SUNDAY, JUNE 27, 2021
The Drumcat forces a postscript: Has there been progress in the Chicago public schools over the past twenty years?
In this Saturday afternoon post, Kevin Drum seemed to say the answer was no. For that reason, we offer a postscript to our own report from Saturday morning.
Here's the problem: Kevin focused on reading scores, offering his reason for doing so. As a general matter, progress in reading has been slow and hard. That's been true around the nation and also around the world.
Chicago has recorded large score gains on the Naep. But those score gains have come in math.
In what follows, we'll use 2003 as our starting-point, matching what Kevin did. We'll discuss Grade 8 math on the Naep:
In 2003, Chicago's black kids were outperformed by their black counterparts nationwide. On average, they were outscored by roughly 7 points on the Naep scale.
As of 2019, Chicago's black kids were scoring roughly two years higher in math. By then, they were outscoring their black peers nationwide by a full 12 points.
On its face, that's very large progress—and the same pattern obtained for Chicago's white kids during this stretch of time.
In 2003, Chicago's white kids were outperformed by their white counterparts nationwide. On average, they were outscored by roughly 11 points on the Naep scale.
As of 2019, Chicago's white kids were scoring almost three years higher in math. By then, they were outscoring their white peers nationwide by almost 12 points.
Some of these changes may reflect demographic changes within Chicago's different "racial" groups. That said, when people refer to progress in Chicago, this is basically what they mean. We'd still challenge the characterization of the Chicago schools Karin Chenoweth offers in her new book, for the reasons we cited in yesterday's report.
A few final points:
Naep data can only tell us so much, but Naep data are endlessly fascinating. The federal government presents a treasure trove of these data, but our upper-end press corps would rather hold hands and jump off a bridge than analyze, report or discuss them.
Statistics are known to be boring and hard. But there's also this:
Here in Our (deeply delusional, self-impressed) Town, nobody cares about black kids! Also, nobody cares about low-income kids. Nothing could possibly be more clear, nor is this going to change.
You'll never see cable star Rachel Maddow talk about low-income kids. She wants to talk, and talk and talk, about Rudy and Manafort and Barr, and also of course about Trump. She wants to chortle and laugh and entertain us as she discusses the highly amusing stupidity of The Others.
(Also, she wants us to love and adore her.)
Friday night, she even wasted oodles of time laughing about that poor, low-level bank exec shlub who loaned all that money to Manafort. She was actually hoping that we can get that pitiful low-level shlub locked up. She mugged and clowned and had a grand time dreaming her dreams about this.
(According to experts, almost everything can seem amusing and funny when you're paid multiple millions per year.)
By way of contrast:
As far as Rachel is concerned, this nation's good, decent low-income kids can just go hang in the yard. According to experts, Our Town's multimillionaire cable news stars have appalling values and very poor judgment and we rubes are unable to see this.
For all Naep data, just click here. It's an amazing collection of data.
No "journalist" ever clicks that link. Dearest darlings, use your heads! It simply isn't done!