Merle Haggard, back in the day!

FRIDAY, JULY 19, 2019

Gene Brabender gets the assist:
Way back when, it was Merle Haggard who managed to corner the eternal "love it or leave it" market.

He'd already scored with Okie From Muskogee, a song which captured white working-class disdain for coastal elites. Then, along came The Fightin' Side of Me.

At the time,
the advice was offered to pot-smokin' hippies, not to four women of color:
I hear people talkin' bad
About the way we have to live here in this country
Harpin' on the wars we fight
An' gripin' about the way things oughta be.
I don't mind 'em switchin' sides,
And standin' up for things they believe in.
But when they're runnin' down my country, man,
They're walkin' on the fightin' side of me.

Yeah, walkin' on the fightin' side of me.
Runnin' down the way of life
Our fightin' men have fought and died to keep.
If you don't love it, leave it!
Let this song that I'm singin' be a warnin'.

When you're runnin' down our country, man,
You're walkin' on the fightin' side of me.
Anthropologically speaking, the late Jim Bouton captured this part of the human mind in his iconic book, Ball Four.

Out in the bullpen, Bouton got in a pointless debate with Gene Brabender, a big raw-boned right-hander.

Finally, Brabender had had enough. As quoted by Bouton, he flawlessly expressed one key part of the human condition:

"Where I come from, we just talk for a little while. After that we start to hit."

So said the late Gene Brabender. So pretty much say we all.

Sometimes, a single excellent joke...!

FRIDAY, JULY 19, 2019

Lyons gets it right:
Sometimes, the very good joke is the best, perhaps the only, viable form of rebuttal.

A very good joke goes straight to the brain. It bypasses the neural pathways where mere logic all too often gets hauled down from behind.

With that in mind, we think Gene Lyons has landed the very good joke. He does so in his current syndicated column:
LYONS (7/17/19): So anyway, that’s where I’m coming from as a direct descendant of refugees [from Ireland]. What we have here is a perfect storm of Trumpism: equal parts ignorance and bigotry. Only Trump (born in Queens) could tell Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (born in the Bronx) to go back where she came from.
It isn't like the current challenge can be turned back by a good joke. At the end of roughly three decades of lunacy, we let a crazy person get into the White House—and our "press corps" has a sacred rule against discussing the fact that he's nuts!

One good joke can't turn that back. But only Trump could be that dumb? That isn't a bad place to start!

Hidden claim: "Dumb" is much more potent than "racist."

Anthropologically, "dumb" is a judgment that's hard to avoid. "Racist" triggers a fight.

Death by excellent joke: Ronald Reagan ended the 1984 campaign with the excellent joke about refusing to take advantage of Mondale's youth and inexperience.

Even Mondale had to laugh. The campaign ended right there.

SCHOOLED ON CHARLOTTE: Today we have naming of test score gains!

FRIDAY, JULY 19, 2019

At long last, has the Times no shame?
"Today we have naming of parts."

So wrote British journalist and poet Henry Reed in a rueful, ironic war poem. Long ago and far away, as we prepared to march on Iraq, Roger Rosenblatt discussed the poem on the PBS Newshour.

His presentation started like this:
ROSENBLATT (7/29/02): By now one ought to be used to the collision of basic human impulses. Familiar business, especially today, when summer is in full swing all over, and people are going to war all over, all over.

Summer explodes, a bus explodes; grill the suspect, grill the suspect. In the middle of the season of hang gliding, helicopters patrol; and again we take in the harsh attachment of destruction and celebration–the usual, old hat. We've been through it lots before.
In Reed's poem, Reed and his fellow soldiers are subjected to "naming of parts." Today, we ourselves, for the ten millionth time, will have naming of test score gains!

This too is part of an ugly and stupid war. We refer to the war the New York Times runs against the interests of the nation's black and Hispanic children, though always in the most high-minded, lofty way.

The silly, daft, upper-class Times builds its public school reporting around a couple of pretty tales—stories it very much likes. One such story goes like this:
The nation's (giant) achievement gaps are all just a function of test prep.
You'd almost think that nothing could be any dumber than that. But last Sunday, the paper returned to another beloved tale:
Black kids gained ground under desegregation. It's been downhill from there.
At long last, has the Times no shame? At long last, is there nothing that will make its employees stop reciting the pretty stories which make Times readers feel high-minded and good?

We ask this question because, today, we have naming of test score gains!

We've conducted this naming many times in the past. That said, you aren't allowed to know about such gains if you read the New York Times. Nikole Hannah-Jones kept this destructive nonsense alive with her lengthy report this past Sunday. The interests of black kids get thrown down the drain as the Times pursues pleasures like these.

Hannah-Jones seemed to tell a certain story about black kids' progress in school. For the last time, we'll once again post her nugget presentation.

After that, we'll run through the endless, encouraging test score data which are never allowed to bark. In place of such data, you are handed performative portraits like this:
HANNAH-JONES (7/14/19): For years, North Carolina’s Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools, where the community decided to make busing work, were some of the most integrated in the country, and both black and white students saw achievement gains. The district was forced to return to neighborhood schools after a white family brought down the desegregation order, and Charlotte is now the most segregated district in North Carolina. We should question why in the narrative of busing we remember Boston but not Charlotte.

[...]

We now know that school desegregation significantly reduced the test-score gap between black and white children—cutting it in half for some black age groups without harming white children. No other reform has reduced the gap on this scale. Rather, the opposite is true: The test-score gap between black and white students reached its narrowest point ever at the peak of desegregation and has widened as schools have resegregated.
In the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS),"both black and white students saw achievement gains" during the era of desegregation. At one point, Hannah-Jones says this era reached its peak in 1988.

During the current era of "resegregation," CMS has become "the most segregated district in North Carolina," Hannah-Jones says. She doesn't say anything about academic progress in Charlotte-Mecklenburg during this era, but she paints a gloomy picture of progress nationwide.

According to Hannah-Jones, desegregation "significantly reduced the test-score gap between black and white children." Unfortunately, the achievement gap has widened in the era of resegregation, she says.

With these claims in mind, today we have naming of test score gains! We're going to run through those test score gains because the picture painted by Hannah-Jones is highly selective at best and may perhaps even be wrong.

Before we have naming of test score gains, we'll need to have naming of National Assessment of Educational Progress (Naep) programs.

Hannah-Jones links to the Naep at several junctures, though in one case her link is a phantom. Before we have naming of gains, we may need naming of programs:
The Long Term Trend Assessment:
This, the Naep's original program, started in 1971. It tests 9-year-old, 13-year-old and 17-year-old students in reading and math. Its most recent data come from 2012.

As part of the passage posted above, Hannah-Jones links to this Long Term Trend Assessment report to support her claim about CMS schools during the era of busing. Tgat said, there is nothing in that lengthy report about the Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools. Simply put, the Naep can't tell us about the system's black and white kids during that bygone era.

The Main Naep:
The so-called Main Naep is, in effect, a companion to the Long Term Trend Assessment. In its main component, it tests students in grades 4, 8 and 12 in reading and math.

The Main Naep started in 1990; its most recent published data date from 2017. It produces scores for the kids of every state, and for several dozen urban systems, along with scores for the nation as a whole.

In effect, the Main Naep provides a type of second opinion when combined with results from the Long Term Trend Assessment. As the program's name implies, the Main Naep is now the more commonly cited of the two Naep studies.

The Trial Urban District Assessment:
The Trial Urban District Assessment is a subset of the Main Naep. Within this program, several dozen urban systems participate in such a way that reliable test scores are produced for each system's kids.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg joined the TUDA in 2003. There are no Naep data for CMS in the earlier years which Hannah-Jones describes.
Now that we've had naming of programs, let's proceed with naming of gains. Our basic point is simple:

All groups of kids have produced large score gains during the era of "resegregation!" In various areas, achievement gaps have been reduced during this era, but nowhere have gaps gotten larger. These facts fly in the face of the gloomy picture people like Hannah-Jones simply refuse to quit.

Since Hannah-Jones linked to the Long Term Trend Assessment report, let's review that program first. We'll start with the year 1992, thereby creating a 20-year time span during the era of "resegregation."

Despite the picture Hannah-Jones fashions, score gains have been very large during "resegregation." We calculate these gains directly from the graphs in the 2012 report to which the gloomy Hannah-Jones linked:
Gains in average scores, Long Term Trend Assessment
9-year-old students, reading, 1992-2012

White kids: 13 points
Black kids: 24 points
Hispanic kids: 22 points
Those were enormous score gains over a 20-year period. Beyond that, you'll note that the black/white and Hispanic/white achievement gaps shrank during this period.

Based on a standard but very rough rule of thumb, black kids progressed by something like two academic years during this period. White kids progressed by just one!

We can't vouch for the "accuracy" of such assessments. But this is the study to which Hannah-Jones linked, and those are the data which have emerged during "resegregation."

Elsewhere, large gains were recorded by all groups, leaving the size of the achievement gap unchanged. Here we see the gains in 9-year-old math:
Gains in average scores, Long Term Trend Assessment
9-year-old students, math, 1992-2012

White kids: 19 points
Black kids: 21 points
Hispanic kids: 23 points
Those are huge gains for all three groups. But alas! Because white kids did much better too, the gaps were only slightly reduced.

