Completing our Golden State public schools file!

FRIDAY, JANUARY 18, 2019

We have several topics to hit:
Did California have "great public schools" in the decades before 1978? So said Miriam Pawel, while offering zero evidence, in Tuesday's New York Times.

How about it? Did California have "great public schools" during that alleged golden age? More specifically, did the state's schools do a fabulous job serving low-income and "minority" kids?

We know of no reason to think so. As far as we know, there are no data which would lead us to such a belief. That said, our pseudo-journalistic elites simply adore fairy tales of that kind, and the Hamptons-based losers who run the Times never tire of selling the tales which constitute modern pseudo-liberal belief.

At present, California kids in all major demographic groups score roughly at the national average as compared to their peers nationwide. For an overview, see Kevin Drum's recent graphology

That said, good grief! As we noted on Wednesday, here's the way scores improved for two groups of "minority" kids over a recent span of 39 years, dating back to the golden age in question:
Average scores, Long-Term Trends study, Naep
13-year-old students nationwide, math

Black students:

1973: 228
2012: 264

Hispanic students:
1973: 239
2012: 271
Over those 39 years, black and Hispanic 13-year-olds apparently advanced roughly three years in math as compared to their predecessors. If we accept Naep data (and rules of thumb) as reliable, does anybody really think that California's Hispanic kids were scoring better, during that alleged golden age, than their counterparts are scoring today?

In Tuesday's New York Times, Miriam Pawel was selling that dream, though in the absence of evidence. The dream she was selling is very familiar, but it's a pipe dream—a con.

Test scores can't be the sole measure, of course. But helping kids learn how to read and how to do math are basic functions of public schools. If we assume that Naep data (and rules of thumb) are real, it's very, very hard to believe that Pawel's unsubstantiated bundle of claims was anything but the usual dreck served by the usual non-specialists.

With that, an obvious question arises. Should we regard Naep data (and rules of thumb) as reliable? Should we assume that black and Hispanic kids actually gained as much in math as those Long-Term Trend data suggest?

We can't exactly answer that question, in part because we read the New York Times. Simply put, that famous newspaper will never attempt to address such basic questions. It won't do so because, in actual point of fact, its club members don't care about basic questions like these, or about kids in general. Few things could be more clear.

We thought there were two more points to touch upon in Pawel's column. We'll start with the tiny "glimmers of hope" she managed to spot in the Golden State's ratty schools:
PAWEL (1/15/19): This [Los Angeles teachers] strike comes at a pivotal moment for California schools, amid recent glimmers of hope. Demographic shifts have realigned those who vote with those who rely on public services like schools. Voters approved state tax increases to support education in 2012, and again in 2016. In the most recent election, 95 of 112 school bond issues passed, a total of over $15 billion. The revised state formula drives more money into districts with more low-income students and English learners. Total state school aid increased by $23 billion over the past five years, and Governor Newsom has proposed another increase.
Pawel's "glimmers of hope" involve nothing but funding issues. Because she isn't an education specialist, we'll guess that she has never set eyes on "glimmers of hope" like these:
Average scores, Main Naep
California public schools, Grade 8 math


Black students, 1990: 231.46
Black students, 2017: 254.55

Hispanic students, 1990: 235.89
Hispanic students, 2017: 262.25
For all Naep data, start here.

Can you spot the glimmers of hope in those data? By apparent rule of law, you'll never be told about such glimmers in the Times or the Washington Post. As our nation slides toward the sea, its elites are too lazy to examine elementary data and too detached to care.

(Similar score gains have been recorded in the Los Angeles schools, though the Naep can only track that progress back to 2003. If you're a reader of the Times, you'll never be told about such matters. Instead, you'll be told that things were great in 1973.)

Our final point concerns the funding which has Pawel so concerned. In this passage, she says that California's schools have never recovered from the revenue losses following 1978's Proposition 13. She then compares California's spending to spending in the state of New York:
PAWEL: Public education in California has never recovered, nowhere with more devastating impact than in Los Angeles, where a district now mostly low-income and Latino has failed generations of children most in need of help....The underlying question is: Can California ever have great public schools again?

[...]

California still ranks low in average per-pupil spending, roughly half the amount spent in New York. California legislators have already filed bills proposing billions of dollars in additional aid, one of many competing pressures that face the new governor, Gavin Newsom, as he begins negotiations on his first state budget.
We state no view on the funding measures which are now being considered. But since Pawel compared California to New York, we decided to look at the two states' current Naep scores.

As best we can tell,
the state of New York does spend roughly twice as much as California per pupil. Below, you see one set of results:
Average scores, Main Naep
California and New York State
Grade 8 reading, 2017


Black students, California: 249.96
Black students, New York: 251.27

Hispanic students, California: 251.24
Hispanic students, New York: 252.81

White students, California: 278.11
White students, New York: 271.68
How much bang has the Empire State received for its bucks? We report, you decide. Comparative math scores are roughly similar.

