Skip to comments.CLASS WARFARE:BESIEGED SCHOOLS, BEWILDERED PARENTS, BETRAYED KIDS AND THE ATTACK ON EXCELLENCE
Posted on 01/09/2003 2:23:40 PM PST by shrinkermd
I bought this book thinking it was about war between the social classes. It was not. What it was is a love story of a father for his children and the efforts he made to secure them a good public school education. To obtain this education, Professor J. Martin Rochester became a soldier in the great American education war over whether the public school's purpose is equity or excellence.
Professor Rochester volunteered for this war. He was well prepared. He began life in Baltimore of middle class parents. He did well in school and attended Baltimore City High School. He received a BA from Loyola and a Ph.D. in political science from Syracuse. He has been a tenured professor of political science at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, a large state university. He has written five books on international politics and has written widely on K 12 education matters as well. He received the Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Teaching from his University.
He began his education as an unquestioning liberal. He was a war protestor, delighted at the fall of Nixon and spoke against Reagan's Cold War policies. He began to feel alienated from his liberal roots as he entered the 1990s. President Clinton's Presidency troubled him; however, he kept quiet since there is an "overwhelming liberal bent in academia."(1)
Then his children began school in the U City School District. This district had been an academia-type suburb for Washington University professors and others of a similar liberal ilk. The school district had changed from predominantly White to predominantly Black. Part of this change was a White flight and part of it was parents sending their children to private schools. The Rochesters joined the PTO and worked with other parents to improve their school. His children seemed to be doing well when suddenly the emphasis of the school shifted from academic excellence to "equity, diversity, self-esteem, inclusion, multiculturalism and other buzzwords."(2)
Tracking ceased at the school. Reading instruction was now in "whole language" with the same lesson plans regardless of competence. The principal disbanded the Jazz Band to make things more egalitarian. Alarmed, Professor Rochester called a School Board Member and determined academic excellence was no longer a goal.
In 1988, the Rochesters moved to Clayton, Missouri and a different school district. They assumed all would be well with the new school district being ranked third nationally by a noted business magazine. The school population was 80% White and 20% Black. The Federal Court mandated that Black children from St. Louis were to be bussed into the Clayton School District. Almost immediately, the policies of the school began to change and the old buzzwords of equity, multiculturalism, whole language learning all came to the fore.
Professor Rochester then began his battle with the Clayton School District and did not stop even when his sons graduated from high school in 1993 and 1997. He attended more than 275 School Board meetings, wrote many articles in lay journals and organized and recruited other parents for the cause of academic excellence. He also became a "traditionalist" at least when it comes to education. The ten years plus he has been combating "progressive pedagogy" have enabled him to become an on-the-scene authority on the problems and failures of current educational policy. Most of this book is a description of the problems and failures alluded to.
This is not a new struggle. David Tyack and Larry Cuban wrote Tinkering Toward Utopia: A Century of Public School Reform. Dianne Ravitch wrote another book challenging progressive education called Left Back: A Century of Failed School Reforms. Professor Rochester cites these two books as authoritative sources for much of what he says.
Spotting error in progressive pedagogy is easy --too easy. I believe Professor Rochester missed the essential underpinning of all progressive educational thought. Recently, John Rawls died. For more than thirty years his theories have been the foundation of liberal policies and actions. Because he wrote for an audience of philosophers and other intellectuals, few have heard of him; however, every tenured academic radical has heard of him.
Rawls's theory has two facets. First, each individual has a right to the most extensive liberty compatible with the same liberty for others. Second, social and economic inequalities are just only to the extent they serve to promote the well being of the least advantaged. The outcome of Rawls's theories is exactly what the liberal Democratic Party believes --re-distribution of power and wealth with a strong belief in individual liberties. Progressives believe in egalitarianism regardless of individual responsibility and effort. Further, by setting egalitarianism as the sovereign value they eliminate other values that are crucial for a successful society. Finally, by not recognizing individual ability and effort they doom society to a never-ending re-distributive process with no ultimate goal other than egalitarianism. From their point of view, it is simple and unquestionable justice to take from both the majority and the gifted; hence, there can be no disputing either the goals or the means of progressive policy.
