Thursday, October 18, 2012

When Failure Is Acceptable

I saw this the other day and I’m still trying to wrap my head around it. The Florida State Board of Education has passed a plan to set education achievement goals based on race. Unbelievable. I think the logic of this is truly bizarre, even without the racial aspect.

The plan in question talks about the goals the FSBE wants to achieve by 2018 – five or six school years from now, depending on how you count it. Under this plan, they want 90% of Asian students and 88% of white students to be reading at or above grade level by 2018. They also want 92% of Asian students and 86% of whites to be proficient at math. The goal for Hispanics is 81% reading at level and 80% being proficient at math. The goal for blacks is 74% reading at level and 74% being proficient at math.


This is truly wrong to me, and I’m not even talking about race. Why in the world can’t schools shoot for 100% across the board? This is basically setting out with the intent of failing. It’s ridiculous. The school system should be working hard to make sure that every single kid. . . 100%. . . meets the requirements set for them. And if they don’t, then they need remedial teaching, new study aids, whatever. It is simply unacceptable to me to start from the premise that the school system will be happy if two in ten kids fails. When you allow failure, you get failure.

Now, I understand why schools do this. They have decided that a lot of education is beyond their control because the parents are to blame. I don’t accept that. The schools have these kids typically six or seven hours a day, five days a week. That is more than the parents see them, and it’s more than enough time to educate them, no matter what is going on at home. The problem here is the methodology, not some outside influence which can’t be overcome. The problem is that the schools still stick with this one-size-fits all approach which says that all kids learn the same. They need to realize that different kids need different approaches. Every employer knows this. That’s why you motivate your people differently and why you set different rules for them. Teachers need to start seeing kids as customers, evaluating their needs, and tailoring plans to get them to their individual goals.

Now lets talk about race. I understand why the FSBE assigned different percentages based on race. This is because performance remains disparate at the moment. In other words, blacks currently do worse that whites, hence the assumption is that black kids start at some disadvantage which sets them back. Thus, they set different achievement levels in the hopes of presenting “a realistic goal.” But as I just discussed, this is setting out to fail and that’s unacceptable. If some kids start further behind, then you just need to work harder to get those kids up to speed. Mechanics can’t say, “well, that car’s brakes were worse than the other’s, so an 80% improvement is good enough for that car.” No, they need to fix everything to the same level.

Think about the business world. Assume you have several homebuilders who are using defective construction methods which result in homes with lots of defects. You are an inspector. Does it make sense to throw up your hands and say, “well, the builders have differing levels of skill, so I need to accept differing levels of defects?” Hardly. You still demand 100% defect-free homes. Yet, substitute “student” for “homebuilder” and suddenly it becomes acceptable to allow different levels of defects? Why?

Moreover, let’s get to the elephant in the room here. The school board is basically saying that black parents are no good. It is saying that black kids start out at a disadvantage because of their parents which makes them 30% harder to teach than white kids or Asian kids. So why is no one focusing on this? In other words, if black parents really are setting their kids up to fail, as seems to be implicit in the school board’s assumption, then why is no one talking about re-educating those parents?

Again, think about our homebuilders (parents). Assume you are a developer who needs to hire a builder. If you know that their construction methods result in defects that reduce the value of the homes around 20%-30%, does it make sense to hire these builders and just plan to keep fixing the defects, or does it make more sense to demand that they address their construction methods and stop the defects before they form? Of course you would try to fix the problem at its source, you’d be stupid not to! Yet, in the world of education, no one is talking about fixing the construction methods, i.e. the parents. If minority children are indeed starting school with a handicap as teachers suggest, then why is everyone utterly refusing to talk about the issue of improving the parenting skills of minorities?

There is no reason any school district should not be trying to get 100% of kids to level. And if minority kids are 20%-30% damaged by their parents, then we need to address that. Those parents need to be re-educated or their kids needs to be put into special programs where they can be trained to overcome the problems created by their parents. The last thing we should do is declare that it is fine for kids to fail.


As an aside, I’m going to put together an education article soon because one thing few people realize is that by and large, despite all the nay saying, the American education system is one of the best in the world – and some parts are THE best.


LL said...

It's some sort of twisted affirmative action.

Individualist said...

My first problem is that we are segregating kids based on the amount and/or type of melanin in their epidermis.

A black kid whose father is a doctor and mother is a lawyer like Cliff Huxtable is going to have roughly the same advantages as any white kid with affluent parents.

Likewise a white kid whose dad is in jail and mom is in a hud housing project is going to have the same challenges as any black kid in that project.

We can talk about cultural differences but I don't see the kind of music the teeanagers listen to as having that much affect but in that regard I could be wrong. If I am wrong then segregating black and white and asian and hispanic will only seek to cement these cultural effects and not eradicate them.

As to the failure rate the goal should be 100% but the failure rates should still be monitored. Students who are failing should be attended to.

If space aliens were to study us and evaluate us by true genetic difference and had only dead bodies to study it is unlikely they would consder race as we see it a factor in what makes us genetically different. The thing that would strike them as important is blood type. The proteins in the blood effect everything from growth, the foods that are best processed, immunology and resistance to cancer as well as psychological makeup.

Unitl we begin to understand how insignificant race really is we will never be able to make valid decisions.