Pawel isn't an education specialist. Uncaring newspapers like the Times don't worry themselves about that.

That said, might those data perhaps suggest that funding isn't a determining factor in public school performance? You'll never see such questions explored by uncaring rags like the Times!

Here's something else you'll never see. You'll never see a serious discussion of educational methods. What might help California's 6-year-old "minority" kids enjoy their lives in their public schools? What might heighten their love of the world? What might increase their various forms of learning?

The Times doesn't bother with bullshit like that. They serve you pleasing pseudo scripts, after which they light out for the Hamptons.

Our "elite" news orgs have behaved this way for decades. Why on earth should we be surprised to see a Trump in the White House?

42 comments:

  1. You'll never see a serious discussion of educational methods. What might help California's 6-year-old "minority" kids enjoy their lives in their public schools? What might heighten their love of the world? What might increase their various forms of learning?

    Great point! Any ignoramus can discuss money and ethnic balance. That data is conveniently available. So, many ignoramuses in government and in the media focus only on these two items.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies




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      No matter how old you are, family history is important. While you might not think so at the time, as you get older there will be things you and your grandchildren will want to know. Most of us don't realize it until the older generations are gone and you can't replace first hand comments. Don't just put in about the good times, add in the harder times and how you overcame those trials. Another thing to remember is what caused the deaths of those you loved. There are many things that have been found to continue into future generations that knowing it runs in the family can be helped with now or possible in the future. prevention starts with knowing where to start. I wish someone had taken the time to write these things down for mew to be able to go back to. My Grandmother and my mother told us many stories of what things happened in their lives and about the people in their lives. I now wish someone had written those things down since both have passed now. But I never thought at that busy point in my life that I would one day want to remember all those things. So much family history is lost when the older generations are gone. Please pass it on to your family while you can. You can even just do it digitally so it can be accessed by family later on.Family pictures are something to cherish also. Just be sure to write down who is pictured in them, where they are taken and when. I have found family pictures that no one now even knows who is in them.

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      Delete
  2. "Our "elite" news orgs have behaved this way for decades. Why on earth should we be surprised to see a Trump in the White House? "

    You're right, Bob: no reason to be surprised; none at all.

    Someone has to wrestle power away from the lib-zombie globalist/neocon death-cult. And so Donald The Blessed was chosen by Lord Almighty to perform this task.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "Donald The Blessed was chosen by Lord Almighty to perform this task."

      Lock him up!!

      Delete
    2. And did God bring us Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell who, with Trump, lavish gifts on the corporate rich and powerful while stabbing gullible true believers like you in the back?

      (It is good Hillary isn't there. We agree on that.)

      Delete
    3. No one cares about Paul Ryan, dembot. Well, except for your hateful death-cult, obviously.

      ...but I'm so glad we agree on Donald The Blessed being the Saint George of our times... Hallelujah, dembot.

      Delete
    4. Fuck you asshole, fucking Breitbart stooge. I'm no dembot. Trump let Ryan fleece your dumb ass. He's playing you for a fool in all sorts of ways idiot stooge. He's done it all his life. You'll see.

      Delete
    5. Tsk. Whoa. A specialty dembot, for demonizing a retired clown with no power whatsoever?

      Nice touch Mr Soros. I suppose. Or a waste of money?

      Delete
    6. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oavMtUWDBTM

      Delete
    7. "..a retired clown with no power whatsoever? "

      The shit-stain can't even afford a wall.

      Delete
  3. Does Bob Somerby care about black kids? He touts the increased test scores for black and Hispanic students. But he doesn’t tell you this:

    Average scores, Main Naep
    California public schools, Grade 8 math

    White students, 2017: 293

    The achievement gaps in California are punishing.

    Again, here are the numbers:

    Black students, 2017: 254.55

    Hispanic students, 2017: 262.25

    White students, 2017: 293

    Here are the 2017 numbers nationally:

    Black students, 2017: 260

    Hispanic students, 2017: 269

    White students, 2017: 293

    Oof! California black and Hispanic students do *worse* than the rest of the nation. Sad!

    We’d say there’s a massive problem that Somerby seems to want to ignore.

    ReplyDelete
  4. “We state no view on the funding measures which are now being considered.”

    But this sounds like a view: “That said, might those data perhaps suggest that funding isn't a determining factor in public school performance?”

    Part of the ongoing funding debate in LA has to do with teacher pay and pensions. The teachers there apparently feel that there are some issues, and Pawel agrees.

    A more intelligent question might be, “will increased funding alone improve student performance in LA public schools?” “How much funding is enough?” “How much is too little?” “What are the best ways to use the money?”

