NO EXCUSE LEFT BEHIND: The New York Times doesn't seem to care!

TUESDAY, APRIL 2, 2019

Most black children left behind:
To all appearances, New York City's public school system is facing a very large problem.

In fairness, the same large problem exists on a nationwide basis.

Below, you see some of the relevant national data. For today, we've chosen fourth grade for a reason:
Average scores, Grade 4 math
Public schools nationwide, 2017 Naep

White students: 247.92
Black students: 222.78
Hispanic students: 229.10
Asian-American students: 258.02
For all Naep data, start here. That said, those are horrible data.

If we apply a standard, though very rough, rule of thumb, the average black fourth grader was more than two years behind his white counterpart in math in this, the most recent Naep testing. The average black student was more than three years behind the average Asian-American student—and yes, that was in the fourth grade!

Can the nation's achievement gaps possibly be that large? You'll never see that question discussed in the New York Times, a famously upper-class, Hamptons-based newspaper which doesn't seem to care a whole lot about the lives and the interests of the vast bulk of New York City's black children.

Within the crabbed range of sympathies on display at the New York Times, the vast bulk of the city's black children are quickly left behind. Only the highest achievers, the talented few, actually need apply.

Those data come from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, the federally run "gold standard" of domestic educational testing.

Those average scores were produced by representative samples of American kids on a nationwide basis. It's also true that those data were produced by children in the fourth grade.

From those basic facts, we would draw some conclusions:

For starters, there is no "test prep" associated with the Naep. No parents "feel compelled to spend thousands of dollars on test preparation over several years to give their children a shot" at doing well on the Naep, a test which is taken by representative samples of students in every state.

(We're quoting from the New York Times
, as it pretends to explain why Asian kids do so well on the admission test for Stuyvesant High.)

For the individual child who takes the Naep, the Naep is a "no stakes" exam. Absolutely nothing turns on the score the individual child records on this test.

For that reason, no "multimillion-dollar test prep industry" exists for the Naep. Presumably, no one's score on the fourth grade Naep has been driven by "test prep" madness.

Beyond that, let us say, once again, that those average test scores were produced by students in the fourth grade. As noted above, we chose to start with fourth grade today for a reason:

By the time they're in the fourth grade, the nation's children have not been drowned in fiendish test-taking strategies. To all intents and purposes, it can be assumed that test prep played no role in those average scores on the fourth grade Naep.

Those scores record straight-up "achievement gaps" from the most recent fourth grade Naep. They represent the actual size of our achievement gaps nationwide!

That said, by the time our students reach the eighth grade, the gaps are even wider. In New York City, the achievement gaps in Grade 8 math looked like this on that most recent Naep testing:
Average scores, Grade 8 math
New York City Public Schools, 2017 Naep

White students: 290.71
Black students: 255.63
Hispanic students: 263.56
Asian-American students: 306.03
Based on that conventional rule of thumb, those are giant achievement gaps. Unless you get your propaganda from the New York Times!

If you read the New York Times, you'll be told that any apparent achievement gaps are caused by test bias, or by test prep on the part of Gotham's fiendish Asian families, or by the fact that the Specialized High Schools Admissions Test isn't based on the state of New York's official math and English language curriculum.

You'll be told that the giant gaps between different groups of kids is actually based on those causes, or on whatever other excuse the Times can find.

At the glorious New York Times, it's no excuse left behind! In a pattern which has obtained among pseudo-liberals since the 1960s, the New York Times likes to pretend that our yawning achievement gaps are, in the main, illusory.

This lets these stunningly uncaring people ignore the basic fact which screams out from various sets of New York City data:
The vast majority of New York City's black kids are being left years behind!
You'd think the lords and ladies of the Times would want to address this apparent fact. You'd think a rising young star like Mara Gay might want to show the tiniest sign of being able to care about the hundreds of thousands of kids who are being left so far behind, when compared with their peers.

If you thought such things, you may not understand the ways lords and ladies do business. You may not understand the broken-souled values of an upper-class newspaper like the Times, in which absolutely no excuse will ever get left behind.

Like other systems around the nation, the New York City Public Schools is facing a very large problem. On average, its black and Hispanic kids seem to be massively under-performing their white and Asian-American peers.

This doesn't just happen on the Naep, whose content isn't specifically geared to New York State's curriculum. It doesn't just happen on the Specialized High Schools Admissions Test, where the same situation obtains.

It also happens on the annual state-mandated testing conducted all through the state of New York. Tomorrow, we'll start with the basic results in New York City from the testing conducted last year.

For the rest of the week, we plan to examine the ugly, unintelligent way the bumbling souls at the New York Times have been leaving those kids behind in the wake of the annual "admission offers" to Gotham's eight "specialized high schools."