Anthony said...

Andrew said:

The schools have these kids typically six or seven hours a day, five days a week. That is more than the parents see them, and it’s more than enough time to educate them, no matter what is going on at home. The problem here is the methodology, not some outside influence which can’t be overcome. The problem is that the schools still stick with this one-size-fits all approach which says that all kids learn the same. They need to realize that different kids need different approaches.

First, I'm going to quote an old post of mine.

Moving on to your question, we need to focus more on education and raising our kids. I went to overwhelmingly black public schools and often ran into the attitude that 'Studying is hard and I don't want to do it and anyway society is racist and won't let me rise up even if I try'.

IMHO the problems in those situations are not the kids but the parents, who should have been applying boot to butt. I didn't like school and I wasn't always convinced that education would pay off, but I always knew what would happen if I let my grades slip (my father's an ex-drill sergeant/military policeman/bar bouncer and my mother was a teacher and both firmly believed in the importance of education).
Family matters a lot. Kids who go home and are told to do their homework and then read a book will do better than kids who go home and go straight to the tv (either because the parent is working or indifferent).

Given all the single mothers out there in the black community, its no surprise kids are having problems (one person can mold a great kid, but more hands make for lighter work).

Also, I worked with troubled kids for two years while I was an undergrad.

The kids whose parents were shocked and horrified that their son or daughter was doing so poorly in school quickly improved, the kids whose parents didn't care (shockingly, there are such people out there, and my conversations with them are some of my saddest memories) tend to stick around.

Teachers and mentors and what have you may spend a lot of time in the same room as a kid, but the amount of one on one interaction is normally limited, unless there is a problem.

Last but not leasst, based on article I read about the subject, the long term goal is to bring everyone to grade level, but they are keeping in mind where kids are at now. Sounds reasonable to me.
In a one-on-one interview with Education Commissioner Pam Stewart last Friday, she told me in order to reach 100 percent proficiency, racial achievement gaps have to be addressed. “We have to look at where our students are right now and how are we going to get all our students to proficiency.”

Anonymous said...

Maybe I'm biased because my dad is a teacher, and I do want to stress that I agree with you - this is a terrible idea (and affirmative action in general is one area where I am in total agreement with you).

However, re: That is more than the parents see them, and it’s more than enough time to educate them, no matter what is going on at home....

I beg to differ. My dad - a veteran of the business world who went into teaching - teaches 7th grade science at a predominantly minority school that gets students from some not-so-great neighborhoods. He does the best he can - he has students that shouldn't be in 7th grade but were promoted anyway. He has some good students and indeed he even teaches a gifted class. He's made countless calls to parents and like Anthony says above, some care and some don't.

As my dad is fond of saying, "How many of these kids have access to a book at home? Or a computer?" Of course, they could use the media center or visit their local library but, sadly, I don't see that happening anytime soon for some of these kids.

I think my dad is proof of Jerry Pournelle's Iron Law of Bureaucracy:

"In any bureaucracy, the people devoted to the benefit of the bureaucracy itself always get in control and those dedicated to the goals the bureaucracy is supposed to accomplish have less and less influence, and sometimes are eliminated entirely."

I don't know how he feels about unions but his opinion of the principal, to the best of my knowledge, is not great.

StanH said...

This has as much to do with culture as anything. You want to correct this, get rid of Al Sharpton, and Jesse Jackson and their intentional Balkanization of America, with hyphenated names, group identity, such as African American. When a smart black kid begins to excel, he’s labeled a sell out, or that wonderful chestnut, being an Uncle Tom. This is cultural and must change. Two of my favorite writer’s, lecturer’s, intellectual’s are Thomas Sowell, and Walter Williams, brilliant men who happen to be black. These two men talk and write about their challenges as black intellectuals. They embraced Western Culture, and talk about their challenges coming along in the ‘50s and ‘60s with other blacks and their quest for knowledge. They thank God that they are Americans no matter how their ancestors arrived (slave ships). Also 73% of all black kids are born into fatherless homes, once again cultural. Pre 1965, black families were some of the most stable and enduring, what happened, “The Great Society.” This boondoggle eviscerated poor people of every color, but most especially, blacks. All the state of Florida did was put a statistical metric on reality. You want to change reality, change the culture.

T-Rav said...

Okay, so this decision by the Florida school system is idiotic for obvious reasons, so that's that.

However--and this may step on your future education article, so feel free to save it for later--I have to ask, what do you mean by "re-educating" the minority parents? What would that entail? Educate them with what goal in mind?

Also, I agree partly with you and partly with Scott on the school vs. parents issue. I think a lot of what schools teach and how they are run today is bogus, and we definitely need to got off this emphasis on standardization. It's long been a pet peeve of mine. But let's not take the parents off the hook here. I too have a (retired) teacher as a parent, and as a kid I got a lot of point-blank exposure to "adults" who had no interest in what was happening with their kid, except to threaten to sue if their precious baby wasn't waited on hand and foot. There is an acute lack of interest in whether children are actually getting a good education; rather, the goal is to keep advancing them up the ladder whether they're qualified or not, because otherwise their self-esteem might be damaged.

The point is, there's plenty of blame to go around, on both the school system and the parents.

rlaWTX said...