Once understood, the Rawlsian philosophical underpinning of progressive pedagogy requires only a means-- post-graduate schools of education. Professor Rochester reviews the problems of the schools of education and the professional development industry in Chapter 7 of his book(3). He points out their faults, which include:
1. An exclusive focuses on process rather than content.
2. A predilection to focus on "deep principles" of learning without a deep grounding in the subject.
3. To get ahead teachers are encouraged to accumulate credits emphasizing generic instructional techniques and little else.
4. Often teachers are unqualified in the subject they teach and over qualified in the teaching techniques.
5. Sometimes teachers can obtain continuing education credits for social and recreational activities.
6. Educators introduce reform after reform with very little empirical data. Alleged "research based studies" lack scientific soundness.
7. Because of the focus on process rather than subject, many teachers are grossly unqualified to teach. For example, three out of five new teachers in Massachusetts failed a simple writing test; thirty percent failed a basic test in reading and 63 percent failed at a simple mathematics test.(4) At Stanford, educational school applicants have low grades and SAT Scores placing them fourteenth of fifteen occupational groupings.(5)
Many colleges and universities refuse to establish a school of education. Yale and the University of Chicago terminated their educational schools. In general, it is widely believed the academic standards in education are much less than other departments. In spite of the known limitations, educational schools initiate, nourish and support the unfounded progressive policies and actions that so confound the traditionalists.
With a philosophy and a means established, it is easy to follow the problems of Professor Rochester through the Clayton, Missouri School system. He starts with a brief history of education since 1957. At this time, the Soviet Union launched Sputnik: the result was a demand that our educational system improve. President Eisenhower consulted with academics. In 1959, James Bryant Conant, President of Harvard University, summarized the findings. The Conant report urged the use of ability tracking and increased effort at mathematics and science.
Not reported by Professor Rochester was that previously, President Conant encouraged Henry Chauncey to develop the first Student Achievement Test (SAT). Professor Chauncey went on to found the Educational Testing Service. Both of the Conant efforts established an educational meritocracy.(6,7) Almost overnight Harvard and other Ivy League schools went from WASP hereditary enclaves to meritocracies where a SAT score of 1400 of 1600 was a minimum requirement. The changes spilled over to other colleges and universities such that the upper quartile of ability attending college went from 15% to 80%. In the gifted category (top 3% of ability), college attendance is now 90%.
Some despaired over these changes. From my viewpoint, it would seem that President Conant intended to replace the then hereditary Protestant establishment with a new elite based on merit. For better or worse a reinvigorated meritocracy based on education occurred. Of course, this met with great approval of those who could make the cut, but disapproval from those who saw this as being antithetical to the liberal belief of equity of outcome. The opposition to an educational meritocracy intensified as minority students --chiefly Black and Hispanic--usually failed to make the academic track.
Professor Rochester never really addresses why Blacks and Hispanics fail to achieve as much as European Whites including Jews. My guess is, he is afraid of being labeled a racist or worse. Usually such a label ends or suspends an academic career.
Presently, heritability is thought to contribute 50% of the variability in intelligence. According to Professor J.P. Rushton and others, there is about a 15 IQ point difference between African-Americans and Europeans and the 30 IQ point difference between unmixed Africans and Europeans.(8) Many attacked the Bell Curve(9) that found similar results in 1994. As a response to this criticism, over 60 experts in intelligence and related fields affirmed the above findings about race in a Wall Street Journal Editorial dated 13 December 1994.(10) The whole problem is further complicated by the finding that the Jews have an average IQ of one-half to one standard deviation higher that White Europeans. Overall, a best guess is Ashenazi Jews have an average IQ of 115. This means that over 60% will score over 110--almost three times that of European Whites.(11) Since the average difference in IQs of related siblings is 14, one could argue that these differences really do not make much difference.
Unfortunately, there are real differences with real ramifications but they occur at the edges. For example, it is rare to find a physician, lawyer, scientist or engineer with an IQ less than 110. About 25% of European Whites score at 110 or better. Because the average Black IQ is 85, only 5% of Blacks have an IQ of 110 or better. Mathematically, both absolutely and proportionately, whites will have more individuals at 110 and above than Blacks. As mentioned, Russian Jews will have a full 60% of individuals with an IQ of 110 or more.
