THE ROLE OF THE GAPS: In low-income high schools!

TUESDAY, JUNE 10, 2014

Part 2—Depression, disorder, despair: Bill Gates, a college dropout, has no background in public education.

After spending his early years at Seattle’s View Ridge Elementary School, Gates never attended a public school, let alone taught in one. There has never been the slightest sign that he has the slightest idea how such entities work.

On the brighter side, Gates has mountains of cash, and an apparent belief that he understands public schooling. Given the modern cultural context, he’s surrounded by unimpressive “elites” who go through life with both hands out:

One hand is out for receiving their cash. The other hand is used for receiving their scripts.

In Sunday’s Washington Post, Lyndsey Layton described the way these hapless elites are helping Gates “reform” the nation’s schools. At issue was his recent drive to establish the Common Core, a set of grade-level “standards” for large groups of kids who may have little in common.

As she starts, Layton describes the way Gates, a perfect mark, got conned into thinking the Common Core was an important idea. In the following passage, she describes one of the three million ways he spread his money around:
LAYTON (6/8/14): The [Gates] foundation, for instance, gave more than $5 million to the University of North Carolina-affiliated Hunt Institute, led by the state’s former four-term Democratic governor, Jim Hunt, to advocate for the Common Core in statehouses around the country.

The grant was the institute’s largest source of income in 2009, more than 10 times the size of its next largest donation.


The Hunt Institute spent $437,000 to hire GMMB, a strategic communications firm owned by Jim Margolis, a top Democratic strategist and veteran of both of Obama’s presidential campaigns. GMMB conducted polling around standards, developed fact sheets, identified language that would be effective in winning support and prepared talking points, among other efforts.

The groups organized by Hunt developed a “messaging tool kit” that included sample letters to the editor, op-ed pieces that could be tailored to individuals depending on whether they were teachers, parents, business executives or civil rights leaders.
Life is good if you’re funded by Gates! You don’t even have to compose your own letters to the local paper. With one hand you accept your cash payments. With the other, you cut-and-paste the sample letters you’ve been handed—or even an op-ed piece!

Everyone has been in on this game, including “educational experts” of both the “left” and the “right.” As Layton notes, even teachers unions and civil rights groups have been taking this swag.

Can we talk? There has never been the slightest sign that Gates is insightful about public schools. That said, he does have plenty of cash, and the country is full of hacks who are eager to grab it and spend it.

Layton does a very good job reporting the way the money flowed as Gates pushed the Common Core through the various states. On the down side, she never notes the logical flaw at the heart of this project.

Given our giant achievement gaps, how is any set of grade-level “standards” supposed to guide the education of all kids in a given grade? For those who have never set foot in a low-income school, this obvious question may not come to mind. As we noted yesterday, we’ve been asking this obvious question for the past quite a few years.

For now, forget the Common Core. How can any set of grade-level “standards” span our enormous gaps?

For detached non-observers like Gates, this obvious question might not occur. But in Sunday’s New York Times, someone who is deeply involved in our public schools described the role of the gaps.

The writer was Robert Balfanz. He’s an education professor at Johns Hopkins, director of the Everyone Graduates Center.

Needless to say, everyone doesn’t graduate from our public high schools. In his piece, Balfanz describes the struggles which occur within many schools.

His piece was called THE GREAT DIVIDE. That headline refers to the very large gaps which divide the nation’s students well before ninth grade:
BALFANZ (6/8/14): This month, more than three million high school students will receive their diplomas. At more than 80 percent, America’s graduation rate is at a record high. More kids are going to college, too. But one-third of the nation’s African-American and Latino young men will not graduate.

In an era when there is virtually no legal work for dropouts, these young men face a bleak future. It is not news that the students who don’t make it out of high school largely come from our poorest neighborhoods, but the degree to which they are hyper-concentrated in a small set of schools is alarming. In fact, according to new research I conducted with my colleagues at Johns Hopkins University, half of the African-American boys who veer off the path to high school graduation do so in just 660 of more than 12,600 regular and vocational high schools.