We (society) created this mess a couple of generations ago, and we are reaping the "rewards". There are so many parents that truly believe that it is the school's job to teach their child anything and everything - and not all of these folks are in a lower socio-economic status. Then there are the parents that think their child is perfect and so in any conflict with school personnel their child is innocent, even after being given ample proof to the contrary.
And then there are the parents who don't care. Some of these have substandard education, but think they got a "good enough" education that hasn't done anything for them - so why stress about their kid's schooling? Some just seriously don't care - too busy trying to survive, too busy playing around, too indifferent to bother. And some have no clue that they should care, that they could have better (how in our modern, media-filled world people don't know this, I haven't a clue, but they are out there).
Then when you go ahead and add in the economic hardships, bad home lives, negative responses of the community/culture, the over-expectation of magical riches through sports or music stardom, lack of role models in their lives - you get kids that don't care and parents that don't care which leads to (or adds to) teachers that don't care which equals failing students, failing schools, and more of the same vicious cycle that created them.
And they are black and white and brown and new immigrants and many generations Americans...

Anthony said...

StanH said:

This has as much to do with culture as anything. You want to correct this, get rid of Al Sharpton, and Jesse Jackson and their intentional Balkanization of America, with hyphenated names, group identity, such as African American.

Race in America as a social construct was carved out over two and a half centuries. Its not going to go away overnight and might possibly never go away. Happily, it is the problem (as the success of Asians attests), the problem is cultural.

Also, as Dr. Sowell would probably be the first to tell you, the divide isn't between those who accept or reject Western culture, but what form of Western culture they embrace (remember Black Rednecks, White Liberals?).

As I've said before, while I think the black community's problems are bad and most of the self styled leaders aren't helping, I don't think they are the problem.

Organized action (under of course, leaders) was critical to everyone's well being fifty years ago, nowadays fifty years ago, but now we have equality, so now leaders are unimportant to people's day to day lives.

AndrewPrice said...

LL, That's what it is, and I understand that Obama's administration has been pushing the idea of passing students based on different levels of success based by race, but the whole thing is just wrong.

Anthony said...

Correction: I meant to say race as a social construct isn't the problem.

AndrewPrice said...

Indi, My guess is that these differences are economic and not racial. My guess is that the kids who fail come from single-parent homes likely at the low end of the economic spectrum. That's not 100% true obviously, but that would be my guess as to the biggest factor. So the focus on race, as a proxy, is misplaced.

But in any event, they need to stop this kind of thinking and to start looking at kids individually. Every child is different with different needs. They need to start tailoring learning plans to individual kids and providing them with the level of support each needs. And if that means putting more kids in more remedial classes and giving them individual attention, then so be it. There is no reason that the schools should not be able to get each kid up to level after having them 7 hours a day for twelve years.

AndrewPrice said...

Anthony, I've met a lot of the black parents you talk about (typically through the criminal justice system) and they do see education as either a joke or a racist plot. I've also met a lot of meth-head whites who think the same thing. So I know they exist and they definitely set their kids up. Honestly, the best answer with those kids is to take them out of the regular system and put them into some high intensity programs, maybe even a boarding school.

On this issue, by the way, I watched a documentary some years ago which was trying to poke holes in Bush's NCLB Act. It went to an historically black high school in Baltimore and I wish everyone had seen that (it's not available anywhere). This school took in 500 students per class, but only of each class graduated. And the principal spent her day trying to find out where these kids had gone and the parents she met were drug addicted shits who tried to hide from her. They had a parent-teacher night for a school with supposedly 2000 kids and only a couple showed up. That was shocking. That tells me that it's time for black leaders to get their butts into those communities and make these people change. And if they don't, then it's time to intervene and maybe take these kids away.

On the issue of them improving, I know they want to improve and I know they need to know where they are at, but setting these high failure rates is just not acceptable. If I gave you 12 years to educate a kid and you told me that you could only pull it off for 8/10, I would fire you.

tryanmax said...

I can sorta understand where this nonsense comes from. At first blush "100%" looks like a demand of perfection. How unreasonable! But it is no such thing, and we'd do good to remind ourselves that lest we slip into the same sort of conversation.

We're talking about achieving 100% proficiency. In other words, 100% "good enough," not 100% perfect. That doesn't mean that some kids won't end up better than good enough, so by that token we should stow all the arguments about who is or isn't going to do better and why. We already know and accept that some will do better. All that is expected is that the worst of them end up "good enough." (Of course we can excuse the learning disabled, as we already do.)

Perhaps there is too much emphasis on homework and having books and computers at home. Maybe the teachers are relying too much on what goes on outside of the classroom. It certainly smacks of an argument saying anything less than total control is no control. That should bristle anyone on the conservative side of the ideological spectrum.

Six hours a day, five days a week, nine months a year for twelve years is more than enough time to get 100% of kids to an 8th grade reading level (the average novel) and a 5th grade writing level, (the average newspaper), get 100% of kids to understand algebra (more than ample for balancing a checkbook), give them a basic understanding of American history and government, and throw some well-established agreed upon science at them.

I'm not saying the schools can't or shouldn't do more than that, but these are the absolute basics. If a kid from the slums doesn't get calculus or Dostoyevsky, so be it. But we are talking about lowering an already very low bar. This shouldn't be.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, I will differ with your differing because you are still thinking inside the box. Let me give you some examples of things to think about.