We'll focus on Mara Gay's appalling performance in this 19-minute chat with Slate's equally appalling Mary Harris.

We'll focus on the pitiful, excuse-laden editorial which appeared in Sunday's Times.

We'll focus on the pitiful newspaper's endorsement of Mayor de Blasio's unfortunate "seven percent solution." We'll focus on the ridiculous newspaper's endless suggestion that "desegregation" would provide the solution to whatever part of those achievement gaps doesn't result from test prep.

All in all, we're not sure we've ever seen a more ridiculous performance that the one the New York Times has staged concerning this year's admissions offers to Gotham's Stuyvesant High.

The Times' performance is meant to signal the massive virtue possessed by its ladies and lords. To us, it signals something quite different:

It signals the fact that, when it comes to New York City's black kids, only the most talented few need apply. The bulk of New York City's good, decent black kids don't count at the New York Times.

The Times wants them to be left behind! This is part of an ugly, tired old game which dates to the 1960s.

Tomorrow: Mara Gay is able to see what those Asians are doing

21 comments:

  1. "Like other systems around the nation, the New York City Public Schools is facing a very large problem. On average, its black and Hispanic kids seem to be massively under-performing their white and Asian-American peers."

    The solution is throwing more money down the drain and making excuses for "under-performing" mothers and fathers to get their votes, to get power to pay under-performing bureaucrats to under-perform, to get their votes, to get power.

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    Replies
    1. The solution is to pay everyone a living wage so that poverty doesn't prevent children from doing their best at school. Poverty is the number one factor affecting school performance.

      School breakfast and lunch programs were originally instituted when it was discovered that kids don't learn when they are hungry. Missed days due to untreated illness or need for older kids to babysit younger ones when they are sick cause kids to fall behind in school. Inability to afford trips to the places where kids learn about the world cause kids to lack the referents to understand lessons in English and social studies. Lack of suitable clothing keeps kids at home when they should be at school. Lack of books in the home and adult time/ability to read to kids delays literacy from day one at school. Lack of a quiet environment at home makes it hard for kids to do homework. Presence of drugs, alcohol, domestic violence, sibling misbehavior, prevents focus on learning. And so on. Poverty affects learning and poverty exacerbates other problems such as health, continuity of education, friendships, participation in extracurriculars, and many other aspects of life for poor kids.

      Black and Hispanic kids are massively more affected by poverty compared to whites and Asian-American kids. The solution is to address poverty directly, not dismantle assistance programs as Trump has been doing since he took office.

      It is not an "excuse" when a child spends months unable to hear anything in class due to an untreated ear infection. What do you suppose it does to future learning if that child acquires a habit of "not listening" because he cannot hear anything anyway?

      But this is all a ruse to get poor people to vote for Democrats. I get it that Republicans have not spent any time around poor people or children in public schools, but their inability to listen to explanations of these realities on the ground strikes me as beyond ignorance and in the realm of motivated cruelty.

      That kid doesn't know anything is wrong. He is happy his ear doesn't hurt any more when he tries to get to sleep at night. And he gets used to everything sounding like it is coming from under water. But eventually it gets better and he has no sense of what he missed or what habits of attention were formed to cope. He just goes ahead without being able to learn as well as other kids.

      Delete
    2. "The solution is to address poverty directly, not dismantle assistance programs as Trump has been doing since he took office."

      I don't think "assistance programs" is a solution. People need meaningful work, not handouts.

      And the way the capitalist system operates, that is not an option. Low unemployment is only achieved during economic booms, an unmitigated economic boom leads to crisis of overproduction, crush of the economy. Currently, the fed has a policy of preventing full employment by manipulating interest rates. Thus, permanent unemployment of 4-5% at the minimum is the official policy.

      Delete
    3. Mao writes,

      Currently, the fed has a policy of preventing full employment by manipulating interest rates. Thus, permanent unemployment of 4-5% at the minimum is the official policy.

      We have a winner! I must say I'm surprised you're this forth coming Mao. What you've summarized is a key component in explaining why labor has been losing income share to capital since President Carter appointed Paul Volcker as chairman of the Fed. I happen not to know if Piketty covered this in his Capital or if he was all about just the rate of return to capital exceeding the rate of growth in the economy. I suppose Piketty must have discussed this but I rarely see this fundamental point -this buster of the Libertarian economic argument- being raised in mainstream discussions.

      We know from the Thatcher experiment the Milton Friedman theory that the rate of money supply growth should be pegged to the historic rate of economic growth was a failure. Central banks which control fiat currencies inevitably pick winners and losers- that's why they should be under democratic control. The alternative, a gold standard say, is guaranteed to favor capital over labor while reducing the economic growth rate below the (short and long run) potential economic growth rate.

      Delete
    4. I don't know if this is 'the key component'. It's a mechanism, technical device.

