Public school watch: Factors which undermine low-income kids!

MONDAY, APRIL 18, 2016

Our dogma is one such factor:
Do teachers sometimes short-change low-income kids by holding "low expectations?"

Presumably, yes. Teachers sometimes short-change high-achieving kids the same way, even in leafy suburbs. We have a lot of teachers. They do all sorts of things.

That said, teachers can also undermine low-income kids through irrational expectations and unwise academic demands. We'll grant you this—we liberals rarely mention this fact. Dating to time immemorial, we have much preferred the happy-talk scenario, in which low-income kids are secret geniuses stymied by hateful teachers.

When we tell the story that way, it makes our sick souls feel good.

How often do teachers short-change kids by holding low expectations? It would be interesting to see some sort of serious examination of that question.

That said, discussions of low-income students are much more often exercises in various types of dogma. Different dogma obtains within the two tribes, but each tribe is a purveyor.

At the start of the month, The Atlantic published an unfortunate report about the latest exciting new study. In a slapdash post about The Atlantic's report, Kevin Drum put the dogma into his headline, thus making it simpler to find:

"White Teachers Think Pretty Poorly of Their Black Students"

That's an ugly, disgraceful headline. But it nicely captures the dogmatics of an ugly, stupid age.

We hate to kill the joy of dogma, but there's nothing much in that new study to justify such a headline. According to The Atlantic's report about the latest new study, teachers were asked to make some predictions. They were asked to predict whether their tenth-grade students would go on to graduate.

As best we can tell from The Atlantic's report and from the study's (barely coherent) press release, white teachers' predictions were more pessimistic than black teachers' predictions. That said, it also sounds like predictions by black male teacher were least optimistic of all.

These predictions were made many years ago. No one bothered to check to see whose predictions were more accurate, nor is there any evidence that anyone actually cares.

There's also no evidence indicating that any particular group of teachers was misperforming in some particular way. But this is an age in which we liberals love to scatter our R-bombs around, displaying our glory and power.

Given our tribe's complete disinterest in the actual lives of black kids, headlines like the one in question turn bloggers into heroes. Who cares if a headline like that is sick, ugly, vile, unfounded?

According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, black and Hispanic kids are doing much better in school. You have virtually never heard your favorite liberals mention this important fact. Simply put, your favorite liberals 100 percent don't care.

Instead, you hear corporate and mainstream types misrepresent the state of the data while your favorite fiery liberals snore and roll their eyes—and mug and clown, of course. And then, the unqualified people who get assigned to cover such topics offer us dogma like this:
DERUY (4/1/16): It bears repeating that while it is true that high-school graduation rates are lower for black students, the discrepancy has to do with unequal access to opportunity and resources, not innate ability. Black students are more likely to attend high-poverty schools with fewer resources, and to have less access than their white peers to advanced-placement courses. Student-to-counselor ratios are also much higher than recommended, a problem that is particularly troubling for poor students, who are disproportionately likely to come from families that lack experience navigating the college-admissions system.
That was paragraph 4 of Emily DeRuy's report about the latest new study. It spills with achingly pure liberal belief. It also advertises this fact:

The Atlantic flat-out doesn't care.

Please understand—it isn't the reporter's fault that she is youngish and lacks a background in low-income education. She didn't assign herself to cover this topic. Her uncaring editors assigned her.

That said:

Assigned a task for which she's unprepared, DeRuy presented a wonderfully bowdlerized account of the reasons why "high school graduation rates are lower for black students."

On the brighter side, her account was straight outta tribal dogma. Accounts like hers are guaranteed to make white liberals feel good. In the meantime, low-income black kids can go hang. Truthfully, nobody cares.

Even in the face of those improved NAEP scores, there are many factors which help explain why "high school graduation rates are lower for black students." In a nation which actually cared about black kids, you'd see those reasons being explored on a regular basis.

You don't live in a nation that's anything like that. You live inside an embarrassing nation with a profoundly failing political culture. By and large, your liberal heroes are corporate clowns. They're paid huge bucks to entertain us and to help us feel morally pure.

If it's the truth you want, we'll offer you this:

White liberals (and magazines like The Atlantic) don't care a whole lot about black kids. Beyond that, there is no sign that we have any plans to start.


  1. Meanwhile, back in the real world:

    1. I believe the Howler covered that case way some time back. I believe he complimented the plaintiff children.

    2. @ 5:53 PM - I believe that's 2 non sequiturs.

    3. I agree Anton. It is illogical to suggest Bob is in the real world.

  2. "White liberals... don't care a whole lot about black kids."

    Baltimore Blogger and Teacher Burnout Victim Bob Somerby writes that a whole lot.

    Sometimes when critising academic research or media coverage thereof, the vanity blogger and ex-comedian
    will attack users of terms he deems fuzzy and ill-defined, limne "sometimes" or "a whole lot." Except when he uses them himself.

    "There's also no evidence indicating that any particular group" of people based on ideology cares about black children or doesn't care for that matter. That does not seem to stop Bob Somerby, son of a strip show emporium owner, from saying he know how much white liberals do or do not care about such children. In fact, on a great many topics Bob Somerby seems to know how, and how much, liberals feel about things. Like corporate clowns, tribal dogma, and scattering R-bombs.

    1. Thus demonstrating that you yourself don't give a damn.

    2. I don't give a damn that Bob attacks people for doing what he does? How cruel of you to say that.

      Well, truth be known, you are right. I'd rather jump off a high bridge than discuss Bob's rampant hypocrisy.

