Sunday, May 11, 2014

A Return to "Separate But Equal"

This is just sick:
Under a dramatic new approach to rating public schools, Illinois students of different backgrounds no longer will be held to the same standards — with Latinos and blacks, low-income children and other groups having lower targets than whites for passing state exams, the Tribune has found.

In reading, for example, 85 percent of white third- through eighth-grade students statewide will be expected to pass state tests by 2019, compared with about 73 percent for Latinos and 70 percent for black students, an analysis of state and federal records shows.

The concept is part of a fundamental and, according to critics, troubling shift in how public schools and students will be judged after the federal government recently allowed Illinois to abandon unpopular requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001.
As Newsalert says:
Because Arne Duncan , Barack Obama, and modern day "progressives" really believe people with brown skin aren't as bright as white folk! No word yet on when Illinois Democrats will stage a Klan style rally in honor of "separate but equal" in downtown Chicago. For a look at how many powerful American progressives feel about brown people click on this link.
Is there a better example out there of what President Bush called "the soft bigotry of low expectations"?


maxutils said...

As a purist ... yes, every group should be held to the same standard. And here, they are ... the difference in what it takes to pass the test is the same. Al they're doing is breaking up demographic data, which is statistically useful. I would assume (although I wasn't able to access the article without subscribing to the paper) that these rate reflect increases in performance for each demographic group. Maybe it's misguided, but if your goal is to increase performance across the board, separating the data might be useful. And they are just targets. Standardized testing results always fall short, anyway unless the student has an incentive to perform well ... like the PSAT, SAT, and ACTs ... I also don't think it's a question of 'brightness'. If we're honest, as teachers, we know that the single most important thing affecting a student is parental involvement. The school is basically a tool. Sure, every now and then a truly great teacher can inspire someone to be great, but that isn't the regular outcome. And, minorities are statistically more likely to come from single parent homes. I think that is much more likely to account for the gap -- but keeping track of it seems responsible to me. Pretending it doesn't exist helps no one.

Happy Elf Mom (Christine) said...

Pff to "parental involvement." I figured out long ago the schools were really not there "for the kids" and it was all a big business of "pack 'em deep and teach 'em cheap."

At least at the middle and high school level, there is a bit of leeway and students can take upper- or lower-type classes as the need arises.

No one comes to the obvious conclusions about the gaps. Either the various races/income levels are intellectually different, or the tests aren't really measuring progress.

What are they really measuring? Compliance and attention span are probably being measured to a greater degree than "achievement." Just my thought.

allen (in Michigan) said...

You want to know what's really sick? There's buy-in from some conservatives.

The Mackinac Center, long hated by lefties, has a report card program which norms the grades they give schools based on the percentage of free and reduced lunch kids. As a result Cesar Chavez Academy is second in the state on the Mackinac Center report card but doesn't show up among the top sixty in the U.S. News ratings.

The rationale given is that since poor kids are tougher to teach the schools need a handicap so they can be compared properly to schools attended by rich kids. The problem is that the underlying assumption is that teachers and schools are largely interchangeable with parental income being the dominant factor.

That assumption fits neatly with one unstated assumption about public education, by supporters of public education, which is that teaching skill is irrelevant. The natural extension of the assumption that teaching skill's irrelevant to learning is that schools are interchangeable. Naturally, those who support norming by race, sorry, income strenuously object to the notion that such norming obscures the differences between schools rather then illuminating those differences and places the burden of the difference in results on the kids for the crime of having poor parents.

But of course there are differences between teachers and schools which is why some school districts have higher property values then others and why the traditional authority on that sort of thing were real estate agents. Real estate agents could make money off of the differences between school districts so were strongly motivated to know which schools and which districts were good and which ones weren't. But the school boards and superintendents? Not so much.

So there are differences between districts and thus schools and thus teachers but the way public education's built those differences are irrelevant to those who ought to be responsible for the differences - the school board members, administrators and teachers. That's why the outliers, the Marva Collins' and the Jaime Escalantes, the David Macenultys and the Pierre Dulaines, have to depend on the entertainment industry to achieve public recognition. Hollywood can make money popularizing their stories whereas within the public education establishment they're annoying reminders that some teachers are better then others.

maxutils said...

Norming grades is ridiculous. I once had an algebra class where, with 22 students, I gave 11 Ds and 11 Fs. They weren't prepared for the class, and they wouldn't do homework. It's the only time that ever happened to me ... so I know it wasn't me. I don't think teacher skill is irrelevant, but rather that it is generally pretty good. But a great teacher with kids whose parents don't follow up will almost always do less well than a bad teacher whose kids have parents who are more involved.

Jerry Doctor said...

I always thought your grade distribution curve should be bimodal. The kids on one side studied, the kids on the other side did not.