These 660 schools are typically big high schools that teach only poor kids of color. They are concentrated in 15 states. Many are in major cities, but others are in smaller, decaying industrial cities or in the South, especially in Georgia, Florida and North Carolina.

This seemingly intractable problem is a national tragedy...
In our view, the focus on those 660 schools may be a bit misleading. It may suggest that these struggling students would fare substantially better in other high schools.

That supposition may be true, but it’s far from obvious.

Balfanz works in a program to keep these struggling students “on track,” presumably for graduation. A bit later, he provides a cursory look at the size of the gaps, and at the role these punishing gaps play within these low-income schools:
BALFANZ: It is not unusual for up to half the students [in these high schools] to miss a month or more of school, and often more students are suspended in a year than graduate. In a 22-school sample that we studied closely, nearly all ninth-grade students were either too old for their grades, had repeated ninth grade, needed special education, were chronically absent or had academic skills at the seventh grade level or below. The norm in this environment is to fail classes and then repeat ninth grade. But most students do no better the second time around. Either they drop out then or they may briefly transfer to another school before dropping out later. This is a highly predictable, almost mechanical course, which is why we call those schools dropout factories.
According to Balfanz, “nearly all ninth-grade students” in the study he cites “were either too old for their grades, had repeated ninth grade, needed special education, were chronically absent or had academic skills at the seventh grade level or below.”

We will suggest that the key words there may be the words “or below.”

How far below the seventh-grade level might the skill levels be? Could some ninth-graders, who may be tenth grade by age, be functioning at fifth-grade level?

Everything tells us the answer is yes; our achievement gaps are very wide. Yet Bill Gates and his gang of hacks have spent the past several years trying to establish challenging “standards” for all the students in our ninth grades—for students who are doing quite well and for those who are floundering.

On its face, this makes little sense. That said, Gates, a college dropout, is quite sure that he is involved with a very important idea.

In the rest of his piece, Balfanz describes the ways his program tries to keep those struggling kids from dropping out of school. He doesn’t really try to describe the academic work these kids are doing. We’ll guess it differs from the work being down elsewhere in their regions by kids who, like Gates as a high school freshman, are on their way to Harvard.

Balfanz describes chronic absenteeism at those urban high schools, and high suspension rates. When he does, he is describing the depression, dismay and despair which may overtake the lives of kids who have been floundering in school since the earliest grades.

It’s no fun being confused every day in our public schools. Most adults don’t like the experience being confused and thrown in over their heads on some project. For children, the experience continues for years. This is humiliating and painful, a source of anger, dismay and despair.

How do kids get so far behind by the time they reach the ninth grade? How does the following situation come into being, the situation described by Eduardo Porter?

“In some public schools, children who are entering the sixth grade with the measured proficiency of first graders are mixed in with children who perform well above the sixth-grade standard.”

To state the obvious, those very large gaps don’t get their start in the ninth grade or even the sixth. But given the very large size of these gaps, the notion that they can be addressed by common sets of grade-level standards is, in a word, bizarre.

Tomorrow, we’ll go back to fourth grade to help explain how those gaps occur. On Thursday, we’ll retreat even farther, to the first years of life.

But make no mistake—as far “behind” as those ninth-graders may be, Gates and his minions are even more clueless. As privileged beings pursuing Big Scratch, it’s easy for them to disregard the role of our very large gaps.

Tomorrow: The role of the gaps in fourth grade


  1. Bob,

    I'm a big fan. Your work over the past 10 years has - no joke - opened my eyes to many things, and helped me become a much more critical thinker. I think that this post is one of your better ones about schools, and it clearly explains the problem.

    But I read these posts and I get a little discouraged because it seems like you're just throwing overripe tomatoes, rather than suggesting a solution. You've convinced me that the "education reform" racket is exactly that. (I'm learning more and more that just about everything is, in one way or another, a "racket.")