1. Separate kids by ability so that (1) you don't weigh down the good with the bad, and (2) so you can do different things with them.

2. Look for different methods to give the kids an incentive. Offer cash prizes or cool tennis shoes for best grades. Turn grades into a competition. (create a carrot)

3. Add two hours a day to school for kids with bad grades. Not only is this a stick, but it gives them two hours of access to a good environment with books and computers and he such.

4. For totally hopeless kids, send the kids to a state boarding school. It beats prison, which is where these kids will end up.

You and your father are looking at this from a one year at a time perspective. In other words, "I get kids who already suck, how hard can I try to help them." I'm talking about remaking the system for some kids so they get dealt with entirely differently.

AndrewPrice said...

Stan, Culture plays a huge role in his. There is an idea in the black community (again, I wish everyone could see that documentary I mentioned to Anthony), that somehow education is something "whitey" want to impose on blacks and that it should be disdained. In other documentary, Hoop Dreams, these two kids are surrounded by their families and they are all telling them "white won't let you succeed except through basketball." That's bullshit, and that's what you are talking about here.

Now, that's not the only problem, but that is a huge problem. And we can't address that as long as we keep pretending the problem doesn't exist. It is time to shame black leaders to get them to repudiate this crap. Heck, if they just sent the message "beat whitey at his own game," that would be enough to change a lot of this.

We do need to deal with that.

But that's only part of this.

tryanmax said...

Andrew, can you provide any other clues about the doc that you saw? I have a way of finding things if I just have a little more to go on.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, I totally agree. The parents should not be off the hook here. My point is that:

1. It makes no sense to set out to fail.
2. It makes no sense to stick with one-size fits all when we need to look at kids individually.
3. It makes no sense to blame the parents but then no one is talking about fixing that part of the problem.

We need to separate kids into pass/fail and take the fails and do something else with them. As I mentioned with Scott, some ideas are to change the incentive structure to give them a reason to succeed -- cash prizes, competition, punishment through extra hours, individual mentoring after school, access to better facilities. This is where people need to be creative.

And for kids with parents who don't care and who still can't be reached, we need to think about more extreme measures. Boarding schools or week-only boarding schools. Year round programs to keep them away from the bad influence as much as possible. Billing parents for failure. Cutting off benefit for failure. Etc.

And on your one point, we absolutely need to provide schools/teachers with blanket legal immunity.

AndrewPrice said...

Also, let me add something else. I read a book (sorry, can't think of the name) which studied educational achievement. And what they found is that the system we are using where kids get these long vacations is a disaster. They found that kids basically lose 80% of what they learned over the summers, and that if you cut those breaks to being only a week or two, then kids learning levels skyrocketed.

It's time to switch to full year programs.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, Let me look for the name, it's something like Trouble At Washington High, but I don't remember specifically right now. It was on HBO.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, Hmm. That was easy:

Hard Times At Douglas High School

This was shocking. You see liberal teachers who are burned out, drug dealers, parents most people would not believe.

The point was to blast NCLB, but it really was an indictment of black culture in inner-city Baltimore.

tryanmax said...

Found it: Hard Times at Douglass High: A No Child Left Behind Report: LINK

tryanmax said...

Ah! You beat me by a minute.

AndrewPrice said...

rlaWTX, I agree completely. Those things are all problems and we need to solve them. For parents who think their kids are innocent, I think we need to give schools total immunity from civil suit (not criminal).

For parents who don't care, we need to dump incentives on them to care. I have no problem with taxing parents for the cost of education if their kids fail. Or with taking away children from parents who have basically abandoned them.

One thing that has bothered me a lot lately in conservative ranks is this idiocy that "edukation don't matters." You hear this crap all the time "a degree today ain't worth nuthing, all edukation dus is make kids into liberals. I trusts a mechanics mores than I trusts a edukated man." That is retarded. Education is the key to success and conservatives who say that are hurting conservatism, hurting kids, and hurting America. It is unacceptable and it pisses me off when conservative engage in that kind of bullshit.

StanH said...

Race/specie identity is a survival technique developed by all creatures of the earth. It reaches back to every facet of civilization throughout recorded time. One thing that defies race is human nature, we all want the best for our kind. In a quick perusal of the world however, from “first world” too “third world,” and we’re being honest about successful societies, without question it’s cultural. This may come off as unkind but, we, as in Western Civilization have it right, they, as in other, have it wrong. This extends to America and the way schools are run. The “moral equivalence” arguments have destroyed the fundamentals of reading, writing, and arithmetic, with diversity studies, ethnic studies, why little Billy has two mommies, 2 + 2 = 5, that’s close enough. In my mind this is utter and complete bunk. As a kid who in the ‘60s and ‘70s, witnessed firsthand this transformation, it’s terrible and should be corrected, posthaste.

Let us not leave faultless, “teachers unions.”

Individualist said...

Andrew and Scott and Anthony and anyone else who touched on this issue

My cousin teaches English. she teaches the gifted class in a public (government) school. she had two students in the class who were failing because they did no work. The parents never went to PTA meetings. (Remember these are gifted which means they tested 130+ IQ).

