THE "NO EXCUSES LEFT BEHIND" FILE: Digest of reports!

MONDAY, APRIL 8, 2019

Starting tomorrow, The seven percent illusion:
Let's talk about the vast majority of black kids in New York City. We refer to the many good, decent kids who won't be going to Yale.

No one in the pseudo-liberal world cares about these kids. That's especially true at the famously upper-class newspaper, the Hamptons-based New York Times. But it also seems to be true within the NAACP and in Mayor de Blasio's office.

Most black kids in New York City won't be going to Yale! To what extent will upper-end journalists deceive you about the lives and interests of these good decent kids?

By now, it should be abundantly clear that they'll con you all the way down. Consider what happened on March 19, when the New York Times' Eliza Shapiro was interviewed by Ailsa Chang on NPR's All Things Considered.

That morning, Shapiro had penned this front-page report about this year's admission offers to New York City's eight "specialized high schools." Shapiro focused on Stuyvesant High, the most high-powered and elite school in the whole elite, high-powered bunch.

Admission offers had just been sent. According to Shapiro, Stuyvesant had extended 895 offers, and the breakdown looked like this:
Admission offers to Stuyvesant High:
Asian-American students: 587
White students: 194
Hispanic students: 33
Black students: 7
Based on Shapiro's claim that 895 offers went out, that left 74 offers unaccounted for. This was apparently "close enough for New York Times front-page work."

In one obvious sense, those are jaw-dropping numbers. Later that day, Chang asked Shapiro why the number of admission offers for black and Hispanic students was so low at the eight high-powered schools as a group.

In response to Chang's question, Shapiro did what her guild almost always does. The Times reporter conned NPR listeners. She left no excuse behind:
CHANG (3/19/19): So what have been the explanations for why these stark racial disparities exist at these eight elite schools?

SHAPIRO: Yeah, so I think there's two things. The biggest issue here is test prep. We've seen the same debate with the SAT and ACT, certainly, in light of the college admissions scandal. There is a huge test prep industry in New York that prepares kids who are aware of the test to master it. So test prep is one. The other, which is related, is awareness. Some kids know about these schools from the minute they're in kindergarten. Some kids learn about the existence of the specialized high school system and the test to get into them a few months before they can sit to take the test.
Yes, she actually said that! Shapiro seemed to tell Chang that there are two major reasons for the disparity in admission offers: "test prep" and test "awareness."

And yes, she actually said this too: "The biggest issue here is test prep!" Every other explanation had been left behind!

Shapiro had left no excuse behind. It never even crossed her mind to tell Chang, and Chang's listeners, that black eighth graders in New York City seem to be, on average and at the highest levels, years behind their white and Asian-American counterparts in academic achievement.

As her upper-class guild almost always does, Shapiro simply disappeared that deeply important fact. On behalf of NPR, Chang agreed to pretend that Shapiro's answer made sense.

People like Shapiro have been telling stories like this for roughly fifty years. Is it possible that Shapiro thought she'd answered Chang's question in good faith?

We have no way of knowing! But if you were listening to All Things Considered, you were baldly misled that day. You were clownishly deceived by Shapiro as NPR's Chang cheered her on.

Chang and Shapiro agreed to mislead NPR's upper-end listeners. Let's make sure we understand who these star "journalists" are:

The award-winning Chang graduated from Stanford in 1998, then from Stanford Law School in 2001. In 2004, she received a master's degree in Media Law from Oxford. Later, she spent a year at the Columbia School of Journalism, where she learned how to stare into space as guests deceive listeners in approved tribal ways.

Shapiro is younger and less accomplished, but she's a master of the meritocratic universe too. She graduated from Columbia in the class of 2012, and according to the leading authority on her life, she comes from good sound stock:
Eliza's dad Michael Shapiro teaches at the [Columbia] J-school, while her mom Susan Chira is an assistant managing editor of The New York Times. Her uncle, Shakespeare scholar James Shapiro, and aunt, biology professor Jill Shapiro, also teach at Columbia.
That's just good sound upper-end breeding. Result?