    But what's the solution? Universal pre-school, where kids get a chance to learn things that they don't learn at home? What has happened where that's been tried - has it made a meaningful dent in the education gaps that you're discussing? Are there other possible solutions?

    Anyway, thanks so much for the hard work that you do on this blog.

    1. Let us hope TDH gets around to addressing the issues you raise quickly instead of more tomato tossing.

      Perhaps he will do so faster than he picked up on your comment noting he was in error about D'Leisha Dent's inability to get into a 4 year college.

    2. The likelihood the "error" was picked up by Somerby reading his commenters here: Tiny.

      The importance of the "error" to the validity of the media criticisms Somerby raised: Nil.

      The value of the "error" in our little troll pond: Priceless.

    3. Right. The point Somerby was trying to make about D'Leisha Dent not getting into college was so insignificant that he kept making it every day.

      I will give him credit for this. He did eventually acknowledge that Dent did get into a four-year college. This stands in sharp contrast to Gov. Ultrasound who still hasn't been charged in this blog, nor to the Trenton-ordered traffic jams that still could be a "legitimate traffic study."

    4. This is not a "news" blog. If you want the latest information about Gov. Ultrasound or traffic jams, go back to the Drudge Report. This is a blog about the media.

    5. Are there other possible solutions?

      No, because progressives have destroyed social expectation that parents shouldn't abuse and neglect their children, the sole exception being that progressives will speak out if a father berates his son for playing with dolls or wearing dresses.

    6. Anonymous @ 12:12 you wrote:

      "The likelihood the "error" was picked up by Somerby reading his commenters here: Tiny."

      On what basis do you make that claim?

      Is it because it took between May 19 when Jonny pointed out her acceptance back in April of an offer to attend Miles College and June 4 when Bob acknowledged it, in between which time he became the laughinstock of his own comment box? or

      Is it because Somerby holds his readers in such disdain he does not care enough of their opinions to read their responses to his own work?

    7. Anonymous at 4:00 -- I can't speak for Somerby, but whenever I read the comments I can't help but feel disdain for his readers. If you want to argue that Bob sometimes "nitpicks" in his blog posts, I hope you realize that it's unfair to hold Bob (who isn't paid) to the same standards of accuracy as the professional journalists about whom he writes.
      In short, Bob's lack of knowledge that the girl actually had been accepted into a college has nothing to do with the point of what he wrote about, so why do so many commenters choose to make an issue of it?

    8. Once again, we get the "Bob's mistake had nothing to do with the point" completely ignoring the fact that he thought it was important enough to repeat day after day after day.

      So you tell me. When should we take him seriously? When is he saying something -- repeatedly -- that is actually important?

      And while you are at it, explain why it is unfair to hold Somerby to the same standards of accuracy that he demands of professional journalists?

      Because he's a rank amateur who doesn't what the hell he's talking about perhaps? Thanks for clearing that up.

    9. 1. His point was about the challenges faced by the kids in Dent's high school, and the girl's specific situation was merely an example. The fact that she was ultimately accepted into a college doesn't change the point of the discussion.
      2. Do you truly think it's fair to bitch about Bob's delay in learning a tangential fact, and to compare him unfavorably to journalists supported by large organizations?
      3. Like I wrote above, it's hard not to feel disdain for Bob's readers.

    10. Well, Johnny, if you have been reading Somerby ever since he went into this month-and-a-half, Bob's been all over the map. It is hard to discern any point at all, because they keep changing on a daily basis, like someone with no plan or outline, just random thoughts popping up in his head that he rushes to share with the world.

      Hannah-Jones focused on the effects of re-segregation and illustrated it with the story of three generations -- the grandfather who attended the segregated Central High, the mother who attended the integrated Central High, and D'leisha, who attended the re-segregated Central High.

      Bob first went into a rant about how Tuscaloosa schools aren't resegregated at all. Why, he even found photos on their Web site of black and white children playing happily together.

