L. A. (PUBLIC SCHOOL) CONFIDENTIAL: Black kids recorded enormous gains!


The public was never told: Yesterday, we forgave you. 

We forgave you if you hadn't heard about the suddenly heralded improvement, over the course of the past two decades, in the Los Angeles public schools (the LAUSD).

All of a sudden, the L.A. schools have been transformed into "schools that work." We forgave you if you hadn't heard about that. We hadn't heard about any such phenomenon either.

Today, we extend additional forgiveness. We forgive you if you haven't heard about the enormous academic progress black kids nationwide have shown over that same stretch of time.

You haven't heard about that progress for a fairly obvious reason. You haven't heard about that progress because, in the upper reaches of our failing blue tribe, absolutely nobody cares.

Simply put, the high-ranking people we're taught to trust don't care about any of that. More specifically, they don't care about the lives or interests of the nation's black kids, except for such kids who might end up at Yale, and except for performance and branding purposes. 

Simply put, these people don't care. Indeed, they see to be devoted to the task of making that fairly obvious.

Enough about the Rachels and the Lawrences and the rest of this talented cast! For perhaps the ten millionth time, let's review the remarkable progress you've never been told about. 

Below, you see several decades of progress laid out in the form of average scores on the Naep, our one reliable educational testing program. We're starting in 1996, the first year which lets us make direct statistical comparisons to the rising test scores which followed:

Average scores, Grade 8 math, Naep
Black students, National Public Schools
1996: 239.28
2000: 243.27
2003: 251.75
2005: 254.19
2007: 258.90
2009: 260.28
2011: 261.84
2013: 262.73
2015: 259.85
2017: 259.60
2019: 259.21

To the extent that we can credit such data, you're looking at a record of massive academic progress. 

(For all Naep data, start by clicking this. At that point, you're on your own.)

From 1996 through 2013, the average scores of black eighth graders nationwide rose by more than 23 points on the Naep scale. According to the very rough rule of thumb endorsed by Professor Fuller in his new book, that represents a gain of at least two academic years.

Scores dropped back a couple of points after 2013. Before we're done today or tomorrow, we may propose a speculation about that undesirable change.

Maybe then! But from 1996 through the most recent testing in 2019, those average scores, among black kids, rose by twenty points! The public has never heard about that, for a fairly simple set of reasons:

Our elites are unimpressive and dumb. Also, they plainly don't care.

Even now, when we look at those numbers, our heart wants to jump with joy. We think of Willa Cather's narrator in My Antonia, exulting in the vast success, over one generation, of Nebraska's "immigrant girls" in the late 19th century.

From Book II, The Hired Girls, Chapter IX:

I always knew I should live long enough to see my country girls come into their own, and I have. To-day the best that a harassed Black Hawk merchant can hope for is to sell provisions and farm machinery and automobiles to the rich farms where that first crop of stalwart Bohemian and Scandinavian girls are now the mistresses.

The Black Hawk boys looked forward to marrying Black Hawk girls, and living in a brand-new little house with best chairs that must not be sat upon, and hand-painted china that must not be used. But sometimes a young fellow would look up from his ledger, or out through the grating of his father’s bank, and let his eyes follow Lena Lingard, as she passed the window with her slow, undulating walk, or Tiny Soderball, tripping by in her short skirt and striped stockings.

The country girls were considered a menace to the social order. Their beauty shone out too boldly against a conventional background. But anxious mothers need have felt no alarm. They mistook the mettle of their sons. The respect for respectability was stronger than any desire in Black Hawk youth.

That passage comes from The Hired Girls, Chapter IX, the greatest act of advocacy of which we are aware.

Cather's narrator always knew he would live to see the ascension of those immigrant girls, whose beauty (and moral greatness) had always stood out against a conventional background. 

By the time Cather's narrator was telling his story, their work ethic had made them the mistresses of the most prosperous farms in the county. We think of that passage whenever we review the rising test scores you were never told about.

In most cases, the conventional players of our upper-end press corps didn't know about those rising test scores. Within the culture of their "educated" but dull-witted class, statistics are known to be boring and hard.

