Supplemental: Who in the world is Emma Brown?

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 28, 2015

Concerning the ongoing promulgation of our many fake facts:
Emma Brown is an education reporter for the Washington Post.

It’s hard to believe how bad an education reporter she is. And what about her unnamed editors? What role do they play in this mess?

We refer to Brown’s latest bungled news report. It stretches across the top of page B1 in today’s hard-copy Post—the first page in the paper’s Metro section.

This report helps answer an important question: Where do bogus facts come from? Headline included, this is the way Brown starts:
BROWN (2/28/15): Suburbs’ increasing poverty a challenge for schools

The District and dozens of other city centers across the country are becoming younger, more affluent and better educated while poverty rates in inner suburbs are rising, according to a study from the University of Virginia’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service.

The study is based on an analysis of demographic changes in 66 cities between 1990 and 2012. It follows research that has shown a rise in suburban poverty, including a recent Brookings Institution study that found that more Americans are living in poverty in the suburbs than in rural or urban areas.

This sweeping demographic shift has clear implications for public schools in the Washington area and nationwide. Student populations are changing in traditionally high-performing suburban school systems, and superintendents and school board members are wrestling with how to adequately serve the rising number of poor children who come to class with far more needs than their affluent peers.

“This is the new reality in America,” said Joshua P. Starr, the newly departed superintendent of the Montgomery County school system, which, despite its reputation as a tony suburb of the nation’s capital, has more low-income students than the District of Columbia. The amount eligible for free and reduced-price meals, a rough proxy for poverty, has risen from 29 percent to 35 percent just since 2009.
That passage strings together a bunch of claims, many of which may be accurate, at least on a technical basis.

Example: Does “the Montgomery County school system” actually have “more low-income students than the District of Columbia?”

Maybe! The Montgomery County Public Schools is one of the nation’s largest school systems. That said, the DC Public Schools reports that 76 percent of its students received free or reduced-price lunch last year.

According to the passage above, the corresponding number in Montgomery County is 35 percent. And according to our statistical bureau, that would be a whole lot “less” than 76 percent!

Whatever! We were mainly struck today by Brown’s continued insistence on a claim that is basically false—the claim that eligibility for free and reduced-price meals is “a rough proxy for poverty.”

At best, that claim is wildly misleading. More sensibly, it should be described as false.

That said, education reporters at the Post seem to adore this bogus claim. For reasons only they can explain, they just keep advancing this claim, along with a group of attendant false facts.

Let's take a look at the record:

Is eligibility for the federal lunch program “a rough proxy for poverty?” Yes it is, in much the way a solid C average is “a rough proxy” for being a straight-A student.

In fact, eligibility for the lunch program extends to families whose incomes are roughly twice the federal poverty rate. And by the way, participation in the program isn’t the same thing as eligibility:

The FBI isn’t called in to monitor this program! There are plenty of kids receiving free or reduced-price lunch who don’t actually qualify for the program, based on their actual family income.

No, Virginia, and Montgomery County! Students don’t have to be living below the poverty line to qualify for the federal lunch program.

Eligibility for the lunch program isn’t a measure of poverty; it isn't anything close. If 35 percent of Montgomery County students are receiving free or reduced-price lunch, then the poverty rate among those students is much lower than that.

There’s nothing confusing about these facts. Surely, everyone at the Washington Post secretly understands them.

But so what? A wide array of pseudo-journalists, mostly on the pseudo-left, are now pretending that participation in the lunch program is a measure of poverty. For unknown reasons, the Washington Post has been leading the way in the promulgation of this latest bogus fact.

For unknown reasons, the Post just won’t stop with this stupid shit. Brown’s incompetence is especially striking, given her academic background.

Brown graduated from Stanford in the year 2000. Two years later, she got an MAT in teaching from the University of Alaska.

In 2009, she got a master’s degree in journalism from Cal Berkeley. She’s been a reporter at the Post more than five years.

By the norms of the society, Brown has received an elite education. But so what? Today, Brown tells readers of the Post that eligibility for the federal lunch program is “a rough proxy for journalism.”

She never tells them just how rough this “proxy” actually is!

As the Post keeps pushing this formulation, it keeps spewing streams of ludicrous fake facts. This includes last month’s ludicrous claim that more than half the nation’s public school students are currently living in poverty.

