GAPS AND INDIFFERENCE: Clinton discusses low-income kids!


Part 4—Is met with massive indifference:
Long ago and far away, in the summer of 2014, Hillary Clinton made news.

Rather, it was said that she had made news.

Clinton, not yet a candidate, had traveled to Oakland, where she'd discussed the lives and interests of low-income kids. A local NBC station said that she had made news.

In truth, that local station was wrong. But here's how its report started:
BHATTACHARJEE AND HERNANDEZ (7/23/14): President Barack Obama isn't the only one making news in the Bay Area.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was also in town Wednesday to roll out a new community partnership aimed at bridging the reading gap in children.

Clinton helped launched the "Talking is Teaching, Talk Read Sing" campaign at the UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital in Oakland
which encourages parents and caregivers to tackle the achievement gap by talking, reading and singing to kids from low-income families.

The campaign—created in partnership with Too Small to Fail, a joint initiative of San Francisco-based Next Generation and the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation—focuses on the "word gap"—a difference of about 30 million words between children from the wealthiest and poorest families.
The report continued from there. As you can see, that well-intentioned news report could never be accepted or replicated on the national level.

The kisses of death were several. For one thing, this local report could be taken to mean or suggest that the Clinton Foundation was doing good work in the world. As early as July 2014, any such indication had been banned at the top of the national discourse.

A second problem could be spotted in the headline atop this local report. Inexcusably, that headline said this:
"Talk, Read, Sing": Hillary Clinton Launches Reading Campaign for Oakland's Low Income Children
Especially with its reference to singing, that headline suggested a possible love of the world. Within the frameworks of our modern journalistic elites, love of the world is embarrassing and it must be disappeared.

(Put another way, the headline didn't concern sexy playtime with a disordered porn star. This too was a kiss of death.)

These suggestions of good works and love of the world were obvious kisses of death. Even worse, Clinton was discussing the lives and interests of low-income kids, concerning whom nobody cares.

Was Hillary Clinton "making news" that day in Oakland? Not in the New York Times or the Washington Post! As best we can tell, neither newspaper mentioned the news Clinton was said to have made that day. The Associated Press managed a 277-word news report under this perhaps peculiar headline:
Clinton launches baby-talking campaign in Oakland
Clinton had launched some baby-talking! So life with the children goes.

Please understand! It isn't like the New York Times was ignoring pre-candidate Clinton at this point in time. The Times had assigned the ludicrous Amy Chozick to "the Clinton beat" all the way back in 2013, one of the many repulsive decisions this newspaper made with respect to the last, disastrous campaign.

The ludicrous Chozick had been covering Clinton in approved ways, as we'll discuss in the next few weeks. These are some of the headlines atop her published, hard-copy reports:
Clinton Takes Responsibility for Benghazi
May 31, 2014; 477 words

Amid Questions on Health, Hillary Clinton Sets Vigorous Pace
June 6, 2014; 1214 words

Sales of Hillary Clinton's New Memoir Drop Sharply in 2nd Week
June 26, 2014; 645 words

Wall Street Offers Clinton a Thorny Embrace
July 8, 2014; page 1A, 1393 words

Clinton Defends Her Handling of a Rape Case in 1975
July 8, 2014; 290 words

Following Her Parents' Lead, Chelsea Clinton Takes Stage as a Paid Speaker
July 10, 2014; 1014 words

A Provocateur's Book on Clinton Overtakes Her Memoir in Sales
July 11, 2014; page 1, Business section, 1014 words
At that point, Chozick went on vacation, a vacation she would dumbly describe in this subsequent, self-pimping "Times Insider" post.

For the record, the questions about Clinton's health (June 6) had come from medical expert Matt Drudge. In its report about Chelsea Clinton's obscene speaking fees, the Times was playing catch-up to the Washington Post, which had launched a long series of misleading reports about Hillary Clinton's paid speeches at colleges.

That "provocative book on Clinton" had been written by Edward Klein, a leading crackpot of the right. Nor did the drumbeat fail to resume when Chozick returned from la plage:
Remarks Were Not an Attack, Hillary Clinton Tells Obama
August 13, 2014; 384 words

Is This Island Big Enough for Clinton and Obama?
August 14, 2014; page 1A, 1174 words

Chelsea Clinton to Leave Well-Paid NBC News Job
August 30, 2014; 467 words

Hillary Clinton's Gay Rights Evolution
August 31, 2014; page 1A, 1531 words
Other pre-candidates weren't being covered at all. You can perhaps discern the prevailing tone of the pre-candidate Clinton coverage by the ludicrous Chozick. (More on that to come.)