      Then we were told that D'Leisha's inability to get into a four-year college (after she had gotten in, of course) had something to do with a "brutal history" that he has never gotten around to, and nothing to do with re-segregation.

      That launched into more screeds about the wonderful gains black students have made on the NAEP test in both math and reading, ignoring reading and cherry-picking through math scores to produce the result he desired, while ignoring the fact that ALL students have made the same gains.

      This has led to a conflagaration of "gains" (good!) and "gaps" (bad!), and how the "media" never reports either, when a simple google search reveals that both have been widely reported for decades.

      Now Bob seems to be off "gains" but is off on "gaps" but his point seems to be to knock even the movement to reach a consensus on step-by-step standards for each grade level because that won't, in an of itself, solve the gap problem tomorrow.

      And of course, we know from long Howler history (dare we call it brutal?) that Bob is opposed to setting any standards at all.

      Way back more than a decade ago, he highlighted the story of a girl who was struggling to get her high school diploma because she was struggling with Algebra I. And the reason she was struggling with Algebra I in high school, according to Somerby, was that she wasn't taught pre-Algebra concepts in her middle school.

      And of course, reviewing that, we might wonder if a consensus of standards to teach pre-Algebra concepts in middle school might have addressed this girl's problems in high school.

      Except, of course, he would have called that setting the high jump bar at seven feet for kids who can't clear six feet.

    11. Anonymous at 9:40 - those are legitimate criticisms, I think. But those points are more substantive than the complaints that Bob was late to learn that Dent had been accepted into college.

    12. I am not sure whether to answer Jonny Scrum-half or Johnny Scrum-half.

      Your defense of Somerby is the always admirable excuse that his mistakes are defensible because he isn't paid and they don't detract from his point. I thought his whole point was that the media makes mistakes and repeats them over and over to support their memes.

      That written, the first answer came in the form of questions I posted to someone else, who said the chances Somerby learned of his mistake from your comment back in May are "tiny." I asked why he thought that in the form of two possiblilities.

      He did not answer. Neither did you.

      Bob posted over the weekend about a girl stabbed in Brooklyn. He cared enough to research how many times Salon covered this crime in a city where such crimes occur multiple times daily. When he found out they covered it, he criticized where they placed the coverage. I assume this was an effort to support his meme that liberals don't care about black kids. Yet he did not bother to research D'Leisha Dent, whose "plight" was a central feature of many, many of his posts. You did. He didn't.

      You posted the facts on his blog. His readers picked up on the error the day of your post. Yet he continued to post in error.

      Why do you think he does that? Does it indicate he thinks his readers are such contemptuous rubes he need not bother to read what they have to say?

    13. I don't know why I misspelled my own name, but in any event I wrote both posts.
      Of course, I can't answer your question because I don't know. However, I wouldn't blame Bob if he didn't read the comments here, which are very rarely substantive, constructive, enlightening or even comprehensible.
      Maybe I read this blog for different reasons than you (or others) do. I think that Bob has a unique voice, and as I wrote earlier in this thread he's caused my eyes to open quite a bit about a lot of things. If he makes an error here or there, or appears misguided or mistaken once in a while, or doesn't read the comments on his own blog, what do I care? I'm still being challenged by his posts, and that's good enough for me.

    14. Jonny, your wrote "If he....doesn't read the comments on his own blog, what do I care?"

      Then why did you address the opening comment in this box to this post to Bob personally. Why do you feel the need to tell him you "get a little discouraged because it seems like you're just throwing overripe tomatoes, rather than suggesting a solution"?

      It bothers me that those who profess to be Bob's admirers offer the defense that he doesn't read comments (which means he doesn't give a rat's patoot about them) then turn right around and address him personally in comments like he is Santa and can give them something or a Saint to whom they must express devotion.

    15. I'm beginning to think that I made a mistake in engaging with you. I addressed him in comments because for all I know he might read them. I didn't "offer the defense" that he doesn't read comments - I just said that I wouldn't blame him if he didn't.

    16. Bob first went into a rant about how Tuscaloosa schools aren't resegregated at all.

      No, try again, but this time pretend that you're defending TDH's point. Just as an exercise, mind you. Maybe you'll understand what TDH actually says instead of your parody of it. You can still disagree with him.

      This has led to a conflagaration [sic] of "gains" (good!) and "gaps" (bad!), and how the "media" never reports either

      Too bad that "conflagration" didn't set your comment on fire before you could post it. I think the word you were searching for is "conflation," but since TDH doesn't confuse gains and gaps, either you don't know what the word means or your reading comprehension is worse than I thought.

    17. deadrat, how bad, by a very rough rule of thumb, did you think his reading comprehension was?

      And not to set your brain aflame by conflating questions, do you think the fact that there have been universal gains but little recent change in gaps means educational legacy of the brutal history which plunged out nation into a conflagration a century and a half ago cannot be expunged?

  2. Which policies indicate that our elites given up on disadvantaged minorities? Social promotion, obviously. Because of social promotion, there are lots of minority kids who do graduate from high school but who may be almost as unprepared as the group who fail to graduate.

    Affirmative action in college admissions, in a more subtle way. Accepting minority students who are years behind their white and Asian schoolmates allows our educational system ignore the fact that their el-hi education isn't up to par.

    I also note that much of the education establishment was opposed to No Child Left Behind. No doubt the program had serious procedural flaws. Nevertheless, this was a real effort to teach the most needy of our students, yet the educators and the media were not behind it. It seems that George W. Bush is more compassionate than today's liberals.

    1. I also note the continued hard bigotry of low information indicates you have not given up real efforts to distort.

      "Accepting minority students who are years behind their white and Asian schoolmates allows our educational system ignore the fact that their el-hi education isn't up to par."

      This is factually unsupported racist nonsense.

    2. Support is everywhere. E.g., the 2004 NAEP age 17 achievement gap between white and black was 28 in math and 29 in reading. These differences roughly correspond to a 3 year gap. Asians do better than whites, so the black-Asian gap is bigger. See:

      These black graduates are recruited and admitted by colleges at similar rates to white students. It follows that many blacks enter college around 3 years behind their classmates.

      Here's more evidence: "At the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, for example, the average white admittee scored 230 points higher on the combined SAT (out of a possible 1600), 6 points higher on the ACT (out of a possible 36)," See:

      Must one be in denial to avoid being labeled a racist?

    3. David
      The "average" minority student does not go to college, so to use NEAP scores to suggest that minority students at universities are not qualified to attend is unsupported. Using SAT/ACT scores may suggest that white students are better prepared for college, but does not suggest that minority students are not qualified for university level work.

    4. So what's your point, David? That minority kids will always be behind non-minority kids so we should give up trying to close the gap?

      Or that we need new methods backed by new research to reach these kids, which is going to require more money?

    5. My point is that the process of admitting less-qualified minority students to college, hides the problem that minorities are not coming out of high school as well prepared as we would want. If hardly any minorities were being accepted by colleges, it would be more obvious that their high school preparation lags. Affirmative action is the wrong solution. The right solution is to fix el-hi education so that minority students don't need affirmative action in order to get accepted by colleges.

    6. You have no conception how affirmative action works in university admissions, and it does nothing to hide anything from anyone who does not already have their head so far up their ass you could hide a pachyderm in their bedroom.

  3. OMB (OTB Has Been Doing This For Years)

    " In his piece, Balfanz describes the struggles which occur within many schools.

    His piece was called THE GREAT DIVIDE. That headline refers to the very large gaps which divide the nation’s students well before ninth grade:" BOB Today

    No BOB. It wasn't called THE GREAT DIVIDE.

    It was called "Stop Holding Us Back."


    1. And actually, the piece wasn't about the very large gaps well before ninth grade, but how minority male students in a relative handful of poor school districts are underserved between the ages of 11 and 21, and thus disproportionately drop out of high school.

