Back in the good old days: How good were California's schools back in the good old days?
According to Miriam Pawel, they were very good. Her op-ed column in yesterday's New York Times started off like this:
PAWEL (1/15/19): For decades, public schools were part of California’s lure, key to the promise of opportunity. Forty years ago, with the lightning speed characteristic of the Golden State, all of that changed.According to Pawel, the public schools in California were very, very good as late as 1978. According to Pawel, "all of that changed" starting in June 1978 when voters passed Proposition 13, substantially reducing funding to those public schools.
There was more! According to Pawel, desegregation-based busing that fall led white parents to remove some 30,000 kids from the Los Angeles public schools. The decline in the schools proceeded from there.
The decline proceeded from there. A bit later in her piece, Pawel describes it thusly:
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 decades of frustration and impotence have boiled over in a strike with no clear endgame and huge long-term implications. The underlying question is: Can California ever have great public schools again?For decades before 1978, California actually had "great" public schools! Pawel proceeds to a question: Can the state have such great schools again?
Pawel ends her pieces on a gloomy note. That said, she returns to the idea that Cali had great schools Back Then:
PAWEL: [The current 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...When Pawel cites "recent glimmers of hope," she refers to funding issues alone. As she closes, she reminds us again of "the luster" of California's public schools Way Back When, in the decades preceding 1978.
If Los Angeles teachers can build on those gains, the victory will embolden others to push for more, just as teachers on the rainy picket lines this week draw inspiration from the successful #RedforEd movements around the country. The high stakes have drawn support from so many quarters, from the Rev. James Lawson, the 90-year-old civil rights icon, to a “Tacos for Teachers” campaign to fund food on the picket lines.
If this fight for public education in Los Angeles fails, it will consign the luster of California schools to an ever more distant memory.
People who seem to know nothing about public schools routinely recite some version of this "past golden age" story. Routinely, such people are routinely asked to discuss public schools in the New York Times. (Pawel has no apparent background in public education reporting.)
Pawel keeps saying, early and often, that California's public schools were "great," "a lure," back in The Good Old Days. At no point does she offer any statistical evidence to this effect.
That said, script-readers love to recite such claims, especially when asked to peddle pleasing tales in the New York Times. Readers have heard these tales so often that they will almost surely assume that they are true.
How good were Cali's public schools in 1971? More specifically, how well did low-income kids do in those schools? How about black kids? How about Hispanic children?
How good were California's schools back then? Like you, we don't have the slightest idea, and Pawel doesn't offer a stitch of evidence in support of her familiar claim, the one the hacks always recite.
Nor did her editors ask or require her to produce actual evidence. But then, this is the way our upper-end mainstream press corps rolls in this, the best of all possible failing democracies.
How good were the Golden State's public schools back in this golden era? We know of no reliable state-by-state statistical evidence dating from the decades in question. But just for the record, here are some data from the Long-Term Trends study, one branch of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (the Naep), the federal program which is typically regarded as our one reliable source of education data:
Average scores, Long-Term Trends, NaepIn the area of math, 1973 was this federal testing program's inaugural year. Testing was last administered in 2012. For all available data, you can just click here.
13-year-old students nationwide, math
How good were the nation's public schools in the era under discussion? Those scores from 1973 are nationwide average scores. The Naep can provide no data from individual states, including California, for those happy golden years.
That said, the nationwide scores from 1973 would be considered disastrous today. According to a very rough rule of thumb which is routinely applied to scores from the Naep, black and Hispanic 13-year-olds scored roughly three years lower in math in 1973 than their counterparts scored in 2012, the last time the Long-Term Trends assessment was administered.
Those nationwide scores from 1973 would be nightmares today. According to Pawel, it was totally different in California, though she and her editors present exactly zero evidence in support of this golden claim.
Tomorrow, we'll look at data from the past few decades for public school students in Los Angeles and California both. As we do, we'll return to Pawel's use of the phrase, "glimmers of hope."
For today, we'll only say this: We know of no reason to believe the familiar bedtime story with which Pawel put us to sleep in her column. Nor did she offer any evidence in support of her claim.
