MISSISSIPPI'S KIDS: We were lucky enough to meet Jonathan Kozol!


The silence of the stars: Long ago and far away, almost surely in the late 1970s, we were lucky enough to meet Jonathan Kozol.

We met him at an informal event staged by the futurist caucus of the U.S. House. We last saw him in Los Angeles, during the 2000 Democratic Convention.

Kozol's public career began at the time when the liberal world still cared about black kids. It began with his brilliant book, Death at an Early Age, which won a U.S. National Book in 1968.

We read that brilliant, beautiful book when we were still in college. For our money, its brilliant, beautiful opening paragraph could imaginably be seen as a bit misleading:

Death at an Early Age

Stephen is eight years old. A picture of him standing in front of the bulletin board on Arab bedouins shows a little light-brown person staring with unusual concentration at a chosen spot upon the floor. Stephen is tiny, desperate, unwell. Sometimes he talks to himself. He moves his mouth as if he were talking. At other times he laughs out loud in class for no apparent reason. He is also an indescribably mild and unmalicious child. He cannot do any of his school work very well. His math and reading are poor. In Third Grade he was in a class that had substitute teachers much of the year. Most of the year before that, he had a row of substitute teachers too. He is in the Fourth Grade now but his work is barely at the level of the Second. Nobody has complained about the things that have happened to Stephen because he does not have any mother or father. Stephen is a ward of the State of Massachusetts and, as such, he has been placed in the home of some very poor people who do not want him now that he is not a baby any more...

That's how this brilliant book began. That's how it begins today. To read the first chapter of Kozol's book, you can just click here.

Starting in the fall of 1969, we began teaching fifth grade in the Baltimore City Schools. For the record, in seven years of teaching fifth grade, we didn't encounter a lot of kids who were tiny, desperate, unwell. 

In the course of those seven years, we did encounter two (2) grade school kids who seemed to be deeply disturbed. By way of contrast, we encountered a lot of kids who were vibrant, active, decent and good—but who were being served rather poorly by the public schools of that era.

Like Stephen, these kids were often substantially "below grade level" in reading and math. This brings us back to something we wrote in yesterday's report.

Also, it brings us back to these numbers from last year's Grade 4 Naep reading test:

Average scores, Grade 4 reading
Naep, 2022
White kids, U.S. public schools: 226.03
Black kids, Mississippi: 204.41

There you see a pair of scores from last year's Naep reading test. As we noted yesterday, it seems to show that Mississippi's black fourth graders were performing two (2) academic years below the nation's white kids. 

(That is a very rough assessment. But it's derived from a standard, very rough rule of thumb in which ten points on the Naep scale is said to be roughly equivalent to one academic year.)

After just four years of graded instruction, those kids are two years behind their peers! And yet, in a grotesque and inexcusable performance, those data are part of a ten-year effort in Mississippi which Nicholas Kristof has characterized as "an educational revolution," even as he quoted an education expert from Harvard saying that Mississippi's reform effort has produced "a huge success story."

In our view, Nicholas Kristof and his expert are defining success way down! Here's what we told you yesterday about achievement gaps like the one we see in those data:

Sixty years ago, statistics like those would have been taken as a sign that a revolution was needed. In these very strange latter days, statistics like those are part of the claim that a miracle has taken place!

Back then, a gap like that would have been seen as a call to arms. Today, Kristof, his expert and the Associated Press are willing to say that those statistics are part of a miracle, a revolution, a huge success story!

Yesterday morning, we weren't thinking of Jonathan's brilliant book when we penned that statement. Later, yesterday afternoon, we looked back at Death at an Early Age. When we did, we recalled the specific way that award-winning volume began:

Death at an Early Age 

Stephen is eight years old. A picture of him standing in front of the bulletin board on Arab bedouins shows a little light-brown person staring with unusual concentration at a chosen spot upon the floor. Stephen is tiny, desperate, unwell. Sometimes he talks to himself. He moves his mouth as if he were talking. At other times he laughs out loud in class for no apparent reason. He is also an indescribably mild and unmalicious child. He cannot do any of his school work very well. His math and reading are poor. In Third Grade he was in a class that had substitute teachers much of the year. Most of the year before that, he had a row of substitute teachers too. He is in the Fourth Grade now but his work is barely at the level of the Second. Nobody has complained about the things that have happened to Stephen because he does not have any mother or father. Stephen is a ward of the State of Massachusetts and, as such, he has been placed in the home of some very poor people who do not want him now that he is not a baby any more...