      Bob also has this habit of reading what he wants to read into a piece such as this, then linking to it perhaps without realizing that it actually says the opposite of what he thinks it does.

      Then he counts on his sheep taking his word for it, and not bothering to read it for themselves. After all, Bob has already told them what it says.

      I recall back in the old days when media types were ooohing and aaahing over all the "footnotes" that Ann Coulter had in one of her vile screeds, and how well researched it must have been.

      The Old Bob actually took the time to look up those footnotes and report that they didn't even come close to supporting the point Coulter was making, and in most cases, refuted it.

      And once again we learn that Somerby has slowly morphed into that which he used to despise the most.

    2. Right, 12:17.

      And if I said the title of this post is "The Daily Howler" NOT "THE ROLE OF GAPS: In low income schools," then I would be 100 percent correct.

    3. Anonymous @ 12:17 thank you for your stand. I admire your intellectual, stimulating call to find better things for KZ to do. I hope he learns by your example, searches for a blog like you have done with TDH where he enjoys real life, shame, and the freedom to troll comment boxes calling others "fuckwit douchebag."

    4. We think there is little Hi value information or Lo value information here, Anon @ 12:17. Little Miss Information was *homecoming queen* at the blog prom, however.

      Thank you for informing others about the series in the New York Times. Since you know about it you also realize not only did BOB get the title of the piece wrong, the "headline" in tiny type denoting the series name cannot accurately be further described as: "that headline refers to the very large gaps which divide the nation’s students well before ninth grade."

      It is not a major error. Something on the order of the one Rachel Maddow made when she dropped a 1 in reading a page number, changing Page 117 into Page 17. Perhaps I should have written my critique this way:

      "Most importantly, the third passage Maddow quoted does not occur on page 17. It occurs on page 117. She was off by a hundred pages! (There's no doubt that Maddow said “page 17.” The statement occurs at the 6-minute ..."

      Then I could have surmised that it was an inent to mislead, as BOB did when he wrote that back on April 4 of this year regarding the Mastro report. I chose merely to point out the error.

      It is a small one among several BOB has made regarding "The Great Divide" Series in the New York Times.

      Way back when we were not a teacher in Baltimore we once wrote about the first such error we noted when BOB first covered "The Great Divide." He did so on November 4, 2013 in a post which might have been called "Musings on the Mainstream Press Corps" which refers to Maureen Dowd, because the first half of the post attacked her. The second half was devoted to belittling a professor who wrote a piece in The Great Divide Series about the prevalence of poverty in the US. We made a comment because our results differed from BOB's and we noted the purpose of the series, which is not limited to 9th grade gaps.

      We do not mention this to stroll down memory lane. On February 26, 2014 BOB wrote this about the series he uses as the basis of today's post:

      "Frank complains about the dull writing “in the New York Times’ series on the subject, The Great Divide, which has run now for a little over a year.” We’ll admit it—the series has generated so little buzz that we didn’t know it exists."

      Except, of course for the piece in the series he attacked in a post called "Sex and Intellect at the Times." That was the one I just mentioned. It was about Maureen Dowd and some dumb professor. I may have gotten the name of the post wrong earlier in this comment.


    5. (With apologies to S.S.)

      Your comments are crap.
      Just balls of shit.
      Bob with blog every day
      You picking a nit.
      Send in the trolls.

      Isn't it bad?
      A bit of a stink.
      You who keeps tearing Bob down
      Because you can't think.
      Where are the trolls?
      Send in the trolls.

      Aren't you a bore?
      Your fault, I see.
      I though you'd be gone months ago.
      Sorry, KZ.
      But where are they trolls?
      Quick, send in the trolls.
      Don't bother, they're here.

      You're such a putz,
      Maybe the most
      Keeping your venom going from coast to coast.
      And where are the tolls?
      There ought to be trolls.
      Well, maybe next post.

    6. good attempt at performace art, deadrat. Soon you can attempt to take me on concerning facts.


