How could D.C. improve its schools?

MONDAY, FEBRUARY 20, 2017

The 9.1 percent lack of a solution:
Under the circumstances, the thing you need to know about Washington, D.C.'s schools appears on page 44, deep inside this new report by UCLA's Professor Orfield.

Under the circumstances, here's the thing you need to know:

The 2013-2014 school year is the most recent year the professor records. In that year, student enrollment in the D.C. schools, "traditional public" plus "public charter," stood at 9.1 percent white.

Only 9.1 percent of D.C. students were white. For that reason, there is no way to create a city full of "integrated" schools in D.C., at least not in any significant sense. And by the way:

If you tried to do some such thing, many of those white students would end up in private schools, especially given the high income levels of D.C.'s white student population. Almost surely, that overall 9.1 percent would soon be substantially lower.

We mention this after reading a new report at The Atlantic. The report was written by George Joseph, who graduated from college (Columbia) last June—in June 2016!

You read that right. Joseph may go on to have a superb journalistic career, but he's in his first year out of college, and it pretty much shows. Our view? When publications like The Atlantic assign people like Joseph to write major reports about low-income urban schools, they're displaying open contempt for the lives and the interests of black kids.

Joseph may well go on to be a brilliant journalist. To ponder his street-fighting background, you can just click here.

Today, he's less than one year out of college, and his Atlantic report appears beneath this headline:

"What Could Reverse D.C'.s Intense School Segregation?"

The answer to that question is "nothing," except in the narrow technical sense in which Professor Orfield, and his inexperienced Atlantic acolyte, tend to define the exciting term "segregation."

Below, you see a pointless nugget from Joseph. The researchers to whom he refers are Professor Orfield and his associate, Jongyeon Ee:
JOSEPH (2/19/17): The researchers found that D.C. charter schools, which serve over 40 percent of the city’s student population, are more segregated than D.C.’s other public schools. In 2012, over two-thirds of charter schools, Orfield and Ee note, were “apartheid schools” (defined as having less than 1 percent white enrollment), whereas only 50 percent of public schools had such completely segregated populations.
According to Orfield's definition, a school is "segregated" (in the sense referred to in that headline) if its student population is 0.8% white. It isn't "segregated" in that sense if its population is 1.2% white.

That's a distinction without any serious difference. The same is true of the distinction Joseph flogs in that passage, in which "only half" the city's traditional public schools are "apartheid schools" (exciting!), while two-thirds of the public charters can be so described.

As noted: if you waved a magic wand and created instant demographic balance, each D.C. school would be 9.1 percent white. Also as noted, that percentage would almost surely drop as some white parents sent their kids to private schools.

Also, within those demographically balanced schools, "tracking" procedures would tend to separate groups of students within each school. These are basic facts of life within American schooling today, especially in a city like D.C., where the white student population tends to come from highly affluent, highly-educated families in a small number of upper-end neighborhoods.

It's maddening to see kids straight out of college asked to play teacher with topics like this. Maddening too is the predictable work from Professor Orfield, a 75-year-old aging hippie who can't seem to quit his 60s-era conceptual framework.

Orfield is the reigning king of anti-"segregation" academic thinking. His latest report suggests, once again, that it's time for him to rethink or retire.

Forgive us for thinking, as he starts his report, that he plans to spend more time discussing himself than discussing the actual lives of black students. At any rate, his work hits rock bottom on page 37, where a bungled graphic ("Figure 3") is offered to reinforce the claims made in this passage:
ORFIELD AND EE (page 36): Right now the DC public schools have suffered greatly from misguided policy and from the departure of great numbers of students and families to charter schools of every shape and educational approach and every level of success and failure. Unfortunately, the charter schools have been even less effective in reflecting the city’s diversity than the regular public schools. They look more like the Washington of several decades in the past than the changing city of the present and future.

The racial achievement gap has been a goal of many of the reforms, but the gap remains massive. NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress, often known as the “nation’s report card”) scores show it has actually grown rather than declined as hoped (Figure 3). That could reflect the continuing loss of more successful black families to the suburbs and the affluence of many white families of DC school children. The only objective external assessment of test scores in DC is from the National Assessment of Educational Progress which shows in the following chart a significant recent increase in the scores of white students, irregular changes in the small Hispanic enrollment, and basically a flat line of achievement scores on reading for black students over an eight year period. With whites gaining and blacks stuck at a low level, the gap has actually widened. The chart shows a large racial gap that is still growing and relative stagnation of black and Latino students’ test scores.
Please note: Professor Orfield knows why the racial achievement gaps are so large in the D.C. schools. In large measure, it's because of the unusually high affluence of the district's white student population ("the affluence of many white families of DC school children").

That said, Figure 3 is bungled in so many ways that it defies comprehension. For unknown reasons, Professor Orfield has simply taken this bungled graphic from a bungled blog post by the Washington Post, a blog post which is now several years old.