Seven years after graduation from the family plantation, Shapiro was ready to go on NPR and con you all the way down. We wonder what her dad and her mom and her uncle and aunt think about such behavior.

By the way, how ridiculous can it get when tightly scripted meritocrats sell you their upper-class stories? Before Chang finished this gong-show segment that day, she tolerated such unintentional comedy as can be found in Shapiro's mumble-mouthed non-reply reply to this additional question:
CHANG: We've been hearing so much about disparities in access to top-tier education. I mean, you know, last week, the college admissions scandal dominated headlines. There's been this ongoing litigation over Harvard's treatment of Asian-American applicants. How would you say this story about New York City public high schools fits into this larger conversation we've been having?

SHAPIRO: I would say it helps raise the stakes of this debate. What we're really asking is who deserves admission into the best public schools in this country and the best, quote-unquote, "private universities." And it just seems like that debate, which has always, of course, been a facet of American life, but it seems like that debate is accelerating. And the outrage on both sides about the Stuyvesant numbers and the specialized high schools is only going to expand that debate towards elite public schools beyond just institutions of higher education.
Too funny! How does "this story about New York City public high schools" fit into the conversation about Harvard's admission procedures?

The actual answer is, of course, darkly humorous. Harvard is being pursued in court for keeping high-performing Asian kids out. At the same time, the New York City Public Schools are being assailed by the New York Times for failing to keep Asian kids out in the way Harvard has done!

That accurate answer would have involved a bit of "dark humor." For that reason, Shapiro offered a pile of script-friendly piddle and Chang, despite her three thousand degrees, didn't seem to notice.

Does Donald J. Trump make ludicrous statement about a range of topics and events? So do pseudo-liberal masters of the meritocracy! We refer to people like Chang and Shapiro, people like Harris and Gay.

Meanwhile, everyone understands this fact except us gullible liberals. This is a major reason why Donald J. Trump may win re-election next year.

Shapiro wasn't willing to tell NPR's listeners the truth. For the most part, those admission numbers break down the way they do because of such punishing data as these:
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
Those achievement gaps, which are very wide, already exist, on a nationwide basis, by the time kids are in the fourth grade.

Those unfortunate data, which come from the Naep, have nothing to with test prep. They define a major American problem—unless you don't give care about the lives and the interests of the vast majority of black kids, the ones who won't go to Stanford, Stanford Law or Oxford, or even to Columbia or Yale.

Chang and Shapiro were busy that day deceiving the public about the plight of those kids. In a world run by "rational animals," they would have been frogmarched out of the studio and told they must never return.

Instead, people like like Chang and Shapiro, and Harris and Gay, are allowed to misinform you every day about such topics as this. In the matter of those achievement gaps, no misdirection will be left behind!

They've been playing this game for the past fifty years. Last week, our reports on this appalling topic went exactly like this:
Tuesday, April 2: The New York Times doesn't seem to care. It's most black kids left behind!

Wednesday, April 3:
Mara Gay insults Asian-Americans. Look who's The Other now!

Thursday, April 4:
It's money and test prep, Mara Gay says. The Others are robbing us blind!

Friday, April 5: "A lot of people are focused on bettering, so to speak, all the schools." The most clueless remark of them all!
What should be done about Stuyvesant High? Starting tomorrow, we report on the mayor's proposal—"The seven percent illusion."

Sometimes, the gods try to tell us: From 2008 through 2009, Chang was a "Kroc Fellow" at NPR.

Fairness where due! Sometimes, through their skillful word play, the gods try to send us a clue!

44 comments:

  1. "It never even crossed her mind to tell Chang, and Chang's listeners, that black eighth graders in New York City seem to be, on average and at the highest levels, years behind their white and Asian-American counterparts in academic achievement."

    She's a dembot, and nothing ever crosses dembots' 'minds', Bob.

    There are only zombie talking points, to be repeated in an infinite loop. That's all.

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  2. In Somerby's perfect reporting world, should reporters answer this question by saying "Black kids just aren't up to doing the work in these schools?" or "Black kids are so far behind academically that they cannot compete." Is that even true? Not according to teachers who work with black kids interested in science. Not according to other kinds of performance measures besides a test created specifically to limit admittance to a special school.