That said, Pawel's claims about Those Happy Golden Years are a familiar convention in the low-IQ world of know-nothing public school pseudo-reporting. If you wonder how it can possibly be that a person like Donald J. Trump currently sits in the White House, we'll suggest a related story:
Why is someone like Trump in the White House? In part, because people like Pawel have clogged our upper-end newsrooms for many decades now. Despite our species' comical status as Aristotle's "rational animal," we live inside a culture built on scripted tales and tribal dreams. Our culture runs on Chomsky's "manufactured consent," on Harari's "gossip" and "fiction."
That column was a tribal bedtime story in the form of journalistic exposition. It was also completely typical of New York Times public school work, and of the deeply disordered era which gave us our President Trump.
Please don't discuss his mental state. The Times has said we mustn't!
"How good were Cali's public schools in 1971? More specifically, how well did low-income kids do in those schools? How about black kids? How about Hispanic children?"ReplyDelete
Somerby hauls out his tired old NAEP scores, noting that national averages were much worse in 1973 compared to today, but making no statistical adjustment for the general increase to show whether CA's scores were worse or better in 1973 than now. Anyone with statistics training could do so, but not Somerby.
Here is another measure of the quality of schools in 1973. In those days schools had school nurses and counselors, librarians. All of them. They had recess, art classes, music classes. Because that was part of school in those days, before funding was severely reduced and such resources became shared, then eliminated.
Back in 1973, the number of different languages spoken by students in Los Angeles schools was lower. Schools that are now largely Hispanic were largely white. But we also had bilingual education. That was eliminated under the onslaught of conservative attack, despite showing benefits for students. Local control also eliminated benefits for students. This parent didn't want other languages taught, didn't want mainstreaming, didn't want new math or old math or whatever. Local control was traded for adequate funding. Then conservatives suggested that there was no relationship between test scores and funding, another excuse to eliminate frills and go back to basics, getting rid of art and music and humanities and social science. Then the schools couldn't afford to high qualified math and science teachers, since local tech industries snapped up anyone with science training and schools couldn't compete. Who wants both a lower salary and an unfriendly work environment and huge class sizes? Those science teachers aren't crazy. But NAEP doesn't measure science training, or arts or music or athletics (always spared cuts). And then people did move to the suburbs chasing better education for their kids.
How do I know these things? I grew up in Los Angeles public schools in the 1950s and 1960s. I attended UCLA and went on to a PhD. I took my kids to Irvine schools and they took went on to higher education. Irvine was 60+% minority and had many more spoken languages than my schools, but it was well funded and had resources and did a good job because it had the money and parental support. So it isn't the brown faces that caused the decline. It was the continuous, relentless attack on school funding and the idea that you get what you pay for and a responsible citizenry should pay to educate its kids. If not through property taxes then through the state legislature. But decades of Reagan and Dukemejian and Schwarzenegger have made California blue because we know what happens when you systematically deprive public services and handicap our kids in the job market by starving schools and teachers.
This must stop. That's why I fully support the strike. Somerby, it is no accident there is an attack on teachers today -- and it is no accident you find yourself on the wrong side of it.
I think Somerby is also wrong on calling out low-IQ as the issue, the problem is low-integrity.Delete
“Somerby hauls out his tired old NAEP scores, noting that national averages were much worse in 1973 compared to today, but making no statistical adjustment for the general increase to show whether CA's scores were worse or better in 1973 than now. Anyone with statistics training could do so, but not Somerby.”Delete
As Somerby noted, statistics are not broken down by state in NAEP assessments. And you yourself provide no links to support your own, numerous claims.
But I’m confused by this sentence:
“This parent didn't want other languages taught, didn't want mainstreaming, didn't want new math or old math or whatever.”
By, “this parent,” I assume you mean you, hence the confusion. Also:
“Then the schools couldn't afford to high (sic) qualified math and science teachers, since local tech industries snapped up anyone with science training and schools couldn't compete.” Like I said, evidence please. And since when does a PhD. write so badly? I suppose it could mean that a PhD is just a piece of paper.
Anyways, I disagree that Somerby is on the wrong side of this argument. Breaking! He wasn’t attacking teachers, he was criticizing a reporter whom the NYT hired to write a piece about public schooling. Can you see the difference?