Measuring for "giftedness" only 3% of European Whites will score above 130: Ashenazi and other Jews will have perhaps up to five times that number.(12) The ramifications here are that one can expect more doctors, lawyers, scientists and the gifted among the Jews and especially Russian Jews. Finally, the average IQ for the professions is 120: only about 10% of the White population score this high or higher. About 40% of Jews score this high or higher, but only 1% of Blacks score 120 or higher.
Further complicating the whole matter is there is no way to consistently and significantly raise a person's IQ. Parenting style does not significantly influence a child's IQ in spite of widespread belief to the contrary.(13) Unknown environmental effects must be responsible for the remaining variability. Some believe that peer relationships play an important part in the development of intelligence; however, there is no solid, empirical evidence for this assumption.
In my opinion, Professor Rochester faced four issues when he began his educational crusade:
1. The progressives (liberals) who run the educational system believe its primary goal is to achieve equity of outcome. Radical egalitarianism is the norm and not the exception.
2. The schools of education and other aspects of the educational establishment control the system because they control who is "certified" not who is "qualified" to teach.
3. In spite of their egalitarian wishes, the educational establishment faces the certainty that intelligence is distribution on a bell curve and there are racial and ethnic differences in IQs. These differences are currently not amenable to any known remedy.
4. Because of number three, the only way the establishment can achieve equity of outcome is to "dumb down" or otherwise destroy any academic and social gradient based on academic achievement and ability.
Professor Rochester states there are two basic problems in K12 education. First is an inadequate focus on academic standards. Educators now focus on social issues -- taking over what used to be a function of family, church and other institutions. Second, in respect to those schools with some academic standards, those standards are now under attack and are dropping precipitously.
The historical sequence to these problems and changes is as follows. Educators lowered standards for the bottom 20% of the class sometime before the 1950s. Then, educators lowered standards for the middle 60% of students. After Sputnik, as previously mentioned, the top 20% became the focus of additional attention and effort. Finally, beginning in the 90's, and especially the late 90s, educators lowered standards for the top 20% of students.(14)
What Professor Rochester fails to mention is that between 1960 and 1998 the percentage of adults completing high school went from 41.1 percent to 82.8 per cent.(15) If we now have 82.8% of the White population completing four years of high school and assuming a bell curve distribution of IQ, then almost all Whites down to almost an IQ of 85 are completing four years. This means that by necessity and not malevolence the educators must lower standards.
If one considers just Black Children (Average IQ 85), by simple mathematics over half of all Black children will have an IQ of 85 or less. Educators, then, must lower the standards for Black children even more if the Black children are to complete four years of high school. In integrated schools, half of all Black children will be below the lowest level of White Children. It is this simple mathematical fact that leads to the insane practices described by Professor Rochester. What educators are trying to do, is lower the standards sufficient to blur any ability difference between children as well as the races. No doubt about it, the educators believe this to be a laudable goal and well worth the sacrifice of the 20% of the gifted and able students who want and need a rigorous academic program.
Professor Rochester, quite correctly, points out that there is no intrinsic difficulty in having both a great academic and broad program for all. Rather than face the differences in ability and attitude, Educators are now prone to lump all students in the same classroom with the same pedagogy. Educators usually claim individual lesson plans still exist; however, these do not match an academic tracking or ability grouping in efficacy. To further blur ability differences, educators have added educational techniques such as "fuzzy math" and "whole sentence reading" to help the least able students. Aggravating the situation further, are "full inclusion classrooms" where emotional and handicapped children are mainstreamed into regular classrooms. These handicapped children face a problem on graduation --exit examinations. In California, parents of handicapped students are suing because 90% of their children fail the exit examination.(16)
Many school districts have eliminated class ranking and valedictorian honors. Increasingly, school boards are trying to eliminate grades as well. Those school districts that do not eliminate grades make them less significant by grade inflation. Finally, it is now clear the educational establishment, including the schools of education and the public employee unions, are death on standardized tests. To continue operating the Educational Testing Service re-centered the SAT when it became apparent SAT scores were dropping from year to year. Because of this and other changes, it is almost impossible to compare year to year changes in the SAT.
Beginning in Chapter 3, Professor Rochester has an interesting take on reconciling excellence and equity. He points out some educators attack the current meritocracy and alleged idolatry of academic success. The Professor opines just the opposite --creeping populism and egalitarianism is destroying the public school.