In Jonathan's rendering, Stephen couldn't "do any of his school work very well. His math and reading are poor...He is in the Fourth Grade now but his work is barely at the level of the Second."

Stephen was two years behind after only four years in school! Way back in that early era, Kozol saw that as an outrage, a problem. 

Today, our elites are willing to treat a "race gap" like that as part of a huge success story! It seems to us that this tells us something about our own tribe's fallen state.

As you know, the AP's report on Mississippi's (admirable) ten-year effort appeared on May 17. Kristof's lengthy essay in the New York Times appeared on June 1.

Given the data we've posted above, it's hard to find words for the moral and intellectual squalor into which our liberal elites have descended when it comes to a topic like this. That said, it's exactly as we've always told you:

Our liberal elites stopped caring about the lives and the interests of the nation's black kids a very long time ago.

Today, we'll leave you with a question, just as we did yesterday. Once again, our question goes like this:

Who could possibly think that the data we've posted above are part of a "huge success story?" Who could think such a thing?

We'll leave you today with one additional observation, and with one additional question. Good people, riddle us this:

In the six weeks since that AP report appeared, you've never heard a single word about Mississippi's kids on our blue tribe's "cable news" channel. 

None of our favorite corporate stars has uttered so much as a single word. They haven't discussed Mississippi's kids.

Why do you think that is?

Tomorrow: Another brief interlude


  1. Today, Somerby wants us to riddle a premise that is false. The hutzpah!

    In the past, Somerby has complained about news reports discussing racial achievement gaps; he did not like how it involved discussions about the role of poverty and segregation, or how it focused on the gap but ignored increases in Black scores.

    If you’re a “liberal” you just can’t win with this guy, it doesn’t matter your stance, he’s out to get you.

    1. "... our blue tribe's "cable news" channel."


  2. MS only desegregated its schools in 1971. Today, 32 of its schools are still under a desegregation order (which means they are not integrated). This is because of resistance to recognizing the civil rights of black people in the state of MS. Yes, this attitude toward race in MS infects the schools as well as other part of life for black people in a backward state. Somerby will never tell you about that. He has expressed the view that racism is over and that black kids will have a difficult time coming up with even one act of racism from their personal lives. Never mind that these school scores put the lie to the idea that racism has no impact on black kids.

    The NAEP shows substantial improvement in reading scores for both black and white students. Somerby initially hinted that the scores could be the result of cheating. Then he tried to blame various forms of statistical anomaly, but his claims have not held up to examination. Now he wants to discredit the MS improvement by saying that as long as gaps remain, such improvement should not be applauded.

    If Somerby wants to see those gaps decrease, he is going to have to tolerate a few people being called racist. Because that is at the heart of the remaining gap. It isn't that the black kids are all like Stephen, as he himself notes. The problem is more complex than that.

    Part of the gap problem arises because those good deserving black kids in Baltimore were given an untrained, ill-equipped teacher like Somerby (for 7 years) and not someone like kids are now receiving in MS, with 2-1/2 courses in reading instruction methods and a proper credential, the resources of a reading specialist, and monitoring to make sure they are making good progress. This should have happened in the classes Somerby taught. If it had, he might not today be so critical of efforts that are demonstrably improving reading scores for black and white children in MS, a state that has started at the bottom of the heap in terms of reading instruction and has now reached the middle.

    The answer to Kozol's criticisms was not to put untrained, incompetent teachers into inner city classrooms, under the theory that at least they care. The answer is to do what MS has done, to pass legislation with proper funding of schools and then implement an effective reading program. But now that MS has done that, Somerby cannot find a good word to say about their progress.

    Stephen is a sad case. Does Somerby realize that helping Stephen doesn't only require reforming schools but also the foster care system? I am wondering what Somerby did to help those two Stephens in his own classes. How much did he advocate for them, or did he simply pass them along to the next teacher at the end of the year?

    1. All that most maddens and torments; all that stirs up the lees of things; all truth with malice in it; all that cracks the sinews and cakes the brain; all the subtle demonisms of life and thought; all evil, to crazy Perry , were visibly personified, and made practically assailable in the Daily Howler.

  3. "Our liberal elites stopped caring about the lives and the interests of the nation's black kids a very long time ago."