    Somerby assumes that NAEP scores mean that black kids cannot do advanced academic work -- he assumes it means that even at the top end of the distribution black kids cannot do the work, so there is no point trying to gain admission for the best black kids academically speaking. He clearly believes that the scandal is not that talented black kids are being excluded, but that we aren't being told how bad black kids are in school.

    On what basis does he say this? He only cites NAEP scores, which do not speak to this issue. He doesn't say how he knows that there are no black kids who might benefit from inclusion in special high schools but who just missed the cut. He doesn't say why the needs of one group of black kids has to be pitted against the needs of another, in this case black gifted kids versus black kids who are struggling academically. He seems to assume that there are no gifted black kids. But is that true? How can it be when there are increasingly large numbers of black families in the middle classes, when black students are attending elite universities and moving into challenging professions and doing well in them?

    Somerby needs to put forward some evidence that black kids cannot do science before he assumes that the problem is that no black kids can do this work and the scandal is that we aren't being told that often enough so that we can be outraged at the failure of our schools, or society, or whatever he thinks such reporting would lead to.

    And if he thinks that the point is that black people are genetically inferior, a conclusion that could also be supported by these relentless screeds, he needs to stop hiding behind NAEP scores and say what he thinks, so that we can argue that directly.

    Note that very little of what Somerby says today is consistent with the report cited by someone yesterday, about empirical studies of the gaps, why they exist, the impact of schools, and the kinds of things we can do to help black kids. That report is worth discussing. Somerby's garbage is not.

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    1. Not according to other kinds of performance measures besides a test created specifically to limit admittance to a special school.

      What would those measures be? Whatever test you choose, be it the NAEP, local testing, IQ tests, SAT, they all bear the same results: blacks, as a whole, can't hang. And then you have real world performance where you have blacks -13% of the overall population- committing half the murders. Lest you pin that on our nation's brutal racist legacy, blacks now constitute 13% of London and -wait for it...... do commit half the murders.

      What Bob doesn't realize is that these people are all very well aware of all of this. That's precisely why they refuse to discuss it honestly. Discussing it honestly would mean coming to terms with black failure and its underlying causes, and that would be a stake in the heart of the modern religion of egalitarianism.

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    2. As I said yesterday, science fair projects, interviews, teacher recommendations, observation of participation in the classroom, portfolio assessments. There are lots of ways besides tests to evaluate student performance.

      Blacks are disadvantaged on tests due to stereotype threat -- again, see Claude Steele's work on this. Not to mention, test prep and awareness issues, which are a valid problem with testing.

      You aren't seriously suggesting that black high school science students are going to commit murders?

      Use of a test is a matter of administrative convenience. It is being used because it is hard for parents to argue with scores and thus easier to screen and limit competition for a scarce resource. No one thinks it is the best way to identify talented science students. Remember, it was the Intel Science Fair used to search for talent and award scholarships, not the Intel Science Test.

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    3. lots of ways

      Got any that aren't completely subjective or impossible to implement? 27,500 science fair project a year?

      While you're pulling the other one, remember that portfolio assessment and auditions are already used instead of SHSAT at LaGuardia High School for Music and Art and Performing Arts and that Stuyvesant isn't a STEM high school.

      Also, the stereotype threat only obtains when students understand ahead of the testing that the test will evaluate them against a stereotype of their group. NAEP scores don't apply to individual students, who will never even find out how they did on the test.

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    4. There is an implicit stereotype threat evoked every time a black child takes a test if they are aware of the stereotype that blacks are supposedly less able academically than white students, worse if they are aware that blacks are considered genetically inferior or stupid or otherwise expected to do poorly on tests. Since these ideas are part of our culture and legacy of racism, it is highly likely that every black child has encountered this and carries it around in his or her head. So how do you avoid it?

      You can use portfolios or science fair projects to decide among those who score near the cutoff, to make sure you are not arbitrarily eliminating students who might benefit. But you don't sound very motivated toward inclusion, so go ahead and keep defending current practices.