Within this horizon, there was no room for any thoughts about the lives and interest of low-income kids, or for the possible positive role of singing in this, our enduring world.

Concerning one point, there can be little doubt; in the modern journalistic framework, low-income kids don't matter. That's true at the top of the mainstream press. It's true within the world of our "corporate liberal" TV stars, like Rachel, Lawrence and Chris.

Within the upper-end mainstream press, the school lives of low-income kids couldn't be discussed at that time, except in brief soundbites designed to advance certain "education reform" narratives. And make no mistake:

You never hear about low-income kids from your favorite corporate liberal stars. The lives of those low-income kids don't count. You're never required to endure the mountains of boredom accompanying any discussion of their interests and lives.

"Talk, Read, Sing" from "Too Small to Fail" was a program aimed at those children. Whatever one may think of the research and claims on which the cheerful-sounding program was based, it was designed to address this passage from Nikole Hannah-Jones' lengthy report about Tuscaloosa's Central High:
HANNAH-JONES (May 2014): D’Leisha [Dent] arrived at Central in 2010, the same year as its new principal, Clarence Sutton Jr....A year later, the district hired a new superintendent, Paul McKendrick.

Sitting in his office, at a desk six inches deep in papers and reports, McKendrick, a bespectacled man, quiet but forceful, said the black, mostly poor kids of the West End had been separated and written off. A recent audit of Central had found that 80 percent of students were not on the college track. The low test scores that have plagued the school don’t stem from “a child problem,” he told me. “You may have some children that have special needs or cognitive issues, but you are not going to say a whole group of kids” has “lost intelligence in some way.”
According to Hannah-Jones' report, 80 percent of the kids at Central High "were not on the college track." Data like these suggest the size of the achievement gaps which stand in the way of so many American kids:
Where the average student stood:
Mountain Brook, Alabama.: 3.0 years above grade level
Birmingham, Alabama: 1.8 years below grade level
Those data come from Professor Reardon's recent nationwide study. According to his calculations, the achievement gap between the average kid in Mountain Brook and the average kid in Birminghan stood at 4.8 years, probably at or near the start of sixth grade.

Mountain Brook is a wealthy suburb of Birmingham. According to Reardon, the median family income of Mountain Brook kids stood at $170,000, as compared to $30,000 for students in Birmingham. That income gap was large. The achievement gap was huge.

How did so many kids in Birmingham get so far behind? Remember, that figure from Reardon's study represents the standing of the average Birmingham student. Something like half the kids would be even farther behind.

Our achievement gaps are extremely large. What can we do to address these gaps? Pre-candidate Clinton was addressing that questions in Oakland that fine summer day.

On the national level, she made no news at all. Neither did Hannah-Jones, when her mammoth report about Tuscaloosa appeared in The Atlantic, and in ProPublica as well.

According to Nexis, Hannah-Jones has never appeared on the Maddow Show, despite her voluminous work about low-income schools.
Low-income kids don't exist on that show. As liberals, you won't be asked to subject yourselves to the tedium of such discussions.

We aren't inclined to agree in all ways with the points of view Hannah-Jones tends to bring to her work. We'll be discussing those points of view on the weeks ahead.

That said, Hannah-Jones writes about one major chunk of the people we have to waste. On corporate cable, the stars don't care about those kids. You aren't allowed to know how much these stars get paid to maintain their indifference and silence.

In closing, an upbeat note. D'Leisha Dent did get to go to college. As we noted in this report, she got to go to Miles College in Fairfield, Alabama, where she planned to run track and play volleyball as she reached out into the world.

Concerning kids like Dent, we'll only say this—you'll rarely go wrong betting on their dedication, devotion and goodness.

Concerning the massive indifference of the upper-end mainstream and liberal press, we'll only hope that all the celebrity and all the wealth are enhancing the lives of our stars.

"Talk, Read, Sing," a big star said. She met with major indifference that day—you might say, with massive resistance.


  1. "What can we do to address these gaps?"

    Address the one that matters, the class system, and watch the rest of them disappear. Otherwise, stop pretending that you care.

  2. Wouldn't it have been nice if Somerby himself had mentioned this before the campaign? He did talk about the word gap, but not a mention of Clinton's initiative to address that problem. Talk Read Sing isn't just in Oakland, it is statewide. Hopefully the CGI managed to implement such a campaign in other areas of the country, since that was its intent.