    Are the people in MS who have been perpetuating those gaps a bunch of liberal elites?

    Donald Trump won MS by 57.6 to 41.1 for Biden. MS is 43% black and still elected Trump. Only 22% of people in MS have a college education, compared to the median of 31% across all states. Income is way lower in MS. Are these really liberal elites?



    You cannot close racial gaps without addressing racism, but Somerby has told us "liberal elites" that we cannot do that because it upsets the right wing. Racism in MS is a major, entrenched problem going back to the civil war and slave ownership. It was the most segregated state in the country in the 1960s. It is still segregated. How do you close the gaps under such conditions, Mr. Somerby?

  4. Yesterday, Somerby and Drum were very concerned about whether the 9% retention rate was causing an artificial improvement in NAEP scores. About 10% of students attend private schools or are homeschooled in MS. How might that affect the scores for white students compared to black ones? Private schools are supposed to be included in NAEP testing.

    If Somerby is so damned concerned about a racial gap, why didn't he focus on that, instead of trying to prove that MS didn't actually improve its reading scores at all?

    In fact, Somerby's vendetta against school progress is puzzling in someone who claims to care about those good, decent kids.

  5. "In the six weeks since that AP report appeared, you've never heard a single word about Mississippi's kids on our blue tribe's "cable news" channel."

    I thought this began because Morning Joe on MSNBC called the improvement a miracle?

    I don't watch that show, so Somerby is technically right that I haven't heard a word, but surely someone else watched that show.

    1. It was an aside for something Bob is quite right in pointing out the media doesn’t cover much. Education, Defense Spending, the wealth gap, you could point to a lot of things. Unless you are a fool like Bob, it doesn’t make something like Trump’s attempt to overthrow the Government unimportant. Do the people who made Trump possible care about poor kids trying to do well in school? I would say they are the people who trashed up and dumbed down the media and made it all but impossible to cover more serious things.
      But Bob is only here to glorify the young Bob and center on those he hates.

  6. Kozol is still active. He plans to publish a new book next year. Has Somerby read any of Kozol’s books that came after “Death at an Early Age”? For example, “Savage Inequalities”, (1991), where he discusses the massive disparities in public school funding? How about “The Shame of the Nation: The Restoration of Apartheid Schooling in America” (2005) where Kozol decries the resegregation of public schools? But that would put Kozol on Somerby’s list of virtue signaling liberals/progressives who foolishly talk about segregated schools in the 21st century.

    For that matter, did Somerby mention the part of “Death at an Early Age” where Kozol discusses the entrenched racism in Boston’s public schools in 1967, or that Kozol was fired for reading a Langston Hughes poem to his class?

    Does kozol, as part of the “liberal world”, care about public schools/poor kids/black kids? It’s hard to pinpoint Somerby’s targets, because he shifts from saying “ no one cares about public schools/poor kids/black kids” to “ our liberal elites don’t care about public schools/poor kids/black kids “, and sometimes “ our corporate stars don’t care about public school/poor kid/black kids. “

  7. Yes, our elites are reconciled to the race gap. More precisely they are reconciled to the gap, regardless of race. Social promotion, which is used in New York and other cities, is a way of giving up on students who can't do the work. The students who are behind are disproportionately black, but they include all races.

    Look at how the educational establishment reacted to No Child Left Behind. They didn't like it. They implemented the program in a non-creative way, with just rote, boring work. Eventually they killed the program, without suggesting an alternative. They simply gave up on low-performing students.

    Why did the educational establishment give up on low performing students? Did they simply not have approaches that would work? Were they too lazy to try to deal with this challenge? Do they not believe that these students have the mental capacity to catch up?

    BTW this certainly cannot be blamed on conservatives. The education establishment is solidly liberal.

    1. When children cannot do schoolwork, it is tempting to call them lazy or unmotivated. Similarly, when schools are failing children, it is tempting to say they are lazy, don't care (another version of unmotivated). Usually the problem for both groups is that they do not know how to improve.

      There are experts who can help kids with reading, math and other school-related problems. It takes money to recruit and pay such experts. Under-funded schools do not have counselors or specialists, some do not have librarians or nurses. That all goes back to money and budgets have been controlled in many states by conservative legislatures, and at the local level by school boards focused on the bottom line. We have watched schools shed their resources, art and music first, then counselors and nurses and reading specialists and special ed teachers. If we want to see improvement for students and schools both, we need to be willing to pay for it.

