Part 4—The skill of averting one’s gaze: It has been a clownish display, carried on for the past twelve years.
Again and again, our intellectual leaders have flown off to Finland. They hoped to define the miraculous practices in that nation’s schools.
Upon their return, these teams of “blind men” described different parts of the miraculous Finnish pachyderm.
Some pointed to the fact that Finland does have teachers unions. Others note the relative lack of standardized tests.
Others read the most standard script:
Finland’s miraculous teachers are drawn from the top third of their college classes! According to establishment scripting, that must be the practice which explains Finland’s miraculous test scores!
This has been the latest clownish display staged by our journalistic elites. That said, how miraculous are Finland’s schools?
As we recommended in yesterday's post, gaze upon the following scores from the 2011 TIMSS. How miraculous do Finnish teachers look as compared to our lunkheads now?
Average scores, Grade 8 math, 2011 TIMSSWe’re omitting one fact, of course. Those American scores on the TIMSS were recorded by white students only—by kids from our majority culture.
North Carolina: 563
United States: 530
That said, Finland has nothing but a majority culture. To its credit, Finland never created a despised minority within its population. To its credit, Finland never spent hundreds of years trying to eliminate literacy from one large segment of its population. And not only that:
For better or worse, Finland has a very small immigrant population. Immigrant children may tend to do well in school, depending on their culture of origin and their socioeconomic status. But other delightful, deserving immigrant kids may be heavily challenged when they leave a low-income home to attend a school in a land where they don’t speak the language.
They are beautiful children too. But they’re heavily challenged in school.
For better or for worse, Finland has very few immigrant kids. Its public schools don’t face the challenges created by our brutal racial history and by some of our immigration practices.
Finland is a unicultural nation. In Finland, it’s majority culture all the way down!
The chart we’ve posted above doesn’t create a perfect comparison. That said, it shows you how our public schools, even with our lunkhead teachers, perform among children who come from our nation’s majority culture.
In our view, those data might help you escape the notion that Finland is performing some sort of miracle within its public schools. And it might help you focus on “the gaps.”
As we showed you yesterday, children from our majority culture—so-called white children—tend to perform a lot like Finland on international tests. These are the relevant scores on the 2012 PISA, whose results were just released:
Average scores, math, 2012 PISA (15-year-old students)The PISA is the international test on which Finland tends to perform better and the U.S. tends to perform worse. Even there, our white students only scored about one third of a year behind the Finns on last year’s math test.
Finland, all students: 519
United States, all students: 481
United States, white students only: 506
(Similar data are not yet available for the PISA’s reading and science tests.)
That’s how U.S. kids scored on the 2012 PISA. On the 2011 TIMSS, white students in this country outscored Finland in math! Our average scores include our Appalachian kids; our poverty kids; our kids from states or regions where anti-intellectualism may be somewhat strong.
If our white kids can outscore Finland, must we really keep pretending that Finland is working miracles in its public schools? Do we really have to continue with this elite-driven bullroar?
Let’s return to the data we’ve shown you in the past two days:
You haven’t seen these data this week (or ever!) for an obvious reason. In this country, no one actually cares about this. And we still seem to despise our black kids; few things could be much more obvious.
Why do we tend to score in the middle among OPEC nations on the PISA? (We tend to score higher on the TIMSS.) In large part, we score in the middle because of the gaps—gaps which are painful to look at.
The gaps are painful, and nobody cares, so they are rarely discussed. But good grief! This is what math scores look like on the TIMSS after disaggregation:
Average scores, Grade 4 math, 2011 TIMSSIn those data, you see the horrible gaps which exist within our student population.
United States, Asian-American students: 583
United States, white students: 559
Finland, all students: 545
United States, all students: 541
United States, Hispanic students: 520
United States, black students: 489
Average scores, Grade 8 math, 2011 TIMSS
United States, Asian-American students: 568
United States, white students: 530
Finland, all students: 514
United States, all students: 509
United States, Hispanic students: 485
United States, black students: 465
We know—you’re getting angry now. This is easily the most racist thing you’ve ever seen in your life!
Keep it up! That’s the way people like you show how much you hate black kids.
What does it mean to be scripted—to be brainwashed, clueless, unknowing, uncaring, ruled by narrative pimped by elites? In part, it means this:
To his credit, Chris Hayes devoted three segments to PISA scores on Tuesday and Wednesday nights. But uh-oh! Amid all the gloom concerning the PISA, no one ever noted the contrast provided by TIMSS scores, on which American students do better.
