"New report" about public schools produces major "surprise:" As best we can tell, every word in David Leonhardt's news report is accurate.
That shouldn't be surprising. The 42-year-old Yale grad was the paper's Washington bureau chief until 2013. Today, he's managing editor of The Upshot, the super-brainy, analytical blog for subscribers who are eggheads.
In theory, Leonhardt is on the brighter end of the New York Times spectrum. That's what makes last week's report remarkable and bizarre and deeply revealing about the state of our press elite.
When we read Leonhardt's report last Tuesday, we thought it might be the dumbest report we've
ever read. That may not be true, but let's make this key point again:
In its giant cluelessness, it's among the most revealing.
The embarrassment began with the headlines. On page A3 of the hard-copy Times, the headlines read like this:
Raw Scores Give Misleading Idea of School ProgressA new report seemed to be straightening everything out! It had taken demographics into account! It sounded like trail-blazing stuff!
A new report takes states' demographics into account.
On line, the headlines are worse. "Surprise," the embarrassing headline says. "Florida and Texas Excel in Math and Reading Scores."
In his report, Leonhardt refers to "the new results" which emerged from "a report released Monday by the Urban Institute." Earth to Leonhardt and the rest of the Times:
There was absolutely nothing "new" in that "new report." There was nothing resembling a "surprise," unless you're completely clueless, and completely uncaring, about the nation's public schools and the millions of kids who attend them.
As we've told you for many years, it's abundantly clear that the New York Times actually is that clueless.
What did Leonhardt report last week? This is what he reported:
The state of Texas seems to produce fairly ordinary scores in reading and math on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), the nation's one reliable public school testing program. But if you "disaggregate" the state's test scores—if you look at the average scores for each of the state's major demographic groups—you'll find that each of those groups scores quite well when compared to their peers around the nation.
Texas produces mediocre overall scores because its student population is heavily black and Hispanic. As everyone but the New York Times knows, black and Hispanic kids still tend to score less well in reading and math than the nation's white kids.
Texas has lots of black and Hispanic kids! This tends to hold down the state's overall average scores. But Texas students in all three groups tend to outscore their peers from around the nation. Black kids in Texas outscore their peers from around the nation. So do the state's many Hispanic kids.
(As we've noted many times, white kids in Texas tend to outscore other states' white kids too. It's amazingly easy to explore the data for every state. You start by clicking right here.)
As everyone but the New York Times knows, reviewing test scores in this manner is known as "disaggregation." And good lord! When you review Texas' scores this way, Texas turns out to be the third best-performing state in the nation! That's the surprising new result from the new report last week!
Prisoners of hapless elites, can we talk?
If you've read this site down through the years, you'll know that there is nothing "new" or "surprising" about these "new results." In various contexts, we've noted such facts about states like Texas year after year after year.
If you know anything about public schools, you already understand this matter. Through the auspices of the federal Department of Education, voluminous data have been available for lo, these many years.
Once again, you can just click here. That said, we've often noted a disgraceful fact:
No matter how much data the DOE posts; no matter how user-friendly they make their data; no matter how many times these basic facts get discussed at sites like this; you simply can't make the nation's journalists review those voluminous data or grasp these basic points.
Last Tuesday, Leonhardt proved our point. His report is a public disgrace. So is Leonhardt himself, along with all the creeps at the Times who have made his cluelessness possible.
Leonhardt's report may be the dumbest we've ever read. It comes from a highly privileged Yale graduate who's high up in the New York Times order—a highly privileged, clueless disgrace who doesn't give a flying fig about the nation's black kids.
How little do New York Times journalists know about our public schools? Consider the ignorance they've put on display just in the past few months:
They didn't know why you can't use SAT scores to compare academic achievement between the states.
They didn't know that over half of the nation's black kids attend public schools in the South.
As of this week, they still don't seem to know that American students take part in two international test batteries, the TIMSS and the PISA, not just one.
Until this week, they apparently didn't know that American schools face demographic challenges that aren't faced by schools in Finland. For background, see yesterday's post.
And now, the absolute kicker:
Last week, the New York Times was surprised to learn that you have to "disaggregate" test scores to get a sensible idea of how well a state, school system or school seems to be doing. The New York Times was surprised to learn that a state with a lot of white kids is likely to outscore a state with a lot of minority kids, or a state with a lot of poverty.
The New York Times didn't know that! At the Times, this was a "surprise." These findings were rushed to the public, hailed as "new results!"
It's hard to show sufficient contempt for the people who work at the Times. Their work has long been a public disgrace. Given the newspaper's skill at branding, it's hard for most people to grasp that.
Leonhardt prepped at the Horace Mann School, then moved on to Yale. Today, at the age of 42, he joins his colleagues in not knowing squat or squadoosh about the nation's black kids.
His ignorance, and that of the Times as a whole, is an ugly rolling disgrace. Enabled by uncaring liberals, they've played it this way for a very long time. As we've told you again and again, their ignorance is astounding.
Nothing is ever going to change this. When it comes to the lives and the needs of the nation's black kids, the uncaring Maddow is worse.
Disaggregation nation: Back in 2012, Gail Collins made a fool of herself concerning this very topic.
On the brighter side, she made some money on her book tour, and the people who came to see her didn't know that she was utterly clueless.
These people are some of the worst on the earth. To read our report, start here.