Also, they simply don't care about black kids! To the extent that they'd ever heard about those scores, their conventional backgrounds and desire for respectability didn't equip them to care.

Today, they're busily pretending to care. Today, they drench us in endless performance. 

That said, our black kids haven't yet attained the status described in the case of Cather's immigrant girls. Even as their test scores rose, so did the scores of other groups. Here are thee boring statistics:

Average scores, Grade 8 math, National Public Schools
Naep 1996 versus Naep 2019:
White students:  279.50 / 291.46
Black students: 239.28 / 259.21
Hispanic students: 249.18 / 267.96
Asian-American students: NA / 309.09

Black kids have gained roughly 20 points, but white and Hispanic kids have produced higher test scores too. Hispanic kids have gained almost 19 points. White kids have gained 12.

This means, of course, that the black/white "achievement gap" has narrowed during this era. You'd almost think that would be good news, but you've never heard about that either. Your "journalists" didn't care, and they had a different brand of "narrative product" to sell.

What "narrative product" was being sold during that era, even as black and Hispanic kids were recording so much academic progress? You were being sold a Storyline about certain types of education reform, and that Storyline was being sold via this talking-point:

Absolutely nothing has worked in the public schools.

Even as test scores rose for every demographic group, your lazy, unintelligent upper-end journalists just kept typing that talking-point. You were never told about those gains. As far as any of us rubes knew, no such progress had occurred.

In that way, we were kept from feeling pride in the progress of our various "country girls." We were kept from feeling the joy that the demonstrative Cory Booker has suddenly discovered, though only with respect to the ascension of those within his own class.

We weren't told about the gains recorded by all those other black kids. We weren't allowed to care. Nor were we allowed to wonder what might be helping create that progress. There was exactly zero sign that anyone actually cared.

It's against that backdrop that Professor Fuller has released a strange new book. The strange and grossly incompetent book carries this strange title:

When Schools Work: Pluralist Politics and Institutional Reform in Los Angeles

All of a sudden, the Los Angeles schools are billed as "schools that work!" As we noted yesterday, we're asked to swallow that happy talk in the face of such data as these:

Average scores, Grade 8 math, 2019 Naep
Black students, LAUSD: 248.14
Hispanic students, LAUSD: 255.14 
White students nationwide: 291.46

In that, the most recent Naep testing, black kids in L.A. were performing roughly four academic years behind white kids nationwide! On what planet—in what moral universe—does that circumstance emerge from a bunch of "schools that work?"

Professor Fuller explains none of this in his grossly incompetent book. We've mentioned the lazy incompetence of our tribe's ranking journalists. You can pretty much throw our ranking professors into that same useless stew.

Someone else blew right past this background state of affairs. That would be the Washington Post's Jay Mathews, whose demeanor and commitment we have long admired.

We admire Jay's demeanor and his commitment. On occasion, we've been puzzled by his work. 

In writing about the Berkeley professor's book, Mathews blew past all this background information. At this point, we'll note an exchange which occurred in the comments to his column.

One person who read Mathews' column wasn't completely convinced. Recording his name as Walnut Street, he offered this remark:

COMMENT: Glad LA allowed charter schools and glad they are doing so well. Same thing happened in Wash DC.

Love to see some data backing up improvement claims about LAPS in this OpEd.

The reader wanted to see some data. Mathews penned this reply:

MATHEWS: Sadly there isn't room for that in a 800 word column, Walnut, but I figured that anyone who wanted to see all the data could just buy the book. I am sure my Uncle Jeff will get it to you quickly and cheaply. —jay

By "Uncle Jeff," Mathews apparently meant Jeff Bezos, he of Amazon fame. If the commenter "wants to see all the data," he can go ahead and buy the book, Mathews said in his reply.

Sad! In fact, the professor's very expensive, rather short book is extremely short on relevant data. (For his extremely limited data from the Naep, see page 64.) 

Here's a chunk of statistical information which doesn't appear in the professor's book, a book which spills with praise concerning those Los Angeles schools that work:

Average scores, Grade 8 math, 2019 Naep
Black students, LAUSD: 248.14
Hispanic students, LAUSD: 255.14 
White students nationwide: 291.46

We keep suggesting that you ponder those data. Walnut Street won't find those punishing data in the professor's book.