That claim appeared on the Post’s front page.
Needless to say, it’s balls-out false. For our real-time report, click here.

Editors at the Washington Post keep waving this crap into print. It’s another example of the way fake facts become widely believed.

Can we talk? College students don’t describe their female professors as “bossy.” Also, participation in the federal lunch program isn’t a measure of poverty, “rough” or otherwise.

If memory serves, Tina Turner always “liked it rough.” So do scribes at the Washington Post when it comes to measures of poverty. In the past, bogus factual claims of this type typically came from the pseudo-right. Increasingly, they now come from the pseudo-left, a point we’ll discuss all next week.

Who the heck is Emma Brown? Why is she typing this manifest bullshit?

What role do her editors play in this mess? Does the Post still employ such workers?

86 comments:

  1. Perhaps when Emma Brown is old enough, say she turns 55, she will change her mind and say "a very rough proxy."

    Then a ninety-something Bob Somerby, who claims to have a prestigious undergraduate degree, will cross his very rough thumbs and mainfestly type "Your Howler Gets Results!"

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    1. Or he could say "We don't know whether that dress is gold and white, or blue and black, but that damn journalist gal wearing it is buck nekkid."

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  2. Is it possible that Montgomery County could have both a higher number of students on free/reduced lunches, and a lower percentage?

    Of course it could be. Unless disproven on a journalistic basis. Which Somerby fails to do here.

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    1. I believe I read somehwere that is why it is possible for test scores among all disaggregated groups to go up while overall test scores go down. But I could be wrong. I learned to add and read in Poland, in texts translated from Urdu by dead Norwegian parrots.

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    2. Not only is it possible, it is factual. It took me 30 seconds on google to figure this out. Bob was too busy sticking to his script.

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    3. It isn't up to you or to Somerby to make such confusions clear. It is the job of the journalist. It doesn't sound like she did her job very well, which IS the main point of this blog. Yes, smart people why know math can figure this out, but the news media shouldn't be assuming all of its readers can untangle whatever confusions arise from the way an article is written. Articles should be clearly written.

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    4. Montgomery County MD from my understanding is per capita relatively well-to-do, The bulk of DC, outside of some wealthy enclaves, and certainly their public school population would largely be considered representative of an impoverished area. If Montgomery Co. students receive more free school lunches, then maybe that just lends to the argument that indeed free school lunches received, and the poverty rate are not a one-in-the-same measurement.

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    5. You'll win that argument because nobody said that the poverty rate was one-in-the-same as the free/reduced school lunch rate. But the free/reduced school lunch rate is a pretty good indicator of low income.

      And here is where your blogger is decieving you. The rate is 185 percent AND BELOW of the poverty line. He wants you to think that there are many, many, many kids AT 185 percent, but never seems to get around to the "AND BELOW" part.

      Well, here's some more news. 185 percent of the poverty line is still pretty low income. Try it sometime. Now consider all the kids BELOW the poverty line. Then those AT the line. Then those at 105, 115, 125 . . . all the way up to 185.

      And after you've done that, go figure out why your blogger looked up the PERCENTAGES of kids on the free/reduced lunch program, but failed to look up the NUMBERS.

      Quick answer: Because Brown's statement that there are MORE kids on free/reduced in Montgomery than there are in D.C. is perfectly accurate.

      But hey, let's feign confusion and say that her simple, declarative, and accurate sentence is not only wrong, but difficult for a Harvard-educated philosophy major to understand.

      Who winds up looking stupid and inept here?

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    6. This was a story reported in the Metro Section of the Post. A section written and edited for who live in the DC, Marylanid, Virginia suburbs. The readers almost certainly know that there are more children in MCPS than the District. That's how you can have more children but a lower percentage.

      Bob's poverty argument is a cavalcade of pedantry and is a prime example of why his blogging has become a shadow of itself.

      Get to the point man.

      S

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    7. Blue -- I think you're referring to Simpson's Paradox. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simpson's_paradox#Berkeley_gender_bias_case

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    8. Speaking of paradoxes DinC. we regret to inform you that Blue, whilst pining for the Fiords, is no more. Blue has expired, ceased to be, gone to meet its maker. But thanks for nailing down the source of the data observation. He always like the Simpson's better than the Flying Circus.

