Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Class Matters. Why Won’t We Admit It?

NYTimes | NO one seriously disputes the fact that students from disadvantaged households perform less well in school, on average, than their peers from more advantaged backgrounds. But rather than confront this fact of life head-on, our policy makers mistakenly continue to reason that, since they cannot change the backgrounds of students, they should focus on things they can control.

No Child Left Behind, President George W. Bush’s signature education law, did this by setting unrealistically high — and ultimately self-defeating — expectations for all schools. President Obama’s policies have concentrated on trying to make schools more “efficient” through means like judging teachers by their students’ test scores or encouraging competition by promoting the creation of charter schools. The proverbial story of the drunk looking for his keys under the lamppost comes to mind.

The Occupy movement has catalyzed rising anxiety over income inequality; we desperately need a similar reminder of the relationship between economic advantage and student performance.

The correlation has been abundantly documented, notably by the famous Coleman Report in 1966. New research by Sean F. Reardon of Stanford University traces the achievement gap between children from high- and low-income families over the last 50 years and finds that it now far exceeds the gap between white and black students.

Data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress show that more than 40 percent of the variation in average reading scores and 46 percent of the variation in average math scores across states is associated with variation in child poverty rates.

International research tells the same story. Results of the 2009 reading tests conducted by the Program for International Student Assessment show that, among 15-year-olds in the United States and the 13 countries whose students outperformed ours, students with lower economic and social status had far lower test scores than their more advantaged counterparts within every country. Can anyone credibly believe that the mediocre overall performance of American students on international tests is unrelated to the fact that one-fifth of American children live in poverty?


Big Don said...

This article has the causes and effects reversed.  It is only natural that poor academic performers tend to be  found in poverty because they are the children of dumb parents (who can't earn much money) and they have inherited the genes-for-dumb from their dumb parents.

CNu said...

Lol, reading your lines right on cue...,

Dale Asberry said...

What a load of horseshit. My mother came from such a disadvantaged family. High school grades weren't particularly good. Started to raise me and my siblings in poverty and caught a break... welfare case worker convinced her to go to college. She graduated with good enough grades to get into grad school where she graduated Summa Cum Laude - A+ in every class and an outstanding in her practicum. Of course, that got her started on a whole host of good parenting techniques not previously known to her. All which have led to upper middle-class lifestyles for me and my siblings. Contrast our situation with my cousins, and their children and grandchildren, whom are easily classified as ignorant white trash. Would I even have been capable of excelling academically without that lucky break? I'm convinced that I wouldn't.

CNu said...

The inability to earn much money is often a question of hereditary exclusion from the economic mainstream. Since we know that hereditary exclusion from the economic mainstream was a matter of law for certain folks up until around the time I was 6 years old, even Big Don knows that fact, you might expect him to include that datum in his assessment, but somehow - that just never seems to happen.

Heritable exclusion from opportunity is a HUGE hole in the political-economic bucket of "conservatives" and one which they seem exceedingly loathe to interrogate very closely...,

Big Don said...

"natural that poor academic performers *tend* to be  found in poverty"  
The operative word here is *tend*.  Of course there are exceptions, it is not absolute.  One exception you cited does not invalidate the *trend.* 

Where's the graph for all those countries showing Percent NAM vs. Percent in Poverty...??  Now that would be illuminating.  Furthermore, "Poverty" is not defined the same everywhere.  Middle Class in Spain is probably below the USA poverty line.  The definition needs to be standardized... See the chart here---->

nanakwame said...

“Turing’s Cathedral,” his reconstruction of the early moments of
modern digital computing, will be published in March. George Dyson - never finished High School.

I think the Times is weak too. The problem is educational process and the inequality of IT. Since the public cost had to go up (social factors involved) until a more scientific strutcure of educating, even less competent children was developed, we stand on the cross roads, while folks still  ruminating about the past meme. The majority of children can learn at what ever level their ability; it is the will of the society that is paramount. This has been a debate since Whig and Torres; we are at the edge of this:

is not in itself a new order of society. It is the future refusing to be born.

 Aneurin Bevan quotes (Welsh Politician,


should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state
and corporate power."
Benito Mussolini

umbrarchist said...

That is the problem with the cybernetic-revolution.  I didn't understand how bad my grade school was until I got to high school with lots of White kids.  But I did not have trouble competing with them.  I noticed in my grade school years that I could learn more in three days reading one science fiction book than I did in three weeks of school.  The trouble was I did not know enough at the time to find the best sci-fi books so some were just  entertaining adventure stories.  If we really wanted to educate all kids we should have created a National Recommended Reading List decades ago.  But cheap computers and free books are a threat to the class structure, knowledgewise.

HTC Flyer Full Review

A Short History of the World by H. G. Wells (not sci-fi but with a sci-fi writer's perspective)

All Day September  by Roger Kuykendall

The Fourth R by George O. Smith

Eight Keys to Eden  by Mark Clifton

There Will Be School Tomorrow, by V. E. Thiessen


Starman's Quest by Robert Silverberg

Black Man's Burden by Mack Reynolds

Border, Breed Nor Birth, by Dallas McCord Reynolds

Omnilingual  by Henry Beam Piper

The trouble is Black Americans have an anti-reading culture.  My mother told me that what I was reading was "something crazy".  The first thought that occurred to me was, "How could she know if she had not read it?"

Big Don said...

@CNu -- C'mon, just yesterday Subrealism conceded that cognition is a hereditary trait (Why aren't  humans smarter already...)_

Tom said...

1. dumb parents (who can't earn much money)

BD rufkm?  Have you never met a corporate manager who had kids?    Dumb parents have great earning potential, as long as they belong to the right club.

2. Accidentally hit LIKE on your depressingly predictable comment. 

Tom said...

Whoa, Umbra, H. Beam Piper, good choice.  I'm a big fan of his from way back.  Have to check out some of the others.

CNu said...

lol, even if - just for discussion's sake BD - I conceded any such thing, as a 4th year student of the subrealist ouevre - you know enough by now to know that genetic omni-determinism is an exponentially more complex and nuanced subject than your Burbank's Mendelian Domesticated Species handbook had you thinking before you enrolled in correspondence courses, hereabouts. 


If I'm indulging the question "why aren't humans smarter" it's got scant little to do with the issues embedded in your old racist political saw, which boil down to, "why won't these bad kids submit to a punitive 19th century form of pedagogy that was sufficient to my needs 60 some years ago"? and the self-calming answer you love to give yourself - "they're just genetically lacking the requisite impulse control, perceptual acuity, ratiocination, and gratification delay capabilities required to perform effectively in that crusty academic model"

Big Don said...

BD's First Corollary, stated in the opening comment, holds even for White folks only, which, as I believe Subrealism has previously pointed out, make up more numberwise of the Poverty Class than other races.   Furthermore, if you look at African countries (which the chart in the post conveniently excluded), where over 90% of the folks are in really solid poverty, that correlates well with corresponding IQ observations and academic performance (except for the +3-Sigma few smart enough to GTF out)....

BTW, the Patent Office has never considered the applicant's race - a good gateway to join your much-maligned Club. If y'all (with all those latent smarts) can come up with working Cold Fusion, the world isn't going to care what color your skin is...

umbrarchist said...

Now see, it ain't just the FBI and NSA spying on us and following us on the Internet.  LOL  CNU must be a new secret agency.

umbrarchist said...

Now see!  He thinks I'm a dummy until I mention a name he knows. LOL