She gave them an F because the failed the last test. She told them they had to get a C to get a passing grade of D. They did not study.

The next semester after the parents did not attend the PTA meeting again she called them to ask why they were not concerned with the kids performance. The parents told her that they dide not understand what she was talking about because their kids got C's.

She went to the assistant principal in charge of recording grades and asked what the H#$% was going on. she was angry. he told her that it was school policy to automatically change any grade of F to a C because there was no budget for holding kids back. This was some years back before Jeb Bush enacted the law where Florida schools not get graded.

One of the main reason that kids don;t learn is that the schools have no ability to discipline kids. You guys may be correct that some parents don't take responsibility but you know what I don't think a heroin addict in 1940 was any better a parent than a crack head in 2012 yet more kids learned to read in 1940 then they do now.

Course in 1940 if you did not do your work, or acted up the teacher could take a switch to your backside. To my mind the school's new policies are part of the problem as well.

AndrewPrice said...

Anthony, I have to disagree. I think black culture is part of the problem, and I say that because I so often hear blacks talk openly about how you need to behave to be considered black. I hear intensely racist attacks on black who don't toe the line. I hear things like education and vaccines described as white plots to destroy blacks, I hear interracial adoption described as "genocide" and I hear people like Louis Farrakhan the other day telling blacks that whites are trying to destroy them "to keep America white."

That stuff does resonate. I've seen it resonate. And until that gets overcome, it will be very hard for the black community to ever improve. In the meantime, every other racial group is climbing over them into the middle and upper classes and they will remain stuck in a ghetto of hate.

Now obviously, that's not the only problem. There are dozens of other things that matter too. But this idea of victimization is an anchor that causes incredible problems.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, I agree. First, we are not asking for perfect children, we are asking kids to meet a rather low level of acceptable. And after having kids six hours a day, five days a week, nine months a year for twelve years, anyone should be able to teach these kids up to that level. And if our methods don't work, then we need new methods.

I've mentioned some things above that would probably make huge changes. Carrots and sticks. And maybe two solutions are shorter vacations for all kids and even shorter vacations for failing kids, more hours for kids who face bad home environments, economic punishments on parents for failure. These are things that should be tried, but we are afraid of all of them for political reasons.

But that means (1) a change in culture in schools, (2) overcoming unions, (3) more money for schools, (4) angering voters. But it really needs to be done if we want to get 100% above that standard. And it should be done.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, I recommend that people watch it. It's shocking. But ignored the NCLB stuff, that's not the point. The point is to see what is going on at this school and you will be shocked. I would bet that 95% of Americans have no idea what is going on there is even possible, much less really happening.

Anthony said...


Sorry I was less than clear. I agree that black culture is part of the problem, the point I was seeking to make was that some groups do extremely well in school (nods towards Asians).

AndrewPrice said...

Stan, I think that the assault on Western Civilization has played a role in this, particularly the idea that we should be "deprogramming" kids from the culture. But I think that's a small part of the problem. The bigger part of the problem is the unionization and the regimented system that has created. Every single reformer (left and right) had run straight into this.

Jen said...

I'm so glad I don't have kids. I see what is going on in schools, and it makes me livid. I know that there are a lot of things contributing to the problem, and I won't even try to make a suggestion, because I don't know where to start.

When I was in grade school, we had different reading groups, and no one thought anything about separating kids based on those skills. It might have been fourth grade where we could decide how many books to read from a certain group, and might have gotten extra credit for doing so, and that's what I worked for. I was also in the highest reading group, and didn't worry about what the lower groups did.

I didn't have the best environment at home (mostly economical, and my dad liked to drink), but they didn't influence what I did at school--I pushed myself, so I was the exception. They were concerned to a certain degree (more with my brothers, and to a lesser degree, my sister), and did go to PTA/parent-teacher meetings.

By the time I got to high school, they totally lost interest in what I did. They weren't even concerned whether or not I pursued a higher education. I did everything on my end, but they didn't follow through. Am I sorry for this? It's a toss-up.

AndrewPrice said...

Anthony, That's true. Asians do extremely well in education.

And don't get me wrong, I don't think culture is THE problem. I think culture is only part of the problem. I think bad parents, bad teachers, rigid schools, the culture at large glorifying athletes and entertainers, and political pandering are all part of the problem. And within each group are various sub-causes. We need to start looking at how to fix each of these issues if we want to get close to 100% of kids not only reaching the standards, but beating them. Unfortunately, too many of these subjects are things people just aren't willing to address.

AndrewPrice said...

Indi, That is a problem. Since at least the 1970s there has been this idea that all students should be passed no matter what. It's partly budgetary, partly to avoid upsetting parents, and party to avoid hurting self-esteem. That needs to be stopped. Kids who fail do need to be identified so they can be redirected. Passing someone who fails only makes the problems worse over time and everybody loses.

AndrewPrice said...

Jen, Uncaring parents is not uncommon. And I think there economic incentives that can be put in place to force those parents to at least try. But even beyond that, I don't accept that as a legitimate excuse for school failure. I think schools have more than enough time to work around that. The problem is that schools aren't working around it.

Anthony said...