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  3. Warning to casual readers of this blog: These comments are unmoderated. They are infested by one or more trolls who routinely attack the blog author in a variety of ways, rarely substantive. Such attacks are not an indicator of the level of interest of other readers, the validity of the content posted nor of the esteem in which the blog author is held by others.

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    1. Warning to casual readers of this blog: These disclaimers are not literal. Excessive literalism is a symptom of mental disorder or possible brain injury. Instead be infested with implications, interpretations, and any other substantive suggestions you might take imagine if you are a normal reader. Such normalcy is an indicator of the level of interest of insightful readers. The validity of the content posted is verified by the degree of repetition, and the esteem in which the blog author is held in measured by the number of names he dreams up for those he attacks.

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    2. The Disclaimer pisses the troll off on a daily basis, as you can see. LOL. Keep it up.

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    3. You didn't mention taters, tot! Those make me shriek and tear my hair out too. Didn't you think you saw the hair net whenever I come to the Howler. Kristof mentioned it. Was the chronology wrong or did PBS edit it out of your thoughts altogether?

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  4. DC has 43,000 public school kids, Montgomery County has 144,000. Bob's statistical bureau can probably calculate that there are more students on subsidized lunches in Montgomery than there are total students in DC.

    Bob's terrible at math

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    1. Excessive literalism is....but then we repeat ourselves.

      Consider yourself threatened...er hurt....we mean warned.

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  5. "A rough proxy for journalism" won't even buy you a cup of coffee at Baltimore's favorite bagel shop anymore much less get you a free lunch.

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  6. CLAIMS

    Many...accurate...technically...at least....maybe

    We herewith submit "claims, many of which may be accurate, at least on a technical basis."

    1) "The Montgomery County school system...has more low-income students than the District of Columbia." Emma "Whodat" Brown

    2) "The amount eligible for free and reduced-price meals.... has risen from 29 percent to 35 percent... Emma "Wedem" Brown

    3) "The FBI isn’t called in to monitor this program!" Bob "Stoddatshit" Somerby

    4) "The FBI did monitor Martin Luther King, Jr and send tapes to his wife during the Presidency of Lyndon Baines Johnson." Selma Snubbed

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  7. Free lunch and poverty are not the same. Why is Emma Brown a journalist?

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    1. Is Emma Brown a proxy for lunch? Only if you like lunching free with some C-List journalist instead of lounging with an A-lister on the terrace above Port-Au-Prince at prices which would keep the truly poverty stricken in Porta-Potties for a year.

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  8. "College students don’t describe their female professors as “bossy.” Also, participation in the federal lunch program isn’t a measure of poverty, “rough” or otherwise."

    Facts. Deal with it.

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    1. I would rather have hot potatoes. Free. The FBI isn't looking.

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    2. The Troll would not rather have hot potatoes.

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    3. Since hot tater tots is all your serve, sir, we'll have some of all you you got.

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    4. "Anonymous passes it."

      Coming from a crepitation champ like yourself, that's a compliment.

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  9. Everyone else in the world who actually knows something about these things considers eligibility for free or reduced lunch a "rough proxy for poverty." That's because it is, but no matter how often Somerby is shown how clueless he is about these things, the more he doubles down on this bogus line of thought.

    The U.S. official poverty rate is a constructed figure that is unique in the advanced world. The accepted international approach that allows for comparisons between countries in less than 50% of the median income. The amount that qualifies a student for reduced lunch, 185% of the official poverty rate, is very close to 50% of U.S. median income.

    Now, Somerby is perfectly entitled to believe-- if he were to actually make the argument, that is, instead of simply the fiat declaration -- that all the experts are wrong, and that the term "poverty" must be used solely when it is based on the official published poverty rate. He is entitled to believe that all the other experts who believe otherwise are wrong. But he is not entitled to say that Brown reporting what experts say makes her a "bad reporter."

    By any reasonable interpretation, especially since it is the only measure of low income status we have, eligibility for free or reduced lunch is a "rough" approximation of poverty. That's why most experts consider it to be just that. "Low income" is not coterminous with "poverty," but it is damned close.