Briefly, let's be fair. The Los Angeles schools did show test score gains during the years in question. 

Apologizing for the fact that information is boring and hard, this is the way the district's scores improved during the era in question. We're starting with 2003 because that's when the Naep began providing average scores from specific cities:

Average scores, Grade 8 math
LAUSD, Naep 2003 versus Naep 2019
White students:  277.06 / 287.02
Black students: 233.99 / 248.14
Hispanic students: 239.71 / 255.14
Asian-American students: 274.64 / 295.37

Black kids in Los Angeles gained 14 points during that period; Hispanic kids gained more than 15 points. Those are actual gains, and we're sure that a lot of people in L.A. worked hard in pursuit of that improvement. 

That sad, those gains are roughly equivalent to the gains which were recorded by Large City Schools nationwide during that same period. And uh-oh:

As we noted on Tuesday, the Los Angeles schools were performing substantially behind other large city systems as of 2003. In spite of the subsequent gains in test scores, they were still performing behind other big city systems by the end of that period.

Los Angeles kids were still performing less well than their counterparts in comparable urban systems! And once again, we'll show you the most punishing data from within those "schools that [allegedly] work:"

Average scores, Grade 8 math, 2019 Naep
Black students, LAUSD: 248.14
Hispanic students, LAUSD: 255.14 
White students nationwide: 291.46

We've got your schools that work right there! We think of Wilfred Owen, trudging along behind wagons filled with the dying and dead as The Great War ground on:

If in some smothering dreams, you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,

And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,—
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

Translation: If you could care about the bulk of the nation's low-income kids, you wouldn't be pimping, with such high zest, the old tale about schools that work.

On the one hand, it's true. Mathews can't explain all this in 800 words. 

On the other hand, he could find some other format. And even within 800 words, he could explain the lunacy of saying that Los Angeles is now blessed with public schools that work.

More than anything else, the Cory Bookers of this world could stop their Holy Roller conduct in support of the (perfectly decent) people he describes as "double Harvards." Once in a while, the Bookers could talk about the giant number of kids who are being left behind.

(The kids who don't go to Georgetown Day to get their anti-racism.)

Our nation's giant urban systems are full of good, decent kids. Their academic challenges track back to the brutal events of our brutal racial history. At least according to theory, their academic deficits are locking into place long before they ever enter the halls of our public schools.

Our own tribe's elite press corps doesn't care about those kids. Simply put, they simply never discuss them.

Booker jumps about in his chair, letting us admire the way he's gripped by the Holy Spirit. As he praises the "double Harvards," he quickly notes that he himself went to law school at Yale.

Anthropologists have told us this about that recent behavior:

This is the way our human brains are wired, these disconsolate scholars have said. Elites will talk about their own class, and about no one else.

According to those major experts, no discussion of our nation's urban schools will ever emerge from our feathered elites. Their disinterest will only continue. Those other kids will be left on their own.

This familiar old conduct won't change, experts say. This is the way our self-impressed species and tribe are implacably wired.

We care about the double Harvards. We talk about Will Smith.


  1. I'm sure Christopher Rufo appreciates Bob falling for his nonsense.

  2. "You haven't heard about that progress because, in the upper reaches of our failing blue tribe, absolutely nobody cares."

    Except the many people who made improvement possible, the families of black kids, those who work in education, community and public service workers, and school volunteers. And whole bunches of other people who were described in Fuller's book.

    I guess Somerby is unaware that teacher's unions regularly endorse Democratic candidates (yes, including Hillary, who dedicated her career to helping families, women and children). In the State of California, most teachers are liberal because conservatives have undermined public schools and been unsupportive of efforts to improve them.

    Where does Somerby get this huge lie? Yes, he makes it up, but what motivates him to say something like this, that denigrates the efforts of so many people? I think he is projecting his own lack of caring, the cynicism that drove him out of teaching, onto those who are still working with children, black, white, Hispanic, and all the other kids in the LAUSD who don't fit into those neat boxes because they come from India or Somalia or Syria or now, Ukraine (via Mexico).

