Headed for the bottom: Yesterday, by happenstance, we experienced a rare mid-afternoon sighting.
By happenstance, we happened to watch this ten-minute, mid-afternoon segment on MSNBC. During the segment, Kate Snow interviewed two guests about our public schools.
Specifically, the segment was inspired by yesterday's Senate hearing involving Betsy DeVos, who will almost surely be our next secretary of education.
First, Snow interviewed a conservative who spoke in praise of DeVos. Then, she interviewed Randi Weingarten, head of the American Federation of Teachers, who took a different view.
Largely because of her family's vast wealth, DeVos has played a major role in Michigan's public schools over the past twenty years. At one point, Weingarten issued a warning about the state of Michigan's schools in the age of DeVos:
WEINGARTEN (1/17/17): Look at the statistics from Michigan...What's happened in Michigan, on the same Naep test that you just talked about, they went from the middle of the pack in 2003 to the bottom, to 41 out of 50. That's not success. That's actually going backwards.We decided to check it out. To access state-by-state comparisons on the Naep, we skillfully clicked here.
Yikes! In terms of their rankings among the fiftry states, Michigan's school have been in a serious downward spiral during the age of DeVos. As always, we'll disaggregate.
Below, you see the relative standing of Michigan's white students in Grade 8 reading and math, as compared to their counterparts in the other 49 states. Some states didn't participate before 2003. For the sake of simplicity, we're omitting some intermediate testing years:
Michigan, standing among the fifty statesThat has the look of a terrible downward spiral. Here are the rankings for Michigan's black kids. Some states don't have enough black kids to produce a statistically significant sample for purposes of the Naep:
Grade 8 reading, white students, Naep
2002: 19 out of 41 states
2003: 12 of 50
2005: 30 of 50
2013: 41 of 50
2015: 42 of 50
Grade 8 math, white students, Naep
2000: 10 out of 39 states
2003: 25 of 50
2005: 31 of 50
2013: 42 of 50
2015: 42 of 50
Michigan, standing among the fifty statesAs compared with their peers in other states, Michigan's black kids started from a lower place than the state's white kids.
Grade 8 reading, black students, Naep
2002: 22 out of 32 states
2003: 29 of 40
2005: 33 of 39
2013: 33 of 42
2015: 39 of 43
Grade 8 math, black students, Naep
2000: 22 out of 28 states
2003: 35 of 40
2005: 32 of 40
2013: 41 of 43
2015: 37 of 39
Among the state's white kids, the drop during the age of DeVos is really quite extreme. As compared with their counterparts in the other states, both groups of students in Michigan now rank near the bottom.
You won't see these data elsewhere; the truth is, nobody cares. We'll also say this about yesterday's report on MSNBC:
Kate Snow is perfectly bright. She went to Cornell, then got a master's degree at Georgetown. Her father is an anthropology professor at Penn State. For some C-Span learnin', click here.
Snow brought nothing, zero, nada, to yesterday's discussion. She seemed to be reading perfunctory questions which had been prepared by staff. She showed no sign of knowing a thing about public schools or testing data, a topic she quickly introduced to no useful effect.
Snow looked great, and she's perfectly bright. But she seems to know nothing about these topics. Basically, she was phoning it in. Simply put, her owners don't care.
That said, the story is largely the same all through our liberal world. We'll pretend to squawk about DeVos. In truth, we don't really care.
Please note: We're talking here about relative standing among the fifty states. From 2003 to 2015, white students' average scores in Grade 8 math actually improved by a small amount in Michigan.
That said, average scores in other states improved a whole lot more. This left Michigan near the bottom in terms of relative standing.
In Michigan, black students' average scores actually dropped by a small amount during those same years. In the age of DeVos, with test scores rising, Michigan has been a major outlier.
Here's the good news for DeVos—nobody actually cares!