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    1. I'm going to ask my boss to give me a raise that would make my salary 185% as big as it is now. Hey, it's roughly the same! said "urban legend".

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    2. Why wouldn't they use actual poverty figures? These are available via the census. Why use any rough proxy at all? Somerby's approximations are for figures that don't exist. Poverty figures do exist.

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    3. Got a better idea, 4:31. Tell your boss to pay you 185 percent of the poverty line. Might educate about what "low income" means.

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    4. Why wouldn't you tell us the last time your census was taken, Sparky @ 4:52?

      It was April 1, 2010 for us. Your figures may differ. Anything is possible.

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    5. To Anonymous @5:20pm. I work part time as a Custodian, making LESS than 185% of the poverty line. I think your post backfired.

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    6. By the way,Anonymous 5:20pm, low-income and poor are not the same.

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    7. Tater Tot, please provide us your definition of each.

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    8. Tater tot apparently cannot or will not share his God given wisdom.

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    9. Anonymous won't touch the hot potato.

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  10. all the experts + all the other experts = most experts ... or pretty damn close

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  11. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  12. If Bob Somerby does know the history of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, given the time he allegedly began teaching and the type of school in which he claims to have taught, then he knows he is playing the word game of a charlatan here in this post.

    If he does not know, the idiocy represented by this post is attributable to that ignorance.

    In either case Bob Somerby's post, with all its fecal references is a piss poor piece of work.

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    1. Typing three paragraphs without addressing the poverty line is a FAIL.

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    2. The poverty "line" has everything to do with Somerby's charlatan word game and your ignorance for falling for it and wanting me to play. I won't. I suggest you read how program funding for low income students and low income schools is determined for yourself. I will give you a hint. Eligibility for free and reduced lunch has become something more than a "proxy."

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    3. Oh! Now the "roughness" of the "proxy" has disappeared. Now the free lunch develops super-powers and becomes "more than a proxy". Even Emma didn't go that far. Today is not your day, guys. But to be fair, it's never your day in the Daily Howler.

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    4. Today is never a day for idiots who insist on arguing a point someone else may have made with another person who never made it.

      Today is never a day for people who actually meet Somerby's frequent definition of a liberal....lazy, dumb and dislikable...who are given suggestions where to look to remove their ignorance but insist instead on doubling down on demonstrations of complete, pigheaded ignorance.

      Try this language from Federal Law, asshole:

      "5) MEASURES- The local educational agency shall use the same measure of poverty, which measure shall be the number of children ages 5 through 17 in poverty counted in the most recent census data approved by the Secretary, the number of children eligible for free and reduced priced lunches under the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act, the number of children in families receiving assistance under the State program funded under part A of title IV of the Social Security Act, or the number of children eligible to receive medical assistance under the Medicaid program, or a composite of such indicators, with respect to all school attendance areas in the local educational agency —
      (A) to identify eligible school attendance areas;
      (B) to determine the ranking of each area; and
      (C) to determine allocations under subsection (c)."

      Shall I summarize? Federal law allows, as a measure of poverty for federal funding purposes, local school districty to use the number of students eligible for free and reduced price lunches.

      Read it again asshole. Find the word proxy.

      Please don't confuse my criticism of the misleading charlatan Somerby with any other commenter or as a defense of any reporter again.

      You know what day it always is in Howlerland when it comes to education data and policy? Deception Day.

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    5. Wow. I wonder if Anonymous @ 8:31 was also the same Anonymous who wrote in at 3:46?

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    6. @10:18, what federal law is that? It sounds like some enabling legislation establishing an inclusion criterion, not a law defining poverty in all places and situations. Such criteria can vary, hence the need to state what they are.

      If you don't say what law you are quoting, how can we know the purpose for which poverty is being defined in your quote, and whether it is relevant to Somerby's complaint?

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    7. Going for the trifecta are we?

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    8. http://www2.ed.gov/policy/elsec/leg/esea02/107-110.pdf

      Some people who pretend they are remotely familiar with educational policy refer to it as the Elementary and Secondary Schools Act. Bushies refer to it as the No Child Left Behind Act.

      Virtually anyone who really ever taught in a low income school since LBJ refers to the part of the law containing the pertinent language as Title I. The full heading is:

      TITLE I—IMPROVING THE ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT OF THE DISADVANTAGED

      The entire Title I is informative. The quoted language is from Sec. 1113 of Title I.