Anyways, again, supporting evidence for your claims would be quite helpful in making your case.
You critique arguments based on spelling? That explains a lot.Delete
Everyone involved in education knows about the problems recruiting math and science teachers. Your demand for evidence makes you sound foolish.
Your demand for evidence makes you sound foolish.Delete
Bwahahahahahahahaha! Good one!
Oh, wait. You're serious.
Oh, well. Anyone can have a doctorate in cyberspace
So if I say Trump is a criminal, I need to cite sources? Obscure facts need sources, not common knowledge. Teachers are underpaid -- you want a source for that one too?Delete
Certainly anyone can be an ass in cyberspace. You've proved that.
So if I say Trump is a criminal, I need to cite sources?Delete
Absolutely. And I say this as someone who thinks Trump is probably guilty of among other things, conspiracy to violate campaign laws, obstruction of justice in several criminal investigations, contempt of court for destroying evidence in civil suits, incitement to riot at his campaign rallies, (self-admitted) sexual assault, fraud in connection with virtually every organization with his name on it, from University to Foundation. And violation of and conspiracy to violate US banking law in his shady dealings with foreign criminals.
But what I think doesn’t matter. What makes a criminal is conviction of a person under a criminal statute, and as far as I know, Trump has managed to keep his liability for misbehavior in civil courts. The law is tricky, so your best bet is to cite sources. For instance, Trump’s payment to Stormy Daniels wasn’t a violation of campaign contribution limits. Anyone may contribute unlimited amounts of his own money to his own campaign. The violation is in conspiring with Cohen to not report the money. In pleading guilty, Cohen said the contribution was campaign related, but that doesn’t mean Trump would be convicted if he stood trial for that conspiracy.
Teachers aren’t underpaid where I live. It took me three minutes in the google to find that in a nearby school district, 93 teachers make more than $125K per year. Teachers are underpaid in poor neighborhoods where property values are too low to raise enough money. But Kansas has an admittedly-imperfect equalization plan in place to subsidize poorer districts. Want a source? I can give you one.
Certainly anyone can be an ass in cyberspace. You've proved that.
Oh, guilty as charged. But then I’m not pretending to be something that clearly I’m not.
A cyber-ass I may be, but at least I know “common” knowledge ain’t always so.
Lots of people can be lots of things on the internet. Like, for example, Somerby pretends to know something about education. He also claims to be a liberal. And he pretends to care about the issues he writes about. LOL!Delete
Like, for example, you pretend to know what TDH pretends to care about.Delete
Deadrat, you are just another kind of troll.Delete
And what kind would that be? I'll cop to being rude, snide, boorish, and contemptuous, but do you really think my comments aren't apt?Delete
Especially the comments about the addiction of some here to mindreading.
Robert Conquest's First Law of Politics says Everyone is conservative about what he knows best.ReplyDelete
Being an expert on education, Bob faults the Times for presenting an article lacking expertise in education. But, Bob has never complained about lack of fence expertise. IMHO the media should present expert articles about what sort of fence or wall will be most effective at deterring illegal crossings. Instead we see talking points.
The idea that the media will never have a Conservative opine about economics ever again, gives me a thrill running up my leg.Delete
Will the media be forced to continually produce stories about white supremacy, so Conservatives can get some face time?Delete
Somerby is no expert on education.Delete
Phantom leg, eh? Dream on, dembot.Delete
Did they tell you that if you serve the lib-zombie cult well, you will have real legs in the next life? They lied, dembit...
California is a shithole anyway, firmly in the paws of the totalitarian warmongering lib-zombie cult. It has no future, not short-term anyway...ReplyDelete
Write it off and fuhgeddaboudit, Bob.
Thus, David in Cal will surely be relocating any day now.Delete
The cost of living here is enormous -- utilities, gasoline, income taxes, property taxes, sales taxes, housing. Fortunately I can afford to live a middle class life, so I do not have to leave. Many other Californians are not so fortunate and are fleeing the state. California has the highest % of people living in poverty of any state.Delete
" California has the highest % of people living in poverty of any state."Delete
Yeah, this is how they turn them into zombies. Impoverish, demoralize and recruit.