      That was the first change in MS. They decided they were tired of being last in the stats so they passed legislation to fund the improvements they wanted to see, training their teachers, hired reading specialists, implemented a better reading program based on phonics, and then tested to make sure the kids were learning and address the needs of those with problems (such as reading disabiliies).

      The lack of funding can definitely be blamed on conservatives. If you tie the hands of school administrators by underfunding their schools, what else can they do but adjust and the adjustments hurt kids. The liberal establishment has certainly complained about this, and it has ceaselessly pointed out the impact of conservative policies (such as diverting public school funding to voucher programs and charter schools).

      Rather than blaming each other, right and left should work together to address the needs of our kids. We haven't been doing that. Conservatives are not engaged in a concerted attack on public schools as a political ploy to win elections, manufacturing problems that do not exist. How will that help underfunded schools? Resources are being diverted to address culture war issues. That needs to stop. More states should look at what happened in MS and think about how to replicate that effort in their own states.

      Liberals have not "given up" on black kids. That is Somerby's attempt to slime liberals again.

    2. I guess we just have to watch all those conservative laboratories of democracy to watch them erase those achievement gaps. Are you watching, David?

      Of course, those gaps cannot solely be eradicated by the public schools. It requires efforts outside of schools, such as reducing poverty and inequality, which takes public and political effort, so blaming education or education experts or “liberals” for not caring is, like Somerby, a facile and very easy criticism to make when you wish to be purely partisan in your attacks.

      You seem to imply that the NCLB would have somehow magically worked, but you have no evidence of that. It was replaced under Obama with the bipartisan ESSA. (Passed 369-54 in the house and 85-12 in the senate). The newer act maintains much of the NCLB.

    3. Correction: "Conservatives are not..." shoudl be "Conservatives are NOW..."

    4. mh -- thanks for pointing out ESSA. I was unaware of that law. Do you know how well it's working?

    5. Who voted against ESSA?

      In the senate, there were 12 nay votes, all Republican. Ted Cruz and another Republican didn't vote. Bernie Sanders also didn't vote.

      In the house, all of the nay votes were from Republicans.

      This suggests that even bipartisan bills are opposed by some Republicans.

      This is why I find Somerby's accusation that liberals don't care about kids, black kids, or education, ridiculous. Republicans also tend to vote against school bonds at the local level.

    6. Correction: “Conservatives” are not an actual cohort, they are “right wingers”.

      High stakes reforms like NCLB tend to always be a disaster, in large part because the intent is not progress, but to maintain power structures.


      More effective than trying the reform-of-the-month club, is diminishing poverty and racism.

      Poverty is not even difficult, for example, during Covid when the government expanded the Child Tax Credit, it led to the greatest single year drop in child poverty.

    7. I wouldn’t call NCLB a “reform of the month” in the same way as using colored cellophane to cure dyslexia.

      Quack cures are common in medicine too. The field developed evidence-based medicine in reaction. The same has happened in the field of psychotherapy. Education has gotten better at identifying proven best practices. The cynicism remaining in each of these fields is no longer justified, unless enthusiasts are unwilling to consider the evidence.

  8. It’s incredible how isolated Somerby makes you himself. If you Google “Mississippi naep”, you get hit after hit of editorials, local news items, and articles in education journals talking about Mississippi’s naep scores. Some of the editorialists offer the same opinion as Somerby, and have even specifically criticized Kristof’s New York Times opinion.

    It’s tiresome to see the same assumptions offered up time and time again, about how Mississippi’s third grade retention policy clearly exaplains the score gains, when in fact it does no such thing. It’s almost a type of meme or talking point amongst those such as Somerby who wish to express their “obvious” concern for Mississippi’s public school students, as opposed to those in the liberal world who clearly don’t.

    Here is the list of states that currently require retention of third graders:

    Alabama, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Delaware, DC, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas.

    (Although Michigan recently ended the policy).

    Here is a sample of average scores for grade 4 reading from some of these states. The first score is from 1998, the second from 2022:

    Ok: 220-208
    MS: 198-217
    NC: 213-216
    SC: 209-216
    CA: 202-214
    DC: 182-207

    On the surface, it would seem that retention alone does not explain the score gains in Mississippi.

    1. The main question is how much that extra year of instruction for Mississippi's lower performers improves their performance on the Naep, and with it Mississippi's average score.