I say that because I so often hear blacks talk openly about how you need to behave to be considered black. I hear intensely racist attacks on black who don't toe the line. I hear things like education and vaccines described as white plots to destroy blacks, I hear interracial adoption described as "genocide" and I hear people like Louis Farrakhan the other day telling blacks that whites are trying to destroy them "to keep America white."
Farrakhan is a nut and the NoI is a cult, but in fairness NoI guys tend to work normal jobs and keep their noses clean.

A lot of guys living very bad lives tend to turn their lives around under the aegis of the NoI (including a cousin of mine, a rich kid who washed out of the military and served hard time for drugs and theft before converting in prison).

I'm not saying that the racist, antisemetic NoI is a good thing, but many of their members are better (and for society, less dangerous) people now than they were before they joined and there are times when the NoI almost sounds conservatives.

The minister summed it up saying, “It’s a shame that after 310 years of chattel slavery and 150 years of injustice that we are worse in our treatment of each other.”

For Farrakhan and members of the local community, the shooting of five people in Rucker Park during a basketball tournament this summer, the death of four-year-old Lloyd Morgan (shot in head likely from a stray bullet in a Bronx playground), and the death of Heaven Sutton (a 7-year-old killed by a stray bullet at her mother’s candy stand), represent incidents that call for a desperately-needed change in the black community. report that Minister Farrakhan said, “We are holding ourselves back. You can’t keep blaming the white man.” He added, “The question is, what are we doing today to undo what he did?”


Ed said...

Andrew, I'm agree with you. I understand some failure is always expected in business, but those are small margins and there are plans to work around those. This is different.

I also like a lot of your solutions. I wish the education industry would pay attention.

I'm also looking forward to reading about how our system isn't failing. :)

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks Ed. Conservatives have been bashing American schools for a long time, but Republican governors have made HUGE strides in reforms and we are flying up the charts. Moreover, our colleges are BY FAR the best in the world. I'll outline it all. :)

tryanmax said...

Hopefully this isn't veering too far off-topic, bu several things have been said which reminded me of this:

I had a real eye-opener in the days following the Trayvon Martin incident. Some columnist wrote about "The Talk" that black parents have with their kids about how to deal with police. It was predicated on the notion that blacks need to humble themselves and demean themselves to appease the police and was couched in terms suggestive that this is a secret ritual being exposed for the first time

The twist, however, was that nothing in "The Talk" was any different from what my (white) parents told (white) me about dealing with the police: Stay calm. Cooperate. Be courteous. Speak up. Don't talk back. Make eye contact. Keep your hands in sight. I never thought of these things as demeaning. I just thought of these things as improving my odds at avoiding a ticket, keeping me out of jail, or even keeping me alive in the case of the hands thing. (BTW, I drive a black Monte Carlo, apparently a popular choice for random stops. Profiling isn't just about skin color. Yet I remain calm and courteous.)

But the realization that black people percieve the same world in such a radically different way hit me like a ton of bricks. Of course the world seems racist when you attribute every inconvenience to race! No wonder the ladies in the supermarket huff at me when I say "excuse me!" To them, I'm exerting my white privilege to force them to move. Nevermind where the corn flakes happen to be.

Worse than that, however, talk of "The Talk" spread to just about every major talk show where erudite honkeys would nod with furrowed brows and pouting lips about the injustice of it all! To my mind, such people--either through their credulity or their cynicism--are a bigger part of the problem than certain cultural misconceptions passed down through the generations.

In Anthony's defense, I would offer that these latter type probably actively ignore it when leaders like Farrakhan take their own to task.

AndrewPrice said...

Anthony, On NoI, I agree that they have done some good things (like clean up drug infested housing projects), but by and large, their antisemitism and black racism are a problem. And while they do have some good members, I would think the same thing could have been said of the Nazis, so I don't see that as an excusing factor.

But that's not the issue, I mentioned Farrakhan only because he was in the news the other day for saying that whites want to keep America white. He's just one voice among thousands I hear all the time -- athletes, rappers, entertainers, Congressmen/women, mayors, etc. Look again at the response to Stacey Dash. How many "house nigger" comments were made? This is more than a couple nuts, it is a constant stream from all quarters of the black community, and it's never condemned. Black leaders need to condemn this and put and end to it the same what white leaders decided white racism was unacceptable. Did it stop it entirely? No. But it sent the clear message that racism would no longer be tolerated. Black leaders need to do the same if they ever want the black community to excel.

Also, as an aside, in terms of Farrakhan saying to stop blaming their problems on whites, that's the one thing I have appreciated about Farrakhan. He is teaching self-reliance. By comparison, Jackson, Sharpton and push the opposite idea.

Jen said...

Andrew, I know of a college that has quite a few of international students, and I have even met a few of them.

I asked my parents a number of years ago as to why they didn't interfere with me and school--I got to stay up late if I wanted, and some other things my siblings couldn't do. They both told me "It's because we didn't worry about you and your grades".

As an aside, I hated the school environment, and wish that home schooling would have been available back then, but that's just me. I could have tuned about the problems at home, which I did anyway--still got good grades. I would have preferred to learn at my own pace, and felt I was hindered by the structure schools followed at that time.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, Great point. I had the same reaction when I heard about "the talk." My first thought was, "how is this different than what every white parent tells their kids about how to handle the cops?"

