Monday, March 24, 2014

Evil Toddlers

There was an interesting article the other day at Politico, which got me thinking. They missed the real story of their piece. But then, they would, because it doesn’t paint the left in a good light. The story involves race and education.

For a couple years now, Obama’s Office for Civil Rights has been collecting data on schools. They made some interesting discoveries. Here they are without comment:
● Black four-year olds make up 18% of students, but they account for 50% of those being suspended.

● Just 75% of high schools nationwide offer all the required math courses.

● Just 63% of high schools nationwide offer physics.
So what interested me about this? Well, the world of education is almost exclusively liberal. They have run it through the unions and control over the colleges of education since the 1940s. Conservatives need not apply and are typically driven out. In fact, I can count the number of conservative teachers I had growing up on one finger. Yet, these numbers suggest that these good liberal teachers are clearly engaging in massive, systematic discrimination against black kids... toddlers even. Just think about this. Black kids make up only 18% of 4 year old students, yet they account for nearly 50% of those suspended. That’s not a slight variance within the margin of error, that’s a 300% over-representation. That’s unmistakable that black kids are being singled out.

So how can this be? Well, no doubt, teachers want to blame black parents, but that would be racist. Not to mention, I doubt they would allow conservatives to make such an argument if this were the case at conservative charter schools. So I see no reason to overlook this for them. Indeed, the answer seems to be that liberals are inherently racist.

Next thought: the Politico article asked why anyone would suspend a four-year old because four-year olds are too young to understand such a lesson. This strikes me as again too simplistic. Suspending the kid isn’t necessary meant as a lesson for the student so much as a shot across the bow of the parents, who must now get involved. Moreover, it could also be that the school is simply looking to protect the other students.

Of course, there’s also the problem that a lot of suspensions these days are occurring under these asinine zero tolerance policies where action figures with guns or knives or aspirin become causes for bringing the sledge hammer of justice crashing down on unsuspecting children. Welcome to the world of liberalism.

On the point about calculus, this highlights one of the dangers of government data: it’s only as good as the moron who designed the survey. The idea that between 25% and 37% of high schools nationwide fail to offer core math and science classes like Calculus and Physics is pretty shocking. But is it true? Well, it turns out that there is a serious problem with this data. Consider the responses of Alaska and Georgia. Alaska noted that many of its high schools are tiny, rural schools with only 1-2 teachers handling all K-12 functions. Counting a lack of calculus in those schools against the system is rather misleading. Georgia then pointed out that it requires all high schools to offer these classes, but calls the classes “Math 1, Math 2, Math 3 and Math 4.” So when schools reported that they didn’t have "calculus," they were more likely responding to the labeling because 100% of the schools offer these classes... not 56% as the survey found.

I’m finding more and more that all these statistics about how horrible things are in schools are entirely misleading. Most fall within the margin of errors. A sizable proportion involve data collection errors or the lumping of irrelevant factors with relevant factors to lead to desired results... "Have you ever been the victim of murder, violent crime or received an overly-strong handshake?"

As for the black toddlers, by the way, the sample size was 8,000 suspended toddlers of the roughly 4 million school kids in that age range... 0.2% of the population, with no attempt being made to determine if this group is representative. So I wouldn't put much faith in the number either.



Tennessee Jed said...

my thoughts are twofold. 1) if true, it must be as you suggest; e.g. a warning shot across the bow of the parents, or some kind of other afety issue. Even with kids doing all kind of things at an earlier age, 4 years old is ridiculous. If they were older, yes, I would go back to the "Ryan" issue about the brekdown cultural tailspin in the inner city. But 4????? 2) you can't trust any figures you read until you verify. Either somebody is looking to justify an agenda or studies are usually flawe, even from sources one would expet to be more comptnt.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, That's my thought too. I can't see any way that suspending a 4 year old will send a message to that 4 year old. But it will send a message to the parents, who now need to get off their butts and come get their kid and stay home with them or find a sitter. That seems like a last ditch effort to get parents involved who have ignored whatever the issue is.

Or we're talking about some sort of violence. With only 8,000 out of 4 million involved, these sounds like special circumstances.

Totally agree on the numbers. It's time we looked critically at every number we are told because so many are not what they seem.

tryanmax said...

This isn't really education related, but one of my favorite stats--or two, rather--is that 1 in 7 Americans struggles with hunger. (I wonder if that is in any way similar to struggling with a gorilla?) Interestingly, it turns out that roughly 47 million Americans receives food assistance. The total population of the U.S. is roughly 314 million. I'll let you do the math.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, LOL! Yes, it's exactly like struggling with a gorilla! :)

Yeah, that's another fake statistic. They hand out food stamps to a certain percentage of the population and then flip that around and cite the receipt of food stamps as proof that this percentage of people needs help.

This is such nonsense that you could do the same thing with a group of millionaires and achieve the same results.

Anthony said...

Its a safe bet a good chunk of the suspensions are BS, but terrible parents can badly screw up even kids that young.

Kit said...

"There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics."

AndrewPrice said...

Anthony, That is true. And having met many people in that category, often on their way to jail for abuse, I don't doubt that some kids are more like animals than humans. On the other hand, I suspect a lot of these suspensions are overreactions by teachers. There seem to be a lot of teachers who have bought into these zero tolerance ideas in insane ways.

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, Yep. Very true.

Kit said...

An interesting theory. Could millennials bolt both parties? IT also points to the fact that while in some ways the Millennials are friendly to Democrats such as their belief that government can have a positive role in people's lives they also have little faith in government or large organizations and institutions. Given that we came of age in the era of Katrina, ENRON, Church Sex Abuse Scandal, the Debt Crisis, NSA spying, and the Obamacare rollout, this is not surprising.
(The article lists two of those: Katrina and Obamacare, I added the rest)

One snippet: "Millennial voters are unlikely to align with a political party that expects blind faith in large institutions – either governmental or nongovernmental."



Kit said...

But the whole thrust of the article is that Millennials might decide neither party has what they want. What then? Will they vote 3rd Party or not at all. This the article does not explore but it is worth pondering.

tryanmax said...

KIT, the way I describe it is that Millennials want a la carte politics. What they want isn't all too different from what Americans in general want, the fiscal conservatism of the Republicans with the social Liberalism of the Democrats. The main difference is that the majority of our generation doesn't imagine that one party or the other is the full package.

If there is a best bet, it's the Libertarian wing of the GOP. They're shedding their crazies into the tea party. But the media conflates libertarian and tea party. And the GOP marginalized them.

AndrewPrice said...

Everything I've seen tells me that the libertarians have the best chance to win Millennials, so long as they lose the doctrinaire stuff and the whacko stuff. Freedom yes, end of government no.

Kate W said...

When it comes to physics - the low % offering it isn't due to a failure of the school system itself, unless you call the inability to lure people into physics teaching a failure. The reason that so many schools don't offer physics is because of a critical shortage of teachers in that discipline. The next most in-demand teachers are Math. (See an article from Cornell on the shortage, its interesting). Unless you propose forcing people to major in something or outright capitalist laissez-faire the system so that physics and math teachers get paid enough to incentivize new hires, there aren't a lot of immediate solutions.

AndrewPrice said...

Kate, That may be and I've heard that before, but the responses from the states to this data show that the main cause of these programs "not existing" is either a reporting error (and hence they do exist) or the issue of rural schools that do count as a high school even if they only have a couple students.

Post a Comment