Again, these large score gains were recorded during "resegregation." Nothing in Hannah-Jones' gloomy dreamscape would prepare a reader to imagine any such state of affairs.

Those were results for 9-year-old students through 2012. The 13-year-old kids produced some large gains too. Here are the score gains in math:
Gains in average scores, Long Term Trend Assessment
13-year-old students, math, 1992-2012

White kids: 15 points
Black kids: 19 points
Hispanic kids: 13 points
As with any data which result from sampling, the numbers jump around a bit depending on the year you cherry-pick as your starting point. If we started with 1996, those gains would look like this:
Gains in average scores, Long Term Trend Assessment
13-year-old students, math, 1996-2012

White kids: 13 points
Black kids: 17 points
Hispanic kids: 16 points
Black kids gained seventeen points in sixteen years on the Long Term Assessment. This occurred during "resegregation," Hannah-Jones' tears to the side.

We've shown you data from the Long Term Trend Assessment. Data from the so-called "Main Naep" tell a similar story, though the data now extend through the year 2017.

We'll stick with data from grade 8, and we'll begin where the program began. Ignoring a minor statistical blip along the way, current score gains in math look like this:
Gains in average scores, Main Naep
Grade 8 math, 1990-2017

White kids: 23.48 points
Black kids: 23.09 points
Hispanic kids: 23.83 points
For all Main Naep data, start here.

On their face, those are very large gains. Those gains were achieved, by all three groups, during "resegregation."

Alas! Because all three groups scored so much higher, the gaps didn't shrink on this measure. If we accept those test scores at face value, the achievement gaps remained the same, though at a much higher academic level.

In grade 8 reading, the gaps did shrink. Starting with the initial testing, the score gains look like this:
Gains in average scores, Main Naep
Grade 8 reading, 1992-2017

White kids: 8.77 points
Black kids: 12.42 points
Hispanic kids: 16.23 points
As a general matter, score gains have been smaller in reading. In Charlotte-Mecklenburg, score gains in grade 8 math were very large from 2003 to 2017, but score gains in grade 8 reading were rather small.

Now we're going to have naming of a few basic points:

We've adjusted for a minor statistical blip in our calculation of the gains in the Long Term Trend Assessment. (On the graphics, you can see the blip occur in 2004.) We haven't done this with the Main Naep. The changes would be minor.

We don't review Grade 12 students or 17-year-old students. Changes in nationwide drop-out rates make year-to-year and decade-to-decade comparisons basically meaningless among these older groups.

The Naep may share our view on this. It doesn't even include Grade 12 in its voluminous Naep Data Explorer, a phenomenal research tool which, as far as we can tell, has never been used by any journalist down through the annals of time.

There of course is a reason for that. As you know, our mainstream journalists rarely traffic in information, data or facts. They traffic in preferred story lines, in the fictions their weak minds prefer.

At any rate, today we've had naming of test score gains! All these gains have occurred during the era of "resegregation." In many areas, gaps have shrunk. During these roughly 25 years, gaps haven't gotten larger.

You'd almost think that score gains like these would be seen as major news. Indeed, you'd almost think that score gains like these would be seen as major good news.

You'd almost think that journalists would want to tell the public about these score gains. But if you thought that, you don't understand the way our "press corps" works.

Also, you may not understand the basic workings of the human brain.

Our journalists love to tell us their stories, their favorite fictional tales. At the Times, Eliza Shapiro jumps over the moon pretending that Gotham's giant achievement gaps are just a result of test prep.

Hannah-Jones likes to suggest that we can only produce academic gains in schools which have been "integrated" on a mid-60s, Leave It To Beaver demographic model.

Also this:

For many years, no one could report test score gains because elites were in thrall to the "education reform" preferred tale, according to which "nothing has worked." These are the novels which determine which facts you're allowed to encounter.

Back to Hannah-Jones. Is it true that progress can only occur in the world of Leave It To Beaver?

We'd better hope that's not true! Given the basic facts of our nation's residential sorting, big urban systems like New York City's will never be "integrated" in the wonderfully pretty, childish way the New York Times likes to imagine.

The gains we've shown you have occurred during the era the Times likes to call "resegregation." At the Times, they weep and cry and hide these score gains. In the process, they throw black kids under the bus as they relish their sick tribal tales.

Down in Charlotte-Mecklenburg's schools, lower-income black eighth graders seem to have made a lot of progress in math. Let's revisit the picture we showed you in Wednesday's report:
Gains in average scores, Main Naep
Lower-income black kids, grade 8 math, 2003-2017

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools: 11.21 points
Public schools nationwide: 8.44 points
Public schools statewide, North Carolina: -1.26 points
Their peers across their state have lost ground as North Carolina has staged a conservative retrenchment. But as this was happening, lower-income black kids in CMS were gaining more than a year!

You'd think a person might want to know why that seems to have happened. But at the Times, score gains like those will always be disappeared. Black kids get thrown under the bus in the process, but our "journalists" retain their prize tales.

Full disclosure! Anthropologists keep telling us that this was the best our species could actually hope to do.

"The human brain was wired for gossip and fiction," these future experts have repeatedly said. Sadly speaking in the past tense from the years which follow Mister Trump's War, they sadly say that Professor Harari basically got it right.

Test scores have gone up and up. The public has never been told!

Inaccurate, false don't register!

THURSDAY, JULY 18, 2019

The shape of the cable news brain:
Today, at the start of Morning Joe, Mika played tape of a certain fuhrer holding forth at last evening's event.

Roughly one minute into the program, she was airing this videotape of the crackpot's crazy remarks:
TRUMP (7/18/19): Representative Ilhan Omar—

AUDIENCE: BOOING

TRUMP: Omar laughed that Americans speak of Al-Qaeda in a menacing tone and remarked that, "You don’t say America with this intensity. You say, 'Al-Qaeda makes you proud. AL-QAEDA makes you proud.' You don’t speak that way about America."

She looks down with contempt on the hardworking American, saying that ignorance is pervasive in many parts of this country. And obviously and importantly, Omar has a history of launching vicious antisemitic screeds.

AUDIENCE: Send her back! Send her back! Send her back! Send her back!
You have to watch the tape to see the crazy way the fuhrer performed Omar's alleged remarks. For ourselves, we were struck by what occurred when the videotape ended.

Mika had just played some ridiculous tape of Trump engaged in a vicious and ludicrous slander. Creative paraphrase hasn't had such an outstanding day since the boys and girls of cable news spent twenty months pretending that Candidate Gore had said all kinds of crazy things.

Dearest darlings, did Rep. Omar actually say what Trump said she said about the greatness of al Qaeda? Was he delivering an accurate account of her actual remarks?

Just yesterday, the Washington Post's Fact Checker site reviewed a similar gong show by Trump in which he attributed the same remarks to Omar. And sure enough! Early in his Fact Checker piece, Salvador Rizzo said this:
RIZZO (7/17/19): He seemed to be referencing an interview Omar gave in 2013 to a local television show in Minnesota. But Trump completely twisted and falsely characterized Omar’s remarks.
For Rizzo's full report, click here. But people who watched Morning Joe today didn't receive any information about what Omar really said.

The gang took turns mouthing words like "shocking," "low point," "disgusting" and "depraved." Also, needless to say, "racism," "racist" and "bigot." But none of these lunkheads made any attempt to challenge the accuracy of the claim they themselves had just put on the air.

We're fairly sure that we'll hear tonight from Future Anthropologists Huddled in Caves (TM), the trademarked yet disconsolate group which reports to us from the years which follow Mister Trump's War through the peculiar nocturnal submissions the haters refer to as dreams.

These experts have often spoken to us about this peculiar aspect of the wiring of the elite human brain in these, the last few days before the nuclear attack on Somalia.

"Due to chance mutations connected to their endless tribal interbreeding, the concept of accuracy had ceased to register on what was left of their failing brains," these rueful future scholars have repeatedly noted.

"In the face of slanderous claims, they would turn to cascades of denunciation," these top future experts have told us. "It rarely seemed to occur to them that they should start by telling their viewers that the presentations in question were factually bogus."

You can watch this morning's proceedings here.
Just as soon as the tape was done, the children began to display their moral greatness. The prevailing state of their intellect was possibly not as impressive!

Or so some future anthropologist will likely tell us tonight. When they refer to our failing species, they'll do so in the past tense!

SCHOOLED ON CHARLOTTE: In this era of "resegregation"...

THURSDAY, JULY 18, 2019

...the data may diverge from the tale:
Darn those voluminous math and reading scores from the Naep!

In this era of "resegregation," it can be hard to maintain preferred tribal tales in the face of those darn test scores!

Within our hapless modern press culture, elementary data and basic facts really aren't "stubborn things." Quite routinely, elite journalists prefer to tell tribally pleasing tales.

This is especially true when the New York Times reports on public schools.

Nothing will change the preferred story lines; our brains aren't wired for such work, especially on elite levels. But as we showed you yesterday, actual data from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) complicate a preferred story line:

Over the past several decades, CMS has become "the most segregated school district in North Carolina," or so we were told in a lengthy report in Sunday's New York Times. Depending on how you measure such things, that assessment may even be accurate.

That said, wouldn't you know it? According to data from the so-called Main Naep, Charlotte-Mecklenburg's score gains in grade 8 math have gone through the roof in the past fourteen years, for black and white kids alike! It's "the most segregated school system" in the whole state—but its score gains have come thick and fast!