    What makes Somerby such a huge asshole? Were there no puppies at the animal shelter for him to berate and kick?

  3. "We care about the double Harvards. We talk about Will Smith."

    At least Will Smith cares about black kids in the LAUSD public schools. Somerby doesn't.

  4. "The public has never heard about that, for a fairly simple set of reasons:"

    Maybe because they are Republicans. Democrats know about this improvement. Those who work in schools know about it.

    It was Donald Trump who ignored the progress made on many fronts and called our cities hellholes and told his supporters about a fictional lack of progress on any front. Trump perpetuates the myth that there has been no progress against poverty, none against educational failure in inner city schools, none against crime or drugs or other social problems. And he said "only I can fix things".

    Did Trump fix anything? Arguably not. Before covid, crime was low, kids were doing better in school, there was progress on many social problems. After covid, things fell apart under Trump. We are once again making progress under Biden, but kids will have had two years of disrupted schooling. I have never heard Somerby mention that at all, despite his purported deep caring for black kids. Somerby is the one with the relentless focus on keeping black kids out of New York's elite science high schools.

    Somerby has no standing to criticize anyone else for "not caring" about kids, given the pure crap he writes here and has written. He could have supported Hillary but he chose to call her a failed candidate instead. And we all got Betsy De Vos, who Somerby never mentioned, not a single day of her term in office, doing conservative dirty work to undermine progress in our public schools.

  5. "Scores dropped back a couple of points after 2013. Before we're done today or tomorrow, we may propose a speculation about that undesirable change."

    First, Somerby should make sure that a minor fluctuation is significant. There is no point in proposing theories to explain statistical noise, random variation. Then he should check to make sure there was no change in the test itself or in who was included in the test group and what procedures were used to administer the test.

    I predict that Somerby will discuss neither of these things, if he gets around to talking about the slight decrease at all, today or tomorrow.

    1. Why is a slight change necessarily "undesirable"? People tend to think of progress or any kind of change as a continuous upward line on a chart, but in reality, even positive change has its ups and downs. Some of that fluctuation is concealed because the NAEP is not given every year.

  6. "That passage comes from The Hired Girls, Chapter IX, the greatest act of advocacy of which we are aware."

    That chapter is about the bigotry of the Black Hawk boys, who will flirt with and have fun with the immigrant farm girls but never consider marrying them. The author doesn't chastise them for that, she merely reports it, and there is no suggestion that it should be different, only a glowing description of the vitality of the farm girls.

    How then can this be advocacy? At the time, the Black Hawk parents regarded those girls as inferior socially. Now they have been assimilated into our society and it seems odd to consider a Norwegian or German woman inferior, but families did not approve of intermarriage because when different nationalities were considered different races.

    Somerby mistakes the purposes of the author, Willa Cather. He projects his own attitudes onto the passage and attributes his thoughts to Cather. That is a misreading that English majors are taught to avoid, but Somerby clearly missed learning anything important during his Harvard education. This superimposition of one's own values onto the actions and motives of others is the greatest sin in anthropology, another field that Somerby knows nothing about.

    Even the book's hero does not pursue Antonia, the farm girl he was infatuated with throughout the book. But Somerby thinks there is "advocacy" to the point of calling it the greatest advocacy! MLK step aside.

  7. "We think of that passage whenever we review the rising test scores you were never told about."

    Somerby spent 10 years teaching black kids in Baltimore schools, but it is Willa Cather's glowing white goddesses who Somerby thinks about when he reads about rising test scores for black kids!!!

    This would be truly odd if you didn't consider the attraction of white supremacism to Somerby.

    Here is what rankles me. Somerby talks about those white farm girls owning rich farmland, but during that time period, they couldn't even vote (if they became citizens). The husbands of those farm girls owned valuable farms built from scratch, but their wives had no financial property rights. They were partners in working the land but not in owning it.

    Somerby should be ashamed of himself for not knowing that about 19th century America.

  8. "On what planet—in what moral universe—does that circumstance emerge from a bunch of "schools that work?"