      As I said before, it doesn't matter for the current discussion what the specific names of these schools are or what they emphasize. The point is how to be fair toward minorities who face additional barriers to getting in that white students do not.

      Yes, lots of ways. But you don't want to believe the literature or teachers or anyone on this topic. Your main impulse seems to be to defend Somerby and attack others here. That spells troll.

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    5. Yes, lots of ways

      But none you can name that aren't subjective or impossible to implement. Like evaluating 27,500 science fair projects per year, which is both.

      I'm not attacking you or anyone else. I'm criticizing your ideas. Just as I do TDH's when I think he's wrong.

      You can't defend your claims, so that makes me a troll?

      That's contemptible.

      Delete
  3. Robert Conquest’s First Law of Politics:

    Everyone is conservative about what he knows best

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    1. Sorry, but that may sound good but it isn't true.

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    2. So there is no such thing as a Conservative economist or mathematician?

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    3. No, 11:09, that doesn't follow from what I said. David said "everyone" and that surely isn't true. Knowing something "best" doesn't make you conservative about that subject. Those who understand teaching and education best are not conservatives. They often call for change, which is what liberals are about. Similarly, people who know a subject well often make new contributions to it that can revolutionize their field or how others understand it. That isn't conservative. Those who know a field best are often more willing to try out new ideas and techniques -- that isn't conservative either. You have to know something "best" before you can experiment with it productively and experiment means change, not preserving the old ways of doing.

      But someone can know something best also without innovating. People who preserve a subject and teach it are also well-versed in that subject despite being conservative in their approach. I think conservativism is probably orthogonal to knowing and probably arises more from personality than knowledge states.

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    4. @11:41 You are correct, of course. Conquest's three laws of politics are meant as somewhat tongue in cheek. Although he used the word "everyone", he really only means that this happens frequently.

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  4. Most white kids won't go to elite universities. Most Asian kids won't either.

    Does this fact mean that no one is permitted to care about those that can aim for such universities? Does it mean that opportunities at the top can be arbitrarily and unfairly doled out, since it won't matter for MOST kids in every demographic group except the very top SES?

    In a society that calls itself democratic, equality of opportunity is a foundation because it ensures fairness to all who pursue their goals. Saying now, in an atmosphere where our national election was rigged by conservatives, that it is OK to rig other opportunities, is untenable. We are fighting to protect our institutions.

    So, yes, it does matter whether the test prep and awareness are present for all kids, and it matters whether the chance to get into the top science high schools exists for every child with the interest, motivation and willingness to work hard. Black or white or Asian or "Other."

    Cynicism doesn't belong in the field of education. Communicating cynicism to children is child abuse. Teachers are trained and expected to encourage effort and instill hope, optimism, strong motivation and work habits, along with academic knowledge and skills. It is what makes the job challenging.

    Today Somerby displays his failure as a teacher. It is probably a good thing that he took his talents elsewhere and didn't continue to infect his beautiful black pupils with his own malaise. But what on earth does he think he is doing with these daily columns? Nothing good.

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  5. As a thought experiment, let’s say that the New York City public schools were 100% white. And let’s say that the same situation existed: the bulk of admissions to the specialized high schools go to students at a small handful of the middle schools. Most students around the city miss the cutoff.

    Now, DeBlasio makes the same proposal: drop the test and make offers to the top students at every middle school in the city. Is it still objectionable? The kids who originally didn’t get offers but now do may go to poor schools or live in distressed neighborhoods or have challenging family or social situations.

    Obviously, in this case, the plan isn’t racist. It may kick some high-performing kids out, but that is in order to broaden the opportunity to all kids around the city.

    You can agree or disagree with this approach, but it’s that simple: give more kids the opportunity to attend the specialized high schools. That is what DeBlasio has in mind, rather than racial quotas.

    Notice I said “kids”, not black/Hispanic/Asian etc. It is unfortunate that people’s thoughts so often turn to race, but that is what happens. Somerby isn’t helping by his relentless focus on race and how one race compares to another. That might serve to fuel the demagoguery, especially when he insists on bringing politics into his discussion. He should instead emphasize that the discussion should be about creating opportunities for everyone.