    3. Dave the Guitar PlayerApril 19, 2016 at 1:09 PM

      Who exactly are your defending? Regardless of whether Bob is a raving hypocrite or not, he certainly makes it clear that our "liberal" media spokespersons can misrepresent our schoolkids with impunity. And that makes you angry at ... Bob?

    4. Exactly how does he make that clear? Name the "liberal" media spokesperson. Give examples of schoolkids being misrepresented.

    5. There's Anferny and there's Theodore. Also Alicia and Bethany. Need more?

  3. "Surprisingly, research
    fails to find a consistent relationship between school resources and student achievement
    (Hanushek, 2006)." as cited by Lofstrom, 2007. She says drop out rates (in Texas) are determined by poverty, parental education and income level, neighborhood characteristics and, for Hispanic students, English-speaking ability. NOT school resources.

    Why wouldn't an editor at The Atlantic suggest that DeRuy explain how college admission counseling and AP exams can possibly affect drop out rates. Maybe she means these are indicators of school quality in other respects, but that isn't what she says.

    I think Somerby is right to complain when education reporting just makes no sense at all. It is misreporting when it gets facts wrong, but these are nonsensical statements that no one noticed and cared enough to fix. It does suggest a lack of caring.

    I find myself wondering what Bernie's plan is to fix childhood poverty (preventing drop outs), other than to raise taxes on the poor.

    1. I might suggest creating disincentives to "off shoring" good quality jobs via neo-liberal trade agreements. Good jobs = less poverty-stable families-better student achievement.

    2. Kind of indirect and "trickle down" in its impact, don't you think?

    3. If you believe Somerby we need to offshore more jobs and keep that student achievement climbing.

  4. Bob makes two important points 1) Expectations for students are outrageous irregardless[<sic and spell checked!] of their color. 2) People call people racist too much.

    1. How's your golden joystick?

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  6. This guy is running for president! But he doesn't do his homework, even the amount needed to function as a U.S. Senator.

    "BASH: Let’s talk about something in the news that will be on your plate as a sitting U.S. senator. Saudi Arabia has told the Obama administration that it will sell off hundreds of billions of dollars of American assets if Congress allows the Saudi government to held – to be held responsible in American courts for any role in the 9/11 attacks. How do you intend to vote as a senator?

    SANDERS: Well, I need more information before I can give you a decision.

    Though the senator spoke generally about his concerns regarding Saudi Arabia, the host pressed further, asking if he supports allowing Americans to hold Saudi Arabia liable in U.S. courts. Sanders replied, “Well, you’re going to hear – you’re asking me to give you a decision about a situation and a piece of legislation that I am not familiar with at this point. And I have got to have more information on that. So, you have got to get some information before you can render, I think, a sensible decision."

    This guy is not qualified to be leader of the free world.

  7. Here is how a reality-based voter makes a decision about who to vote for in an election:

  8. This one is particularly interesting:

    "Sanders said on April 13th, at his rally in Washington Square (and I’m paraphrasing), that how one runs a campaign and who one takes money from shows what kind of person a candidate is. By that metric, he doesn’t fare so well either. Sanders has over $23 million in unsourced, potentially illegal campaign contributions that he has been unable to explain. He’s received three separate letters from the FEC questioning thousands contributions including identifying thousands in excess of $2,700 (the individual limit), and he had $10,465,912 in aggregated $35 donations all made on a single day from a single zip code in DC that cannot be explained (that would mean 299,026 donations were made on one day from that zip code, when DC’s entire population is about 660,000). If this had been the Clinton campaign with these sorts of questionable contributions, it would be worked into that same old stump speech as a reflection of her lack of character. One standard for Hillary Clinton, another standard for Bernie Sanders."

  9. About those Goldman speeches:

    "But Sanders focuses solely on the three Goldman Sachs speeches. He notably ignores that a speech she gave in 2014 at the Goldman 10,000 Women dinner argued forcefully for equal pay for women and gender parity. Her use of that platform to push the same progressive agenda she has been at the forefront of for decades is conveniently absent from Sanders’ screeds against her. This speech, while unpaid, gives the lie to his accusation that speaking to Goldman employees equates to corruption or that her policy positions are dictated by Goldman."

  10. Here's one you may not have read about:

    "I went back and read several of Sanders’ writings from the 70s. I realize these are from quite a few years ago. However, he was in his early 30s when he wrote them. And I found them to be pathetic — not just poor and embarrassing writing you might expect from an oversexed sophomoric boy, but very limited, reductive, lazy thinking. He bought into the idea that repression causes cancer, and illustrated that through a hypothetical in which he argued that if some nice young boy “has an old bitch for a teacher (and there are a lot of them)…” who tells him what to do, the boy will repress his feelings; a lifetime of repression will give him prostate cancer. Why do I care about this idiotic piece he wrote at the age of 32? I’ll tell you why. He assumed that the supposedly repression-causing behavior came from women telling boys what to do — he could have picked a male teacher to be the one instilling discipline in his hypothetical — but he assumed years of specifically female teachers would cause boys to repress themselves and lead to prostate cancer. And he had no problem referring to them as “bitch.” He wasn’t 16 when he wrote this.

    He was 32."

  11. Drum: "White Teachers Think Pretty Poorly of Their Black Students"

    Somerby: "There's nothing much in that new study to justify such a headline."

    Drum is full of shit here. Somerby is correct.

    Which probably goes some way toward explaining the activity of the reflex anti-Somerby troll crew.

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