    Who were the black children in the LA public schools in the 1960s? They were refugees from the South, like those who went to Detroit or Chicago. They came from rural areas where they could be either laborers or servants, where there was no public education for black students, to speak of, where black people had an average education far below that of white people, often ending in elementary school. Schools had not been integrated in the South or the North despite Brown v Topeka Bd of Education, due to legal maneuvering and intransigence. In Los Angeles, these kids arriving in the area with families seeking work, lived in redlined, segregated neighborhoods in South Central LA. Because LA schools were funded via property taxes, the low-cost housing and lack of industry in that area meant that schools were chronically under-funded and lacked resources to help the newcomers. In the early 70s, the drug cartels targeted the black gangs in South Central, the Bloods & Crips and weapons and drugs flooded the area, resulting in an environment further inconducive to learning, where kids dropped out early to participate in drug activities, and many were shot, terrorized, or killed. In the face of that, Somerby has the nerve to ask why scores were four years below grade level! Baltimore was a Garden Party compared to South Central LA in that same time period.

    Gang violence changed dramatically during the same time period as the black math scores were increasing, largely due to police and community working together to help kids, changes instigated by rioting, investigations, and changes to policing. With changes in redlining practices, black families have moved out of South Central, now replaced by Hispanic immigrants seeking low-income housing.

    In short, bad schooling arises from the racism that confines black people to limited opportunities. That racism has been both systemic and individual. Today, LA is less segregated than Chicago, Boston or other major cities, there is far greater diversity and a more tolerant atmosphere, but black people still suffer from the legacy of obstacles that occurred in Somerby's and my lifetimes, in fact, when he was attending his posh high school and Harvard, before taking up teaching to avoid the draft.

    Somerby has never called out racism here. He calls out those who complain about racism -- how he thinks that will help anything moral, I don't know. I do not forgive him.

  9. "That said, our black kids haven't yet attained the status described in the case of Cather's immigrant girls."

    Cather says very little about the education or aspirations of the farm girls, who mostly worked as servants in the homes of town dwellers, then married farm boys. One or two girls go on to business school in the city.

    No matter how hard a black child works in school, he will still be black, unlike those very white immigrant farm girls. Black men who became physicians in Detroit and bought houses in middle class neighborhoods where black people were not permitted to live were lynched or jailed (for starting the riot that came to throw them out). It is ridiculous for Somerby to suggest any parallel between the situation of farm girls and black children living in major cities with majority-minority schools underfunded for decades.

    But this is how bigots reason. If a white farm girl from Scandinavia can learn math why can't black kids from Baltimore? (I doubt Antonia would do well on today's NAEP, even the 3rd grade version.)

  10. "Even as test scores rose for every demographic group, your lazy, unintelligent upper-end journalists just kept typing that talking-point."

    This is not true. I heard about complaints about the Common Core curriculum changes. I heard complaints about No Child Left Behind, and the time wasted teaching to the test because of the link between testing and school funding instituted by George Bush. I heard about the new Math Framework. I knew about the spoken vocabulary gap between lower and middle class families long before Hillary and Somerby mentioned it. I saw a great deal of discussion about the importance of early childhood education. I also saw Murray's challenge to Head Start and his claims that nothing worked to improve black children's performance based on the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, which was discussed in The Bell Curve, and prominently featured in a special issue of The New Republic edited by Andrew Sullivan. There was a great deal of discussion about whether black kids could benefit from education then. I followed the debates about charter schools, which Obama favored, and De Vos's changes -- which Somerby has never mentioned.

    Somerby seems to think that if Maddow doesn't have a nightly segment on K-12 education, that "no one cares"!!!

  11. First Somerby presents the national average scores and claims that they demonstrate that schools work. Then he quotes from Wilfred Owen an anti-war poem, then claims:

    "Translation: If you could care about the bulk of the nation's low-income kids, you wouldn't be pimping, with such high zest, the old tale about schools that work."

    Does Somerby expect us to believe that if there is any black child for whom school is not working, then no schools work for any black child?