To frame this in terms of race and act like this is some demeaning thing only blacks need to know is both flat out wrong, but it also perpetuates this idea that black are victims of racist whites, when the reality is that this is how everyone acts with the cops... unless you want to get shot or arrested.

This is part of the black culture thing I was talking about above. People need to stop framing things as racial when they aren't race-related in any way.

AndrewPrice said...

Jen, American colleges are magnets for foreign students. We are the destination of choice the world over.

The jury is still out on home schooling. For some people, it's been a huge success. But there are also a lot of parents who should not be doing it.

Jen said...

Andrew, I know what you mean about the homeschooling, and that some parents shouldn't be doing it (I've heard the horror stories, and know of a family that homeschooled their two kids--the kids rebelled later). With me, it would have been a plus. Interaction with other kids at times was difficult for me (getting teased or bullied), and I felt my learning was being retarded (slowed down for those who are PC) in the process.

Anthony said...


I'm not saying that NoI guys are good people, I'm saying they are better than what they were. A law abiding guy who spews venom isn't a good person, but he is better than a drug dealer or a murderer.

As for the Stacey Dash thing, its my understanding that much of the venom was from her twitter followers (random people on the internet) not so much from public figures (I'm trying to think of one who denounced her and I'm drawing a blank, though I'm sure someone did).

Blacks on opposite sides of the political spectrum almost invariably use slavery language when describing the other side (nods towards Allen West and Herman Cain) and its something I have always strongly objected to because I believe it trivializes actual slavery and diminishes us all.

Last but not least, as I've noted before, people who switch sides politically rarely get hugs and kisses on their way out of the door, so while some of the language offended me, the reaction didn't (its the way political parties work).

tryanmax said...

Anthony, they may have been random people on the internet who bashed Stacey Dash, but the distinction still remains: no black leaders decried that behavior. The incident garnered enough media attention that someone should have done so.

Pretend that a white celebrity supporting Obama was called a "n****r lover" by a host of white followers on Twitter. It wouldn't just make news, but journalists would be clamoring to Romney to make sure he renounced it. And dozens if not hundreds more would be falling over each other to make the condemnation first.

AndrewPrice said...

Jen, I've seen smart parents who are filling their kid's head with crap and I've seen parents with no clue who have no idea how much damage they are doing. I'm not sure the whole thing is a good idea.

AndrewPrice said...

Anthony, I agree about NoI, they are better than the alternative.

In terms of Dash, no public figure bashed her, but that's not the point. The point is that it's acceptable in the culture to say the things that were said against her. Dismissing this as random twitter is not an argument I accept because (1) it's too constant to dismiss, (2) I have heard blacks say these things openly in public, which tells me they think it's acceptable, (3) the same sorts of things do get said by public figures all the time, and (4) there was no mass condemnation of these comments by "the black community" -- that means acceptance.

I really don't think this can be dismissed as just a crank. This is something that is just too common from the black community.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, I agree and that's why I can't just dismiss this. Before I can dismiss this, I need to see the black community denounce these people and declare this unacceptable. They aren't doing that.

T-Rav said...

Andrew, I think we really need to bring back the two-track system for schools. Like you said, not everyone's going to excel in the same ways, but we're neglecting the more hands-on forms of education more and more. I can't remember when my school dropped shop class, and a lot of districts don't do vo-tech anymore. We need to recognize that it's okay if not everyone graduates high school planning to get a college degree in psychology or English lit; you can have a fulfilling experience if your inclinations lie toward something like welding.

Meanwhile, I'm still not sure what you're suggesting we do with the parents of failing students. I may have missed it.

tryanmax said...

I forgot to add to my hypothetical that, in spite of the myriad denouncements, the leftist media would cite the incident as proof that we are at root a deeply racist and divided nation. *tear*

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, While I do think Vo-Tech needs to be added back as a separate path, that's not what I mean by tracks. They need to separate kids by ability so that the smarter kids can learn more without having to wait and so that the dumber kids can be taken aside and given special tutoring or remedial classes or whatever to get them up to speed. Lumping them together is a mistake.

On the bad parents, I am suggesting a couple possible ideas.

1. First, kids who fail get longer hours and no vacations. This will upset the middle class/rich ones who don't care but who will no longer be able to plan family vacations.

2. Secondly, the parents of kids who fail get taxed/fined to pay for the extra resources needed to help these kids. In other words, they get a bill every semester their kid fails. AND/OR these people get their benefits cut if they are on public assistance.

3. Third, for repeat offenders, people with kids who never show up or whose kids are on drugs, etc., these kids get sent to a boarding school -- either throughout the week or throughout the semester to take the parents out of the mix.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, That's true. And what bothers me here is the double standard. But that is part of leftist identity politics, i.e. the view that only certain groups can be considered racist, no matter how racist they act. That needs to be changed.

Anthony said...

Andrew and tryanmax,

Have national leaders ever denounced tweets from random people?

I've stayed clear of the twitterverse myself because it doesn't seem like a place conductive to rational discussions.

Which isn't to say that the black community takes a positive view of black Republicans (an exception if made for Colin Powell) or conservatives, but the intensity of that reaction was unusual and I suspect it was due in no small part to her twitter fanbase. In the same timeframe an equally minor black celeb (Shyne, once a popular rapper) announced his support of Romney and he didn't get nearly the reaction.