    2. That is measured by the “gate” test they take again at the end of 3rd grade. They flunked it, then nearly all passed it, but you can measure how much their scores increased from T1 to T2. Retention helped nearly all students pass.

      As mh noted, with cites of studies and NAEP data, there is no evidence that retention increased the MS average score on the recent NAEP test. This has been discussed at length over ths past 5+ weeks, in comments.

    3. I was correcting mh's mischaracterization.

    4. Then where is your data & sources?

    5. That's on you young'in.

      Who ever said Mississippi’s third grade retention policy clearly explains the score gains?

    6. 9:53: What mischaracterization?

      Somerby made the claim that retention alone increases scores on June 5:

      “One thing seems fairly obvious. A state which makes a lot of third graders repeat third grade will almost surely show an improved average score on the next year's Grade 4 tests.”

      (“INSTANT ASSESSMENTS: Ravitch blasted Kristof's claims!” http://dailyhowler.blogspot.com/2023/06/instant-assessments-ravitch-blasted.html?m=1)

      Now check out Oklahoma that I listed above. They require retention, and their scores dropped.

    7. Oh, I thought you were claiming someone claimed Mississippi’s third grade retention policy clearly explained all the score gains.

    8. It's evident the above quote does not explicitly claim that retention alone is the reason for the improvement in test scores. It's suggesting if a state implements a policy of retaining a significant number of third graders, the average score on Grade 4 tests in the following year will likely improve.

    9. I would like to know the reasoning you employed to come to the conclusion that that statement was a suggestion that retention alone increased scores.

      Can you explain for me the entire thought process that you went through coming to that interesting conclusion?

    10. It's just fascinating because that claim in no way says retention alone increases scores. It doesn't come remotely close in any way whatsoeverto say or imply anything about retention alone . Yet you see it there, like a specter in a dream. It’s fascinating. It's an utter, complete and total misreading. Which happens so often. Can you take us through exactly your reasoning from start to finish?

    11. Why is it that the trolls here are always supporting Somerby?

    12. I am interested in why the criticisms lodged are frequently so completely absolutely wrong frequently the dumbest and most absurd ways. And how so many of them are based on misreadings of bone simple passages like the one here by mh. Don't you find it strange?

    13. I always forget you're trolling me. In that way you do a very very good job and you are very successful and should be commended.

    14. mh:

      Did Somerby make the claim that retention alone increases scores before or after he claimed Mississippi was cheating? ;)

      Your inability to comprehend simple written passages is so interesting ... and ironic especially in this context.

    15. He discussed past cheating on other tests, but then assured you that you can’t cheat on the naep.

      All of these are quotes from Somerby recently. He is clearly stating that retention creates an advantage, ie, increases scores, in and of itself. The data, as I have shown, does not support this:

      “A state which retains a lot of third graders likely has a statistical advantage on the Grade 4 Naep when compared to other states which don't retain lots of kids. “

      “To what extent did Mississippi gain a (misleading) statistical advantage from its third grade retention policy?”

      “Especially after considering the likely statical effects of Mississippi's third grade retention policy, we'll show why there's much less to be thrilled about there than may seem to meet the eye. “

      “In an extremely careless way, Kristof blew right past one seemingly obvious reason for Mississippi's higher Grade 4 Naep scores:
      We refer to the obvious statistical advantage gained by a state which adopts Mississippi's third grade retention policy, in which third graders who can't pass a reading test are held back for a second year in third grade.”

      This is all in the context, not of scores from 9 years ago, but from last year.

    16. That's good. That is exactly it. None of those passages. Not one of them. Comes remotely close to making a claim that retention alone increases scores. So you are trolling right? You're just making this up to bust people's chops or something?

      Please tell me why you think any of those four quotes would be in any way be related to a claim that retention alone increases test scores. Can you take me through your entire process of coming to believe that?

      There's no way someone could be that obtuse.

    17. I do realize too that admitting you made an overstatement and you were wrong is equal to death for you.

    18. Oh wait- maybe you again feel like the clearly and obviously inaccurate claim you made was implied. Good old implied!


    19. AnonymousJune 29, 2023 at 11:32 PM
      Why is it that the trolls here are always supporting Somerby?”

      You have a strange definition of trolls. The people who are always coming on here in 10 seconds three times a day to harp at him, THEY are the trolls.

      People who agree with a poster are not trolls.