    And this from Somerby, who refuses to address the existence of racism. What happens when a black third grader is singled out by a white or Asian teacher for remedial attention because the teacher thinks he doesn't understand the work in class? The parents take the child to a school psychologist for testing and finds out that the child is two grades ahead of the curriculum in math and reading and is gifted, perhaps too bored to show what he can do in class, or perhaps a bit off-task, because he is only 7-8? A less attentive parent might have taken the teacher's word and allowed the child to be placed in special ed. What would happen to him there? He might acquire low self-esteem and doubts about his own abilities. He might not strive beyond the low expectations set for him. He might become disruptive in class instead of just a bit day-dreamy. He might be socially stigmatized on the playground and lose his original friendships. Because of the bigotry of a single teacher. But Somerby doesn't think racism is a real thing, not important to address, those times have changed. Not for black kids, they haven't changed. And they won't change until there are no more racist teachers, even the kind harboring benign racism about what is possible for black boys and girls, offering them unneeded remedial attention and sympathy instead of recognizing their abilities. I find myself wondering if Somerby ever noticed a bright or gifted black child in any of his classes.

    How is it fair to place the entire weight of a long fraught history of national racism on the slim shoulders of 7 and 8 year old black kids, expected to thrive like the occasional white German farm girl back when education consisted of learning one's letters, reading from the Bible, and doing sums. How can Somerby rationally expect young kids to fight their way out from under racist teachers, administrators, and a society that will not believe he didn't cheat if he happens to do well on a standardized test.

  12. Good Lord! Somerby is offended because Cory Booker was happy for Ketanji Brown-Jackson. No end-zone celebration allowed for black judges, dontcha know? Those little white farm girls might feel jealous.

  13. "Those other kids will be left on their own."

    Actually, if any group is neglected in the public schools, it is gifted kids, who are expected to succeed on their own. The bulk of attention goes toward the middle, with specialists and tutors for the children struggling at the low end. But black kids continue to have difficulties due to home and environmental problems that are too large for schools to address: institutional racism, poverty, health and food insecurity, low literacy at home, parents working multiple jobs, too much TV/video game screen time and too few books, too many guns in their environment, and so on, not school neglect or disinterest. Schools can do little about these things. Somerby pretends that no one cares, but to the extent that he fails to acknowledge such influences, it is arguably Somerby who does not care.

    Liberals want to address social problems, not solely improve schools. Somerby is not a liberal.

  14. "This is the way our human brains are wired, these disconsolate scholars have said. Elites will talk about their own class, and about no one else."

    Somerby is a broken record with this twaddle.

    Who does Somerby think becomes a teacher or school administrator? Who develops curriculum and works to improve teaching methods? Who writes textbooks?

    Elites do all this stuff, because you have to go to college in order to acquire the knowledge and skills to help others.

    I'm sure that Somerby would gladly turn in his membership card in the society of ungrateful Harvard snots, but that doesn't excuse his failure to use his powers for good and not evil.

  15. Somerby finds inspiration in Antonia's story because she is the forerunner of today's Others. The lack of education, insularity and religiosity of rural areas is the foundation upon which Trump's campaign was built. We can hold Willa Cather directly responsible for the mess The Others have put us in. And don't get me started on Aryan racism that uses the purity of young women like Antonia as the justification for subjugating women and oppressing people with darker skin color. Cather is rolling over in her grave at the misuse of her work today.

  16. I'm sure that Somerby knew the same joy as Cory Booker, when Louis CK came back from the dead to win a Grammy for mocking his accusers.

  17. Somerby is often remembered for defending Al Gore, his former college roomate, but the eulogies of Eric Boehlert remind us that he defend Gore from the same press, pointing out their biases and mistreatment of Gore, and he arguably did it louder and better than Somerby did. Boehlert built an actual professional journalism career covering the media, with his latest piece being a criticism that asks why the press is downplaying good news for Biden, such as the recent jobs report?

    Read down to the second half of this report on digby's blog, which describes in detail Boehlert's defense of Gore and his current claims of press misconduct against Biden (something Somerby has ignored):


    Yes, Somerby defended Gore, but Boehlert did it right!

  18. How do black kids nationwide record such enormous gains while Somerby argues that the LAUSD has made no progress at all?