You read something like this: BART passengers robbed by 40 to 60 youths in Oakland, you know it's a third world country...Delete
Capitalists would say California is expensive, because of supply and demand. (i.e. Not enough California for the number of people who want to live there.)Delete
Even more so, a place like San Francisco, where people pay exorbitant prices to live in a place with its values.
David, you could at least state accurate facts. According to this list, Mississippi is at the top with 19.8% poverty. California is 22nd with 13.3%.Delete
(Check out the number of red states at the top of that list).
You can also check at the census bureau:
It doesn’t help your argument when you get the facts so blindingly wrong.
If you don’t like either of those links, try this one:Delete
I can uze InTernetzz
Ah, lies, damned lies, and dembot statistics...Delete
California most certainly does have the highest poverty rate in the country (accounting for the government programs): 19%.
California’s poverty rate is still the highest in the nation, despite state efforts. Which means, translated from Californian, because of the state efforts.
Florida has the 2nd highest poverty rate in the nation but only the 28th highest tax rate (no personal income tax, no state tax, 6.8% sales tax, no city taxes). How does that support the proposed theories about what is causing poverty in California?Delete
Confused and/or biased dude at 4:54pmDelete
US Census Bureau:
"The SPM does not replace the
official poverty measure and is not
designed to be used for program
eligibility or funding distribution."
CA poverty rate IS in the middle of the pack, as noted. You are using the SPM instead of the OFFICIAL measure.
The SPM for CA merely indicates that it is more effective than other states at pulling people out of poverty.
Furthermore, much of the difference between Official and SPM is related to demographics. CA has some of the highest percentage of demographics that would lead to a higher SPM - hispanics and asians - and a low percentage of those that would decrease SPM - senior citizens.
"New data from the U.S. Census Bureau's supplemental poverty measure shows roughly 7.5 million Californians — about 19 percent of the state population — live in poverty. California is one of the three states tied for highest poverty rate, alongside Florida and Louisiana. The poverty rate is 14 percent for the U.S."Delete
You are making the same mistake as the other troubled soul - you are using the SPM (supplemental poverty measure) - the actual poverty rate is indicated by the Official measure.Delete
The measurement you are using is based on the Official poverty rate but then also adds supplemental information that helps see the effect of safety net policies. CA's SPM indicates that the state is more effective at pulling people out of poverty than other states.
The actual official CA poverty rate from the US Census Bureau is 13.3 percent, putting CA in the middle of the pack.
According to the US Census Bureau:
Between 2016 and 2017, poverty rates declined in 20 states and the District of Columbia. The poverty rate increased in two states: Delaware and West Virginia. Delaware saw its rate increase from 11.7 percent to 13.6 percent and the rate for West Virginia rose from 17.9 percent to 19.1 percent.
States with poverty rates of 18.0 percent or higher were Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico and West Virginia.
Thirteen states had poverty rates of 11.0 percent or lower. Visit the news graphic to see the 2017 poverty rates for all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
In 13 of the 25 most populous metropolitan areas, the poverty rate declined between 2016 and 2017. The poverty rate declined for the third consecutive year in eight of these 13 metropolitan areas."
This link takes you to the US Census Bureau poverty rate website, then click on the By State Table:
2017 Poverty Statistics
You will see the CA poverty rate is 13.3 percent.
Here is another US Census Bureau website link that shows the poverty rate using a graphic:
2017 Poverty Rate in the United States Graphic
You will see the CA poverty rate is in the middle.
Please direct your zombie gibberish to the U.S. Census Bureau, dembot.Delete
Indeed, all the "gibberish" comes directly from the U.S. Census Bureau.Delete
“When Pawel cites "recent glimmers of hope," she refers to funding issues alone.”ReplyDelete
Somerby omits an important component of Pawel’s op-Ed by quibbling this way. She says earlier:
“It’s a vicious cycle: The more overcrowded and burdened the regular schools, the easier for charters to recruit students. The more students the district loses, the less money, and the worse its finances. The more the district gives charters space in traditional schools, the more overcrowded the regular classrooms.”
Somerby refuses to discuss the potential harmful effects of charter schools *because he supports charter schools.*
Thus he completely disappears a central concern of Pawel’s piece.