    20. mm makes a claim that is demonstrably false and then tries to defend it with quotes that don't come close to backing it up. It's weird!

    21. "The data, as I have shown, does not support this:"

      The data? A table of data with 3 columns and 6 rows?

      The ignorance is facsinating.

    22. The only other person here who calls mh "mm" is Cecelia. That suggests you are that troll.

      You don't have a real argument against mh, so you are now making shit up. That's what right wingers do. Make stuff up.

      Stop wasting everyone's time.

    23. The ignorance is vast and fascinating.

    24. I’m a troll, but I’m not that troll.

    25. I think you should consider that you have made the Democratic party your religion.

      There has to be a reason you have visions of things that are not there.

    26. I get accused of being someone else almost every day.

      I’m going to start taking it as a compliment that anonymices must think my typos and misspellings are feigned.

    27. Cecelia, you are someone else everyday. Your typos show spiritual growth.

    28. Anonymouse 5:15pm, thnks.

  9. Bob once again pats himself on the back for despising liberal elites. Did Bob intentionally repeat the passage from Kozel, his own clumsy tribute to “miles to go before I sleep?”
    Bob’s really down to one subject: virtue signaling not really on his own behalf but on the illusion of himself as a young man, the lone good person, the only one who cared.

    1. Sometimes it just makes you want to smoke a bunch of crack and strong arm a communist Chinese business man out of $10 million. Don't you feel that way? Who knows? They may even wire you the money. It's happened before.

    2. Cool fantasy, but why waste time with allegations over penny ante stuff when Ivanka Trump and Kushner made hundreds of millions while “working” in the White House, in part from fast tracked trademarks from China (including for voting machines), and when Kushner received $2 billion (!) from the Saudis, in part as hush money for killing a journalist.

  10. Good schools depend on good teachers. Today the NY Times has an article about a nationwide teacher shortage. I have seen several article describing how teachers are leaving their jobs in states enacting laws restricting teaching in the classroom. It isn't that they necessarily want to teach controversial things but the laws are so broad that they don't know what might get them fired, and no one can teach well with a hatchet hanging over their heads. So they are either leaving the field or moving to areas with better teaching environments.

    If we want to improve the schools, we need to stop this attack on teachers by organized political groups on the right who are using this as an election issue.

    You might call this "giving up" on the kids, but I see it as responding to pressure. Anyone who has the education to teach can also find a job that pays much better in a related field, such as corporate training. Teachers have other options these days. The stupidity of those driving good teachers out of the classroom boggles my mind. These teachers are not all liberal, and they are not representative of "liberal elites." In 2016, 50% voted for Hillary, 39% for Trump, and the remainder for a 3rd party (thank you Bernie).

  11. mh mentioned Kozol's The Shame of the Nation. Here is a review:


    "Public school resegregation is a ""national horror hidden in plain view,"" writes former educator turned public education activist Kozol (Savage Inequalities, Amazing Grace). Kozol visited 60 schools in 11 states over a five-year period and finds, despite the promise of Brown v. Board of Education, many schools serving black and Hispanic children are spiraling backward to the pre-Brown era. These schools lack the basics: clean classrooms, hallways and restrooms; up-to-date books in good condition; and appropriate laboratory supplies. Teachers and administrators eschew creative coursework for rote learning to meet testing and accountability mandates, thereby ""embracing a pedagogy of direct command and absolute control"" usually found in ""penal institutions and drug rehabilitation programs."" As always, Kozol presents sharp and poignant portraits of the indignities vulnerable individuals endure. ""You have all the things and we do not have all the things,"" one eight-year-old Bronx boy wrote the author. In another revealing exchange, a cynical high school student tells his classmate, a young woman with college ambitions who was forced into hair braiding and sewing classes, ""You're ghetto-so you sew."" Kozol discovers widespread acceptance for the notion that ""schools in ghettoized communities must settle for a different set of academic and career goals"" than schools serving middle-and upper-class children. Kozol tempers this gloom with hopeful interactions between energetic teachers and receptive children in schools where all is not lost. But these ""treasured places"" don't hide the fact, Kozol argues, that school segregation is still the rule for poor minorities, or that Kozol, and the like-minded politicians, educators and advocates he seeks out, believe a new civil rights movement will be necessary to eradicate it."

