Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Fun With Statistics and Tiny Pigs

For today, let's discuss one of my favorite pet peeves - "glaring racial achievement gaps". Let's start with some basic demographics by percentages of students (by race) in the NYC public school system (total) from a Hunter College Summary:

Overall demographics*:
11% Asian
15% White
28% Black
47% Hispanic


Graduation rates (see above):
82.6% Asian
80.7% White
63.8% Black
61.4% Hispanic

[*75% of all students participate in the free/reduced meal programs]

On October 7, 2015 one of the endless articles on the racial disparity in high school graduation/college graduation statistics the NYC public schools was published in the NY Post. Glaring Racial Gap Growing - LINK [not sure if you can access it without having to log in] The two paragraph in this article are very telling -

"The racial achievement gap among New York City public school students gets worse once they reach college, according to a new study."

“The data lays bare the devastating costs of education inequality in this city. When half a million children — almost all of color — are trapped in failed schools, doors to the middle class are slammed shut and $4.4 billion in wages is lost,” said Jeremiah Kittredge, the organization’s CEO.

Issues you should know - The organization in question is the Families for Excellent Schools, a procharter group. There is a battle waging in our school system between the traditional public school advocates (Mayor Deblasio) and the charter school advocates (Gov. Cuomo). The battle centers on "racial disparity" in achievement. But here is where my real pet peeve comes into play. "Racial" equals "minority" which, in NYC Public School-speak translates to "Black" and "Hispanic" students only. And it always boils down to the disparity of achievement between White students (rich, white, privileged) and "minority" students (Black/Hispanic, poor, underprivileged). But this racial disparity oddly never includes the smallest minority - Asian students.

Why do the people using statistics for this argument never include Asian students in the "minority" group? Oh, I know the answer. Look at the statistics for the Asian students in the chart above. Though, Asian students comprise the smallest minority at only 11% of the student population with the same issues of poverty and seemingly "underprivilege", they outachieve even the White students in graduation rates for both high school and college. My conclusion to this is that if you include Asian students as "minority" the disparity disappears hence the argument disappears. And the argument of more money both sides swear they need to alleviate this disparity disappears...

On a completely unrelated note (but one that makes me very happy): Chinese scientist have announced that they have genetically engineered teeny-tiny pigs - tea-cup size - to sell as pets! Tiny snouts, tiny split hooves, tiny curly tails and they are guaranteed to only grow to 40 lbs. This is a monumental achievement in modern science. Yey, science!

UPDATE: On another genetically-modified animal note in the morning papers: Chinese scientists have now genetically engineered a mutant beagle that has “more muscles and are expected to have stronger running ability, which is good for hunting, police (military) applications”. Huh, yeah, dogs have been doing just fine in that department for hundreds of thousands of years. But,maybe the Chinese scientists could put their genetic engineering skills to work and engineer a panda bear that wants to breed on it's own again...


Anthony said...


I agree with your premise, but its worth noting that given that Asians are only roughly 14% of minority students, including them would lessen the achievement gap between non-white and white students, not make it disappear.

The Hispanic community isn't really a thing (based on what I saw during my time in Guatemala and Colombia, there is tremendous variance in public school quality, cultural focus on education and average student performance in Latin America). Don't know if the same is true in Asia. It would be interesting to see if those disparities are reflected here in the US or if all groups have the same average performance.

As I've said before, the problem blacks have isn't bad schools (in many cases) but families (often single moms) who aren't pushing kids to excel either because of a shortage of time (mom working multiple low wage jobs to pay the bills) and/or because they just see school as 'free' babysitting. I'm not saying that schools are perfect, but the big problem is that they are being forced to try to compensate for the collapse of black families.

Part of the problem for Hispanics may be that they can't help their kids much. My wife is Hispanic (Garifuna from Honduras) and didn't graduate from high school (started working in a clothing factory young) and her English is much shakier than that of our kids (both fluent English speakers and my youngest has a very, very rudimentary grasp of Spanish) so I'm the one who winds up helping them with homework. Tell the truth even I struggle sometimes (thank God for the internet). Common Core is no joke.