    Schools do need adequate funding, and teachers should be paid adequately. What “adequately” means is the subject of the ongoing debate. Certainly, the teachers in LA feel that something is amiss, whether it’s underfunding, overcrowding, low pay, or the potential harmful effects of charter schools.

    Teachers can make all the difference, and part of the funding debate is funding their livelihood, which is an appropriate concern.

    Finally: When Somerby was a teacher in Baltimore, did he feel he was paid adequately? Did he feel the schools were adequately funded?

    ReplyDelete
  5. From Pawel’s article:

    “Mrs. Safford’s second-grade classroom is a rickety bungalow slated for demolition. When the floor rotted, the district put carpet over the holes. When leaks caused mold on the walls, Mrs. Safford hung student art to cover stains. The clock always reads 4:20.”

    What part of “rickety bungalow”, rotted floor, moldy walls, and stuck clocks does not suggest a funding problem?

    ReplyDelete
  6. “Miriam Pawel was selling that dream, though in the absence of evidence. The dream she was selling is very familiar, but it's a pipe dream—a con.”

    Without evidence one way or the other about the quality of LA or California schools decades ago, Pawel’s view cannot be described as a con, ie a willful misrepresentation, aka lie. We simply *don’t know*. Perhaps she has facts at her disposal that she chose not to share in the limited space she had to work with.

    “Con” a pleasing word to use, but it isn’t fair.

    ReplyDelete
  7. “What might help California's 6-year-old "minority" kids enjoy their lives in their public schools?”

    Perhaps better-paid teachers would help.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hmm. People who become teachers out of greed are more likely to make 6-year-old enjoy their lives than those who become teachers because they want to teach?

      How so, dembot?

      Delete
    2. Yeah. If they care so much, why wouldn’t they just work for minimum wage? Or for free? Greedy bastards.

      Delete
    3. If they care so much, why do they care so much about their wages? As opposed to a million other issues.

      Teaching is not an assembly line job, y'know. Or does, in your opinion, the teacher paid 10% more become a 10% better teacher? Tell me, dembot.

      Delete
    4. Don't let Mao's support for a President who has stiffed his contractors for 5+ decades fool you. t's no act. Like Trump, Mao truly loves the Establishment Elite with all of his heart.

      Delete
    5. Yesterday we heard that Cohen even stiffed the contractor who was hired to rig online polls for Trump, during early days of his campaign.

      Delete
  8. Why doesn’t Somerby contact Pawel and ask her for some feedback? Her email address is on her website.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Surely Somerby takes his local Baltimore newspaper. Do they ever report on Baltimore public schools, the ones in Somerby’s backyard? Does he have any remaining connection with them after leaving their employ 40 years ago? According to the NAEP, Baltimore schools have some serious issues.

    Or is reporting only important if it’s in the New York Times?

    ReplyDelete
  10. “Should we regard Naep data (and rules of thumb) as reliable?”

    It isn’t as if Somerby has used NAEP data (the “gold standard” he calls it) to berate NY Times op-Ed writers and education experts for years.

    Oh, wait. He *has* done that.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Have to agree with you on that, 7:06. Somerby was quite slithery on this point. But I think that's because he does perceive NAEP as the best gauge of progress – at least in math and reading, and therefore a catchall for effectiveness of our educational system.

    It would be interesting to see what Somerby would prescribe a curricula for the age groups he targets. I for one would like to see more emphasis on civics, the arts, and the humanities (though math and, particularly reading, are hugely important). But those days are, seemingly, never coming back, even to the extent that they existed.

    Leroy

    ReplyDelete
  12. Trump offered to continue two programs the courts ruled he could not abolish, in exchange for funding his wall, and he called it a compromise. Then cspan showed Kaine's speech about the suffering of federal workers during the shutdown. It is hard not to hate Trump.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Except that there is no good reason not to give Trump the $5 billion he's asking for. Pelosi's goal is to make Trump look bad and to show how powerful she is. She doesn't care about the downside of illegal immigration nor about the plight of out-of-work government workers.

      Delete
    2. The wall won't do what Trump claims, it will cause problems, it won't stop illegal immigration, crime or drug/human trafficking, and no one enforcing laws at the border wants it. Funding it is a 5.7 billion waste if money. Pelosi is doing her job by opposing it. You don't say yes to boondoggles, especially not 5.7 billion!

      Delete
    3. Give Trump the $5 billion to waste on a wall, in exchange for universal healthcare, education, and housing for every man, woman, and child. We can EASILY afford all of that and more.

      Delete
    4. "the suffering of federal workers during the shutdown"

      My dear dembot. What the useless federal "workers" have right now is tonnes of extra vacation time, with a minor inconvenience of their (perfectly guaranteed) salaries being delayed until the end of the furlough.

      Believe me, dembot, a vast majority of them are happy as clams.

      And then you - and other useless dembots - are programmed by Soros and his liberal minions to post this awful, internet-killing zombie shit all over the place. With the only purpose of making us, human beings, suffer...