  19. Conservatives are complaining because Biden enacted some restrictions on the ability of charter schools to compete for students. While Obama was supportive of charter schools, Biden has tended to support public schools, especially teachers unions. His current measures are intended to curb charter school enrollment at the expense of local public schools, requiring cooperation between the charter schools and public school districts. This is the design in Los Angeles, where charter schools are part of the district, not separate from it.

    Charter schools are included in NAEP. In 3rd grade math, students in charter schools have lower scores than those in public schools. Charter schools also attract more low income and black students and tend to be more segregated, perhaps because they are located in already segregated areas.

    1. Forgot the link: https://www.nagb.gov/content/dam/nagb/en/documents/what-we-do/quarterly-board-meeting-materials/2012-11/charter-schools-naep-data-analysis.pdf

  20. Somerby juxtaposes My Antonia with black NAEP scores perhaps to lead us to ask why black kids cannot do as well in school as Antonia, who became mistress of a farm. As the book describes, Antonia had little time for schoolwork either -- too much work on that farm. NAEP only started in 1996, but it was routine for farm children to be undereducated, which is why rural America voted for Trump. Somerby has also forgotten that during the same time period, black people in the Jim Crow South could not own land. They could only work on it. They were required to sign a labor contract within the first 10 days of the new year and became wage-slaves and chronically in debt to local storeowners. Antonia's family grew their own food and kept the profits of their farm. As a teen, she worked for a town family after school, keeping the proceeds of that labor. Black children during that same time period had no schools. More to the point, the boy in the story grew up to work in the publishing industry in New York. His infatuation with Antonia seemed to be a boy's crush on a physically beautiful slightly older girl. My Antonia is a coming of age story, not a chronicle of farm success for white women. There is no useful parallel to what black children experienced. There is hard work everywhere, but it makes a big difference if you get to keep the fruits of your labor.

    What game is Somerby playing at? One day he praises white goddesses and the next he praises Goebbels. If this is his idea of a joke, it really isn't funny.

  21. From today's NY Times:

    "With only 1,500 students on a small-town campus in southern Michigan, Hillsdale College is far from the power corridors of government and top-ranked universities.

    But it has outsize influence in the conservative world, with strong ties to the Washington elite. Republican leaders frequently visit, and Justice Clarence Thomas delivered the 2016 commencement address, calling Hillsdale a “shining city on a hill” for its devotion to “liberty as an antecedent of government, not a benefit from government.”

    Now the college is making new efforts to reach beyond its campus, this time with an even younger audience. The college is fighting what it calls “progressive” and “leftist academics” by expanding its footprint in the charter school world, pushing the boundaries on the use of taxpayer money for politically tinged education.

    ..."The college has also developed the “1776 Curriculum,” which sets out to portray America as “an exceptionally good country.” During a time when education has become inflamed by divisive cultural debates, Hillsdale has been criticized for its glossy spin on American history as well as its ideological tilt on topics like affirmative action. Educators and historians have also raised questions about other instruction at Hillsdale’s charter schools, citing their negative take on the New Deal and the Great Society and cursory presentation of global warming.

    Mr. Lee, a Republican, sees his new charter school expansion as part of an effort to develop what he called “informed patriotism” in Tennessee students."

    1. Republicans continue to be laser-focused on the economic needs of the workers who have been left behind by the rigged economy, I see.

    2. You know where this all started, right? The orange racist abomination who tried to overturn our presidential election.

      In austere, starkly divisive remarks, President Trump on Thursday said he would create a commission to promote "patriotic education" and announced the creation of a grant to develop a "pro-American curriculum." The move is largely political — a reaction to a growing push by some academics for schools to teach an American history that better acknowledges slavery and systemic racism.

      In the speech, Trump decried what he said was a "twisted web of lies" being taught in U.S. classrooms about systemic racism in America, calling it "a form of child abuse." He reprised themes from a speech he gave in July at Mount Rushmore.

      "Teaching this horrible doctrine to our children is a form of child abuse, the truest sense," Trump said. "For many years now, the radicals have mistaken Americans' silence for weakness. They're wrong. There is no more powerful force than a parent's love for their children. And patriotic moms and dads are going to demand that their children are no longer fed hateful lies about this country."


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