    Somerby has spent numerous essays trying to undermine the idea that we should be attempting to re-integrate our schools. Minority kids do better in integrated schools, partly because such schools have better resources, but they also benefit from diversity. Somerby has repeatedly attacked efforts to integrate. That leads me to suspect that Somerby doesn't care much about racial gaps, except as a hammer to beat up liberals.

    MS implemented a program that is benefitting both black and white children. Somerby has spent 5 weeks now attacking those results and the efforts to achieve them. Then he calls for liberals to close the gaps. One cannot, in good faith, call for change and then attack all efforts to achieve it.

    1. When has Somerby ever been in favor of segregation? He’s made fun of the white savior ideal from the East Coast elites, but that’s not the same thing.

    2. He has created specious statistical arguments that there are not enough white kids to integrate majority minority schools, arguing that we should give up because of the statistical reality. In doing this he has treated current school district boundaries as sacrosanct, arguing that they cannot be changed, or combined with other districts (as occurs in some states). So, given the numbers, he suggests that people urging integration are making everyone feel bad and should give up their activism.

      I don't think I've heard hm express your idea about the white savior ideal, but nice try. If you are going to support Somerby, go back and read what he said. It is careless and lazy to just make up some argument of your own, put it in his mouth, and not consider what he actually said.

    3. Somerby argued that desegregation led to violent protests by white people (which he remembered) and was disruptive, so it was wrong to renew the demand for integrated schools. In comments, people pointed out that Somerby could not demand that the racial gap be closed while denying a demonstrated way of increasing scores of black children. References to studies showing the benefits of integrated schools for black kids were posted here in comments. Again, no mention by Somerby of any "white savior ideal" but perhaps you are using your own words to refer to Somerby's claim that white liberals are being performative? That's not the same thing.

  12. There is David in Cal in an above comment. He is a conservative, and conservatives routinely express distrust if not outright contempt for the federal government. Here he is claiming that liberals undermined the federal NCLB, which would have surely worked otherwise. Why? Because it was passed under Republican George W Bush?

    But it is conservatives who have expressed interest in eliminating the Department of Education from the federal government because they hate federal meddling with our kids’ education.

    In fact, with recent actions, conservative state legislatures have decided to simply hand parents a wad of cash, so that they can decide for themselves on the open market how to educate their kids, including religious, charter, and private schools and even home schooling. How this does not have the effect of undermining public education is anyone’s guess, and how it helps educate children is also unknown, but this is part of the conservative war on those fonts of woke indoctrination, America’s public schools.

  13. The racial gap is the wrong gap. The right gap is between Individuals rather than groups. Is there any difference between a white kid, an Asian kid or a black kid who are all 4 years behind grade level? No. Nor is there any difference if these three kids are 4 years ahead of grade level.

    When we look at individuals, we see that the gap is a lot wider than we think. I suspect that there are some 8th graders who are 5 years above grade level and some who are 5 years behind. We can never eliminate this gap, nor should we try. Our goal should be to educate each child as well as possible, regardless of ethnicity,

    1. Ultimately, a school is working with each child and each kid has his own unique situation, but there are some broad underlying factors that can be addressed that will help many kids. One is school lunches because being hungry interferes with learning. Similarly, a community that addresses poverty will help multiple kids without knowing exactly which ones have benefitted. I'm not sure why schools haven't had social workers affiliated with them, or perhaps that what counselors are doing.

      In order to help each child do as well as possible, we need to stop eliminating the funding and resources needed to help those kids. Because poor kids tend to live in poor neighborhoods, and because schools depend on property taxes for their funding, a poor child will go to a poor school. I don't know why that hasn't been fixed, since the unfairness is obvious. Because black kids are more likely to be poor than white kids, there are more black kids living in poor neighborhoods and going to underfunded, worse schools lacking resources to help them with school or life problems that interfere with learning.

      We could do something about this, but our country lacks the will to help the poor. That may go back to convenient attitudes about why the poor are poor (laziness, lack of motivation, for example), or perhaps it is the result of lack of empathy. But it is the right that stands in the way of such change, not the left.

    2. Utter nonsense, David.

      You might as well say that it was merely individuals that were enslaved in our country, not Blacks.

      You might as well say that it was individuals that were killed in right wing Nazi concentration camps, not Jews.