Your script-writers want you discussing the PISA; they want you ignoring the TIMSS. This edict was widely followed this week—all over the TV dial, all through the world of print.
(Kevin Drum quickly provided the contrast. So did a very few others.)
What else does it mean to be scripted? In part, it means that you refuse to look at the backwash of our nation’s brutal racial history, which no one living created.
We liberals don’t like to talk about race, except when we’re scattering R-bombs around the countryside. In truth, we don’t know how to talk about race when it comes to gaps like these.
We don’t know how to talk about race in this context because our intellectual leaders have never cared enough to figure out how and to show us. In truth, they don’t know how to discuss this either. They urge us toward talk about income and poverty, which clouds large parts of this issue.
(When they tell us to talk about income and poverty, they often hand us bogus comparisons. Given the state of our intellectual culture, this is thoroughly par for the course. See our last two posts in this series.)
As we noted on Wednesday, family income correlates strongly with achievement in our schools. But our nation’s brutal racial history trumps even those correlations.
What do we mean by that? Consider a breakdown by income and race on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (the NAEP), our most reliable domestic testing program.
(Our only reliable domestic testing program.)
The NAEP provides data which let us disaggregate test scores by income. This lets us compare scores by kids who qualify for free or reduced price lunch (FRPL) with scores by kids who don’t qualify.
(Given the state of our intellectual culture, you are constantly being told that FRPL is a measure of “poverty,” which it plainly is not. Within our intellectual culture, all misstatement is permitted, no matter how blatant or obvious.)
That said, the NAEP lets us compare scores by family income, using those two categories. (Below, we'll refer to them as “higher income” and “lower income.”) For the record, roughly half of American students currently qualify for free or reduced price lunch, which isn't a measure of poverty.
The NAEP lets us compare scores by income. When we do so, these horrible gaps are found:
Average scores, Grade 8 math, 2011 NAEPOn the NAEP, ten points is often said to correspond, very roughly, to one academic year.
All students: 283
White students, higher income: 299
White students, lower income: 278
Hispanic students, higher income: 280
Hispanic students, lower income: 266
Black students, higher income: 273
Black students, lower income: 258
Asian-American students, higher income: 313
Asian-American students, lower income: 286
After making that breakdown by income, the gaps between white and black kids is painful to see. At this point, a person has to start explaining these gaps.
In our view, part of the explanation involves our brutal racial history. Part of the explanation involves ongoing educational practices.
For ourselves, we’d put more weight on the brutal history, less weight on the ongoing practices. But you can’t begin to discuss American schools if you don’t understand the size of the gaps found within our schools.
As we’ve noted many times, those gaps have gotten smaller in the past few decades. Also: According to the NAEP, black kids are scoring much better in reading and math than was the case a few decades ago.
That is superlative news. But we liberals care so little about any of this that you can’t make us state even that fact.
Admit it! You have never seen anyone on MSNBC, or at Salon, note that very important fact: Black kids are scoring much better in reading and math than was the case in the past.
Simply put, our tribe doesn’t care about black kids, unless they live in Newtown or in Lawrence’s case in Malawi. In the next two weeks, we will continue to unspool this theme.
As we close today, let us describe your reaction to this particular post. You’ve never seen anything quite so racist as what appears above!
You’re sputtering at the data we’ve posted. Let us explain your fury:
It involves a fact you may not understand. You come from within a liberal culture which turned its back on black kids decades ago.
The liberal world quit on black kids a long time ago. As part of that abandonment, you’ve seen little discussion about the lives black kids lead within our schools, where they lower U.S. average scores as we liberals fail to discuss why in the world this is happening.
No one wants to discuss those gaps, which are very painful to see.
Within the mainstream, it’s more fun to peddle the tale about the Finnish miracle. It’s much more fun to get on the plane for that free week in Finland!
For twelve years, they’ve taken the trip to non-miraculous Finland—where, to their eternal credit, the Finns never created the types of problems we prefer not to discuss.
Coming in the next two weeks: The things you didn’t hear this week.
Also, Ripley and Goldstein on “tracking.” Beyond that, how is a “Common Core” supposed to work in a country with gaps like ours?
You’ve never seen that last question asked! Do you understand why that is?