Friday, March 13, 2009

Mississippi Burning After Obama Speech

The Daily Howler has some wonderful stuff on the Obama speech.
On Thursday, he focused on Obama's comparison of Wyoming and Mississippi.
One thing he didn't mention is that Mississippi teacher unions - you know, the cause of all ed problems – probably have little impact. They can pretty much get rid of any teacher they want and load up on quality teachers. Maybe even send the entire Teach for America corps in there to save them.

Here is a excerpt, but make sure to read the entire thing:

Percentage of public school students eligible for free/reduced lunch:
Wyoming: 29.7 percent
Mississippi: 67.5 percent

Gee. Could the human stories behind those data help explain that the gap in reading achievement—the “seventy-point” gap Obama’s staff didn’t even bother to source? Beyond that, let’s look at some other data about these two groups of kids. Because of the weight of American history, these data are relevant too:

Racial composition of public school populations:
Wyoming: 84.5 percent white/1.5 percent black
Mississippi: 46.5 percent white/50.8 percent black

Given what we know of American history—the history which extends right up to this day—could those data help explain the gap between those states’ reading scores? Or must the gap be “explained” by the measure your bloodless elites have picked out?

Might we spend a few brief moments lingering here, out in the real world? In one of these states, forced illiteracy was official state policy, for several centuries, for what is now its largest student racial group. In states like Mississippi—in states like Maryland, the state where we type—it was against the law, for several centuries, to teach black children how to read. After that, Jim Crow came to visit—and he spread his blight all around, perhaps for another century. (No, the effects don’t go away just because we’ve decided we hate them.) And yet we are told, by our first black president, that it must be the difference between these states’ current “standards” that explains the gap in their reading scores! Good God! It’s hard to find words for the sheer stupidity—for the cosmic heartlessness—contained in such pure, scripted nonsense.

(By the way: There’s also a substantial difference in per pupil spending. In the 2005-2006 school year, Wyoming spent $11,392 per pupil—almost sixty percent more than Mississippi’s $7166. No, that really isn’t the difference. Then too, it doesn’t help.)

Does anyone think that this reading-score gap would flip if these two states swapped “standards?” Does anyone think the difference in these states’ reading scores is really determined by those “standards?” And by the way, might we make a thoroughly predictable observation?

As noted, Wyoming’s fourth-graders scored 17 points higher on the NAEP reading test in 2007. (Speaking very roughly, people sometimes say that ten points on this scale corresponds to one academic year. That’s a very rough rule of thumb. For all NAEP reading data, start here.) But guess what? Quite predictably, that seventeen points starts melting away if you control for income and race. Among non-poverty students, Wyoming’s fourth-graders led Mississippi’s by only six points; ditto if we compare white students only. (Wyoming has so few black kids that the NAEP can’t provide meaningful data.) And the gaps are even smaller in eighth-grade reading, where Wyoming’s non-poverty kids outscored Mississippi’s by four points.

We can’t recall if NAEP’s published data let us compare non-poverty white kids (middle-class whites) in the two states. (Again, Wyoming has too few blacks.) We’ll keep hunting on NAEP’s site. But we’ll take a wild guess here, based on what we’ve already seen: If we compare middle-class white kids in these states, that reading gap will be quite small—or it won’t exist. In other words, when we start comparing apples to apples, the troubling effects of those divergent “state standards” start to wither away. And duh. That’s because Mississippi’s problems aren’t caused by its current state educational standards. Her problems are caused by American history—and by the heartless, know-nothing conduct of our bloodless elites.

Here is a comment from Andrew
on our post
More Fallout From Obama Ed Speech

How reactionary and retrograde was President Obama's education address? Well, it got an "A" from the poster boy for neoliberalism Jeb Bush. The former privatizer-in-chief of the state of Florida gave it his stamp of approval saying, "It is great that the president supported accountability, charter schools and pay for teacher performance. . . The president has the potential of leading the country to meaningful education reform."

Jeb Bush rose to power and the NCLB appeared on the scene because and when the "global economy" was riding herd on this planet. Globalization is at the very foundation of business model for schools, charters, vouchers, data driven instruction, merit pay, standardized testing, and most perversely of all, paying students to consume their version of education. It was the reason the Business Roundtable and Bill Gates were interested in public education at all. The CEO's wanted a profit making private school system and Gates wanted visas for Indians and Taiwanese who will do Microsoft's high tech work for less than MIT grads. There is a data collection frenzy over public schools nowadays simply to serve the interests of Bill Gates computer software company and Michael Dell's computer hardware company. America's children are irrelevant to these people.

But something happened on the way to a global economy and a privatized education system to serve it. The whole thing fell apart. Opps, AIG needs its fourth taxpayer bailout. Opps, Freddie Mac needs another $30 billion from the government. Opps, the FDIC needs another $500 billion to cover impending bank failures. Opps, GE's credit worthiness is downgraded by S&P. Opps, the governments of Iceland and Latvia have fallen and they can't get up.

When a massive systemic planetary force like globalization dies its like a Hummer that has run out of gas. It will continue rolling down the road awhile longer. And that accounts for the absurdities that are coming out of the President's mouth now. His tune will soon change though.

Because soon it will be every private school and charter school investor for himself. Bill Gates, the primary funder of the KIPP charters, lost $18 billion of his personal fortune this past year. Private school students are being moved to the public schools by their debt ridden parents in significant numbers already. The President's own inability to yet grasp that the world he used to live in is about to evaporate is dangerous. He himself will soon be fighting off the coup makers in the midst of the greatest economic dislocation the American people have ever experienced.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

There is a similar situation happening at A Philip Randolph High School. The Principal Mr. Henry Rubio is using the power giving to him by the department of education to abuse the Staff by playing the fear game with everybody in the building. in addition to that there are allegation by many teachers Grade as well as overall data of the school has been change. Furthermore, there are also allegation that principal never had a teaching license and never show the school he went to form where he claim to have earn his education. Many people have try to look at his credential in the NEW YORK STATE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION AND THE ONLY THING SHOWING IS THAT HE JUST GOT HIS ADMINISTRATOR LICENSE. OTHER ALLEGATIONS INCLUDE SPYING ON TEACHER,