Part 2—Apparent room for improvement: Is there room for improvement in the Los Angeles schools—even room for "reform?"
Conceivably, yes, there is. Just for the record, we're talking about the public school system serving Los Angeles—the Los Angeles Unified School District.
This giant school system—the LAUSD—is the nation's second largest. More than 600,000 kids attend the district's schools.
Is there room for improvement in this school system's schools? Presumably, yes there is! We base this judgment on test scores from the 2017 National Assessment of Educational Progress (the Naep), the nation's only reliable testing program.
At this point, we offer a set of warnings. In what follows, you will encounter boring statistics about a bunch of useless, loser kids.
You'll never hear about these kids if you watch your favorite "cable news" programs. That's because the big giant stars of these corporate channels, along with their corporate owners and bosses, don't give a fig about these kids, and assume that you don't either.
(In your favorite liberal magazines and journals, you'll only read about these kids, or about similar kids, to the extent that they can be used to service tribal propaganda. These same rules apply in our brightest newspapers—for example, in the New York Times.)
We liberals don't care about these kids! Having established that basic point, consider these recent data:
Average scores, Los Angeles public schoolsAs even we liberals can possibly guess, those numbers don't mean a whole lot without some means of interpretation—some basic frame of reference.
Grade 8 math, 2017 Naep
White students: 298.28
Black students: 253.66
Hispanic students: 259.99
Asian-American students: 300.54
For that reason, we mention, for the ten millionth time, the very rough rule of thumb which is often applied to Naep scores. According to this very rough rule of thumb, ten points on the Naep scale is roughly equivalent to one academic year.
When we apply that very rough rule of thumb, we discover enormous "achievement gaps" within the Los Angeles schools. We may see why the occasional scold will perhaps see room for improvement in the Los Angeles schools, perhaps even room for reform.
Good lord! When we apply that very rough rule of thumb, we see that black and Hispanic kids in L.A. may be, on average, something like four years behind their white counterparts in math, at the end of eighth grade! If we're willing to rip ourselves away from the latest brain-damaged cable speculations about Donald Trump's latest brain-damaged remark, it night occur to us that there's room for concern about these outcomes—perhaps even room for improvement.
Let's be clear! No big star on cable news will ask you to think about this. These weirdly grinning latter-day apes are selling a winning "cable news" product:
They're selling you The Chase.
The Chase produces big box office, a basic Los Angeles concept. Beyond that, no one in cable news actually cares about these Los Angeles kids. In part, that's because of "who they are."
If you accept the rubrics invented by our nation's brutal history, you'll see those kids as our big cable stars (and their owners) do. Who are those 600,000 kids? You'll see those kids like this:
Student population, Los Angeles public schoolsIf you're a major cable star hauling in those millions of dollars (we aren't allowed to know how many millions), you'll quickly see that your corporate owners don't want you discussing those kids. Members of the upper-end national media have understood this basic point for many, many years.
Latino students: 74.0%
White students: 9.8%
Black students: 8.4%
Asian-American students: 6.0%
Having said that, let's also say this! If you aren't a giant corporate star beholden to the people who own you, you may wonder how this Los Angeles story compares to a broader tale.
You may wonder about the performance of American kids nationwide. With apologies for boring you with pointless piddle, those numbers look like this:
Average scores, American public schoolsMost kids in our Los Angeles story are identified as Latino/Hispanic. Those national data let us tell a wider story:
Grade 8 math, 2017 Naep
White students: 292.16
Black students: 259.60
Hispanic students: 268.49
Asian-American students: 309.52
On the 2017 Naep, the average Hispanic eighth-grader in L.A. was more than three years behind the nation's average white kid in math:
As not seen on cable TV:You won't hear about this on cable. When big cable stars look at numbers like that. they say just one word:
Average Hispanic kid in L.A.: 259.99
Average white kid nationwide: 292.16
Cable stars are busy doing three things at these point. They're busy cashing their enormous checks; they're building their splash-party TV houses; and they're offering you utterly useless, brain-damaged speculations about the latest non-event in the varied penumbra of The Chase.
They're Aristotle's pre-rational apes, as limned by Harari's heuristic. They don't care about our Los Angeles story. They assume the same about you.
Tomorrow: Werewolves of Gotham