    3. @2:59 The NAZIs were not right wing, by the definitions used today in the US. They were not really left wing either, but In some ways they were closer to left wing

      1. Right wingers want smaller less powerful, less intrusive government. Left wingers want more powerful government.

      2. Also the NAZI called themselves Socialists. That's what the Z stands for. Socialism is left wing.

      3. Right wingers want equal treatment of all races and ethnicities. In a right wing government, nobody's ethnicity would be recorded. No policy would depend on ethnicity. Today's left wing want ethnicities to be treated differently.

      4. The NAZIs were down on religion, even Christianity.

    4. More utter nonsense, David.

      Nazis weren’t socialists nor “closer to left wing”, this is one of the oddest claims right wingers often try to sucker people with. Crack a book, learn some history. (Before the Jews, communists/socialists/leftists were the first ones put in concentration camps.)

      Nazis were down with religion, they were in fact mostly Catholics, which caused some consternation with the popes, again, crack a book.

      Right wingers want hierarchy and dominance.

      Leftists want egalitarianism and equality.

      This has historically been the case, back in the French Revolution, and even going back 10k years.

      Leftists tend to focus on systems and institutions instead of individuals because of various notions, including: their goal is equality, not hierarchy, meritocracy, or dominance; they generally don’t believe in free will, but do recognize that humans are naturally communal and good-willed; hierarchy and dominance are arbitrary, the result of privilege and happenstance.

      Right wingers want to ignore oppressions, such as racism, because they are effective tools used to maintain dominance and hierarchy.

    5. "we need to stop eliminating the funding and resources needed to help those kids."

      As by far the richest most powerful country in the history of human existence, we don't have the funds to help them.


    6. To be fair, it’s not helping Ukraine that’s keeping schools underfunded, that’s an important effort, stoping an imperialist and fascist country.

      It’s more the obscene and useless bloated defense budgets starting with Reagan (generally cut by Dem presidents, Ukraine aside). It’s more the obscene tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations, the subsidies for corporations, the flip flopping by right wingers on deficit panic, etc.

    7. In David’s thought world, Z stands for socialism. Maybe that’s why the Russians paint Z on their vehicles in Ukraine.

    8. That’s why they have such a hard on for equality.

    9. @7:00 wrote "You might as well say that it was merely individuals that were enslaved in our country, not Blacks. You might as well say that it was individuals that were killed in right wing Nazi concentration camps, not Jews."

      I am Jewish. I lost relatives in the Holocaust. But, how does that affect ME? Does the Holocaust make me a worse student? No. It didn't prevent me from passing actuarial exams. It does not prevent me from living in the US today with full civil rights.

      If anything, the Holocaust may have motivated me to work a little harder and achieve a little more.

    10. So, I can't even comment here anymore on any crap David posts. I have had two comments removed this morning.

    11. Comment removals are utterly capricious.

    12. The right needs to stop falsely claiming that the Nazis were socialists

      The Nazis hated socialists. It was the governments that rebuilt Europe that embraced social welfare programs.


      Face it, David, you're a neo-Nazi.

  14. 2:59, I agree.

    Schools do have affiliated social workers and therapists (my ex is a school psychologist), and there are systems in place to help students in need of mental health, but like you say, these things can only go so far, as there are underlying foundational issues.

    School funding issues go deeper than just property tax, for example, there’s differences between revenue and expenditures, and there are issues with debt and debt financing, here’s an entertaining video that covers it, funding discussion starts around 16 min:


    1. Reconcile with your ex.

    2. He's available. You take him.

    3. I don’t do same-sex.

  15. "On Fox News, DeSantis said if elected president he would strike back at woke by getting rid of the Commerce Department which is home to the National Weather Service."

    He is also talking about eliminating the Dept of Education and the IRS, which won't get rid of taxes because the military must still be funded.

  16. "The Supreme Court ruled in favor of a Christian web design business who refused to provide services for same-sex weddings on the basis that it violated her first amendment rights.

    The vote was 6 to 3.

    It’s important to note that the alleged request for the website was made up."

    So, now the Supreme Court is limiting the rights of gay people using fabricated cases devised for that purpose. What does Jesus say about lying? It must be righteous because so many right wing Christians do it.

    1. It will be a very short step until we're back to lunch counter refusing to serve gays, and then refusing to serve black people or women or Asians, because Christianity.

    2. The Supreme Court doesn’t give advisory opinions — but it just advised Lorie Smith that IF same sex couples ask her to design a website for their wedding, and IF she refuses on free speech grounds, then the state’s anti-discrimination law can’t be applied to her . . .Laurence Tribe πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡¦ ⚖️