way I get into Target when I need to go buy something there.

    16. Right. Miles is just like Target. After all, it is "historically black." How tough can it be? They'll take anybody.

      But let's take your analogy a bit further. Suppose that Somerby wrote that you can't get into any big discount store. You say, "Not true, I got into Target just yesterday." Then a Bob defender says, "Target takes everybody. So Bob is still right."

      That's the game you are reduced to playing.

      FYI, lots of colleges, including some of the finest in the nation, are also "open admissions" institutions. Stop pretending that Miles is unique in that regard, and Dent's only option.

      And you know what? It's one thing for Bob to ignore his own combox, but I would be extremely surprised if no one e-mailed him with the link to the story about Dent's acceptance, on scholarship, to Miles.

      That strongly leads me to suspect that his insistence upon writing about how she can't get into any college at all, not so much as a "nibble" is the product of willful ignorance.

      And KZ, in his own inimitable style, wrote some days ago about how Bob's narrative has grown, quoting the Howler himself.

      It began, as Hannah-Jones described, as "difficulty" getting into college with her low ACT, then slowly morphed to "can't even get a nibble" -- long after she's been accepted.

    17. They themselves state on their own webpage that they take anyone with a high school diploma or GED. No one said Miles was not a good school -- except you.

      Hannah-Jones states in her article that Dent was not being recruited like other students with higher ACT scores. The term nibble refers to those letters of recruitment, not Dent's own actions seeking admission to Miles (or anyplace else). Those would be nibbles received by Miles or U of Kentucky, not by Dent.

      But this is willful misreading. Dent is going to Miles, an open admission school. Because it is open admission, her acceptance there says nothing about whether her ACT scores made her competitive or whether her quality of education would have permitted admittance to a selective school. It doesn't change anything about the quality of education she received at Central High -- which is the point of both Somerby and Hannah-Jones's remarks.

      YOU have made this about whether Dent went to college. That is so entirely beside the point that it seems like a ginned up complaint intended to attack Somerby. You cannot seriously be arguing that a 16 on the ACT is a good score or that Dent received a first-rate education at Central High, so what is your point? Only that you dislike Somerby. There has never been any doubt that certain trolls here, like you, hate Somerby.

    18. Oh, I see. Now we're going to define "nibble" so that it fits Bob's narrative.

      And of course, it's not a "nibble" by this new definition unless D'Leisha sits on her behind and waits for colleges to come calling.

      Well, unless you are one of the few elite male high school basketball or football starts in America, that's not what happens in the real world.

      But then again, in the real world Bob says D'Leisha can't get into a four-year college. A month after she's been accepted. On scholarship.

      Oh, I forgot. That doesn't count because Miles takes everybody.

      Well, evidently Harvard-educated Somerby continues to be unaware that there are many, many "open admissions" colleges in this nation, and has convinced his sheep that there are none. Except Miles. The Target of higher education.

    19. Anonymous @7:07A,

      I did "google up" Miles, and I did learn something about the college. I even commented here on May 20 about Miles' notable alumna, Autherine Lucy (although I'm embarrassed to admit I misspelled her name). In fact, I learned enough about Miles College to make informed if unremarkable comments here.

      The response you should have made was "Well, deadrat, I'm sorry I accused you of commenting without performing the due diligence of inquiry. I shouldn't have jumped to that conclusion." Of course, this discussion shouldn't be about me in the first place, but as long as you've made it such, then perhaps you should correct your own error about me with the same alacrity that you demand of TDH about Dent.

      TDH isn't "my hero." I read him because I learn things from the blog. Why are you here? To keep me in line? Sometimes I agree with TDH; sometimes I don't. I've said repeatedly that he should have corrected his error about Dent's admission to college. I've also said that this error doesn't detract from his point.

  6. You know, in addition to still not knowing that Dent accepted one of three scholarship offers a month ago, Somerby also doesen't seem to be aware that NCAA schools use sum ACT scores on a sliding scale with GPA and core courses instead of merely composite scores in determining eligibility for athletic scholarships.

    He also doesn't seem to realize that the "percentile" Dent fell into with her reported composite of 16 is the percentile of all college-bound high school graduates. Four more points on her composite and she is in the 49th percentile -- smack in the middle of the nation's college-bound high school seniors, with some college credit from AP courses already under her belt.

    1. Somerby hasn't said anyting about athletic scholarships or how ACT scores are calculated, nor is the 16 a composite score. He said, based on Hannah-Jones article, that she wasn't competitive and she wasn't. Four points on a scale can make a big difference. She didn't earn those points despite taking the ACt five times. You are saying that students with more points (25% more) were average, and that may be true, but she didn't have them and she was not average. There is also no evidence she passed the AP test, which means she wouldn't have received any college credit under her belt because you must pass the test to receive that credit. If she were the better student you describe, she wouldn't have had as much difficulty getting in some place, but she wasn't. That is the point. She wasn't even close and she was in the top 10% of her high school class.

    2. "If she were the better student you describe, she wouldn't have had as much difficulty getting in some place, but she wasn't....."

      More idiocy from the lunatic fringe of Somerby gap cult.

      According to the Atlantic article, Dent only applied to one college. There is no statement she had any difficulty getting in anywhere she wanted to go or applied to attend.

      Why is it that long time Somerby readers who are his ardent defenders are this stupid? His premise, stated over and over, is that writers present facts which fit their meme.
      His readers add facts which fit Bob's meme, even facts which were never there in the first place. And they do it in defense of Somerby even when he has demonstrably committed an obvious factual error.

      Take a look at your last sentence. There is no basis for the fact you state. It is one of those facts Somerby "seemed"
      into existence. And don't get me started on her ACT scores. Then we get into what Bob willfully disappears.

    3. "He said, based on Hannah-Jones article, that she wasn't competitive and she wasn't."

      Oh really? A kid who gets scholarship offers from three colleges isn't competitive. Right.

      By the way, why don't you go read Hannah-Jones article for yourself, instead of reading only what Bob says about it, then regurgitating that.

      You might find out how off target he is about the entire article. In fact, the article he presents here after bending it to fit his narrative bears little resemblance to the article Hannah-Jones actually wrote.

      And as time marches and Somerby's narrative grows with new straw men to knock down, it bears even less and less resemblance to the original article.

    4. I did and I disagree with your take on it. Also, somehow her admission to Miles has expanded to three scholarship offers. What is the evidence supporting that -- please cite.

    5. 5:35 -- Somerby quoted from the Atlantic article. Hannah-Jones said Dent did not receive the recruiting letters other students with her accomplishments would expect because her ACT score was too low. It is stated as being 16 (or 17). I looked up scores for the University of Kentucky and she is below the 18 they use. She is well within the range 12-18 accepted by Miles but that is an open admission college where the main requirement is a high school diploma. That means it is not a selective school.

      You proposed that a range of 4 pts is nothing on the ACT and hypothesized that if she had 4 more points she would be average. She doesn't have those 4 more points and she could get them, even with repeatedly taking the ACT (as described by Hannah-Jones). That means it IS a big deal and she was not near the 49th percentile but lower. That is the basis for what I said. It is fortunate she didn't apply anywhere competitive but the fact remains that someone with her accomplishments should have been sought out by colleges, someone who excelled in her high school should have had plenty of choices and not been limited to an open entry college. Whether she is fine with that limitation is beside any point anyone has been making here.

    6. Bob got his facts wrong. It was pointed outon his own blog and discussed in his comment box. Did Bob correct it? No. He restated it again today. He is lazy, inattentive, arrogant or a combination of the three.

      You can argue whether Al Gore inflated his involvement in the internet. You can't argue what he actually said. What Bob has said in a number of posts is factually in error. It was in error at the beginning. It is in error today. To defend it is to deny the premise of his blog.

    7. He probably doesn't read his blog comments.

    8. Bob started out reading and responding to blog comments here. He reads and writes comments on other blogs. He counts, reprints, and makes posts about blog comments on other sites.

      Bob reads his comment section. And if not, he is the combination of all three.

    9. Anonymous @6:11P,

      I've read Hannah-Jones' article for myself, and I don't find that TDH misrepresented anything she said. TDH's beef with the article is that it misses what is for him an extremely important point (the academic level of TCHS's students) while it gives a misleading explanation of the source of the school's deficiencies ( the so-called "resegregation.")

    10. Anonymous @8:29P,

      What do you think is the premise of this blog?

    11. "Also, somehow her admission to Miles has expanded to three scholarship offers. What is the evidence supporting that -- please cite."

      My pleasure.


      “This is the best opportunity, and also they’re offering me the most. I could have had the opportunity to go to Kentucky or Mobile, but I think’s because I wanted to stay close to home.”

      And please, sheep. Stop pretending Somerby is still right because Miles isn't "selective."

      Somerby has repeatedly, and continues to this day, to insist that Dent can't get into ANY four-year college. He never said "selective" and it is entirely dishonest of you to add that qualifer to pretend your emperor isn;t buck naked in front of you, with egg all over his face.

    12. "What do you think is the premise of this blog?"

      I always thought that the premise of this blog is how some people will stick to their preferred narrative despite the truth.

      You know, scripts like "D'Leisha Dent can't get a nibble from a four-year college."

      This sense of certainty that destroys intellectual curiosity and further discovery is a character flaw that Somerby sees clearly in others and not in himself.

      And it is clear that Somerby can cherry-pick through the comboxes of his favored targets for evidence of the damage that sticking to false narratives does to the "American discourse." But that he doesn't read his own combox, where it has been pointed out repeatedly that Dent HAS been accepted into a four-year college, and received offers from at least two others.

      Or even worse -- maybe Bob does read his comboxes and doesn't give a tinker's damn that Dent got into a four-year college on scholarship. He knows the truth and won't let that get in the way of his narrative.

      You decide.

    13. Thank you. So, you think "I could have gone to Kentucky or Mobile" constitutes evidence of scholarship offers from those places?

    14. Yes, I do. Especially when she says that Miles "offered more." That tells me that the school in Kentucky (not necessarily the University of Kentucky) or the school in Mobile offered her something, not the least of which was admission.

      And remember. The point that Bob fans are bending themselves into pretzels trying to defend is that she can't even get, and I quote, a "nibble" from ANY four-year college.

      That is utterly false. She got "nibbles" from at least three colleges.

      Even deadrat is forced to admit Somerby's error, even though he is now reduced to arguing that it really isn't all that important. Despite the fact that Somerby continues to pound it daily.

      This is very un-Somerby. Ordinarily, when he is caught saying something blatantly wrong, he merely "disappears" it and never mentions it again. Like he did with Gov. Ultrasound, the "legitimate bridge study" and going back to the "Weapons of Mass Destruction" that will be found any day now, and the "Monty Hall Problem."

      Never admits or correct his mistake. Just merely disappears it and pretends it never happened.

      This tells me his mind is made up, and he is too damned lazy to even read his own combox, let alone google Dent's name to see if she did get accepted into a four-year college.

      Good grief. The so-called "trolls" around here did that and discovered the truth in short order.

      Bob? He can't handle the truth.

    15. 8:27 that quote provides exactly the same kind of evidence from the same family of sources for the information Hannah-Jones presented about the Dents. And it was Hannah-Jones evidence upon which everyone around here who defends Somerby says he relied upon, and that any deficiencies are hers.

      Except Hannah-Jones never said she was in the top 10% of her class. Somerby "seemed" her to be. And she never said she could not get into a four year college. Somerby did. Repeatedly. Even after it was noted here that fact was in error before he ever wrote it.

      Somerby embellishes with the rest of the press corps. He is an opinion peddling pundit. As such he is subject to the same scrutiny and rules applied to those to whom he applies them.

    16. deadrat, your inquiry about premise was directed to me since I raised the point. Allow me to draw directly from the founder's documents:

      "Concern about press corps patterns and practices had grown throughout the 1990s. Lazy thinking and careless habits were producing increasingly vacuous work. A herd of rude and worthless reporters reminded onlookers of Penelope's suitors. Several critiques of their work were presented, but their habits lingered on as before.

      -----he created what surely will stand throughout time as the greatest single press corps critique ever crafted.....

      howl·er /haü'-ler/ n 1: a stupid
      and ridiculous logical
      blunder 2: one that

      deadrat, you state repeatedly that Bob's error, which you acknowledge as such and state should be corrected, does not distract from his point. I agree. It amplifies the degree to which his point is in error and his willingness to seize upon erroneous or invented facts and repeat them in the face or refutation.

      Hannah-Jones does indeed paint a picture through Dent of the senior class at Tuscaloosa Central, one which the city of Tuscaloosa and the rest of the country don't care much about. And the school is, for all intents and purposes, segregated by race.

    17. So, 9:48. Bob is to be forgiven for relying upon evidence presented in an article he has been ripping for weeks because of numerous errors.

      Interesting. Hope all that bending and twisting doesn't give you cramps.

    18. He hasn't been ripping the article because of errors. He has been ripping it because it ignores the racial gap in performance in favor of an exclusive focus on resegregation. He plainly stated that instead of focusing on school segregation that will be difficult to address due to residential housing patterns, the author should have focused on addressing the performance gap between black and white children, something that can be improved no what the housing patterns.

      YOU and other trolls here think errors are the point of Somerby's criticisms. He does point them out, but his criticism is about broader issues than that.

    19. 10:36 and 11:25 are emblematic of the intellect of the average Howler reader regardless of their opinion of Somerby.

      10:36 I never said Bob is to be forgiven for his errors. I said his fans defend him by citing his source but that he invents and embellishes things from that source. Read before you write!

