You can rationalize away all disparate impacts of institutional racism and sexism if you shape your theories, models and measurements just so.Translation: the author has no clue how econometrics works, or what statistical discrimination arguments ignore. Here's Bryan Caplan on the possibility that statistical discrimination is an informed prior.
I have argued vehemently, albeit academically, that higher education research is one of the whitest fields of research out there these days. Somehow econometrics brought the rational choice penchant for ignoring statistical discrimination from econ and wedded it to the efficiency logics of market enthusiasm to create a perfect storm of obfuscation and rationalized oppression.
Judging everyone as an individual is expensive, and relying on statistical generalizations is a cheap and effective alternative. You don't clutch your purse when you see a bunch of little old ladies approaching on a deserted street. You don't offer a policeman a joint. You don't hire a guy with a mohawk as a receptionist at a law firm - even if he promises to get a hair cut. Why not? Because on average, little old ladies don't commit violent crimes, policemen arrest people for possession of marijuana, and guys with mohawks have trouble with authority.If you question its usefulness, as a concept, there's more at Orgtheory.
In the fever swamps, though, the author goes from possibly useless criticism of economics to a howling non sequitur.
A college readiness test would come with no State obligation. The ridiculous notion that excluding poor students who aren’t college ready from Pell would magically incentivize public education to get on the ball with preparing all students is the kind fairy dust that gives us trickle down economics.I agree, such a rule would not by itself stop the common schools from enabling failure. But the common schools enable failure by relaxing discipline and calling it sensitivity, and by lowering standards and calling it inclusion. If you seek fairy dust, start there. You can't have bourgeois prosperity or bourgeois civilization without the right life management skills. Our President is beginning to catch on.
"So often, the issues facing boys and young men of color get caught up in long-running ideological arguments — about race and class and crime and poverty, the role of government, partisan politics," the president said in a packed White House East Room. "But the urgency of the situation requires us to move past some of those old arguments and focus on getting something done and focusing on what works. Doesn't mean the arguments are unimportant; it just means that they can't paralyze us."Keeping the common schools' shortcomings in mind, let's pick up a debate Joanne Jacobs fount that gets to the heart of the matter. First, Deborah Meier puts in the case for the enablers.
The initiative was shaped in part by two meetings Obama had with a chapter of the Chicago-based group Becoming a Man, which left a deep impression on the president and the group's young African American men. The last time they saw the president, they presented him with a Father's Day card in the Oval Office, leaving him speechless.
Obama was introduced by Christian Champagne, an 18-year-old junior at Hyde Park Academy High School, who said he was coasting along with B's and C's when he listened to the president talk about his own struggles growing up without a father at home. Now Champagne said he earns A's and B's and plans to go to college.
And I thought, yes, Robert [Pondiscio], if we can't create schools that, in your words, kids "want to attend every day, schools they are proud to associate with, and where they feel valued," then, as you argue, "something is missing." Those are words I can join you in saying—over and over. When have schools ever been that for low-income and black or brown Americans, I ask myself? Even middle- and upper-class white kids have probably mostly been eager to go to school because that's where their friends were. And perhaps that's what, in the end, drives poor black kids to do it, too, even though it's generally a place of disrespect and failure, except for the five minutes between classes, the lunchroom, recess, and maybe sports.Yes, and standardized testing is also a means to overcome racism or class prejudice by permitting less arbitrary comparisons of peoples' abilities. It became more difficult for the Ivies to defend quotas limiting Jewish enrollment, for example, with more high test scores on applications with Jewish-sounding names.
In part, of course, this has been the fault of teachers. They, too, are citizens of America and carry with them the longstanding prejudices that we haven't easily ever shaken off. We whites of European descent have hundreds of years of disrespect for the poor and for people of darker skins embedded in our literature, culture, language, and everyday experience. Standardized testing has even been a means, a tool, for justifying racism and class prejudice.
Robert Pondiscio presents the rebuttal.
There is an idea at loose in overheated corners of the edusphere, which I pray you do not share, which sees a manufactured "shock doctrine" conspiracy to drive American education onto the rocks in order to seize control and make a buck. It's a lovely, comforting illusion, isn't it? We are capable, wise, and all would be well if the malefactors of great wealth were not aligned against us. That is far easier to accept than our own shortcomings, low expectations, failed notions about schooling, and stubborn refusal to adapt. Perhaps we were as complacent about our schools as Detroit's auto execs were about their factories.Or if we atone for years of oppression by fobbing off a simulacrum of education on the descendants of the oppressed. Without the proper life management skills, the poor stay poor.
Can I be persuaded that test scores are "not a definitive measure of 'intellectual prowess?'" I'm already persuaded, but what of it? I resist the facile temptation to conflate testing with all that is wrong with American education. Testing did not destroy schooling. It revealed the rot and complacency within too many schools, especially those serving our poorest children, like Detroit's.
We adapt, we grow, or else we stagnate and decay. The factories that employed generations in Detroit stand empty. One hundred years ago, they didn't stand at all. A generation hence, maybe two, something else will stand in their place. But not if we pretend nothing's wrong, Deb. Not if we choose not to run the race.