    7. High praise from the master.

      I'll take you on "concerning" facts, as soon as you concern yourself with presenting any.

      Fair enough?

    8. deadrat, you have no idea how deliciously ironic it is for you to accuse anyone of not presenting facts, particularly after your juvenile attempt at humor.

    9. Anon @ 9:42 Please. Let the spirit ring!

      deadrat, deadrat
      won't post just any fact
      deadrat posts only BOB S. defense

      deadrat, deadrat
      defends his BOB tonight!
      and for us facts were ditched ever since

      We are pleased deadrat finds it clownish to make factual mistakes while decrying those of others. We are pleased
      deadrat finds trollery in noting that a guy can claim to have never heard of a series in the Times he has already posted about. We just wonder if deadrat remembers where he was and how old he was when the Times botched the Genovese case. You remember the Genovese case? Where the Times "invented" how many witnesses there were by using ifigure give to them by the Police Commissioner?


    10. KZ @9:42A,

      I worked for minutes on my little song parody. And I'm crushed that you didn't like it. No, not crushed. What's that other thing?

      KZ @10:24A,

      As long as you've got yourself, you don't need me to carry on a conversation. For the record, I tried to read your comment, got as far as your wondering how hold I am, and gave up.

      I gather you think I don't post "facts." But then you evidently think that "defense" rhymes with "ever since."

      Send in the trolls.

    11. Blame Sondheim. He thought "morning star" rhymed with "where they are." You left out an S.

      And we complimented your song. We won't talk about your comprehension gap. Or opinions of Sondheim.


    12. Oh, FYI deadrat. I have no idea who 9:42 is. That is why I addressed his/her comment at 10:24.


  4. "Given our giant achievement gaps, how is any set of grade-level “standards” supposed to guide the education of all kids in a given grade?"

    OK, Bob. But how is having absolutely no standards or expectations at all of what our kids should be learning at each grade level supposed to guide the education of all kids at each grade level?

    And I know how badly you want to make Gates the bugaboo in all this, but taxpayers should be grateful that he is funding important research into education so that we might come up with new ways to address these achievement gaps to improve the odds of more children succeeding.

    Unless, of course, you have the notion that everything is fine and dandy now and nothing really needs to change.

    1. Straw man. There are no states that had absolutely no standards or expectations for students in each grade level.

    2. Oh, good lord! There aren't even standards from school district to school district in the same city, let alone the same state.

      Will Rogers once said that it ain't the things we don't know that get us into trouble. It's the things we think we know but aren't so.

      You would be well advised to turn on your critical thinking skills and examine what anybody says, especially Somerby, to see if it holds up.

      That is, unless critical thinking gives you a head ache and makes you look at things you already "know" at the risk of discovering that it ain't so.

    3. The underlying purpose of the Common Core standards will be to assure that a high school degree obtained anywhere in the US will mean the same thing. While this is a laudable goal and will have many benefits, it does not address the problems of the gaps in any direct way and primarily will aid those in the school system that already graduate.

    4. That's like saying if your house has cockroach and mouse problems, you shouldn't buy bug spray because it won't take care of the mice, and you shouldn't buy mousetraps because it won't take care of the cockroaches.

      And you also shouldn't fix the leaky roof because that won't take care of either the cockroaches or the mice.

      This is the problem when so-called education "experts" like Somerby throw their two cents in. They can sit back and criticize everything that being done about Problem A because it doesn't solve Problem B.

    5. Nice try 1:11 pm. But it is a little late now to come to the defense of Susan Rice. Which we noticed you failed again to do, just like the rest of the pseudo liberal buck stuffing crowd.

  5. Hi Bob,

    Today's post was chilling especially when you wrote about chronic discouragement in the young/black/Latino/lower income cohort in American high schools; this is language I hope reformers would drink in deeply. Too often public intellectuals, policy makers and philanthropists jump on the shiny new solution band wagon before seeing all the complex acts of the situation.