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    1. Is it racist to drop the test and make offers to the top students at every middle school in the city? That policy appears fair, but it has racist intent. It's designed to admit more black students and fewer Asians and whites. For this reason, I was surprised that the similar plan used by the U. of Texas passed legal muster.

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    2. Is it racist to...

      No.

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    3. "That policy appears fair"

      That 'policy' appears stupid, as less qualified will be accepted and better qualified rejected.

      And susceptible to being gamed, so that the proclaimed liberal feel-good goal is unlikely to be achieved anyway.

      "...but it has racist intent."

      I'd say: De Blasio pretends being a racist, but the only intent there is to further De Blasio's career.

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  6. Somerby is apparently never going to discuss his own thoughts about the achievement gaps, their causes and solutions.

    A few thoughts: what effect has school choice had, including charter schools, on traditional public schools?

    Is socioeconomic status truly strongly correlated to academic performance? If so, are there mitigating factors?

    Is early childhood education recognized as an important effort in raising academic achievement in later years?

    If you believe poverty is a strong predictor of academic achievement, then how do you alleviate it? Democrats, and the “liberal elite”, believe in reducing income inequality. That can help.

    If you believe early childhood and pre-K programs are helpful, then famous “liberal elite” Hillary Clinton has her “Too Small to Fail” program through the Clinton Foundation (praised by Somerby in previous posts), DeBlasio implemented universal pre-K in NYC (https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/31/nyregion/de-blasio-universal-pre-k.html), Elizabeth Warren (among others) supports nationwide universal childcare.

    DeBlasio also implemented the “Renewal” plan for NYC schools. It was expensive, but some of its ideas seem good. It is being dropped after only two years, and critics say it didn’t work and was too expensive. Fixes to education cannot possibly “work” within such a short time frame. And any proposed plan is going to cost money to implement. It’s a tired trope that “you can’t throw money at the problem.” Most solutions that have a real chance at working are going to cost money.

    You can certainly decide, as Somerby does, that attempts at integration are misguided without vilifying the proponents of integration. You can also be more fair when attacking a particular group of people by acknowledging the positive things they have done or that they support. And it wouldn’t hurt to weigh in on the debate.

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    1. Wyatt Cenac's "Problem Areas" on HBO started with labor issues. He pointed out the chronic low salaries of educators and the lack of progress since the 1950s (and probably well before that), exploring causes for it and teacher efforts to improve both their own pay and resources for their schools.

      Changing the public's attitudes toward teachers and funding for schools seems to rest in part on whether you believe schools matter to learning. As long as people believe that innate ability and not school efforts is responsible for success, there will be little enthusiasm for increased funding of schools.

      That cite that was posted yesterday discusses the relative contribution of schools to closing racial gaps. I think we all should read it several times, including Somerby, because it establishes some common facts about these complexities, a baseline for what is known.

      I have never understood why people won't fund preventative measures that create lasting improvement across the lifespan. Businesses think short term but public administration should build for the future by investing in people. I voted for Hillary because she understood that.

      The austerity measures following 2008 financial meltdown strongly affected education and our schools need to be made whole again, just to bring them back to previous levels. But a larger question is why the money was taken from efforts to help children, when the impact of those deprivations will come back to haunt us during future decades when the challenges in daily living are sure to be greater. How could we steal from our kids that way?

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    2. Somerby is apparently never going to discuss his own thoughts about the achievement gaps, their causes and solutions.

      Because this isn’t a blog about improving education. It’s about the failure of journalists and politicians to have an honest and informed discussion about education.

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    3. And the comments are about the failure of Somerby to have an honest and informed discussion about education too. Because that's what people reading here tend to care about, not Rachel Maddow's TV set. Harassing commenters for wanting to talk about education seems counterproductive given the things most liberals (and this is ostensibly a liberal blog) tend to care about. Hint: journalism isn't high on that list and "fake news" isn't on it at all, despite Somerby's best efforts to undermine journalism here.