      And it seems that monetary manipulations do help smooths out the cycles - under the normal circumstances.

      It's the globalization that's been screwing things up recently, imo. You give me a cheap loan, and I use it buy a car made in Mexico - badaboom: monetarist simulus fails.

      In any case, apart from tightly controlled corporatist/paternalist economies (Switzerland, Singapore, Japan), high unemployment appears to be the essential, permanent feature.

      Delete
    5. Very few people in the world, especially since the Industrial Revolution began, do meaningful work, it certainly is not needed. Additionally, handouts are fine.

      Most so called blue states contribute more than they receive in taxes and vice versa with conservative-run states.

      As Bill Ward says "Give it all and ask for no return."

      Shifts in US manufacturing are largely due to technological advancements, globalization played a more minor role.

      Economics is not a science.

      Delete
    6. Sure, sure. Thank you for your bizarre talking points, dembot.

      Delete
    7. "People need meaningful work, not handouts."

      Best argument I've seen for a 100% Estate Tax in quite some time. Now let's make it happen.

      Delete
    8. Sure, sure. Real meaningful comeback.

      Delete
  2. "That said, those are horrible data."

    There's nothing 'horrible' about it, Bob. People learn things they need to survive and prosper in their environment.

    Assuming that your "black students" is a euphemism for children growing up in a ghetto, it seems rather obvious that they simply don't need any of the school subjects. The streets teach them everything they need.

    And incidentally, you, Bob, with all your education, probably wouldn't survive a full month in their environment. Have you been left behind?

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  3. Somerby seems to think that because there is no test prep for the NAEP, those 4th grade scores must be especially accurate. There is a problem with this reasoning. In 4th grade, many students do not understand that test scores will determine their future. They don't consider tests very important. They are not particularly motivated to do well on them. They may stop answering questions quickly when they lose interest in the test. They may be bored to start with and not try very hard to do well. They may get distracted and doodle on their scratch paper or daydream. And if they don't finish some questions, that counts against their score as much as if they had attempted them but done poorly. And no one goes back to analyze why they didn't do well -- no one looks at the pattern of their errors.

    When one's culture emphasizes doing well in school and older brothers and sisters may be talking about their test scores for college, when parents emphasize testing because they come from a culture where a single test determines one's entire future career, things are different. Having over-involved parents who care about testing, all testing, supplies that missing motivation. If kids are punished at home for poor school performance, that supplies fear as a motivation. Some black children are punished by peers for performing well in school. Or even by relatives at home. They are teased for having academic aspirations, or even bullied. They are urged not to make others "look bad" by doing well.

    So Somerby's assumption that the NAEP is unaffected by "test prep" is wrong. And it gets worse as kids get older and become more aware of the significance of testing and school performance. Schools try hard to create a culture where kids can do their best and need not conceal their abilities, but it may be an up hill battle when they are surrounded by people trying to protect their egos by devaluing educational achievement. Asian kids have different problems, especially if they are struggling at school.

    Somerby pretends that tests are not reflective of cultural differences and show nothing but neglect of black kids by our culture, indifference toward their success. Does he think Asian kids are soaking up all of that interest, benefitting too much from teachers who like them better? But wouldn't that have to be true to account for the stronger performance of Asian kids compared to white kids?

    If you listen to Somerby, you will think that African American adults cannot succeed in jobs and life because their NAEP scores are so low. You will be unaware of the increasingly large numbers of students who attend and graduate from colleges nationwide, and you will be unaware of the growing black middle class, rising salaries and growing job opportunities. You will think that all black kids are doomed to live in ghettos where they inevitably fall into crime and gangs, as depicted in The Wire. Because NAEP scores are destiny and kids with low math or reading scores never catch up, never succeed, cannot be anything worthwhile. That's Somerby's bottom line, the one he uses to belabor liberals about their uncaring neglect of black kids.

    Not to get all psychoanalytic, but I think Somerby is projecting his own feelings onto those poor black kids because of the ways he was treated when he became a second class citizen, first in the excellent schools of Palo Alto, and then at Harvard University, where he had to repeat his philosophy courses in summer school because he was too dumb to do the work in the first place.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
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      Delete
    2. As usual, CMike cannot say anything in his own words.

      Delete
    3. Somerby seems to think that because there is no test prep for the NAEP, those 4th grade scores must be especially accurate.

      I don’t know what TDH thinks or even what he seems to think Neither do you. I know what he writes, and he writes that NAEP is the “gold standard” for testing educational progress. Do you have sources that say otherwise?

      In 4th grade, many students do not understand that test scores will determine their future. They don't consider tests very important. They are not particularly motivated to do well on them. They may stop answering questions quickly when they lose interest in the test. They may be bored to start with and not try very hard to do well. They may get distracted and doodle on their scratch paper or daydream.

      And you know this how? And do these doodlers affect the gaps?

      When one's culture emphasizes doing well in school … things are different. … If kids are punished … fear as a motivation…. teased …or even bullied. They are urged not to make others "look bad" by doing well.

      And you know this how? You realize, do you not, that NAEP test takers never find out their scores. Your stereotyping falls under the rubric, “Black Anti-intellectualism,” and there’s a healthy debate (at least online) about it.

      So Somerby's assumption that the NAEP is unaffected by "test prep" is wrong.

      A brief stint in the google doesn’t reveal a test prep business for NAEP. The most I can find are practice tests students can take on their own.

      Somerby pretends that tests are not reflective of cultural differences and show nothing but neglect of black kids by our culture,

      No, that’s you pretending that you know what TDH pretends. TDH often talks about the brutal history of African-Americans.

      Does he think Asian kids are soaking up all of that interest, benefitting too much from teachers who like them better?

      Who knows what TDH thinks about Asian kids and their teachers? And why would anyone care? TDH is writing about gaps in test scores.

      If you listen to Somerby, you will think that African American adults cannot succeed in jobs and life because their NAEP scores are so low.

      No, that’s you listening to your inner ignoramus. And stop telling me what I will think.

      You will be unaware of the increasingly large numbers of students who attend and graduate from colleges nationwide, and you will be unaware of the growing black middle class,….

      Stop telling me what I’m aware and unaware of. I know about the black graduation rate from college, so I know there are many black college graduates. I also know that graduation rate is significantly lower than that of other groups.

      You will think that all black kids are doomed to live in ghettos where they inevitably fall into crime and gangs, as depicted in The Wire.

      Stop telling what I think. Especially since I’ve never watched The Wire.

      Because NAEP scores are destiny and kids with low math or reading scores never catch up, never succeed, cannot be anything worthwhile. That's Somerby's bottom line,….

      No, that’s your fear of what people will think. NAEP isn’t about individual success or worth. It’s about measuring the effectiveness of education for groups of students.

      Not to get all psychoanalytic, but I think Somerby is projecting his own feelings onto those poor black kids because of the ways he was treated when he became a second class citizen,…. Harvard University, where he had to repeat his philosophy courses in summer school because he was too dumb to do the work in the first place.

      You think that it’s Somerby who’s projecting? Bwahahahahahahaha!
      I know the rest is supposed to be clever snark, but you don’t know much about Harvard, especially from Somerby’s era, do you? The hardest thing is getting in. Then it’s four years of coddling and being told how smart you were to get in.

      Delete
    4. So your point is.....? idk

      Reducing TDH to merely stating "NAEP is the “gold standard” for testing educational progress" seems myopic.

      Delete
    5. If you @1:52P are the same Anonymous as the one @12:34, my point is that you're arguing with somebody, but it's not TDH. Almost nothing you say has anything to do with his blog post.

      TDH isn't merely stating that NAEP is the "gold standard"; he's quoting people in the ed biz, who think it's the most carefully constructed and scored of assessment tests. This doesn't mean the test is perfect or that no one should question its use. But to dismiss it because TDH quoted experts seems moronic.

      Delete
    6. An assertion backed by evidence:

      Trump is successful at accumulating wealth

      Not particularly dispositive however.

      Whatever points TDH or his fanboys are making, they tend not to be especially well-defined, or at least seems that way.

      Responding to the "Fine Tuning" Argument for God (Sean Carroll)

      Delete
  4. According to the NAEP long term trends:

    1978
    Black, age 9, average scale score, long-term trend mathematics: 192
    2012
    Black, age 9, average scale score, long-term trend mathematics: 226

    That’s a significant increase.

    Is that because of improved schools?

    The score for white students over that time frame went from 224 to 252. That is a somewhat smaller increase (28) than for black students (34), but shows the initial achievement gap essentially persisted.

    Is that because of inadequate schools?

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    Replies
    1. Correlate the math scores with poverty rates and you will see whether it is because of improved schools or decreased poverty. Do the same for the white students. Many of them are poor too.

      I know you want to say that black students stay stoopid even when schools improve, but that isn't the right conclusion to draw from these stats. They stay poorer than white students even though poverty has decreased under Obama. Now that it is back on the rise (due to Trump), you will be able to track the effects on educational performance, if we are all still alive in the long-term.

      Of course, correlation is not causation, so you would have to manipulate poverty to see if it is causal of lower performance in math. Wouldn't it be interesting to get rid of poverty and see what happens with black kids (and white ones too)?

      Delete
    2. Somerby is the one who keeps pointing out achievement gaps, despite increased scores. He won’t share his opinions, do who knows what the stats mean? Won’t Rachel or Bob tell us what to think???

      Delete
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