      11:25 Bob thinks the author should have written about the gaps instead of segregation because housing problems make it difficult to address integration. Fine. That takes one sentence not a dozen posts. Apparently you skipped the part of the article which shows how boundaries in Tuscaloosa were adopted to create segregation of low income black kids at Central. Bob skimmed it, glossed it over, and ignores it to repeatedly state Hannah-Jones wrote 10,000 words about the plight of a girl he repeatedly states was in the top 10% of her class, got a 16 ACT and no college admission. Even the 10,000 word claim is subject to challenge.

    20. Anonymous @9:22A,

      I'm not "forced" to do anything. TDH made a statement contrary to fact. I don't find this difficult to accept. I myself, have made errors. The last time was 1968, May. Third week of that month, I think, and I'll confess here that I didn't own up to it either.

      I'm not "reduced" to anything. TDH should correct his error. But that error makes no difference to his point. As I've said, I can understand these things together because I can keep two thoughts in my head at the same time. It takes effort to do this, but it's an important skill. I recommend it to you.

      Perhaps TDH is the Lt Kaffee of political blogs, but you're not so hot at handling the truth you seem so fond of:

      TDH wrote that Gov Ultrasound hadn't been indicted before the announcement of Gov Ultrasound's indictment.

      TDH has consistently written that whatever was going on with the Ft Lee lane closings seems crazy, but that we don't know what the principals thought they were doing because they haven't said. He even warns that any claim of legitimacy could be "a ruse or a hoax."

      TDH never wrote that WMD's would be found; one month after the start of the war, he wrote that in his opinion, that those against the war should wait longer than a month to declare the absence of WMDs

      And Good God! The Monty Hall Problem! TDH got fooled by a problem in probability that has a somewhat counter-intuitive answer. Over 8 years ago! How embarrassing. I mean for you. I looked up the blog entry. After making this famous faux pas, TDH talks about Baltimore outsourcing the solutions to its failing schools without addressing the problem of unprepared students. Of course, that you don't remember.

    21. Anonymous @10:33A

      By the TDH definition, a howler is a logical blunder. A misstatement of fact isn't a logical blunder unless it's used a premise to reach a false conclusion. TCHS likely left Dent unprepared for college, whether she couldn't get into any four-year school or whether she could, but only to one that requires only a high-school diploma. That's the point I take from his blog entries on the H-J article. Is this the point that you say is "in error"? If so, would you care to defend that claim?

    22. Anonymous @12:36P,

      Apparently when TDH expresses the opinion that Hanna-Jones missed the real story (the lack of preparation of TCHS's students) by concentrating on resegregation, that's a bad thing. When you complain that TDH shouldn't have written those blog entries on lack of preparation and instead should have concentrated on school district boundary-fiddling, that's perfectly OK. I'm sending the irony fairy over to smack you with her wand, but she's busy so you may have to wait a while.

      Tuscaloosa school officials face a problem with no good solution. They know that once a school reaches a racial "tipping point," white parents pull their students out and send them to private schools (or in Tuscaloosa's case, move into Tuscaloosa County school districts outside the city). Is Tuscaloosa finagling the school district boundaries to prevent white flight or is that just an excuse to bring back Jim Crow in education? It's a good question, and TDH's reply is that increasing segregation is a long-term trend with no good solutions, and that we ignore the question of poor preparation at everyone's peril but especially students'. Also a good point.

      Likely one you missed while musing about TDH's claim that Hannah-Jones' wrote 10,000 words.

      Well, congratulations, troll. You're right. The article ran only 9774 words.

  7. Catching up after vacation, Bob. This Porter series is and will be terrific.


  8. Has the gap between rich black kids and poor black kids been measured?

    1. Yes, both within and across racial groups.

  9. I wonder where Bob is going with this, and what his solution is.

    Way back when he tried to turn this into an "education blog," Somerby wrote about some kid in LA who couldn't pass Algebra I. His solution was to stop requiring Algebra I. Yeah, that will have a great effect on ACT scores.

    He has also repeatedly written that the curriculum in the schools where poor, black children attend needs to be dumbed down to a level they can easily understand. Don't give them books to read that are difficult to understand or math problems that are difficult to solve. In other words, don't challenge them too much.

    He even ridicules the movement toward "Common Core" standards, which will set the first national standards for what every child should learn at each grade level as they advance through the system.

    Hannah-Jones has written a rather long article about how prophetic the words of Earl Warren were when he stated that segregated schools are inherently unequal, and she compares the experience of D'Leisha Dent in a re-segregated Central High with that of her mother who excelled in the integrated Central.