AndrewPrice said...

Anthony, I can't agree with your thinking on this.

If Kelsey Grammar decided that he was going to support Obama and his twitter feed was suddenly flooded with racist comments about him turning against his race to support a black man, that would be national news. It would lead off all three networks. Jackson, Sharpton and the rest would be demanding an investigation of Twitter and some other form of "justice." They would be planning vigils and marches. At the same time, every white liberal politician would be knocking each other down trying to find a microphone to denounce this as racism and to point fingers at some conservatives for stirring it up. Conservative politicians would then stumble all over themselves to make amends and to claim they aren't racist.

Yet, here there's no reaction at all. That is a significant, meaningful difference. Silence equals ratification.

tryanmax said...

Anthony, let's be clear that I didn't say anything about national leaders (implying elected positions). I was speaking of leaders in the general sense as those who sway public opinion. And the answer to that question is a resounding "yes," such figures have often responded to Twitter, including renouncing things said en masse via that format.

Anthony said...


Sharpton, Jackson and suchlike have worked up fake outrage over minutia and even stuff that didn't actually happen, so its within the realm of possibility, but there are lots of really offensive comments on the internet and no one outside of the people on the forum they are made gets worked up about them provided they are from nobodies.

In the web people normally accept if not display a level of 'assholeness' that they wouldn't in real life.

The Stacey Dash thing was national news for a bit, which is no small thing considering that it was an internet phenomena surrounding a minor celebrity. For me the amazing thing isn't that the virtual assault didn't get more coverage, its that it got the amount of coverage it did.

And Dash did have her real world defenders (mostly Republicans defending the new convert, but some of them liberal blacks such as Whoopi Goldberg and Russell Simmons).

AndrewPrice said...

Anthony, That's all true, but I see it over and over that events like this (when reversed) become national causes for a day or two as everyone on the left seeks to condemn them and use them as a political football.

The left and black groups simply ignore black racism while playing up white racism (real or imagined).

Joel Farnham said...


I really don't understand this. Is this a dejure recognition of a defacto situation? What I mean is, are these the numbers we are getting right now from students?

AndrewPrice said...

Joel, I'm not sure how they came up with these goals. My guess is that they took the present numbers and added something like 20% across the board. That would be my guess.

Joel Farnham said...


And your complaint is that the school district shouldn't set goals at 20% or that they broke it down into racial groups?

tryanmax said...

Aren't both equally appalling?

AndrewPrice said...

Joel, I am bothered by both. There is no reason they can't get most kids (especially in the early grades) up to 100% right away and shouldn't aim to get the rest there, regardless of race.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, I think so. I think it's stunning that they would decide that it's ok if 20% of their students fail. And I think it's just as bad that they would accept even more failure from minorities.

Joel Farnham said...


I think this has been thought up by a bunch of PC zealots.

I like what my mom proposed many years ago. The Binky award for anyone not reading up to their grade level. The children must wear it around their neck at school until proficient. Yes it is cruel, but children are going to be cruel to each other any way. Why not use childish cruelty to an advantage? It didn't go over that well.

AndrewPrice said...

Joel, I don't know if this is PC so much as it is the "education mindset" that has been created. Everything I've heard from education bureaucrats and teachers is that it's impossible to teach some kids, so the teachers shouldn't be punished. It's about avoiding blame rather than finding solutions. And this proves that to me again because the idea here is that "we change nothing, but hope for some minor improvement over time."

A businessman who came in to a failing business and said, "can you all just do a little better and in five or six years things might work out" wouldn't last long. You need a plan and you need to demand perfection right away.

So to me, this isn't about political correctness, it's about bureaucratic momentum.

Joel Farnham said...


I agree to a point. It still comes down to the obstinate child and no one wanting to tackle the problem. Either fear of being sued or whatever.

This solution smells like some PC bureaucrat not wanting to be held accountable. Oh, and this "education mindset" has been around since before WWII. She first encountered it when teaching first graders cursive writing. Her point being that first graders can learn cursive writing just as well as block printing. She proved it correct time and again.

First graders wanting to be perfect wrote each letter very carefully. When the year was over, her students wrote beautifully. The problem is the third grade teachers were upset because they didn't have anything to teach the kids on writing letters. The "education mindset" decreed that first graders get the easy block printing and third graders get the harder cursive writing.

AndrewPrice said...

Joel, It wouldn't surprise me that this mindset has been around since WWII because that's around the time when our current education system was created -- in the age of mass assembly lines, and that is how schools remain designed today. All the trendy theories they use just tinker with the work stations, they never change the fundamental design of the plant.

Jen said...

I didn't know this about cursive writing, and why it was taught in third grade.

I got to write cursive in first grade--I asked my mom to show me, and then taught a friend. What was interesting, my first grade teacher let me and my friend write in cursive, while the other kids had to print. No one ever said a word. I really didn't like being teacher's pet (on occasion), but it had its benefits.

Although I didn't like the school environment, I went there to learn (absolutely hated Kindergarten--thought it was for babies), and didn't like being held back, but schools at that time didn't have anything else to offer except a higher placement reading group. I really needed a "learn at your own pace" type of school.

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