How awkward are those actual facts—the actual facts which went unmentioned and undiscussed in Sunday's New York Times? In yesterday's report, we showed you the score gains which have occurred since Charlotte-Mecklenburg began taking part in the Naep's Trial Urban District Assessment (TUDA) in 2003.

The systems's score gains in grade 8 math have gone through the roof. For an additional framework, here's how lower-income black kids scored in grade 8 math on the last administration of the Naep, with CMS ruling the world:
Average scores, lower-income black kids
Grade 8 math, Naep, 2017

Public schools nationwide: 255.02
Public schools statewide (North Carolina): 252.84

Atlanta: 253.50
Austin: 253.44
Baltimore: 249.36
Boston: 258.97
Charlotte-Mecklenburg: 262.92
Chicago: 257.24
Cleveland: 255.50
Dallas: 257.12
Denver: 255.27
Detroit: 243.17
Houston: 261.50
Los Angeles: 243.15
Miami: 254.65
Milwaukee: 240.29
New York City: 253.10
Philadelphia: 247.00
San Diego: 255.53
For all Main Naep data, start here.

Applying a standard though very rough rule of thumb, lower-income black kids in CMS outperformed their peers statewide by roughly one academic year.

They also outperformed their peers nationwide, and in every other urban system which takes part in the TUDA. (It's part of the Main Naep.) Among the big urban systems which were tested, only Houston, and maybe Boston, really came all that close.

That said, uh-oh! As CMS was "resegregating," performance substantially grew! Compared to other North Carolina systems, black kids in CMS showed tremendous score gains in grade 8 math, even as their system allegedly became the most "segregated" in the entire state.

This complicates the pleasing tale we were fed in Sunday's Times. In a lengthy report by Nikole Hannah-Jones, we were basically told, without quite being told, that this sort of thing can't/doesn't happen.

In our view, it's better when kids get to go to school with kids of other "races" and ethnicities. If we could bus in kids from Tibet, we'd support that approach.

That said, our liberal academics and journalists often substitute fairy tales for data and basic facts.

All too often, they seem to love their tribal tales more than the truth itself. Because they want their tales to stand, they may throw basic facts under the bus, with the interests of black kids to follow.

Let's be thorough! Charlotte-Mecklenburg hasn't recorded similar gains in the area of grade 8 reading. We'll look at those data tomorrow.

That said, it's amazing to see a major journalist go out of her way to cite CMS as a prime example of a familiar, pleasing tale—a familiar tribal tale which isn't gigantically accurate.

To offer a larger perspective, let's outline the story Hannah-Jones told about overall national progress in the years since the Brown decision outlawed dual school systems. Tomorrow, we'll compare the picture she drew to the actual national data.

Below, we reproduce two paragraphs from Sunday's Times report. We think they define a familiar story, one we were basically told in Sunday's Times without quite being told:
HANNAH-JONES (7/14/19): For years, North Carolina’s Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools, where the community decided to make busing work, were some of the most integrated in the country, and both black and white students saw achievement gains. The district was forced to return to neighborhood schools after a white family brought down the desegregation order, and Charlotte is now the most segregated district in North Carolina. We should question why in the narrative of busing we remember Boston but not Charlotte.

[...]

We now know that school desegregation significantly reduced the test-score gap between black and white children—cutting it in half for some black age groups without harming white children. No other reform has reduced the gap on this scale. Rather, the opposite is true: The test-score gap between black and white students reached its narrowest point ever at the peak of desegregation and has widened as schools have resegregated.
Hannah-Jones makes the following claims. In the process, other impressions may be conveyed—impressions which may be inaccurate:
Five basic claims:
1) School desegregation significantly reduced the test-score gap between black and white children.

2) The gap was cut in half for some age groups.

3) This was done without harming white children.

4) The test score gap has widened as schools have resegregated.

5) When Charlotte-Mecklenburg was forced to integrate, "both black and white students saw achievement gains."
Quickly, let's run through those claims. After that, we'll identify the important fact which didn't bark.

In our view, the first of those five statements clearly seems to be accurate.

Based on the Naep data to which Hannah-Jones links, the achievement gap was indeed "significantly reduced" during roughly the first two decades of testing, starting in 1971. (Hannah-Jones describes 1988 as the point where "desegregation had peaked.")

(Warning: the large changes which occurred in this era would have been concentrated in the South. They would perhaps have reflected a one-time-only gain as southern systems were forced to abandon their horrendous "blacks only" schools and procedures.)

The second statement is also true, though we note the key word "some."

Within the "Long Term Trend" Naep data to which Hannah-Jones links, the gap wasn't cut in half, or anything like it, for 9-year-old students—not in reading, not in math. It was cut in half for 13-year-old students, though only if we assume that the "best" year of testing represents an "accurate" statistical representation.

Was this achieved "without harming white children?" White test scores stayed largely the same during this period. There's no way to know what would have happened if integration hadn't been forced on the South during this era. Nor does this matter, of course.

So far, Hannah-Jones' portrait is largely accurate. But when we reach statements 4 and 5, accuracy may start to suffer.

Is it true that "the test score gap has widened as schools have resegregated?" We'd score that as significantly misleading at best, possibly as flatly false. We'll show you data tomorrow.

With that, it's on to Charlotte! Is it true that "both black and white students saw achievement gains" in CMS during the era of busing?

There are no data which address that question at the link Hannah-Jones provides. At this point, Hannah-Jones has started to tell us a pleasing story without providing any actual facts.

She also declined to tell us this:

In CMS, "both black and white students" have made large gains in grade 8 math during the era she describes as "resegregation." But then, that's also true on a national basis.

This brings us to a major fact which almost never barks:

Over the past twenty-five years, black, white and Hispanic students have all recorded very large gains in math on the Naep, accompanied by fairly large gains in reading.

Those gains have been recorded during the era of "resegregation." In one very basic sense, that should be seen as good news.

Guess what! There is no way that our big urban systems will ever produce "integration" drawn from the era of Leave It To Beaver. Sadly, though, it's from that thoroughly bygone era that people at the New York Times seem to fashion their unhelpful dreams.

Moving forward, our big urban systems will continue to be heavily "segregated." Urban population patterns make that abundantly clear.

We can't "integrate" our way out of our current achievement levels or out of our current achievement gaps! But so what? In destructive service to a simple-minded dream, Hannah-Jones failed to mention the substantial test score gains the public should, at long last, be told about—the substantial score gains which could prove to be our salvation.

How did Charlotte-Mecklenburg produce those score gains in grade 8 math over that 14-year span? Why are its lower-income black kids outperforming their peers nationwide?

A decent person would wonder about the answer to such questions. But at the Hamptons-based New York Times, the very fact of those scores and those score gains must be disappeared!

As we've noted for years, this is a long-standing, amazingly uniform journalistic practice. You're allowed to hear about the gaps, but you can't be told about the gains! In such ways, basic facts keep getting disappeared in service to preferred tribal tales.

The public isn't allowed to know about the score gains which have occurred. In this way, the interests of black and Hispanic kids keep getting thrown under the court-ordered buses which aren't going to reappear.

Tomorrow: Some actual national data

Someone lied to Lawrence when he was young!

WEDNESDAY, JULY 17, 2019

The fellow has never recovered:
How silly is the drivel we're handed on our tribe's favorite shows?

Consider the way Lawrence O'Donnell began Monday night's Last Word. He started with a silly claim about Trump's alleged racism.

He followed with a claim about the press corps' use of the tricky word "lie," a claim which was simply sad:
O'DONNELL (7/15/19): Tonight, the great national debate about “is Donald Trump a racist” appears to be over.

The debate started eight years ago in earnest in 2011, when Donald Trump first started talking about President Obama's birth certificate. That's when I started using the word "racist" about Donald Trump on this program, and the word “lie”.

But the American news media was not ready for either one of the words and it took the New York Times five full years after that to use the word “lie” to describe what Donald Trump says on a daily basis.

The New York Times finally called Donald Trump a liar in September 2016, when he already lied his way to the Republican presidential nomination.

The New York Times was five years late on "lying," but most of the rest of the news media was later than that. By the second year of the Trump presidency, though, everyone in the American news media had called Donald Trump a liar repeatedly. The Washington Post now keeps an official count of Donald Trump's lies.
To watch this monologue segment, click here.

Lawrence's claim about the "racist" debate was basically childish and silly. That debate is far from over. It isn't clear who's winning.

Regarding the claim about the word "lie," consider what Lawrence did:

Lawrence said that the Washington Post "now keeps an official count of Donald Trump's lies." As he said this, an image of this June 10 report flashed upon the screen.

The report was published by the Post's "Fact Checker" site. The headline on that report says this:
President Trump has made 10,796 false or misleading claims over 869 days
Newsflash: The Washington Post's Fact Checker site doesn't refer to misstatements as "lies." It tabulates "false and misleading statements." That's as far as it goes.

That's as far as the Fact Checker goes! Rightly or wrongly, it hasn't stampeded after Lawrence when it comes to the tricky term "lie."

Let's summarize:

Lawrence claimed that the Washington Post now keeps an official count of Trump's "lies." His point was that the Times and the Post finally bower to his own wisdom by using that tricky word.

As proof, he pointed to an official count by the Washington Post. That said, the Post's official count doesn't use the term "lies!"

You could almost say that Lawrence conned his viewers that night. An excitable person might almost decide to say that the gentleman lied!

SCHOOLED ON CHARLOTTE: Charlotte's black kids fight "resegregation!"

WEDNESDAY, JULY 17, 2019

Math gains through the roof:
What happened to achievement patterns in public schools after the Brown decision?

That question encompasses a 65-year span. In Sunday's New York Times, Nikole Hannah-Jones constructed the Standard Pleasing Fable concerning what has occurred.

Some of what Hannah-Jones wrote in her lengthy report was accurate. A good chunk of what she wrote pretty much was not. As always, the lives and the interests of the nation's black kids got thrown under [the story our team likes to tell concerning the use of] the bus.

In yesterday's report, we posted several passages which define the Hannah-Jones story line. This was her nugget account concerning what happened in the nation as a whole after the Brown decision:
HANNAH-JONES (7/14/19): We now know that school desegregation significantly reduced the test-score gap between black and white children—cutting it in half for some black age groups without harming white children. No other reform has reduced the gap on this scale. Rather, the opposite is true: The test-score gap between black and white students reached its narrowest point ever at the peak of desegregation and has widened as schools have resegregated.
In some respects, we'd score that account as true. In some respects, our grading would be less generous.

We'll look at that global account in the next few days. For today, let's consider Hannah-Jones' account of what has happened in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg (N.C.) Schools (CMS) in the past four or five decades.

Currently, CMS is the nation's 18th-largest school district. For several decades, it engaged in large-scale busing as a result of a major 1971 court order.

According to Hannah-Jones, this is the CMS story up to the present day. This helps flesh out her larger account of what occurred nationwide:
HANNAH-JONES: [T]o say busing—or really, mandated desegregation—failed is a lie.

It transformed the South from apartheid to the place where black children are now the most likely to sit in classrooms with white children. It led to increased resources being spent on black and low-income children. There’s a story black people ruefully tell of the day they knew integration was coming to a black high school in Charlotte, N.C.: A crew of workers arrived to fix up the facilities because now white children would be attending. This is how two-way busing worked and why integration was necessary—white people would never allow their children to attend the types of inferior schools to which they relegated black children.

For years, North Carolina’s Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools, where the community decided to make busing work, were some of the most integrated in the country, and both black and white students saw achievement gains. The district was forced to return to neighborhood schools after a white family brought down the desegregation order, and Charlotte is now the most segregated district in North Carolina. We should question why in the narrative of busing we remember Boston but not Charlotte.
Once again, here's what we've been told:

During the era of mandated busing, Charlotte-Mecklenburg's schools "were some of the most integrated in the country." During this era, "both black and white students saw achievement gains," we're told.

In support of these claims, Hannah-Jones links to this 57-page report by the National Assessment of Education Progress (the Naep). Unfortunately, that report doesn't say a single word, or present a single statistic, about anything that has happened in Charlotte-Mecklenburg's schools at any point in time.

In Charlotte-Mecklenburg, did "both black and white students" record "achievement gains" during the era of busing? That Naep report doesn't say.

That Naep report does present test score data, in both reading and math, for the nation's kids as a whole. Depending on which years you want to cherry-pick, we'd say that some of Hannah-Jones' claims are true, while some are misleading or maybe even false.

More on that tomorrow. For today, let's consider more recent data from the Naep—data which tell us what has happened in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools in this current era of "resegregation."

In our view, it would be better if kids went to school with kids of varied "races" and ethnicities. According to Hannah-Jones, this dream has died in Charlotte-Mecklenburg, which "is now the most segregated district in North Carolina."

We don't know if that latter assessment is accurate. We're not even entirely sure what it means.

That said, we'll assume the claim is essentially true. As we told you on Monday, the claim derives from this study by the North Carolina Justice Society, to which Hannah-Jones fails to provide a sound link.

According to Hannah-Jones, CMS "is now the most segregated district in North Carolina." According to that study, the hyper-resegregated district "would need to re-assign 55 percent of its students to achieve racial parity across its schools."

More than half the system's kids would have to move to a different school! Meanwhile, what has happened to academic achievement in this era of "resegregation?"

Uh-oh! CMS math scores seem to have have gone through the roof during the era in question! Whether compared to the rest of the state, or to the nation as a whole, black and white kids in CMS schools have recorded remarkable gains.

This is one of the stories you weren't told in Hannah-Jones' fabulized, feel-bad account. That said, the data sit right before us in the Naep's extremely detailed, largely unreviewed data.

Let's take a look at those data! First, though, a quick bit of background:

Ever since 2003, CMS has participated in the Naep's Trial Urban District Assessment. Within this program, the Naep has been able to publish statistically reliable data for several dozen large school systems, including those in New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago.

As such, the Naep has reading and math scores for CMS from 2003 through its most recent testing in 2017. This corresponds to the era of "resegregation" in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.

Uh-oh! Despite what you've been encouraged to believe, score gains in math have gone through the roof in CMS during this period! That's true "for both black and white students." In grade 8 math, the score gains look like this:
Gains in average scores
Grade 8 math, Naep, 2003-2017


Black kids, CMS: 12.35 points
Black kids nationwide: 7.85 points
Black kids, state of North Carolina: -1.54 points

White kids, CMS: 14.51 points
White kids nationwide: 5.62 points
White kids, state of North Carolina: 1.47 points
For all Naep data, start here.

You're reading those data correctly. During that 14-year period, the average score of North Carolina's black kids actually went down in grade 8 math, if only slightly.

Meanwhile:

In "the most segregated district in the state," black kids' average score went through the roof. Based on a standard though very rough rule of thumb, black eighth-graders in CMS progressed by more than one academic year in math during that 14-year period.

CMS is a somewhat unusual urban/suburban school district. For that reason, we'll also show you the gains by the district's lower-income black kids (by kids who qualify for the federal lunch program):
Gains in average scores
Grade 8 math, Naep, 2003-2017

Lower-income black kids, CMS: 11.21 points
Lower-income black kids nationwide: 8.44 points
Lower-income black kids, North Carolina: -1.26 points
Here too, CMS kids progressed by more than one academic year while their peers across the state were losing a bit of ground. Data like these complicate the pretty tale Hannah-Jones seemed to be telling.

Alas! In the most segregated school district in the whole state, grade 8 math scores went through the roof during the era of resegregation. Black and white students both gained, and the recorded gains were large.

Good lord! There's no way to know, but based upon these Naep data, it's entirely possible that "the most segregated district in the state" actually recorded the highest math gains in the whole state during this era. This complicates the story Hannah-Jones chose to tell while citing the Naep as her source.

Also, it's Hannah-Jones who focused on CMS. That was her choice, not ours.

In our view, it would be better if kids went to school with kids of varying "races" and ethnicities. If we can bus in kids from Nepal, we'd like to see it done.

On the other hand, our nation contains some very large urban school systems—New York City first among them—whose student demographics will never permit the Leave It To Beaver-era racial balance which polemicists at the New York Times apparently dream of during their five-day Hamptons weekends.

Gotham's black and Hispanic kids will never be going to school with Wally and the Beav seated on either side. If those data from CMS are real, you'd almost think we'd want to know what that hyper-"segregated" school system has actually been doing in its math instruction.

That said, we very rarely show any signs of wanting to know such things. As "humans," we more reliably want to persist with our memorized novels, with our tribally pleasing tales.

In certain major respects, Hannah-Jones presented a tribally pleasing tale this Sunday. Concerning the interests of black and Hispanic kids, those interests get thrown under a certain fabulized bus when we insist on pleasing ourselves with our gloomy stories.

Not unlike Homer of old, we memorize and repeat these stories. Whose interests get served by that?

Tomorrow: National patterns

First, we came for all The Others!

TUESDAY, JULY 16, 2019

Then, we came for ourselves:
Should the Washington Post have started a front-page news report today with the following statement?
PARKER, BADE AND WAGNER (7/16/19): President Trump on Monday defended his racist remarks about four minority lawmakers by alleging that they “hate our country” and should leave if they are unhappy—leading the Democratic congresswomen to respond by offering a competing vision of America that they said was based on inclusiveness.
We're going to vote for no. However obvious the highlighted usage may seem in the present moment, the judgment that Trump's remarks were "racist" remains a statement of opinion.

Post columnist Margaret Sullivan takes the opposite view in today's Style section.

She starts by applauding modern journalists for calling a "lie" a "lie." She then begins to outline her rationale for calling Trump's statements "racist:"
SULLIVAN (7/16/19): Now the question is the word “racist.”

Were Trump’s tweets portraying Democratic legislators of color as foreigners merely “racially tinged”? Were they just sprinkled with racially tinted pixie dust?

And should descriptions of what Trump stands for be put only in the mouths of his critics—a step removed from the journalists themselves?

Or should stronger language and sharper focus be used?

It depends on only one thing: whether journalists want to be clear about saying what’s right there in front of everyone’s eyes and ears.
Can Trump's baldly inaccurate, inflammatory comments be objectively described as racist? Sullivan seems to think that "everyone's eyes and ears" saw his comments that way.

That, of course, isn't true. Later, she settles on this:
SULLIVAN: It makes good sense for media organizations to be careful and noninflammatory in their news coverage. That kind of caution continues to be a virtue.

But a crucial part of being careful is being accurate, clear and direct.
When confronted with racism and lying, we can’t run and hide in the name of neutrality and impartiality. To do that is a dereliction of duty.
Sullivan thinks the Post was simply being "accurate" when it went with "racist" in its front-page news report. She seems to think it's a matter of fact, not a matter of opinion or judgment, when Trump's irrational, inflammatory remarks are described that way.

Be careful what you wish for! In the last few days before Trump went off, our fearless liberal/progressive activists had begun dropping variants of the R-bomb on the heads of quite a few other members of our team and tribe.

Even worse, members of The Squad had begun subjecting us to the ultimate indignity. They'd begun dropping bombs on other Dems' heads, then piously insisting that they hadn't done so at all.

That's what Trump constantly does! Be careful what you wish for when tribal stampedes, and cultural revolutions, have begun taking place!

In the last day or so, pundits have been in a type of Olympic competition to see who could be more ardent in their assertion of Trump's racism. It often seems to us that these brave, bold modern journalists are perhaps protesting too much.

If we had lived the lives they've lived, we might feel that we've been complicit in Trump's success too. We too might feel a need to convince ourselves of our own moral goodness.

Plus, The Squad had already come for the gay Native American and for the Congressional Black Caucus! Might some pundits be afraid that The Squad might come for them next? Careers are hanging in the balance! Good jobs at good pay!

Anthropological newsflash:

For many people out there in this broad, sprawling nation, the racism Sullivan saw in those comments wasn't "right there in front of [their] eyes and ears." But then, our tribe has specialized, for many years, in acting like Those Others don't count, don't even seem to exist.

We cocoon with our favorite reporters and friends, with whom We All Say The Same Things.

The brains of our species are wired this way, top anthropologists tell us. This helps explain the endless tribal wars of our floundering species, or so these top experts say.

We liberals! We've begin devouring ourselves with our bombs! Trump's craziness created a distraction this time, but who will be racist next?

SCHOOLED ON CHARLOTTE: Fifty-three (or 85) outlying districts!

TUESDAY, JULY 16, 2019

The vast sweep of a good idea:
On the merits, was mandated busing a good idea in 1975?

It's astounding to think that our current campaign has turned upon this question. "Consider the shortcomings of the species," disconsolate experts have told us. They report to us from the years which follow the conflagration they ruefully refer to only as Mister Trump's War.

It's amazing to think that this is the way we're conducting our current campaign. That said, Nikole Hannah-Jones thinks mandated busing was a good idea on the merits, and she may well be right.

In her lengthy essay in Sunday's New York Times, Hannah-Jones blew past the political problems which brought the era of busing to an end. In our view, she also blew past some basic facts—some basic facts about the era which followed the era of mandated busing.

For that reason, her lengthy report gives us a way to think about the extent to which you can trust and believe the things you read in the New York Times. We'll start supplying some missing facts in tomorrow's report.

For today, why does Hannah-Jones say that mandated busing was a good idea at that time on the merits? In large part, she bases her view on a highly familiar claim about certain things "we now know:"
HANNAH-JONES (7/14/19): We now know that school desegregation significantly reduced the test-score gap between black and white children—cutting it in half for some black age groups without harming white children. No other reform has reduced the gap on this scale. Rather, the opposite is true: The test-score gap between black and white students reached its narrowest point ever at the peak of desegregation and has widened as schools have resegregated.
We've highlighted the key claims in that passage. They go exactly like this:

According to Hannah-Jones, achievement gaps between white and black kids narrowed significantly in the era of desegregation. She also says that achievement gaps have widened in the era of "resegregation."

In support of her claims, she links to this 57-page report about the Naep's Long Term Trend Assessment program, a report which appeared in 2012. For ourselves, we'd rate one of Hannah-Jones' claims as true, one as false or highly misleading.

Later, Hannah-Jones links to the same 2012 Naep report as she discusses the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS), which engaged in large-scale busing in the 1970s and 1980s. For the record, if you don't agree with Hannah-Jones, you may be involved in a lie:
HANNAH-JONES: [T]o say busing—or really, mandated desegregation—failed is a lie.

It transformed the South from apartheid to the place where black children are now the most likely to sit in classrooms with white children. It led to increased resources being spent on black and low-income children. There’s a story black people ruefully tell of the day they knew integration was coming to a black high school in Charlotte, N.C.: A crew of workers arrived to fix up the facilities because now white children would be attending. This is how two-way busing worked and why integration was necessary—white people would never allow their children to attend the types of inferior schools to which they relegated black children.

For years, North Carolina’s Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools, where the community decided to make busing work, were some of the most integrated in the country, and both black and white students saw achievement gains. The district was forced to return to neighborhood schools after a white family brought down the desegregation order, and Charlotte is now the most segregated district in North Carolina. We should question why in the narrative of busing we remember Boston but not Charlotte.
According to Hannah-Jones, "both black and white students saw achievement gains" in CMS during the era of busing. As noted, she links to that 2012 Naep report—and that lengthy report doesn't include a single word about the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.

Such "phantom links" are hardly unknown in the New York Times.

Hannah-Jones goes on to say that CMS is now "the most segregated district in North Carolina," but she fails to report achievement patterns during this post-busing era. So it goes as the New York Times continues its war on the lies!

Tomorrow, we'll start to show you what has happened in CMS in this post-busing era. We can do so because CMS has been taking part on the Naep's Trial Urban District Assessment program since 2003, a fact Hannah-Jones skipped past.

The data we show you will complicate the simple story Hannah-Jones tells. That said, our modern journalism is largely built upon simplified structures of this type. It's built upon simple-minded, novelized stories—fiction all the way down.

Starting tomorrow, we'll look at actual data! For today, let's take a moment to contemplate the sweep of that era's mandated busing programs.

Hannah-Jones thinks this era's mandated busing was a good idea on the merits, and she may well be right. That said, good God, but those programs were sweeping! Consider this part of Hannah-Jones' impassioned report:
HANNAH-JONES: Media and politicians blamed busing for the white flight from many cities, even though cities with large black populations suffered extensive white flight whether they instituted busing or not. They said busing stoked racial tensions, as if race relations had been just fine when black people stayed in their place.

And then in 1974 the Supreme Court, stacked with four Nixon appointees, dealt a lethal blow to Northern desegregation. In Milliken v. Bradley, it struck down a lower court’s order for a metropolitan desegregation plan that attempted to deal with white flight by forcing the all-white suburban school districts ringing Detroit to integrate with the nearly all-black city system. By ruling against a desegregation plan that jumped school district borders, the court sent a clear message to white Northerners that the easiest way to avoid integration was to move to a white town with white schools.
The Milliken ruling did play a key role in limiting the era of mandated busing. It also helps us see why the politics of mandated busing in that era were so fraught.

As Hannah-Jones notes, a lower court had ordered Detroit to forge a busing plan with some "all-white suburban school districts."

(Hannah-Jones says Detroit's system was "nearly all-black" at the time. According to at least one scholar, the school system was actually about two-thirds black at this point.)

The order from that lower court may have been a good idea on the merits. Detroit-area kids might have gained, in many ways, had the order gone into effect.

But good lord, that lower court order was sweeping! Here's the description offered by the legal site to which Hannah-Jones links:
OYEZ LEGAL SITE: A suit charging that the Detroit, Michigan public school system was racially segregated as a result of official policies was filed against Governor Milliken. After reviewing the case and concluding the system was segregated, a district court ordered the adoption of a desegregation plan that encompassed eighty-five outlying school districts. The lower court found that Detroit-only plans were inadequate. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit affirmed the metropolitan plan. This case was decided together with Allen Park Public Schools v. Bradley and Grosse Pointe Public School System v. Bradley.
Good lord! One pointy-headed federal judge had taken control of eighty-five (85!) outlying school systems, along with that of Detroit itself!

It may well be that this judge's idea was a good idea on the merits, but this is the very definition of "judicial overreach." Within the American political system, there is no way that any such regime can last, whatever the merits of its ideas, orders and commandments may be.

As it turned out, the Supreme Court didn't let that order stand. The site to which Hannah-Jones links explains it like this:
OYEZ LEGAL SITE: In a 5-to-4 decision, the Court held that "[w]ith no showing of significant violation by the 53 outlying school districts and no evidence of any interdistrict violation or effect," the district court's remedy was "wholly impermissible" and not justified by Brown v. Board of Education. The Court noted that desegregation, "in the sense of dismantling a dual school system," did not require "any particular racial balance in each 'school, grade or classroom.'" The Court also emphasized the importance of local control over the operation of schools.
How did we get from eighty-five outlying districts to just fifty-three? We don't have the slightest idea, and Hannah-Jones' link doesn't explain.

Would children have gained if the lower court's order had gone into effect? It's possible that children would have gained a great deal! It's also possible that rioting and other acts of mayhem would have ensued region-wide.

Hannah-Jones thinks orders like that were a good idea on the merits. A younger Joe Biden seemed to see that the politics wasn't going to work.

In a recent post,
Kevin Drum offered a capsule history of the way the politics of the era played out. We aren't saying his history is perfectly accurate, but Hannah-Jones blows past such points of concern altogether:
DRUM (7/1/19): Let me just make a few points. First, forced busing during the ’70s prompted one of the biggest political backlashes of the past half century. By the end of it, Ronald Reagan was president and Reaganomics dominated America for the next 40 years. This was bad for everyone who wasn’t already rich, and it was especially bad for ethnic minorities.
According to Drum, the politics of this good idea worked out very poorly. Presumably, this is a lie.

Hannah-Jones thinks this era's mandated busing was a good idea on the merits. She may be perfectly right.

That said, we think that false and misleading statements by journalists are a bad idea on the merits. So too with silly, simplified, pleasing fairy tales.

Tomorrow, we'll start supplying the information you didn't receive in the Times. One great way to knock down a lie? Disappear basic facts!

Tomorrow: In the era of "resegregation"....

Our lack of intellectual hygiene is striking!

MONDAY, JULY 15, 2019

Sleazy rumors, plus Law and Order's billionaire perv:
For us, yesterday's most remarkable paragraph is the one shown below.

It was written by Andi Zeisler. She was identified by the Washington Post as "the co-founder of Bitch Media."

For reasons which define a serious problem, the Post published a brain-dead essay by Zeisler in yesterday's Outlook section. This was part of the fun:
ZEISLER (7/14/19): Those familiar with Epstein’s social notoriety—he hosted celebrity-packed parties at his Manhattan townhouse, and his private Caribbean island, Little St. James, was informally known as “Orgy Island”—know that both Trump and Clinton are long rumored to have benefited from his sleazy largesse. Gawker began covering Epstein as early as 2006 in part because of his ties to Clinton, regularly referring to him as a “billionaire Bill Clinton pal.” Vicky Ward, who wrote a 2003 Vanity Fair profile of Epstein, has said that Graydon Carter, then editor of the magazine, assigned the profile because Clinton’s trip to Africa aboard the Lolita Express had sparked curiosity about the wealthy financier’s murky background. And a 2011 episode of “Law and Order: SVU” titled “Flight” earned its ripped-from-the-headlines bona fides with a lead character known for being both a “billionaire pervert flying in underage girls for sex” and the buddy of “a former president.”
That was paragraph 6 of an essay in Outlook. It defines a problem which is intellectual and moral, but anthropological too.

The key words in that passage begin with these: "long rumored." Other key words in that passage include these: "Orgy Island" and "Lolita Express."

Also, don't miss the reference to something that Law and Order: SVU once so excitingly did. The exciting TV show aired an episode about a billionaire pervert!

"Orgy Island" and "Lolita Express" were included to get you excited. "Rumored" is there because our species is simply too dumb for this game.

Those words define the way the minds of life forms like Zeisler work. The fact that the Post would publish this dreck defines an existential problem.

The same problem appeared two days earlier in a rancid though typical essay by New York magazine's Frank Rich. As with Zeisler, so with Rich—the grimy old "Butcher of Broadway" was modeling the idea that rumors should be spread about Trump and Clinton both, with total disdain for real facts:
RICH (7/12/19): If you watch Fox News, you will believe that Bill Clinton was Epstein’s No. 1 pal and enabler. If you watch MSNBC, this scandal is usually all about Trump. In fact both presidents are guilty (at the very least) of giving Epstein cover and credibility, though the full extent of their respective exposure, moral and legal, won’t be known unless and until we get many more facts. Certainly the circumstantial evidence is creepy. Unsurprisingly Trump now asserts that he’s “not a fan” of Epstein even though their years-long friendship is profusely documented as far back as the early 1990s, when they were the sole men present at a 1992 “calendar girl competition” that Trump instigated at Mar-a-Lago and where more than two dozen “girls” were flown in. Clinton also appears to be trying to rewrite history. This week he released a statement saying that he had taken just four “trips” on Epstein’s jet even though FAA-mandated flight logs reportedly show that he was present on more than two dozen. In a letter written to prosecutors by two Epstein lawyers, Gerald Lefcourt and the inevitable Alan Dershowitz, in 2007, Epstein was named as a founding donor to the Clinton Global Initiative even though, as Marc Fisher reported in the Washington Post, “his name does not appear in public documents detailing the initiative’s leadership.”...
"The circumstantial evidence is creepy," the creepy fellow says. He has just constructed a sentence which starts with the words "In fact" and ends with the claim that we need to get the facts!

As he proceeds, Rich does the sort of thing he always has done—he toys with chronologies to hand you creepy insinuations about Clinton. Consider some typical examples of sleazy insinuations by Rich:

"In 2007, Epstein was named as a founding donor to the Clinton Global Initiative?"

As Rich notes, Epstein was so "named" in a letter written by Epstein's attorneys! They wrote the letter to federal prosecutors as a character reference as Epstein was on the verge of going down.

There is no particular reason to believe that the claim is accurate in any serious way. With that in mind, there's no reason to find it odd that Epstein's name "does not appear in public documents detailing the initiative’s leadership.” Rich just wants to hand you a thrill through one of his endless manufactured contradictions.

Meanwhile, how about that amazing conflict about the number of trips on Epstein's plane? Rich pretends to be wetting his pants about the way Clinton "appears to be trying to rewrite history" with regard to the number of trips.

In fact, by the time Rich's essay appeared, this contradiction had been explained about ten million times. Clinton claims to have taken four long-distance trips on the Epstein's plane, all long before Epstein's legal problems surfaced. The two dozen entries on the flight logs represent the various legs of those four lengthy trips—or so a million people had said or suggested by the time Rich's essay appeared, with that apparent or possible explanation disappeared.

For reasons Bandy X. Lee might want to explore, Rich has always been like this. For our money, the guild's recent exercise in sliming got its start with one slippery, slimy paragraph in this Michelle Goldberg column. There's only one word for that paragraph:

Slick!

In the end, this is what humans are like. In this age of Clinton/Gore/Clinton, this is what upper-end humans have been like all along.

We know of no evidence that Clinton engaged in deviant behavior with Epstein. Certainly, Zeisler and Rich weren't able to offer any. So they did the best they could.

People like Rich are sadly deranged, and the Washington Post has slid to the point where it decided to publish Zeisler's excited recollections of various rumors she's heard. These are the rules by which the last thirty years have been played. These rules have led us to President Trump—a sick-seeming person, like Rich.

Various things have been rumored! This is something the Washington Post very much wants you to know.

Also, Law and Order: SVU did an episode about a billionaire pervert! And the billionaire pervert was a "buddy" to a former president!

This is the stifling culture of rumor, excitement and sexual thrill. It's the mental world of our "human race" in these, its last few days.

SCHOOLED ON CHARLOTTE: How much can you trust what you read in the Times?

MONDAY, JULY 15, 2019

Charlotte-Mecklenburg's web:
On the merits, Nikole Hannah-Jones thinks mandated busing in the 1970s was a good idea.

On the merits, she may be right!

On the politics, Joe Biden apparently thought that mandated busing was a bad idea. It isn't clear that those assessments were, or are, in conflict.

In theory, the world is full of good ideas which aren't politically feasible. That doesn't mean they're bad ideas. It simply means that, within our system, they can't gain sufficient support.

Was court-ordered busing in the 1970s a good idea on the merits but a bad idea on the politics? There's no real way to sort that out at this point in time. Nor is it clearly a good idea to attempt to do so.

But so what? Yesterday, in the New York Times Sunday Review, Hannah-Jones wrote a long, impassioned defense of the idea that mandated busing was a good idea, on the merits, back when crusading politicians were still endorsing such measures.

Perhaps because of the passion involved, Hannah-Jones sometimes almost seemed to be arguing against herself. At one point, for example, she recalled some basic facts which lay at the heart of the famous 1954 Brown decision:
HANNAH-JONES (7/15/19): [W]hile it is true that close-by schools may be convenient, white Americans’ veneration of neighborhood schools has never outweighed their desire to maintain racially homogeneous environments for their children. Few remember that Oliver Brown, a petitioner in Brown v. Board of Education, sued for the right of his daughter, Linda, to attend her neighborhood school. Kansas’ state law allowed school systems to segregate at the behest of white parents, and so the Topeka school board bused Linda and other black children past white schools to preserve segregation. Across the South and in parts of the North, black children were regularly bused long distances across district and county lines, because as late as the 1950s, some local governments valued the education of black children so little and segregation so much that they did not offer a single high school that black students could attend.
If we might borrow from Hannah-Jones' language, "few remember that Oliver Brown" didn't want his daughter bused to a distant school!

More specifically, he didn't want his daughter bused when she could have walked to her "neighborhood school" just seven blocks from the Browns' home!

Alas! Black kids were, in fact, "regularly bused long distances across district and county lines" during the era of dual school systems in states like Mississippi—and even in states like Kansas.

This was one of the downsides of de jure public school segregation, though the Warren Court cited the insult to those childrens' dignity, and the psychological harm thus accrued, as the principal reason why public schools in dual school systems could never be "separate but equal."

("To separate [black children] from others of similar age and qualifications solely because of their race generates a feeling of inferiority as to their status in the community that may affect their hearts and minds in a way unlikely to ever be undone." So said the unanimous Court. No provision of equal facilities could undo that harm, the Court humanely judged.)

Oliver Brown didn't want his daughter bused to a distant school for a range of good reasons. Twenty years later, others may have been less generous in their motivations when they opposed court-ordered busing in other states and regions.

To Hannah-Jones, that court-ordered busing was a good idea on the merits, and she may be perfectly right. That said, it proved to be politically impossible—and in effect, it still is.