Because the graphic is old, so are its data, which end in 2013. The graphic considers reading scores but skips math, presumably for the standard reason among those peddling gloom. (All over the country, score gains have been higher in math than in reading. If you want to peddle gloom, you tend to disappear math scores.)

Most strikingly, the bungled graphic compares apples to oranges in the case of D.C.'s black and Hispanic test scores. Rather, it compares apples-plus-oranges to oranges alone. (The 2005 scores represent all D.C. school kids. The 2013 scores only represent kids who have stayed in "traditional public" schools as kids who tend to be higher scoring have moved into charters.)

The graphic was bungled when the Post first presented it. It's still bungled today, when a professor who probably ought to hang them up inexplicably cut-and-pasted it for a major report.

(For what it's worth, D.C.'s black kids recorded substantial score gains in reading and math from 2005 to 2013, as long as you compare all the kids from 2005 with all the kids from 2013. Was that because of charters, or in spite of charters? We have no idea. Just for the record, why didn't "the researchers" construct their own graphics, instead of copying a graphic from an old Post blog? Go ahead—you tell us! Joseph didn't ask.)

This latest report by The Atlantic is straight outta The Karate Kid. A gee-whiz cub reporter straight out of college reports on a 75-year-old professor who ought to hang it up.

That said, this is typical of the way The Atlantic reports on low-income kids in urban schools. In doing so, the magazine seems to display contempt for the nation's black kids. Apparently, work like this is close enough for low-income public school work. After all, it makes us feel morally good!

All things being equal, we'd like to see kids going to school as part of student bodies which "look like America." A few weeks back, we journeyed to the annual school-wide spelling bee at one such neighborhood school in a North Carolina city where we know one scholar well.

It seems to us that the kids at her upbeat, (low-income) neighborhood school are getting a very good deal. That said, there is no way, in D.C., to replicate that happy school's happy student blend, which features kids who aren't speaking English yet along with professors' kids and kids from public housing.

Orfield keeps teaching liberals to use the most exciting possible language about urban schools, and to do nothing else. Given the student population of D.C., there is no way to create a bunch of schools which "look like America" or which are "integrated" in any hugely significant sense.

It's silly to pretend otherwise. It's silly, and it demonstrates contempt for actual kids.

How can D.C. improve its schools? Michelle Rhee never seem to have any ideas. Orfield doesn't seem to either.

On the brighter side, The Atlantic has a passel of kid reporters in tow. This is good for the bottom line. It's also an ongoing insult to the nation's urban black kids and their parents.

Joseph will be a great scribe some day. Today, he represents a way to save coin for the people who own him.

Final point: That graphic is astounding. Also, par for the course.

21 comments:

  1. "It's maddening to see kids straight out of college asked to play teacher with topics like this."

    Words of a man who, straight out of college with no education course work, was plopped into a classroom as a teacher in segregated Baltimore schools in oder to avoid military service during a war.

    Bob Somerby.

    An aging hippie?

    No. An aging, raving hypocrite.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "in order" not "in oder."

      But the latter is closer to the intellectual stench.

      Delete
    2. If Orfield was never that competent, how can his age be a factor in his current lack of competence?

      Delete
    3. You are right. Public schools do require trained teachers, not kids fresh out of school with no experience or training. Magazines like Atlantic do require trained journalists, not kids just out of school without any experience in their field. It is demeaning to the field of education that the needs of students are not taken seriously by giving them better teachers and it is demeaning to the field of education when new writers are given education topics because they are somehow "safe" to cut their teeth on, no one will get too upset if they screw up.

      So Somerby is right to complain. I wish he could do it without demonstrating such ageism but his prejudices against professors of normal age are no better.

      A study is done using data from 2013 in 2016 because it takes time to collect and analyze data. The data may not be available from the schools, or the resources to do a faster analysis may not be available to the professor, or there may be a lag in publication of the results. No one sets out to deliberately do a study using the oldest data. That said, how much different would the 2016 data be from the 2013 results? Not much, I suspect.

      Delete
    4. I am Max Hannah, and I base in United states...My life is back!!! After 1 years of Broken marriage, my husband left me with two kids . I felt like my life was about to end i almost committed suicide, i was emotionally down for a very long time. Thanks to a spell caster called Dr Ogundu, which i met online. On one faithful day, as I was browsing through the internet,I came across allot of testimonies about this particular spell caster. Some people testified that he brought their Ex lover back, some testified that he restores womb,and other sickness, some testified that he can cast a spell to stop divorce and so on. i also come across one particular testimony,it was about a woman called Sonia,she testified about how he brought back her Ex lover in less than 2 days, and at the end of her testimony she dropped Dr Ogundu's e-mail address. After reading all these,I decided to give it a try. I contacted him via email and explained my problem to him. In just 48hours, my husband came back to me. We resolved our issues, and we are even happier than before Dr Ogundu, He is really a gifted man and i will not stop publishing him because he is a wonderful man... If you have a problem and you are looking for a real and genuine spell caster to solve all your problems for you. Try Dr Ogundu anytime, he might be the answer to your problems. contact the great Doctor through this mail: drogunduspellcaster@gmail.com

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  2. Good day,,,,
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    ReplyDelete
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    ReplyDelete
  4. It's a tragedy that Brown v. Board of Ed was decided properly, but for the wrong reason. It was never the case that schools had to be integrated in order to be adequate. In prcatice, that may have been mostly true in 1954. But, the goal should be how best to teach students, rather than racial integration.