As always I tip my hat to Asians. Their focus on education pays off in spades.

LL said...

Many MANY Asian restaurants present this scenario when you walk in. Mom and Pop are working, making the place work. The kids are sitting at a table in the restaurant doing homework.

Since they don't fit the model, Democrats ignore them.

tryanmax said...

I concur with Anthony's observations on Hispanics. For one, there is no Hispanic community any more than there is a White community. As that population grows, the concept of an Hispanic community will come to be seen as absurd.

It makes sense that the biggest hindrance to Hispanic students is that their parents can only help them so much. That is a single-generation problem--two generations tops--that will vanish before our eyes.

tryanmax said...

Bev, I think the reason why minorities means "Blacks and Hispanics" is a case of opportunism. As I said to Anthony, I suspect the lagging figures for Hispanics is a 1st generation issue that will go away rather quickly. But for the time being, it provides a screen which does two things: 1) it obscures the negative impact of broken families b/c leftists can point to largely intact Hispanic families, and 2) it allows liberals to focus on skin color and white racism as the culprit, despite the fact that Hispanic is not a race or a skin color.

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, The reason they don't include Asians is because Asians put the lie to their favorite theories. The reason minorities do poorly is (1) bad parenting and (2) lousy culture which denigrates education and hard work. But that is not the answers the race lobby wants to reach. They want to reach (1) racism and (2) lack of money.

But Asians show that racism and lack of money aren't the issue or else they couldn't succeed any better than blacks and Hispanics. So including them ruins the whole game because it makes it impossible to argue that racism and money are the issues. That's why they get ignored.

BevfromNYC said...

Anthony - From what I understand about the Common Core curriculum, even a combined PhD from Harvard in English Lit, Mathematics, History & Physics doesn't help when your kids need help with the homework. Sorry.

But with the exception of Indian and Pakistani Asian students, parents are no more likely to speak English than Hispanic students.

Okay, it really is about parenting, priorities, and motivation.

BevfromNYC said...

So Ahmed Mohammed, the Clock Boy from my home town high school and his family are moving to Qatar. Irving can now breath a sigh of relief. Oh, and right before meeting with Obama this week, he got to meet with another evil dictator in Sudan. I can't wait to see what this kid can do with a real clock bomb...

Kit said...


I should say, here is also a lesson for the Right when talking about his family:
Instead of "WHAT THE MEDIA WON'T TELL YOU ABOUT AHMED THE 'CLOCK BOY'!!!!" go with "Ahmed "The Clock Boy"'s father has radical Islamist ties."

Most people tend to tune out the former and pay attention to the latter.

Anthony said...

Meh. The kid will be another Elian Gonzalez.

tryanmax said...

Kit, the right wing media has a hard time understanding how the internet works. "What the [insert boogeyman] won't tell you..." headlines work for clickbait, so they probably have a lot of clicks telling them that it works. Plus, it keeps the gold-seller/gold-buyer advertisers happy.

The story-in-a-headline approach probably generates fewer clicks, but it has the power to spread a narrative more quickly and effectively. Putting his contortions of the truth aside, this is what Matt Drudge has figured out.

But more than headline/clickbait writing, the biggest problem I see with the right wing media is that they don't know how to tell their own stories. They only spin the same stories the left is telling in another direction. This is a very low point in time for real investigative journalism, and there are two things causing that. On one hand, the leftist media suppresses any dirt on leftist politicians. On the other hand, the right wing media is failing to provide a platform for journalist investigators.

The media landscape could change overnight if one of the major players simply told its reporters to find stories no one else is telling.

Anthony said...


Shoeleather reporting is expensive, time consuming, unglamorous, sometimes dangerous and one's ability to get rich/famous is limited (one doesn't have as much time/ability to brand build/monetize as talking heads).

I suspect on the conservative side activists will do more legwork than self-style conservative journalists will.