      Well, luckily for us, we find it entertaining and a perfect occasion for mockery...

      Delete
    5. Mao,
      Who wouldn't be happy about the establishment elites contracts and patent protections being suspended?

      Delete
  13. https://news.stanford.edu/news/2004/january21/schools-121.html

    From "First to Worst," a PBS documentary on changes in the California school system (produced in 2005).

    Another sources says: "Here’s a look at California’s per-pupil spending for the past four decades in comparison to other states. The last time California was at the top of the heap was 1965, when it ranked 5th. In 1978 – the year Prop 13 passed –California was 14th out of 50. The next year, the state fell to 22nd place. In 1988, California fell below the national average for the first time and never recovered. The state now ranks 43rd."

    https://www.kpbs.org/news/2010/mar/26/prop-13s-impact-schools/

    Here is a comparison of education funding, child poverty rates, teacher pay and NAEP scores for California since 1970:

    https://edsource.org/2015/states-in-motion-school-finance-naep-child-poverty/83303

    ------------

    This stuff is available to Somerby and anyone else via Google using the search terms change California education 1978.

    There is no reason for Somerby to pretend that no one knows what happened in California. There is no reason for him to criticize a journalist who was merely stating what is well known in those in education and not blindly repeating some myth or narrative.

    Somerby was being an ass. Deadrat, Leroy, Mao and David were piling on. That effectively stifles any discussion of education or anything else here. And Somerby is king troll when it comes to consideration of education issues -- whether in New York City or anywhere else. He doesn't know what he is talking about, has no real interest in education, and exists solely to spread misinformation about NAEP and teacher efforts to improve education for ALL children, including minority kids. If you watch any of the interviews with teachers striking in California, that will be obvious to you and anyone else interested. Except Somerby, who is willfully ignorant about many things these days.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My dear dembot. Highfalutin bullshit aside, how would you explain this super-gigantic emphasis on 'spending' (aka teachers' salaries) and no concern about the ongoing socioeconomic and cultural disaster whatsoever?

      Am I supposed to believe that if the teachers were paid $500K/year they would turn children growing up in gang-infected ghettos neighborhoods into humanistic software developers?

      Delete
    2. How do you explain the Right-wing humble-ragging of the richest nation in the history of mankind? Good question.
      I'd wager there is a strong connection between that and their waving away of treason against the USA.

      Delete
  14. "How about it? Did California have "great public schools" during that alleged golden age? More specifically, did the state's schools do a fabulous job serving low-income and "minority" kids?"

    Pawel had the nerve to claim that California's school did well during a time period when minority children in California who lived in low income communities struggled in poorly funded schools! That is Somerby's complaint. Pawel wasn't talking about conditions for minority kids, and that is Somerby's actual beef. He isn't concerned about a narrative about schools. He is upset that any school district should be proclaimed to be doing well while minority kids were not.

    Now that Los Angeles is a majority-minority district, Somerby doesn't seem very supportive of efforts to improve school funding, resources, and working conditions in the LAUSD. Teachers all over the state, including those in Charter Schools, are supporting this strike. Why isn't Mr. Liberal? If Somerby truly cares about minority kids, why didn't he recognize that today's Los Angeles strike is on behalf of minority kids, because both Los Angeles and California are now the backbone of minority and immigrant inclusion in our country. And we are proud of that.

    Minority kids do struggle, especially if they do not speak English when they first start school here. But they improve and grow and learn and take jobs and move their families to better and more affordable places and become part of the suburbs, where NAEP scores are higher. It is part of the cycle of acceptance into community and workforce that starts with caring teachers and well-funded schools. That's why this teacher strike has broad support statewide among the people of California.

    But not Somerby. Why?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Why? Well, if I may: perhaps it's because he's writing about education, not about labor disputes.

      Indeed, LA teachers may have a good reason to demand higher wages, but your pompous assertion that they are demanding higher wages for themselves "on behalf of minority kids" is beyond absurd, dembot. It's farcical.

      Delete
    2. The strike is not just about teacher wages but also about staffing resources such as nurses, counselors, librarians, specialists, and buildings, overcrowding due to colocation, etc. These materially affect students, especially minority students who might have greater need for services. The district promised improvement but only for one year, hence the strike.

      Delete
    3. What they want is 6.5% pay rise, and that's all there is it. The number of nurses and librarians is not part of their expertise.

      Now, if I may ask: why do you believe these "minority students" are more in need of nurses, counselors, librarians, etc. than the "majority students"?

      Is it because you perceive them as feeble savages (half-devil-and-half-child-like), who need to be patronised and provided with special care?

      And when you're writing this shit, does it make you feel superior, as if carrying, proudly, your white man's burden?

      Delete
    4. Now give it a try in English, Mao.

      Delete
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