That may explain why high-minded crusaders like Candidate Harris have never offered such proposals during their years in public service. In our current nomination campaign, we're perhaps being conned by people like Harris—though, in fairness, it must be said that our campaigns almost always turn on such gong-shows and on such semi-deceptions.

(Anthropologists tell us that this is the best our deeply flawed species was able to do. "It was all in the way their brains were wired," these despondent future experts have said, speaking to us in the past tense from the years after Mister Trump's War.)

At any rate, Hannah-Jones wrote a lengthy, impassioned defense of mandated busing, circa 1975. On the merits, her view may be correct.

On the merits, she may be right! But regarding the politics, Hannah-Jones forgot to tell us why no one proposes such actions today, including the crusading pols who are turning the current campaign into a blast at the past.

It slipped her mind to explain why the impassioned Candidate Booker undertook no such proposals when he revolutionized the Newark schools during his tenure as mayor. Why hasn't Candidate Harris issued a modern-day busing proposal? This too went undiscussed in yesterday's lengthy report.

For ourselves, we were teaching fifth grade in "apartheid schools" during the era in question. Perhaps for that reason, we read Hannah-Jones' report with interest—and we did a bit of a double-take when we read the passage shown below.

In the passage in question, Hannah-Jones discusses the Charlotte-Mecklenburg (N.C.) Schools, the nation's 18th largest school system. Perhaps because of the passion involved, the facts have perhaps been massaged a bit:
HANNAH-JONES: [T]o say busing—or really, mandated desegregation—failed is a lie.

It transformed the South from apartheid to the place where black children are now the most likely to sit in classrooms with white children. It led to increased resources being spent on black and low-income children. There’s a story black people ruefully tell of the day they knew integration was coming to a black high school in Charlotte, N.C.: A crew of workers arrived to fix up the facilities because now white children would be attending. This is how two-way busing worked and why integration was necessary—white people would never allow their children to attend the types of inferior schools to which they relegated black children.

For years, North Carolina’s Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools, where the community decided to make busing work, were some of the most integrated in the country, and both black and white students saw achievement gains. The district was forced to return to neighborhood schools after a white family brought down the desegregation order, and Charlotte is now the most segregated district in North Carolina. We should question why in the narrative of busing we remember Boston but not Charlotte.
In that passage, Hannah-Jones begins with the rhetorical move of the modern impassioned progressive. Under this heroic regime, any statement with which the writer disagrees must be dismissed as a "lie."

In this case, Hannah-Jones says that the era of mandated desegregation was, in fact, a success. She may be right in that assessment, depending on how you score it.

Hannah-Jones cites Charlotte-Mecklenburg as an example of this success. Along the way, we may perhaps become entangled in a bit of a web.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg engaged in busing in the 1970s and 1980s as the result of a high-profile Supreme Court decision. Let's review what Hannah-Jones says about what happened:

According to Hannah-Jones, "both black and white students saw achievement gains" during the years of court-ordered busing. As her evidence, she links to this 57-page report by the Naep about its Long-Term Trend Assessment program—a report which doesn't include a single word about the Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools.

Such "phantom links" are hardly unknown at the Times. Having said that, let's move right along:

As she continues, Hannah-Jones reports that Charlotte-Mecklenburg "is now the most segregated district in North Carolina." Depending on how you measure "segregation," that may or may not be true.

For her source, Hannah-Jones links to this dead-end, two-paragraph news report. Thanks to additional work on our part, the actual study in question can be reviewed right here.

Let's ignore those useless links in the Times report. You'll note that Hannah-Jones tells us nothing about academic achievement in Charlotte-Mecklenburg after the end of court-ordered busing.

We're told there were gains during busing, but the link she offers is a phantom. And uh-oh! Because Charlotte entered the Naep's Trial Urban District Assessment program in 2003, it's easy to measure the system's academic gains in the era of high "segregation."

Hannah-Jones doesn't do so. Instead, she lets us imagine the academic disaster which surely must have ensued.

In our view, it's much better when kids of different "races" and ethnicities go to school together. In our view, it would also be much better if our tribe's assistant, associate and adjunct professors stopped insisting that every person must be said to belong to a "race" and must have his or her "identity" thus defined, full stop.

In our view, kids get a better deal when they go to school with a wide array of classmates. That said, it's also our view that citizens get a better deal when they aren't being conned by crusading political candidates or misled by impassioned journalists.

What has academic progress been like since Charlotte emerged from busing? It's extremely easy to check that out and, by gosh, we did!

You may be surprised by the data—by the simple data you weren't provided in yesterday's New York Times. Those data complicate our world—and our journalism is largely based upon the construction of simplified fictions.

How much can you trust what you read in the Times? On our sprawling and leafy campus, we've been asking that question for years!

Tomorrow: A bit of background

THE WOKE AND THE BUSED: The long and the short of the woke and the bused!

SATURDAY, JULY 13, 2019

Who supports busing today?:
How many Democratic "candidates" support federally mandated busing? Given recent pseudo-discussions, The Atlantic decided it had to find out!

In a murky example of modern-day "youth journalism," Godfrey and (Mark) Harris reported that Candidate (Kamala) Harris has been "hedging on the issue" ever since she dramatically raised it several weeks back.

Other hopefuls have been more clear, the pair of reporters said. In the passage shown below, they began calling the roll.

Ten of the twenty-five (!) Democratic candidates (sic) do support federally mandated busing, the Atlantic's reporters said. Correctly or otherwise, they didn't include Candidate Harris on their list of the woke:
GODFREY AND HARRIS (7/10/19): Other 2020 Democratic candidates, though, are more unequivocal on the issue. After reaching out to the campaigns of all 25 Democratic candidates for president, 10 responded that they support federally mandated busing: Warren; Booker; Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont; Representative Beto O’Rourke of Texas; Representative Seth Moulton of Massachusetts; Representative Tim Ryan of Ohio; Andrew Yang; Miramar, Florida, Mayor Wayne Messam; former Senator Mike Gravel of Alaska; and former Representative Joe Sestak of Pennsylvania.
There you see the list of the woke. Just for starters, let us say this about that:

Yang, Messam, Gravel and Sestak are "Democratic presidential candidates" in much the same way that we run the Bolshoi Ballet. In theory, this means that the Atlantic found six (6) real or semi-real candidates who do support mandated busing.

That said, the reporters set a rather low bar for inclusion on their list. For example, does Candidate Booker support mandated busing? Earlier in their report, the reporters quoted his campaign saying this:
GODFREY AND HARRIS: [A]t least 10 2020 Democratic candidates do support federally mandated busing as a means of desegregating America’s schools. “If localities are not taking action to desegregate schools, Elizabeth believes the federal government has a constitutional obligation to step in to deliver on the promise of Brown v. Board, including, if necessary, busing,” a spokesperson for Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts told us. Sabrina Singh, a spokesperson for Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey, echoed the sentiment. “At a time of increasing segregation of schools, we should consider every tool at our disposal—including busing—to support desegregation and ensure equal opportunity for all kids,” [the Booker spokesperson] said.
"We should consider every tool at our disposal, including busing?"

In all honesty, it's hard to see how that statement differs from the "hedging" the scribes attributed to Candidate Harris. But so what? That fuzzy statement qualified Booker for listing among the woke.

That said, does anyone really support mandated busing of the type Candidate Biden opposed in the 1970s (sic)?

Putting it a different way, has anyone ever proposed any such busing? Would anyone have said one word about mandated busing if Harris hadn't delivered her sneak attack, a prelude to the selling of her $30 "little girl" t-shirts?

Does anyone really support mandated busing? Due to his past service as mayor of Newark, Booker lets us ponder this question in a uniquely specific way.

Again, we direct you to Dale Russakoff's well-received 2015 book, The Prize: Who's In Charge of America's Schools? In her book, Russakoff chronicles the chaotic attempt by Mayor Booker to join hands with Governor Christie and Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg to transform the Newark Public Schools, which were under state control at that time.

In our view, Booker's massive cluelessness is the star of Russakoff's superbly non-partisan book. However well-intentioned he may have been, Booker seemed to have had no idea of the difficulty and the scope of the task he was attempting.

As far as we know, no one currently claims that Booker actually "turn[ed] Newark into a symbol of educational excellence for the whole nation," a miracle he crazily claimed he could achieve within the space of five years.

It's also true that busing for the purpose of diversification is never mentioned in Russakoff's book, not even once! There's no sign that Booker ever suggested any such thing, despite his alleged support for the high-minded practice today.

In many ways, Newark would have been a perfect candidate for mandated busing of the type Biden opposed. As we speak, the district lists its student population like this:
Newark, N.J. Public Schools
Student enrollment, 2019

White kids: 8.4%
Black kids: 42.9%
Hispanic kids: 47.2%
Based upon those data, the typical Newark public school is "intensely segregated" today. But how great! Newark is the county seat of Essex County, whose relatively small area (130 square miles) contains a substantial number of boroughs and townships which are heavily white.

The Newark schools are perfect for busing! Consider the nearby borough of North Caldwell (population 6200):

According to the leading authority on the hamlet, North Caldwell has been listed as the third best place to live in New Jersey, and also as the 34th richest town in the United States!