IMHO reporting is of limited value because nowadays everybody reads whatever news site whose offerings tend to fit their beliefs (if I want to read a pro-Trump story or a pro-Obama story I know which websites to go to).

BevfromNYC said...



Joe Biden just announced that he won't be running for President after all. Hillary must have gotten to him and threatened him with something.

Anthony said...

Hillary's VP nominee has to be less charismatic than her. That is a tall order.

Kit said...

Paul Ryan will likely be the next Speaker.

AndrewPrice said...

Oh sad. I was kind of hoping Joe would bless us with his wisdom.

Sorry there's no article today... super busy.

Critch said...

Well, we're not going to have Crazy Uncle Joe to kick around anymore...darn it. I was so hoping to hear more of his nuggets of wisdom.

Koshcat said...

Great comments today. I agree that the whole "Hispanics" grouping is too complex to really understand what is going on. From those who I meet, there is a wide cultural gap between many Hispanics and Asians. The latter puts a lot of stress on education while the former not as much. That doesn't mean they are lazy or dumb, just not as much stress or pressure to go to college especially for girls/women. We had a Hispanic physician assistant working for us for several years. She was the first capitalistic communist I ever met but that is a story for a different day. She told me she was pressured NOT to go to college. Her family wanted her to get married and have children by 16. They warned her she was going to die a childless spinster.

Many Asians have the opposite problem and stems from their culture. At least in China, children are expected to give 10% of what they make back to their parents. Basically, this is your retirement program and the more successful your child, the better your retirement. The pressure can be intense to the point of suicide. When I was in China, a member in the government told me that he was envious of the relationship between American kids and parents, where they could be close and friendly. It wasn't that way in China. Kids were forced to take care of their parents but didn't like it and made for an antagonistic relationship.

tryanmax said...

Anthony, aren't you forgetting who it is who are the gatekeepers of glamorous? The news networks are branding machines. It's their decision to promote talking heads over shoe-leather reporters. To the extent that talking heads brand themselves, it is either to get a network to notice them (and take over the branding work) or to remain consistent with how the network has decided to package them.

And I'm not talking about those reporters who go to the far reaches of Africa, Asia, South America or the Middle East to dodge bullets, chase wildlife, and live in slums. Or even the ones who report Europe to Americans. Those reporters are in it for the adventure/perpetual vacation and don't generally have trouble finding outlets anyway. I'm talking strictly about the the domestic side of things, which is as cushy and glamorous as the networks are willing to make it.

tryanmax said...

P.S. - I'm not even saying that Fox News, as an example, needs to do anything different from what the other networks are doing, so expense is a non-issue. As I've stated before, the biggest disappointment when it comes to right-wing new is that it's just left-wing news spun differently. They don't even challenge any of the purported facts. They just try to explain why you, the reader/listener/viewer should interpret those facts differently.

Using "clock boy" as an example, imagine if this had happened before the internet allowed a number of real-life electrical engineers to publicly and widely call shenanigan's on the kid's "invention." ABC, CBS, and NBC would continue to report even this late into it that the kid really, truly invented a clock. FOX News, having apparently zero investigative resources, would concede that he really, truly invented a clock, but claim that he had no business doing so and should have known he'd be taken for a terrorist. Newsweek and TIME would feature the kid on their cover in an expose about Race in America®. A sidebar next to the article would offer a timeline of clock making. The New York Times would attribute the invention of the clock to Muhammad. Meanwhile, a small band of electrical engineers and clockmakers, working from a grainy photo published in the Enquirer, will attempt to raise questions about the legitimacy of the boy's invention, only to be excoriated as racists in the press. FOX News will concede that they are racists, but assert that they have a point.

BevfromNYC said...

Tryanmax - There are many interesting questions about "Clock Boy" that no one has openly explored. But, as you say, to explore is to be racist. To question is to be racist. As a matter of fact to ask any questions is an a micro-aggressive act that requires a safe space lest it cause the challenge of thinking outside one's sphere of knowledge.

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