      To restate once again, for those who wish to doubt a mere commenter in favor of a favorite blogger whose record in these matters is on a par with the Collected War Stories of Bill O'Reilly and Brian Williams:

      Federal education law established eligibility for free and reduced price lunch, among other things, as a measure of poverty. It is not a proxy. It is a measure. It is defined that way under the basic federal law that funds schools and programs for low income children. Period. End of discussion.

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    9. Anon 11:38 -- Your general point is well taken -- and will fly above the capabilities of the blogger and his unquestioning defenders here -- but you can defend both "rough" and "proxy" because (1) the 185%-of-poverty-line level is somewhat higher than 50% of median income; (2) some who qualify for free or reduced lunch do so not because they themselves meet the definition, but because the school with a high level who qualify according to the definition have opted for administrative or student morale reasons to have all the children treated the same.

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    10. urban legend,

      I have no quibble with any reporter's definition. I have a serious problem with Somerby's presentation here. It reveals a level of either ignorance or dishonesty which is astonishing.

      Look at the vitriol he heaps upon Ms. Brown in particular but others as well:

      "hard to believe how bad an education reporter she is....

      bungled news report....

      a claim that is basically false—the claim that eligibility for free and reduced-price meals is “a rough proxy for poverty.”...

      that claim is wildly misleading. More sensibly, it should be described as false.....

      Eligibility for the lunch program isn’t a measure of poverty; it isn't anything close......

      A wide array of pseudo-journalists, mostly on the pseudo-left, are now pretending that participation in the lunch program is a measure of poverty....

      the Post just won’t stop with this stupid shit....

      Brown’s incompetence is especially striking....

      the Post keeps pushing this formulation, it keeps spewing streams of ludicrous fake facts.....

      Editors at the Washington Post keep waving this crap into print.....

      Who the heck is Emma Brown? Why is she typing this manifest bullshit?"

      All this from someone who claims to have taught in low income schools?

      All this from someone who acts as if he knows something about educational policy.

      All this from someone crusading against false facts and bad journalism?

      My point is not well taken because it is not my point It is federal law. It has been for fourteen years at least.

      Federal law defines eligibility for free and reduced lunch as a "measure of poverty." No charlatan playing word games regardless of his motive can change that simple fact.

      Errors based on ignorance can be excused at some price of credibility. Errors which are intentional are another matter. But both first require acknowledgement of the error by the one who made it.

      Is Bob as big as Brian Williams? Or is he as big a blowhard as Bill O'Reilly?

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    11. 1:02 -- I thought it was clear that I agree with you virtually 100%. It's the level of over-the-top vitriol for what is at most a minor quibble about wording -- especially when the reporter is accurately reporting what the experts are telling her -- that is rendering this blog a joke.

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    12. You were quite clear. I was just reinforcing a point I made earlier. My problem was not with the reporter nor was my purpose to defend her.

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  13. It's true that poorer students tend to do worse in school than wealthier students, but poor people are not all the same.
    People with different ethnicities but the same income perform quite differently in school. From other readings, I believe you'd also get different results if you broke down your data in other ways. E.g., one could look separately at Mormons and Jews. Hispanics could be broken down based on whether they were born and raised in the US.

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    1. Being Mormon is an ethnicity?

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    2. I believe it is another way to be broken down.

      You could, for example, further break Jews down on whether they were Baptized by Mormons after their death. IMHO their school performance wouldn't improve over that achieved while living to a statistically significant degree, nor would their opinion of Christ as the Son of God. But they just might be more likely to regret not chosing Utah over Florida for their Golden Years.

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  14. Years ago when they created gifted programs they included kids not really gifted. That made it easy for critics to point out that the kids in such programs didn't really need the special treatment, that they would get along fine without it. It made it easy to defund and dismantle the programs, claiming financial necessity. That hurt the highly gifted kids who truly needed help the most but their needs were poorly understood. The same thing can happen with poverty-based programs.

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  15. A search in Bob's 2011-2015 archives using the term "free and reduced lunch." From Pages 1- 3 of 8

    "As we’ve noted many times, eligibility for free and reduced-price meals is not “a federal measure of poverty.”