    Somerby's response has been to deny that Tuscaloosa schools have "re-segregated" despite the fact that Central High is now 99 percent black, and Dent herself expressed surprise at how much more that white kids going to a white high school seemed to know when she took the ACT prep class with them.

    And this has all occurred in just the 10 years since Tuscaloosa was released from court-ordered desegregation.

    But no, Tuscaloosa schools aren't re-segregating at all, says Somerby. And he found pictures on their school district Web site of black and white kids playing happily together to prove it!

    1. Somerby says it would be better if Dent attended school with white kids and he claims the term resegregation is a misnomer because the segregation is not legal (required by law) as it was in the past, but arises from residential patterns. He does not say they are resegregating because there are a few white kids at even the most black school and because most of the schools in Tuscaloosa (and suburbs) are part white, some close to 50/50. That isn't segregation in the old sense. He also says you cannot achieve 50/50 integration when there are many more black kids in a district than white. Hard to argue with that math.

      So, you are misrepresenting what Somerby has said. Why? What is your purpose in lying about the content of his previous posts?

    2. Well, this is where Somerby will stick to his preferred narrative rather than the truth.

      "Segregation" isn't some technical legal term. It exists today de facto as much as it existed in the Jim Crow days de jure, and its effects are no less harmful.

      Hannah-Jones demonstrates how quickly Tuscaloosa began building new high schools in the white suburbs, which resulted in the re-segregation of Central High just as surely as if it were done by law.

      This is a point that Somerby, speaking from his position as a white person who grew up privileged and attended Harvard, can't quite get himself to see. After all, everything changed 50 years ago when we ended Jim Crow. And there are even pictures of black and white kids playing together in Tuscaloosa.

      His attitude, shared by so many whites who can't see how racism persists to this day, is why the issue of racism is so difficult to discuss let alone solve.

      After all, I'm not racist, as I live in my lilly-white suburb, attend a lilly-white church, and shop in lilly-white shopping centers. Why, once upon a time, right after the Ravens won the Super Bowl, he actually saw a black guy wearing a Joe Flacco jersey! How much more proof do we need that racism is no longer an issue?

    3. "He also says you cannot achieve 50/50 integration when there are many more black kids in a district than white. Hard to argue with that math."

      Nice straw man, but who ever argued that the goal is 50/50 integration?

      It's also hard to argue with the math that tells you that one high school is nearly entirely white, and another is nearly entirely black in the same school district.

      So instead of confronting that reality, we'll pretend that all is okey-dokey and that's simply the breaks, because segregation isn't mandated by law any more.

    4. ""Segregation" isn't some technical legal term. It exists today de facto as much as it existed in the Jim Crow days de jure, and its effects are no less harmful."

      Whatever de facto segregation exists in Tuscaloosa, it is not "as much as it existed in Jim Crow days" because in those days it was 100% segregated by law. One school in Tuscaloosa is close to 100% segregated de facto, but all of the others have some percentage of white students, some close to 50/50. That is integration, especially since you will not say what % other than 50/50 you would consider to be integrated instead of segregated.

      No one has said it is OK to have an entirely black high school. Somerby didn't say it and neither did I. Pretending either of us did is just plain lying.

    5. Yeah, No problem. After all, some schools in Tuscaloosa are integrated. Why Bob even found pictures to prove it.

      So who should really care about D'Leisha? After all, her high school is only 99 percent black. That's not segregated at all.

      And Bob has pictures of cute kids to prove it.


      As a further public service we repeat the following:

      "Everybody makes mistakes; that mistake was a beaut. And uh-oh! Flipping around the web yesterday, we saw Auletta’s original, erroneous copy still on display at several prominent sites.

      (Example: As of this morning's posting, the erroneous copy is still on display at Ezra Klein’s brainy new site.)

      Everybody makes mistakes. In this instance, Auletta committed a genuine groaner.

      That said, the way these plights have been discussed takes us beyond the realm of “mistake.” It takes us the realm of “novel,” the place where our national discourse will routinely be found."

      The quote is from Bob Somerby, attacking not just an error, but the fact the error is uncorrected elsewhere.

    7. Since I'm fluent in both trollish and English, let me translate what TDH is saying for you. Oh, I'm just kidding. There's no such thing as trollish. So I'm just gonna type slowly so you can follow.

      Resegregation today isn't the same as segregation yesterday. We should know this because we can see pictures on a school district web site today that would have caused riots yesterday. Given what we know about the racial composition of many school districts, segregation today isn't going away any time soon. Perhaps we should concentrate on educating students in those schools.

      As always, YMMV. But it shouldn't vary so much for you to be able to claim that TDH is denying that TCHS is almost all black.


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