    Making this tragedy worse is the fact that the wrong question is a lot easier to measure. Racial integration is so easy to see and correct (at least, if white and Asian students don't flee the public schools). Even an inexperienced kid right out of college can tell that D.C. schools are mostly segregated. But, if he was required to say how good the D.C eduction is and how it can be improved, that would be beyond him.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In which dickhead Dinky argues for the "separate but equal" doctrine.

      Well done, comrade.

      Delete
    2. How are you going to stop DC black kids from being "separate" when there simply aren't the numbers of white kids to create an enforced diversity?

      You could ponder that, but I think Somerby is transparently correct on this one: a MUCH better question to ask is How Can You Actually Help The Kids?

      Delete
    3. You include the suburbs and private schools in desegregation efforts, obviously. It isn't that the white kids don't exist. It is where the boundaries are drawn.

      There is educational benefit to diversity. Arguing that you don't need that benefit is silly, kind of like arguing that kids don't need math because there are no math teachers, so just focus on teaching them reading.

      Kids need to learn to function in a multicultural society because that is what our country and world are like now. There is no more geographical isolation permitting people to pretend other, different people don't exist. Everyone must learn how to respect and get along with those who are unlike themselves and their families. School is the easiest time to learn that. We deprive our kids of important survival skills when we isolate them artificially in schools that are not diverse.

      So, you can actually help the kids by finding diverse schools for them. If I were in a situation where schools were segregated, as a parent, I would move. Just like I would move if my local schools didn't have AP courses, or didn't teach math.

      Delete
    4. mm -- In my prior comment, I said

      "Brown v. Board of Ed was decided properly"

      Delete
    5. How come black kids need to be integrated with white kids to thrive, but white kids thrive just fine on their own?

      Delete
    6. Maj,
      Have you read about the rural Trump voters? How are they doing just fine on their own? I hear they are failing because government has let them down.

      Delete
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    ReplyDelete

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    ReplyDelete
  7. My mouth is full of testimonies, Am Mrs Susan Morgan. my husband left home for two years to south Africa for a tourist, where he meant this Lady and he was bewitch by the girl my husband refuse to come back home again, i cry day and night looking for who to help me, i read a news paper about a powerful spell caster called DR Ekpiku and i contacted the spell caster to help me get my lover back to me and he ask me not to worry about it that the gods we fight for me.. he told me by mid-night when all the spirit is at rest he will cast a spell to reunite my lover back to me. and he did in less than 3 days my husband came back to me and started crying that i should forgive him, i,m so happy for what this spell caster did for me and my husband..email: Ekpikuspelltemple@live.com
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    ReplyDelete
  8. My husband proposed to me again in November 2016, and by Christmas 2016 he was asking for a divorce. He had fallen in love with a gal at work. I struggled to save my marriage, I changed everything. He struggled with who he wanted to be with. The new gal, who has no history and family with him or me, his wife of 24 years. He struggles with depression, refuses to take his medication and drinks. We are officially divorced now, I’m devastated. He is dating the gal from work, living the free life. I’m trying to pick up the pieces and finish raising our boys. I love him more than anything, and I pray that he figures it out and comes home. Not sure this will happen, but I want to help him, because i love him so much my husband is the best that has happen to me in life i was really desperate and ready to do any thing to bring him back home. so one day going through the internet, i saw a post of a lady call Junia Noel testify on how this man help her out with her situation when her husband also left her with out no reason, so i was over joy to see her testimony that Dr happy help her out so i pick a challenge and email him urgently at //happyspelltemple.webs.com/ give him all details he wanted and he respond also to my email with in 30 mins, and gave me the reassurance that my husband will come back after the love spell i never believe in love spell, or magic so i gifted and put my faith on him, so the next day after the spell like he promise, my phone ring guess who it was my husband calling i pick up and he was crying and begging for what he did to me and our son.this time i was so surprise coz i never believe my husband will call and come back home today am fill with joy and happiness coz love and happiness is the key of life indeed Dr happy is a real man a father and a savoir plz email him if you have any difficulty getting your husband back, or stop your marriage from divorce, get your ex boyfriend and girlfriend back now at happylovespell2@gmail.com or call his mobile number on +2348133873774

    ReplyDelete
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    ReplyDelete
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    ReplyDelete
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