Public school watch: What keeps low-income kids from succeeding?


Our plan to get back on track:
Is Candidate Clinton's knowledge of K-12 issues "vast and impressive?"

We find that somewhat hard to believe. We don't exactly mean that as a criticism.

Does Candidate Clinton "knows more about K–12 education than any other candidate remaining in either party’s race?"

Certainly, that could be true! On the other hand, that's very weak praise.

Public school issues are almost never discussed, in our press corps or in our campaigns, in any serious way.

The most basic information seems to be forbidden, off-limits, for those in the mainstream press corps. Beyond that, we rarely read work about low-income schools which makes us think that the author knows what he or she is talking about.

For what it's worth, a piece at Slate made both those statements about Candidate Clinton's knowledge of K-12 issues.

Jessica Huseman read the transcript of the candidate's recent interview with Newsday, much of which concerned public school issues. Huseman ended up saying this:
HUSEMAN (4/14/16): Even with her apparent depth of knowledge, Clinton left me unimpressed. Over a couple of winding answers to pretty clear questions from Newsday, Clinton managed to show how much she knows while simultaneously saying nothing of value. As she noted in the interview, she’s previously discussed her support of charter schools, national education standards, universal pre-kindergarten, and creative solutions to solving the achievement gap. She didn’t elaborate on her more interesting ideas, As she brings up often, she helped found Eagle Academy, a chain of all-boys charter schools. She says she’d like to see more gender-specific schools, especially for impoverished students, and she also mentioned “boarding schools for poor kids.” Not sure what that last one is all about, and Clinton didn’t explain. Nor did she say how the federal government could go about encouraging such things or where funding might come from. She doesn’t elaborate on any of this on her website either. Her issue page on K–12 education includes just a couple of basic bullet points and a 30-second video of her giving a bland speech while B-roll of smiling children flashes across the screen.

If it seems like I’m being harder on Clinton than I would be on the GOP, I'll say what I told my particularly precocious high school students when I was teaching: “I’m harder on you than everyone else because you can do more than everyone else.”
We end up in a familiar place, with someone "being harder on Clinton than [she] would be on the GOP" and offering a slightly puzzling explanation for that state of affairs.

We keep trying to get back to that recent report in The Atlantic concerning low-income schools. That said, we're still so disgusted by Kevin Drum's post that we can't find a way to get back there.

Let's make a deal! Tomorrow, let's look at the explanations in that report for the nation's ongoing "achievement gap." What keeps our many terrific low-income kids from succeeding more fully in school?

Tomorrow, we'll try to beat back our disgust and return to that very key question.


  1. "We keep trying to get back to that recent report in The Atlantic concerning low-income schools."

    Is Bob so senile he cannot even remember his own work?

    Are Bobfans so smitten they forget his tirades about categorizing schools using allegedly faulty measures of poverty?

    The Atlantic report Bob refers to was not about low income schools.

    It was not about low income students either, for that matter, headline here notwithstanding.

  2. Replies
    1. Black children. Something no liberals are the least bit interested in this side of suicide jumping.

  3. In 2008, one of the major areas of difference between Clinton and Obama was related to K-12 education. Obama supported the school reform movement and Clinton did not. Obama was for vouchers and strengthening NCLB (tougher standards and higher expectations for minority kids) and he appointed Arne Duncan and we all saw what he did. Clinton opposed those things, explicitly, as did the teachers unions who supported her.

    In this election, Clinton can only alienate teachers by getting specific. There are no strong differences between her and Sanders and there is thus no reason for her to say things that might lose her votes when being general will not. There is also no reason to believe she has changed her opinions about any of these issues.

    If I were to guess, the point about boarding schools for low income kids perhaps refers to equal opportunity to attend prep schools, like those that funnel high income kids into the elite schools on the East Coast. Even middle class kids in places like California are at a disadvantage compared to such prep schools. Unfortunately, the word "boarding school" also evokes images of the involuntary Indian schools of the past. There is no reason to believe she intends the latter, unless you want to be uncharitable.

    It is biased to ignore Clinton's strong record on education issues in 2008 just because Sanders has no opinions on the topic, and that is pretty much what this reporter has done.

    1. It is biased not to kiss Clintonian tushies in a few quarters of the commentariat.

      But say, given the history you have outlined isn't it possible Clinton's position this year is the one she's evolved to hold and her positions in 2008 were designed to get those teacher union votes?

    2. Who knows more about how to fix schools than teachers do? Clinton listens more than Sanders. You assume she is just saying what people want to hear, but she has a long record of action in her various jobs too.

      Having job experience means you can go back and look at how a candidate voted and what they did. What do you find when you look at Sanders' record?

      There is a reason why some of us "kiss Clinton's tushie." She has earned it.

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  5. Hillary Clinton's rhetoric is incredible (in the sense she is not believable). I will beat that drum at TDH until someone concedes the point. The only given is that her rhetoric will change based on public opinion and political advantage. So the meme that she is inauthentic runs much deeper than her mannerisms or her focus-group driven methodology on her positions in a given cycle. Should we believe she came under sniper fire in Bosnia? Should we believe her pro-gun positions in 2008? Should we believe her Sandy Hook positions in this cycle? Should we believe she doesn't know whether Obama is a muslim (2008)? Should we believe that she enthusiastically wraps herself in Obama in 2016? Should we believe that the TPP is the gold standard or that she is opposed to it. Should we believe that she believes in proselytizing internationally on fracking (SOS) or has reservations (2016)? The universal answer is "no." She can't be believed on a wide range of issues, because her positions are consistently based on political expediency. She has been criticized this cycle about that by Corporate Media this cycle, but to claim she hasn't received disproportionate coverage relative to Bernie, or that her coverage has been far more positive than that of Bernie is to join her in the incredibility circle. Hillary has gotten undeservedly disproportionate millions of dollars in free media and much more favorable coverage, not to mention CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS from media lobbyists! #WhichHillary

  6. According to Huffington Post, Sanders turned the tables on Clinton by attacking her position on Israel and Netanyahu. Presumably that was why he fired his aide -- so that he could make such an attack without looking hypocritical. But no one cared -- the liberal blogs didn't notice and no one has said anything about it in comments. This is an issue that Sanders was probably told would win votes in New York, but it is on no one's radar except the Huffington Post, which so obviously carries water for Sanders. If anyone needed evidence that Huffington Post is an extension of the Sanders campaign, coordinating with it, this is pretty obviously an example. Media masquerading as news outlets but serving up propaganda.

    1. Anonymous at 11:16: Huffington Post? Really? For months last year, I could find very few positive stories about Bernie on HuffPo with the exception of H.A. Goodman. So Bernie fired his aide to avoid looking hypocritical? Do you have a source for that other than your own anatomy? Btw, the conventional wisdom is that he is losing votes over his balanced position on Israel. Even Establishment toadies on the Corporate News Network concede that. While the conventional wisdom has been consistently wrong in this cycle, I believe it is correct here. Bernie was probably cautioned to that effect in debate preparation. The 15% Jewish component of NY voters contain many who vote for Israeli advantage reflexively.

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