Its schools are highly rated. Even better, their demographics seem ripe for diversification:
North Caldwell, N.J. Public Schools
Student enrollment, 2019

White kids: 90.1%
Black kids: 1%
Hispanic kids: 4.1%
An array of such hamlets exists within compact Essex County, whose overall population is roughly evenly divided on a black-white racial basis.

As such, this compact county would have been a dream for mandated busing! But Russakoff mention no such proposal at any point in her book, in which a stunningly clueless Mayor Booker pursues an absurdly impossible dream along with a know-nothing gaggle of equally clueless favorite disciples and friends.

Newark's public schools remain "intensely segregated" today. That said, no one is going to ask Candidate Booker why he says he supports mandated busing when he doesn't seem to have proposed any such action back when he was in charge.

That's because no one actually cares about this. This whole "discussion" has been a scam designed for political ends.

The woke have been discussing the bused. A few of the hopefuls are even saying they care.

In the process, the gullible get carted away. Then again, "Consider the species," as an array of top experts have said.

("This species was wired for conduct like this," despondent future anthropologists have told us again and again.)

No one was ever going to suggest that the hamlets and boroughs of Essex County share their schools with Newark's kids! One candidate doesn't seem to have supported or proposed that approach back then, and no matter how "hurtful" Biden's statements have been, that high-minded candidate isn't proposing such actions today.

In saying this, we don't mean to offer a judgment about the actual merits of mandated busing. Instead, we offer a judgment about the conduct of the woke and the bused, along with the fate of the played.

In the current pseudo-debate, busing has served as a way to get there. In truth, none of the hopefuls support such a practice, and none of them ever will.

Newark's schools today: How well are Newark's schools performing today?

We hope they're performing well. But because the city has never taken part in the Naep's Trial Urban District Assessment, there's no real way to compare Newark's schools with those in other big cities.

New Orleans has never taken part in the TUDA either. When "reform"-minded districts avoid this assessment, we're inclined, rightly or wrongly, to mark them down several grades.

THE LONG AND THE SHORT: American kids have made large gains!

FRIDAY, JULY 12, 2019

Until you read The Atlantic (The Short):
As we noted yesterday, Miriam Jordan has presented a profile of the Lake Worth, Florida public schools which is deeply humane and intelligent.

Her report concerns the challenges which may be faced by public schools with lots of immigrant kids.

Jordan's intelligent, humane report
appeared in Wednesday's New York Times! Setting that major surprise to the side, we'd consider quibbling with one part of this passage:
JORDAN (7/10/19): South Grade Elementary illustrates the challenges. There are children like 8-year-old Sherly Perez, who crossed the border with her father and lives in a room at her aunt’s house. One child lives with 10 other people in a house with just one bathroom. Some fourth and fifth graders have been suicidal and depressed, school officials say.

A quarter of the children last year who enrolled at the school in third grade, the grade during which the state tests student progress in reading and math, were newcomers. Only 11 percent of kindergartners were assessed as “kindergarten ready” when they started school.

Dayvin Mungia, the second grader who had never attended school, was one of several students who were taught numbers and letters on the side by his teacher when the rest of the class was engaged in other activities.

Ms. Arce-Gonzalez decided it was vital to offer year-round instruction if children were to have any hope of catching up...
Jordan refers to Ana Arce-Gonzalez, "the principal at South Grade Elementary School in the heart of Lake Worth’s immigrant enclave."

Arce-Gonzalez is one of the "righteous Gentiles" portrayed by Jordan is her deeply humane piece. In Jordan's portrayal, Arce-Gonzalez is working around the clock to help these deserving kids who have recently arrived from the south.

Having said that, we will also say this:

Depending on what we mean by the term, it isn't likely that kids who start so far behind will ever be "catching up."

Will Dayvin Mungia, 7 years old, ever "catch up" to our national norms? Will he ever "catch up" to the native-born Florida kids who will score near the top of the SAT/ACT charts when they finish high school?

The odds suggest that he won't. This helps explain this basic set of Naep data:
Scores by percentile, American public schools
Grade 8 math, Naep, 2017

90th percentile: 332.44
75th percentile: 308.90
50th percentile: 281.67
25th percentile: 255.01
10th percentile: 232.10
Let's make sure we understand what those statistics mean:

On the most recent Naep math test, ten percent of the nation's eighth-graders scored above 332. But on the same test, ten percent of their classmates scored below 232!

Almost surely, those numbers define an enormous "achievement gap." The gap is so large that standard "rules of thumb" break down if we attempt to quantify the size of the gap.

In short, our nation's eighth-graders are not all alike. They can't all be taught the same "eighth-grade math," with a bit of extra help for those who are lagging a bit behind.

Those data define a basic reality found in our public schools—but so do the data shown below. These data describe the gains, not the gaps:
Gains in average scores, 1996-2017
American public schools, Grade 8 math, Naep

White kids: 12.66 points
Black kids: 20.32 points
Hispanic kids: 19.31 points
Asian-American kids: 22.06 points (2000-2017)
The gaps on the Naep are huge. But the gains have also been very large. Consider Hispanic kids:

Applying a standard though very rough rule of thumb, Hispanic kids outperformed their forerunners by almost two academic years over the course of the 21 years encompassed by those data.

Those overall gains were being recorded even as schools were being challenged by deserving kids like Dayvin Mungia. Or by traumatized kids like Jakelin Raquek, just 4 years old, who "was making steady progress in her pre-K class until her father was arrested by immigration agents in front of her, and later deported."

Or by the child in Jackson, Wyoming who "constantly cried, worrying that his grandmother was going to be killed back in El Salvador and that he would never see his parents again." Those test scores rose in the manner described even as our public schools dealt with challenges like these.

What explains these various data, in which the gaps and the gains are both quite large? We have no idea! Our most lordly newspaper, the New York Times, assigns its public school reporting to vastly over-privileged children of the New York Times/Columbia class. They peddle their pleasing tribal fairy tales and commit journalistic scams.

They hand you dreck from the realm of the dream or the tale. Then too, we have The Atlantic, which doesn't seem able to quit scripting of the type shown below, gloomy headlines included:
WEXLER (8/19): Elementary Education Has Gone Terribly Wrong/In the early grades, U.S. schools value reading-comprehension skills over knowledge. The results are devastating, especially for poor kids.

[...]

As far back as 1977, early-elementary teachers spent more than twice as much time on reading as on science and social studies combined. But since 2001, when the federal No Child Left Behind legislation made standardized reading and math scores the yardstick for measuring progress, the time devoted to both subjects has only grown. In turn, the amount of time spent on social studies and science has plummeted—especially in schools where test scores are low.

And yet, despite the enormous expenditure of time and resources on reading, American children haven’t become better readers. For the past 20 years, only about a third of students have scored at or above the “proficient” level on national tests. For low-income and minority kids, the picture is especially bleak: Their average test scores are far below those of their more affluent, largely white peers—a phenomenon usually referred to as the achievement gap...
Is that gloomy headline accurate? Is it true that elementary education has "gone terribly wrong?"

That top headline is a throwback to the era of "education reform." During that era, every know-nothing journalistic halfwit recited this dystopian claim.

In this way, they pleased the nation's big-bucks "education reformers," while blowing past the basic educational data they'd neither reviewed nor surveyed. Most important of all by far, They Said What Everyone Else Did.

(To all intents and purposes, everyone agrees that the Naep is our one reliable domestic source of educational data. Everybody praises the Naep, but nobody seems to look at its data! For all Naep data, start here.)

Elementary Education Has Gone Terribly Wrong! It's hard to square that familiar, wonderfully gloomy claim with the Naep data posted above, but The Atlantic can't seem to quit this familiar old story-line.

The magazine also can't seem to quit Natalie Wexler, a former lawyer they drag out, every now and again, to repeat her gloomy claims.

In fairness to Wexler, she focuses on reading instruction, where the gains have been less large than in math. She may have perfectly sensible things to say about reading instruction.

But is it true, what The Atlantic has (once again) said? Is it true that American children "haven’t become better readers" over the past 42, 18 or 20 years?

Is it true that "Elementary Education Has Gone Terribly Wrong?"

As noted, the recorded gains in reading haven't matched those in math. If we're not mistaken, reading has proven to be "harder to teach" than math all around the world.

That doesn't mean that there have been no gains in reading at all. Here are the score gains on the Naep over the most recent measured 19-year span (the Naep tested math in 1996, reading in 1998):
Gains in average scores, 1998-2017
American public schools, Grade 8 reading, Naep

White kids: 5.49 points
Black kids: 6.35 points
Hispanic kids: 13.17 points
Asian-American kids: 16.08 points
Have Hispanic kids recorded no gains in reading? According to that standard, very rough rule of thumb, they gained more than one academic year, on average, over the course of those years.

They did so even as public schools dealt with challenges of the type described in Jordan's humane report.

That said, leave it to The Atlantic! "Elementary Education Has Gone Terribly Wrong," this venerable journal has once again pseudo-reported.

The conclusion we draw seems blindingly obvious:

At The Atlantic, as at The Times, no one cares about any of this, and no one ever has!

Still coming: More on our nation's (academic/journalistic) achievement gap, courtesy of Kevin Drum.

(Drum: "I feel like this stuff is manufactured in an underground factory somewhere and shipped out randomly to newspapers across the country." In this case, it was shipped from Harvard to yesterday's New York Times!)

No, we still can't explain the phenomena Drum describes in that post.