    This series on the Gaps for me is some of your very best work. Keep on trucking.

    When you find the time it would be useful to create a special link page for this series. Yes, I can go through the blog roll and will but I was thinking how it would flow from one 'gaps portal'.

    1. He could put it right next to "How He Got There"

      Which never got there.

    2. I think he might have been planning to call this one "How She Didn't Get There" until he finally discovered that D'Leisha did get there.

      But I will make this prediction with apologies to T.S. Eliot.

      Like the meandering "How He Got There," this endless, pointless, meandering "Gaps" series will suddenly end, not with a bang, but a whimper.

      Accompanied also like "How He Got There" by the sounds of crickets and his most ardent fans snoring.

  6. I also meant to add this yesterday to Somerby's ridiculous notion that Bill Clinton merely said "Let's raise standards" and did nothing else.

    Remember the 100,000 teacher thing which provided federal money to reduce class sizes? How about the federal money he poured into Title I to allow schools to purchase badly needed computer technology?

    1. Vile troll. Go away.

    2. Sorry to bother your brain with the facts. Go back to your notion that Somerby is the authority, and we must never question the authority.

    3. Try wording your information in a less confrontational way. Starting by calling Somerby's notion "ridiculous" (even it it is) only invite other comments to start throwing insults. If Bill Clinton did something important that Bob overlooked, just say what Clinton did and why it is relevant. That is the proper way to start a reasonable discussion. I assume that is why you brought this up?

    4. No, I brought it up because it was disingenuous (to put it kindly) for Somerby to say that all Clinton did was make a speech about "raising standards" when his administration did a heck of a lot more than that.

      That is certainly a sign of a weak and lazy mind who disappears inconvenient facts that disagree with what he already "knows."

    5. I see. The blog begins by calling Gates a college dropout who doesn't know a damned thing about education, but is trying to cram ill-advised "reforms" down the nation's through, and it is me who should "(t)ry wording your information in a less confrontational way."

    6. Stop your name-calling, troll.

  7. "Bill Gates, a college dropout, has no background in public education."

    Wow. Nothing like the ol' ad hominem right off the bat.

    You know, I strongly suspect that Gates realizes he's not an expert in education. But he sure does seem to provide a lot of money to those education experts doing important research.

    I guess in Somerby's mind, that's a sin.

    1. So, your point is that even though Bill Gates doesn't really know the solution, the fact that he is giving enormous amounts of money to push a solution that some group of experts has proposed makes him the good guy. I think it is reasonable to assume that there are other points of view (like Bob's) and maybe their ideas may have merit or perhaps even be better. However, without the money from Mr. Gates these alternatives will never be discussed. Is that good?

    2. Bill Gates doesn't pretend to know "the solution." But he is pumping money in research to find solutions. Plural.

      Yep, the college dropout puts his money where his mouth is. Meanwhile, the Harvard graduate blogs on.

  8. It's not useful to refer to these students as "struggling kids" because chances are good they aren't struggling at much of anything. They never learned to, because their neglecting single mother and absent father abused them by failing to serve as examples of behavior and establish expectations of performance.

    1. What does you Dad think of your wasting so much productive time commenting on the internet. Or was he an inverterate letter to the editor writer who set an example for you?

  9. No my point is that only Somerby will make the claim that Gates claims to be an education expert. He funds the experts in education research, and also funds the means to implement it.

    And FYI, I think Gates is smart enough to know that there is no "THE" solution. He funds a wide range of research, knowing full well that the solutions have to be as multi-faceted as the problems.

  10. So has the "brutal history that no living person wrote" been thrown down the memory hole? Or will Somerby eventually get to it?

  11. Thanks you, KZ, for showing how performance art is done. More comments like this one.

  12. That said, deadrat, for the record, your results may differ, but we like to play on BOB's style.

    It is BOB who repeats the same posting over and over again.

    See for example, his repeat of his 1982 hit in today's post.

    But given your comprehension gap, you probably missed that fact.



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