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    4. 2:25 PM,

      Why do those of you who care so much about the subject of education spend your time here if you're so dissatisfied with Bob Somerby's posts? And rather than whine about what Somerby is writing about, why don't all of you start threatening to withhold your subscription fees? That'll get his attention.

      Or, better yet, find some blog that's devoted to financial issues and start complaining in the threads there about how that's not the subject you care about, that when you go there you want to find an informed discussion about education.

      (Oh, and in case you're confused it's deadrat, not Somerby, who's "harassing" you poor dears.)

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    5. I suspect that Somerby is deadrat and vice versa.

      I write here because I wouldn't want anyone reading this blog to be left only with Somerby's opinions, especially misled into thinking he is actually liberal or representative of liberal views. He is writing stuff in support of Trump and conversatives.

      If Somerby agreed to never call his blog liberal or to refer to himself as liberal, or ever say "us liberals" again, I would happily leave here and not miss it at all.

      But the problem is that Somerby is part of the disinformation campaign that put Trump into the White House. There is another election coming up and we must fight for our institutions, including defending truth where it is being undermined by lies. Some of those lies come from this blog and they are being told in a way that will confuse unsuspecting readers about who liberals are and what they believe.

      Somerby used his supposedly liberal stance to undermine Hillary, suggesting by his example that it was OK for Democrats to dislike her deeply flawed campaign and to vote for a third party, or not vote. He declared his support for Bernie and then never switched to Hillary in the general election, damning her with reluctant support just as Bernie did. That was unforgivable given the outcome of the election.

      I don't know Somerby well enough to know why he did that or why he continues to give support to conservative memes and beliefs, but it is clear he is doing so. That means it is our duty to contradict what he says because his former credible means he will be believed by those not paying close attention. If he wants to stop, I will happily stop too.

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    6. Got a link to where Somerby declared for Bernie or indicated he wouldn't support Hillary?

      4:59 PM, you seem like one of those run of the mill New Democrat Resister types- got any links for how Somerby is both a racist and a Russian inspired Black Lives Matter activist?

      Anyway, keep up the essential work of alerting the thirty or forty people who read these threads about the danger Somerby poses to the neo-liberal project.

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    7. And the comments are about the failure of Somerby to have an honest and informed discussion about education too.

      But it’s the stated goal (not to mention the responsibility) of those whom TDH criticizes to discuss education. That’s neither TDH’s goal (nor his responsibility) to do so. Now, you may think TDH’s choices are misguided, but it’s his blog, so I think he gets to talk about what he wants to talk about.

      TDH writes as a disgruntled liberal about the failures of “liberal media” (i.e, not the right-wing state propaganda machine). Clearly, he doesn’t care what his commenters post, but why write in about off-topic things that “liberals … tend to care about”? Liberals care about economic policy and voting rights too, but those topics are as out of place here as the Mumbai Movers and the spell casters.

      Do you think that criticism is necessarily undermining? That doesn’t sound like a liberal position to me. Possibly you think that TDH’s criticism is unfair, but you don’t write about that. Instead you complain that he’s not talking about what you want to talk about.

      And harassing? Dear me, you have a very low bar for that.

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    8. 4:59 PM writes:

      I suspect that Somerby is deadrat and vice versa.

      Let me check with the "deadrat" persona ("Bob Somerby" pretends to have a weak grasp of math.) That quote would be an example of the commutative property of equality, wouldn't it?

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    9. I am not 4:59, but Somerby doesn’t confine himself to liberal media. He implicates all liberals in his criticism. That is clear from the history of his blogging. What do you think he means when he says things like “we liberals don’t care about black kids?” (From a previous post, stated many times over). I take that in its simple, clear meaning, not as a stand-in for “liberal media.” When I object in comments that liberals do care, and I show some examples, I am told that he isn’t really talking about liberals but the “liberal media”. And that is total bullshit. He has stated that supporting integration is liberal virtue signaling. I find that offensive and wrong. And then the Somerby defenders tell me I am being pouty or overly sensitive and/or tell me to leave the blog. The defenders seem awfully defensive to have their guy criticized. Maybe it’s you who wish to squelch the debate.