    Bob Somerby Pats himself on the back for multiple errors 4/22/14

    "Ozimek was referring to the percentage of public school students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch, a number which stands at roughly 50 percent. But that is not a measure of poverty."

    Somerby, consistently but measurably wrong this year 1/13/15

    "Is eligibility for the federal lunch program “a rough proxy for poverty?” Only to the feckless, incompetent creatures who work for the Washington Post! "

    Bob Somerby demonstrating he thinks the WaPo is Congress or Cognress works for the WaPo 1/17/15

    "For starters, eligibility for free or reduced price lunch is not “the federal definition of poverty.” Essentially, children are eligible for reduced price lunch if their parents earn twice the federal poverty figure.

    This is not a measure of poverty. No matter how many times the point is made, liberals and mainstream journalist keep misstating this point."

    Bob Somerby, lamenting the fact he cannot keep liberals from getting it wrong like he does. 12/4/13

    "In this chart, “lower income” refers to kids who quality for free or reduced price lunch because of family income. This is not a measure of poverty, despite what you’re constantly told by the rising number of Fox-like hacks of the left."

    Bob Somerby, helping hold back the tide of Fox-like hacks 12/7/13

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  16. Wow. Anonymous 8:31pm made anonymous 10:18pm get the angriest post of the day award. Why are trolls so touchy?

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    1. I think you've stated off the month creating a new category of the pseudo-reader: the Bobby-iiever. In our view.

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    2. Urban Legend had 5:22 down when he wrote:

      "Your general point is well taken -- and will fly above the capabilities of the blogger and his unquestioning defenders here"

      5:22 is definitely an unquestioning defender of Somerby by any measure.

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  17. Did urban legend just congratulate himself under an "Anonymous" nickname?

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    1. Trolls should show themselves enough self respect not to toss hot accusations around.

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    2. Picking up where I left off last night on Page 4 of a search of Howler archives for "free and reduced lunch."

      "In eighth grade math, students who are eligible for free or reduced price lunch saw their average score rise 17 points from 1996 to 2011. (This is not a measure of poverty.)"

      Somerby, attacking nobody in particular with this mistake. 5/9/2013

      "One final point: We're fairly sure that Bouie's figure about poverty rates is wrong. Even after reviewing his cource, we'll guess he's talking about the percentage of kids who qualify for free or reduced price lunch. That isn't a measure of poverty."

      Somerby being wrong about what he is fairly certain about. 5/22/14

      "On the 2011 NAEP, 55 percent of Florida’s eighth-graders qualified for free or reduced price lunch. In Massachusetts, the figure was 33 percent. (This is a measure of lower income. It is not a measure of poverty.)"

      Somerby for once noting it does measure something. 12/11/13

      "(Given the state of our intellectual culture, you are constantly being told that FRPL is a measure of “poverty,” which it plainly is not. Within our intellectual culture, all misstatement is permitted, no matter how blatant or obvious.)"

      Somerby, flailing against foolish Finn worship 12/6/13

      "In its public data, the NAEP employs a fairly crude measure of family income. It divides students into two large groups—those who qualify for free or reduced-price lunch, and those who don’t qualify.

      This is not a measure of poverty, though journalists often present it as such."

      Somerby, crudely wrong another time. 6/4/2014

      "In fact, Darling-Hammond is referring to NCES statistics about schools where fewer than ten percent of students are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch. That isnot a measure of poverty, as this lauded “expert” surely knows."

      Somerby, reading his error into the mind of others. 4/16/13

      This is only the first eight pages where Somerby's search engine found the words "free and reduced lunch" in his current format dating back to 2011. It encompasses 32 entries, some by commenters such as Urban Legend.

      More than one third of the time, 11 out of 32, "free and reduced lunch" is mentioned, Somerby has erroneously reported what eligibility for free and reduced price lunches in our schools is used to measure by federal law.

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  18. I am not urban legend because my nickname is differentMarch 1, 2015 at 2:55 PM

    Urban Legend's posts in this comments section have been excellent.

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  19. Bob's got a twofer with this column.