If NAEP scores existed in, say, 1953, would they have been even lower than they were in 1973? The general trend seems to be an ever-increasing average score. This suggests the possibility of a problem with Somerby’s interpretation of the data. It’s certainly questionable to assume students were dumber or schools were worse back in 1973, although that is a faulty conclusion that one can come to.ReplyDelete
“People who seem to know nothing about public schools...”ReplyDelete
That is a group to which, sadly, Somerby also belongs.
"Why is someone like Trump in the White House?"ReplyDelete
How can anyone ask this with Mueller's investigation in full swing and the plea deals and testimony pointing directly to manipulation of our electoral system by Russia in collusion with the traitor Trump.
Yes, the press tried to sabotage Clinton, just as they are currently doing to Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, and Kristen Gillibrand. They won't get a fair chance from the mainstream press, but Somerby has said not one word about that. The press wasn't the reason Trump stole the election. Criminal and treasonous behavior did the job. Outright hacking, manipulation of voter registrations, coordinated campaigns on social media involving bots spreading lies, publication of stolen emails and a conspiracy between the RNC, the NRA and Russia to launder and channel money into huge media buys and to fund illegal activities. Massive fraud, aided by Comey who undermined Clinton at the last minute. Third-world-style election theft!
But Somerby is blaming the press for some stupid reporting. Somerby is wilfully blind to all the wrongdoing and thinks the press is to blame.
Somerby is more deluded than Trump, more deluded than any Trump follower, so deluded as to be mentally ill, because he never mentions any of this stuff that was fatal to our democratic process in 2016.
Somerby's feigned dementia defies belief. Can he be as big an asshole as he pretends or is he too on the Russian payroll. I just don't see any other explanation for what he writes here day after day, serving the people who care so little about our democracy that they sold it to our enemies.
I agree it is feigned, I doubt the funding explanation - I think he is very frustrated and somewhat bored.Delete
no one will vote for any of those shrieking cunts you mention. We don't need a hysterical ninny running the world. So please shut the fuk up and go back to the kitchen and do some cooking you dumb whore.Delete
Anonymous January 16, 2019 at 7:18 PM,Delete
Hello, mainstream corporate-owned media. How have you been?
Good, thank you for asking. I hope you have been well. Happy New Year.Delete
I'm a Democrat. I voted for the dumb bitch Clinton. I guess I would vote for Warren. Those other two mediocre whores will never get anywhere. I would vote for Cheri Bustos.Delete
"Those other two mediocre whores..."Delete
Have some compassion, 10:01. Not everyone is as successful at whoring as your mother.
This is the best way to create sympathy for female candidates and help them win votes. Worked for Trump.Delete
GREAT COMMENT THREAD!!!! Come on, deadrat, chime in. SOMERBY IS AWESOME!!!!Delete
Sure. Why not?Delete
I think that 6:21P might have a point. Somerby has been obsessively pounding the same TDH drum for over two decades. His commentariat has long been infested with people like 6:06P obsessively pitching fits because he writes about the wrong things. Why wouldn't he be bored writing about nitwits for nitwits?
I didn't complain that he was writing about the wrong thing. I complained because he, unlike everyone in California, questioned whether the quality of education had declined in California since the 1970s. Somerby took issue with something the reporter said, something everyone in California knows. And Somerby didn't present any sources. Kevin Drum did, and his data supports the reporter and not Somerby.Delete
But deadrat, who insists that everyone else must look up and source common wisdom, doesn't bother reading what other people say here. It is just a place for him to vent his spleen. Same motive and tactics as Somerby. Except deadrat supports Leroy, another of our conservative commenters, while Somerby defends Trump.
@6:06 -- and yes, I am a Californian, and yes, I do have a Ph.D. (but it is not in spelling or error-free typing) and no, I will not google stuff for you that you can look up yourself, as Kevin Drum did yesterday. I worked in higher education for 20 years and wound up with a final salary as a tenured full professor of $95K. In comparison, I worked for IBM Research at one point and had a starting salary over $100K (the minimum for starting hires with a PhD right out of college). But if deadrat thinks that's fair, who are teachers to complain? Amirite?