      And why of all things does Somerby single out education? He must find it important. But his discussion doesn’t generate much information or interest in the topic.

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    10. Are there any liberal or progressive teachers, underpaid in underfunded inner-city schools who go to work each day to teach and thereby demonstrate they care about black kids?

      I don’t think you’d find many people who would answer no that question, so the line “we liberals don’t care about black kids” is likely provocative hyperbole. I call this ploy the argument from action: I don’t care what you claim; your true feelings are revealed by your actions.

      Let’s try several examples beyond this blog:

      If liberals cared about good journalism, the TRMS would be off the air instead of winning the Feb ratings. Now, not all liberals concern themselves with Rachel Maddow, but over 3M viewers per night isn’t a bad cross-section of cable viewers.

      If white liberals cared about race relations, then the Northam med school yearbook flap would have been dismissed immediately as the inconsequential nonsense that it was.

      If liberals can organize effective boycotts of Rush Limbaugh, why has Maureen Dowd been able to lead an almost-unscathed media life in the NYT seemingly forever?

      I don’t whether you’re pouty, but I don’t think you’re overly sensitive. Just overly literal minded.

      I, for one, never tell anyone to leave the blog’s commentariat. I often wonder out loud in print why people remain commenters on a blog that refuses to meet their expectations. Doesn’t that strike you as strange?

      You ask why TDH singles out education, and then answer your own question: “He must find it important.” Does he need further justification?

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    11. That means it is our duty to contradict what he says because his former credible [sic] means he will be believed by those not paying close attention.

      @4:59: Comrade, your dedication to the cause has been reported with favor in dispatches to the Central Committee.

      The friend of my enemy is my enemy!

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    12. CMike,

      Let’s assume that we both, along with Bill Clinton, understand what the meaning of is is, namely, “is the same person as,” which is an equivalence relation. This, in turn, implies that the relation is symmetric:

          if A is B, then B is A.

      Thus if Somerby is me, then I am automatically Somerby, so there’s no need to indicate vice versa.

      Commutativity is usually reserved for binary operators that give the same answer regardless of the order of their operands. For example, integer addition. The operators are functions, not just relations.

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    13. @4:59P,

      You think I’m Bob Somerby’s sock puppet? Too funny.

      I think it’s obvious that Somerby doesn’t read his commentariat, let alone waste time writing for it. Why would he? Just look at it, abandoned to ads for Mumbai Movers and spell casters, not to mention comments entirely in Arabic. And those are the good responses. The rest include abusive posts from that self-admitted troll, Mao and the commentariat’s village idiot, David in Cal, not to mention the clueless who refuse to consider what the blog is about and the delusional fools who think the blog a right-wing effort to undermine truth, justice, and the American way.

      But then if I were Somerby, maybe that’s what you’d expect me to say. I can’t prove I’m not Somerby. After all, on the internet, nobody can tell whether you’re really an obsessive curmudgeon from Baltimore.

      If I am Somerby, you’ll have to admit that it’s quite the performance. In an attempt to distract from my “real” identity, I call myself “the slowest boy in the class” when I post about physics. I ridicule myself for failing to understand mathematics in general and mathematical logic in particular. I take myself to task for misquoting Aristotle, andI criticize my more ridiculous assertions like journalists “sliming” Asian-American families.

      But then, maybe that’s only what you’d expect.

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    14. deadrat isn't Somerby. deadrat just runs interference for Somerby. It's similar to how Mao runs interference for the Establishment Elite.

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  7. "Sometimes, the gods try to tell us: From 2008 through 2009, Chang was a "Kroc Fellow" at NPR.

    Fairness where due! Sometimes, through their skillful word play, the gods try to send us a clue!"

    Would someone please explain to me what the clue is and what the skillful wordplay is.

    Is Somerby mocking the name Kroc or is he mocking the name Chang? The Kroc fellowship, established by Joan Kroc, widow of the founder of McDonalds Corporation. It funds training of interns in journalism by NPR. Is Somerby making a juvenile joke about journalism being a crock? Is NPR a particularly bad place to get trained?