    Yes, periodically Emma Brown writes articles for The Post without doing very much homework. The most recent example was her article on value-added evaluations for teachers.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/contentious-teacher-related-policies-moving-from-legislatures-to-the-courts/2015/02/28/6ec1f31e-b83d-11e4-aa05-1ce812b3fdd2_story.html?postshare=8591425244130539

    Brown could and should have delved into the research on value-added, but she didn't.

    However, Bob is in error. Reduced/free lunch eligibility is a rough proxy for family income. Many kids qualify for reduced-price lunches, because their families are at the 185 percent of poverty level (that's $44.000 for a family of four.) But many kids also get FREE lunches because their families have even lower incomes ($31,000 for a family of four). They are not poverty, but they're right next door. And still other kids who qualify for reduced/free lunch don't get it because their parents don't fill out the paperwork.

    There's not doubt that poverty and child poverty are problems in this country. There's also little doubt that Bob thinks reporters at The Post and elsewhere should be more precise in reporting about it.

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    1. I followed your link to Emma Brown's article on teacher evaluations.

      You write: "Brown could and should have delved into the research on value-added, but she didn't."

      She indeed could have. But her article was about court challenges being brought against state evaluation systems, not about research on evaluations systems.

      I could write: "@5:46 frequently offers comments without doing homework. This recent comment could and should have delved into the many times other commenters have found errors in Bob's work."

      I not only could write it, I did write it. But should I have? That is an opinion. But it is not a measure of the accuracy of your work nor a reflection of your homework or precision.

      I agree with you when you write: "There's also little doubt that Bob thinks reporters at The Post and elsewhere should be more precise in reporting about it (poverty)." There also should no doubt that he heaps scorn on reporters who are accurate even when he it totally, completely, demonstrably wrong. This post is but an example.

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  20. "Reduced/free lunch eligibility is a rough proxy for family income."

    Is that the claim that was originally made? No. It isn't.

    Funny how just changing the words can allow you to pretend things about what folks have said.

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  21. "Urban Legend": 50% of Americans are in poverty. Everyone knows that!

    "The Howler commentariat": You tell 'em Urban!

    Thinking people: [weeping]

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    1. "8:14": Howler commenters are stupid! Everyone who can think knows that. That is why we distort what others say.

      Thinking people: We cry alongside Bob Somerby and his analysts.

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    2. Idiots can have it both ways:

      -Somerby's wrong when he says the free lunch eligibility, (which reaches up to 50% of American children in many areas) is NOT a measure of poverty (even though that's true).

      -"defenders" of Somerby are wrong when they say Urban Legend's claiming it IS (even though that's true).

      OOOOh that bad old Somerby and his "defenders"!!

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    3. Yes, idiots can have it both ways.

      An idiot can say Somerby is wrong. An idiot can say Somerby is right.

      Only a truly foolish idiot, however, can add the parenthetical phrase "(even though it's true)" to "free lunch eligibility...is NOT a measure of poverty."

      Welcome to the world of foolish idiocy @10:44.

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    4. Please Anonymous @ 10:44. In this post TDH not only got his knickers in a wad, he ripped them and soiled them as well.

      The last thing he needs is for someone of your intellect to keep calling attention to it.

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  22. Sure wish the people who rush to defend Bob would ask themselves if the phenomenon Brown describes in DC is happening in their cities as well. Because it's sure happening in mine.

    We've got very young (30 and under) snapping up condos and lofts in repurposed downtown office and commercial buildings, and the city even subsidizing an entertainment district and other amenities -- such as a supermarket which the downtown area hadn't had for decades -- to serve them.

    Meanwhile, we've got a secondary "white flight" from the inner suburbs to the outer suburbs with their McMansions. And a lot of the older inner suburban housing stock is mass-produced, Levittown-style 2/3 bedroom, 1 bath bungalows built during the Baby Boom that go unsold and become rental properties.

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  23. Maybe impoverished people shouldn't be having so many kids.

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    1. Maybe you could work on this problem by proposing we sterilze those still on free and reduced lunch in middle school.

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  24. Instead, maybe those who can't, or who have no interest in supporting the kids they produce, shouldn't have kids.

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    Replies
    1. Maybe people without kids shouldn't get to vote.

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    2. Maybe layabouts who refuse to take responsibility and support the kids they bring into the world should man up. I wonder how many of those kids living in poverty have daddies who have gone missing, or are simply unemployable.

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