Did you know that by working some years for an organization like IBM where social security taxes are collected, your SS benefits will be significantly reduced due to working as a public teacher?
Well, two can play at this game.Delete
I have two PhDs. I worked in double-plus higher education for forty years with a final salary of $190K as a tenured professor in an endowed chair. In comparison, I worked for Bell Laboratories at one point and had a starting salary over $200K (the minimum for starting hires with a PhD right out of junior high school). But I finally resigned all my positions to become Pope.
You’re just trolling me, ain’tcha?
Just in case you’re serious, let me type the point as slowly as I can in the hopes that someone wth a PhD like yours can follow:
It’s always a wise idea to be cautious about accepting stories about a Golden Age, especially when evidence is scant and we have to rely the anecdotal or claims about “common knowledge.” It’s true that TDH didn’t present sources, but to be fair that’s not really his job. It’s Miriam Pawel’s. Kevin Drum did provide sources. Let’s see what he had to say:
Bob Somerby is wondering if it’s really true that California schools used to be the nation’s best and then, after Prop 13 passed in 1978, quickly plummeted to become the nation’s worst. Objectively, that’s all but impossible to measure since we don’t have much in the way of testing statistics to look at before 1978.
All but impossible to measure. Just like TDH said. And, come to think about it, just like your claims about your academic credentials and your salary history. So were stuck with “common wisdom” about California schools and your own narrative about yourself.
Sorry to be churlish, but that's not good enough.
Heh heh. Fighting the trolls here, deadrat, is a losing proposition, but there’s certainly no harm in it, churlish or not. Always glad to see you wade in.Delete
Kevin Drum creates a straw man and then claims he cannot address it. No one said California schools were worst in the nation, just that they decreased. He does manage to show that decrease statistically. That should satisfy Somerby.ReplyDelete
Deadrat thinks that because 95 teachers make over $100K, teachers in general are not underpaid. What an ass. He knows, as does everyone on the planet, that the proper comparison is with people with equivalent education. In CA that means a bachelor's degree plus a teaching credential (which typically takes an additional year to earn). Then you can start in the mid $20,000's compared to people in other fields who start above $30K or those in engineering or computer science who start around $60K in California. So, many teachers keep going to school and get an M.A. in education or specializations in special ed or some such, because that will increase your salary. But that also increases your education level, so the fair comparison against those with equivalent education just keeps you underpaid by comparison. If you keep working in education for a few decades you do get some raises. Those people earning above $100K are either principals or administrators who are not doing classroom work, or they have dedicated a career to education and worked their way up to a higher salary. Again, that may seem like a lot of money to someone like deadrat with an axe to grind, but it isn't in comparison to what people earn at the end of several decades in fields requiring equivalent education. And that is the fair comparison. Not the one deadrat facilely suggests -- look they are getting a lot of money so what are they complaining about?
Even Somerby couldn't stick it out, despite all that wonderful high pay.
Another child left behind. That RIF program just doesn’t work for some people. Even those who claim to have PhDs. Maybe especially those.Delete
Do I say that because 95 teachers in my area make over $120K per year that teachers in general are not underpaid? No, in fact my next sentence starts “Teachers are underpaid in poor neighborhoods.”
Is it so difficult to accurately portray what I wrote?
I made no comment about the complaints of striking teachers in LA. I haven’t read much of anything about their situation, but my admittedly-lazy default position is side with them. My commentary is not about teachers; it’s about you. Deal with it. The point about the 95 teachers is not that all teachers are well paid. The point is that you’re full of shit, and what I wrote is sufficient unto the task.
I think you both have interesting things to contribute, we should encourage comments, and present counterarguments as needed, but perhaps limit getting personal or caught up in trivial disagreements to some degree.Delete
Hey 5:28, good advice, but 12:26 started it. Name-calling that is. And I assume that was the resident (supposed) PhD, given the wordiness from 11:48, and the same at 10:16, who again uses the word "ass" as some form of shield to make their point.Delete
When someone posts bullshit, when they demonstrate that their reading (not to mention writing) skills are at the level of well, how can I put this… dumb, then replies should be expected to counter said dumbness. Just sayin’.
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