    Recently Bill Clinton has been appearing on TV and other places to warn opiate drug users not to combine their pain pill use with alcohol since that is how overdoses occur. As I mentioned before, the CGI has placed Narcan in all schools and colleges in case of overdose, since many first responders (police and fire fighters) do not have it available to them.

    But those rotten Clintons are only in it for themselves, those greedy selfish people who talk a good game but don't actually do what they promise. And now Somerby appears to be sorry, but I think he is the one who hasn't walked the walk.

    What is Bernie doing these days? Anything comparable? Nope -- just trying to tear down the Democratic party in advance of the midterm elections. What a guy!

  3. Remember the NAACP slogan, A mind is a terrible thing to waste? Perhaps Clinton's statement was a play on that. Remember Dan Quayle's version "What a waste it is to lose one's mind. Or not to have a mind is being very wasteful. How true that is."

    People are not things, not objects. They are not tools to be used, nor are they resources to be managed. They are human beings.

    That means the responsibility for developing one's talents and using one's abilities belongs to the person, not to the president or our society. Children deserve a good start in life, but they contribute the effort to learn. Their parents should provide a nurturing environment, but the child needs to make choices to thrive or not.

    I have relatives in Colorado who have discovered legal MJ. It is a true waste to see what they become under the influence. It makes family gatherings much less pleasant. Our society is headed for a situation in which people deal with stress by taking opiates and cannabis, and continue to abuse alcohol. A drugged out society is perfect for the would-be authoritarian dictators who are filling the vacuum created when people abdicate thinking, learning about candidates and making good informed choices.

    Hillary was as competent as anyone who has come down the pike but our country chose Trump. Those who voted for Trump or any of the third party yahoos deserve what they are getting. Teachers can only do so much to prepare children to participate in the world. The rest is up to us. Enough people voted for "change" or listened to propaganda, or decided the women are uppity enough already, to put this abomination into office. The people to blame are not the liberals who supported Hillary, the only qualified candidate in the race, but those who thought it would be a hoot to vote for Trump.

  4. Hey, Bob. Where do you stand on the No Child Left Behind Act?

    Apparently, it "supported standards-based education reform based on the premise that setting high standards and establishing measurable goals could improve individual outcomes in education."

    And, according to Hillary's campaign policy proposal:
    "As a U.S. senator, she served on the Senate Health, Education and Labor Committee, as a key member shaping the No Child Left Behind Act, with the hope that it would bring needed resources and real accountability to improve educational opportunities for our most disadvantaged students."


    Does that make Hillary one of those sub-human, or brain-dead "reformers" promoting "standards" that you wail about?

    1. In 2016, her platform included revision of the parts of NCLB that weren't working well. In addition to imposing standards, NCLB tied funding of schools to test scores. That introduced pressure on teachers to "teach to the test" which diverted time from teaching other things and was stressful for both teachings and students, and encouraged cheating. Knowing Clinton, she probably regarded NCLB as a compromise and hoped that the good parts of the bill would be better than what was being replaced, with the hope of fixing it down the road. That is how she operates.

      As I recall, Somerby took no position on it. Obama supported it in 2008. Hillary did not. It was one of the reasons, among many, I preferred her to Obama. Arne Duncan supported charter schools and common core, two things education professionals (e.g., teachers) have been less enthusiastic about. I don't recall Bernie stating any opinion about this stuff except to repeat that college should be free. Not sure he delved into the details on K-12 education.

    2. I haven't gone through Somerby's archives, but I don't recall whether or how much he himself discussed Clinton's education policy proposals. I also can't find any previous references in his blog to the "Talking Is Teaching" event with Hillary that he mentions today, two years after the election.

  5. Hey, Bob. Can you link to your blog post where you mentioned the "Talking Is Teaching" event with Hillary back in 2014? Thanks.

  6. It's actually okay to character assassinate rapists! That's good for society.

    Let's imagine what would happen if someone representing a rapist had walked up to Hillary Clinton in a parking garage and said "It would be a shame if Chelsea grew up without a mother." Would Bob shrug it off? She lied about bullets flying over her head after all, didn't she. No reason to pay any heed to this fairy tale.

    Folks need to get it out of their head that as soon as sex is involved it's just a sensational story. Sex involves power, particularly when the consent is purchased by a John like the president. The real story isn't just that he's covering up an affair, but he tried to do so with both murder and money, and this says something about his character and the inherent dangers of paid sex overall.

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