    Is he mocking Chang's name because Chang is talking about an education issue tangentially related to Asian students?

    What are the Gods trying to say? Is journalism training now somehow bad?

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    1. @1:02,

      The “skillful” word play is the pun on the name Kroc, which is a homophone for the word crock, a shortened form of the slang insult “crock of shit” to describe worthless nonsense.

      (I put the word skillful in scare quotes because I don’t think TDH is serious that such coarse and obvious — you seem to prefer juvenile — wordplay is especially clever.)

      “The gods” is a metaphor for the supposedly-apt coincidence that someone so bad at her job should have been awarded a fellowship with a name that sounds like someone who’s bad at her job.

      No, he’s not mocking the name Kroc because the pun doesn’t make sense for Kroc Fellows who are good at their jobs.

      No, he not mocking the name Chang. What gives you that idea?

      No, training in journalism isn’t bad. This is about one individual who fails in TDH’s view to be a good journalist despite her training.

      No, NPR isn’t necessarily a bad place to get trained. This is about one particular journalist’s alleged failure.

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    2. @deadrat
      Your reply makes sense, but Somerby is the blogger who recently called Vox the “Ezra Klein rag” and has previously stated that you can't “believe anything you read in the Times, no matter how straightforward and basic.” Your statement of his intention is rather more reasonable than many of his past sweeping judgments of news organizations would indicate. (I can’t find any similar sweeping statements about NPR, though).

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  8. I'm sure they're pleased as punch with how adept she is at fooling the goyim.

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  9. I continue to be amazed at how top news people can studiously ignore the huge gap between Asians and blacks. Bob's columns on this topic have become repetitive, but the issue is so important that I don't mind.

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    1. You probably are amazed, if you’re getting your idea of what top news people are saying or ignoring solely from Bob Somerby.

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    2. David, go read something about the history of China and pay particular attention to the institution of exams to select people for civil service positions in the government. It was an important route of upward mobility for Chinese people not born into nobility. Then go read something about career paths in modern Japan. Look at the importance of college placement exams at the end of high school, since corporations are associated with universities and entrance to a specific university determines one's entire subsequent career path. Then look at the existence of after-school schools whose purpose is to tutor kids so that they can excel in regular school. Look at the standards and expectations set by all parents for their kids, not just those in the 1% of the professions. Look at the way Japan defines educational success as a matter of hard work instead of talent.

      Then perhaps you will understand why there is a gap, not just between Asian and black students but also between Asian and white students. Then go read that Tiger Mom book and you will understand more about the difference in attitudes about education existing in many Asian homes. If you are motivated, you might also read some critiques of Asian education and the stifling of creativity and concern about lack of critical thinking and mental independence fostered by the Asian approach. Test scores don't measure everything important about learning.

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  10. It’s hilarious that a defense of Somerby put forward above is that hardly anyone reads his blog.

    He was once a small force to be reckoned with. Once.

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    1. I don't think that observation is a defense of TDH's positions, but rather a counter to the unsupported (and in my opinion, ludicrous) claim that the TDH is so influential that it could influence US electoral politics.

      Back in the day (or rather, the last century), TDH was a blogger pioneer, but I doubt he was every any kind of force to be reckoned with. His signature cause was the press malfeasance in reporting on Gore.

      And we know how that turned out.

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    2. I don't know how many people read the Howler. I do know people read the blog for thirteen years before it had any comment section at all.

      It has one now, but it's not moderated and therefore it's not one many people would care to wade through. It's my guess that only thirty or forty different people bother with these comment threads here with any regularity. I know, for instance, I've only looked at the comment section at Eschaton twenty or thirty times in total and I've read that blog daily for over fifteen years.

      I suppose there's a way to know precisely how many people are reading Somerby's posts with Google Analytics or some other such tracker. I, myself, read the blog posts at this site because I find Somerby's perspective unique and insightful, not because a lot of other people do or don't read the Howler.

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    3. I read TDH to be current on what is the latest Right-wing meme being propagated. Somerby delivers!

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    4. Yeah, I'm always reading on right-wing sites how the NAEP gaps are a problem.

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