Periodically, some try to deny either the importance or existence of intelligence. In 1981, Stephen Jay Gould published The Mismeasure of Man: it sold an unheard of 200,000 copies in the first edition. A second edition of this book appeared in 1996 after the publication of Herrnstein and Murray's The Bell Curve. Gould is a respected paleontologist who asserts there is no such thing as "g" or general intelligence. Rather than carry out the argument here, suffice it to say other than the Marxists, socialists and others who ascribe to his political views, he has little credibility in the area of academic psychology. Both Sowell(17) and the Thernstroms(18) have argued it is a pathological black culture that causes the White and Black IQ differences. In most respects, the arguments against IQ are no different than the ones voiced in 1922 by Walter Lippman.(19) In spite of all these efforts, virtually no psychologist discounts the importance of intelligence in both academic and life success.
Educators have found another means to discount or deny the importance of intelligence --The Multiple Intelligences Theory (MIT). Howard Gardner, a professor of education at Harvard, published Frames of the Mind in 1983. This book has since become the Bible of MIT and has almost a religious cult-like following. The theory is not a theory of learning but a theory of intelligence. It denies the importance of "g" or general intelligence, SAT Scores and so forth. The theory claims there are "seven sets of smarts" --linguistic, logical-mathematical, spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, musical, interpersonal, and intrapersonal. Later Gardner added two more "intelligences" naturalist and existential or spiritual. Only the first two of these --linguistic and logical-mathematical--correlate with general intelligence. All the others while described as intelligences are closer to "talents." By having eight intelligences, it is possible for every child to be gifted and even academic subjects must account for the "intelligences" not ordinarily subsumed under academic. Unfortunately, Gardner has never been able to deliver a package of demonstrably correlated mental tests. He has also denied MIT constitutes a set of hypotheses that leads to predictions.(20)
Professor Rochester cites a St. Louis Post-Dispatch story claiming Blacks and other groups previously under-represented in programs for the brightest students now are included because of MIT.(21) Particularly troublesome is the failure to encourage reading in the school by resorting to MIT. According to Professor Rochester, nonliterate culture is driving out literate culture. Parents who practice reading as a regular pastime are rare: no more than 30%.(22) Seemingly, with MIT educators can dumb down the upper quintile and excuse the lower quintile. The result is a declining ability of all students --gifted and non-gifted-- to master academic subjects to their full ability.
Teachers are now psychologists and self-esteem builders. Along with the "therapeutic classroom" teachers inculcate a progressive agenda of equity of outcome, diversity, multiculturalism, gender-neutral instruction, abilities awareness and efforts to eliminate "homophobia." Essentially, teachers are trying to cure an alleged sick society by radicalizing or changing the beliefs of the children. The teachers only play a part in this change. Only about one-half of all parents believe intellectual development is the primary goal of education.(23)
Collaborative education is in and individual effort is out. Presently, many schools have children mastering a subject in a group. The usual outcome is one or two of the strongest students do the work and the others tag along. Grounding children in group effort rather than individual accomplishment seems to prepare them for a more collectivist society. When the children are tested or graduate they find that "collective learning" does not help them. Schools ruthlessly suppress competition, but in real life, society rewards competitive effort.
The test for K-12 academic education occurs when the students hit college. Nationwide, 80 percent of public and 70% of private colleges offer remedial courses. In California, almost one-half of all entering students require remedial instruction. Surprisingly, when this is pointed out to educators, some of them use deconstructionist arguments where knowledge is a subjective matter. To the constructionist (deconstructionists in my language), reality is whatever one makes of the world. Generic politics decides on reality. The deconstructionists believe it is ridiculous to learn rules of grammar or anything else since there is no final truth. Therefore, there is inventive spelling, whole language reading, fuzzy math and an inclination to use a calculator rather than mastering multiplication and other mathematical tables.
There are few well-done outcome studies in education. In California, reading tests were reviewed after the implementation of whole-language learning; California scored next to last with only Guam having a worst score.(24) All of this was unnecessary. In April of 2000 the National Reading Panel --appointed by the US Congress--called for a blending of phonics and literature-based activities as the chief means of teaching reading.(25)
Another test of K-12 academic education is history. More than 50 percent of all high school seniors are unaware of the cold war. Two out of three seniors on the way to college could not explain the Emancipation Proclamation. One out of four adults did not know we used an atom bomb on Japan in WW II. Finally, researchers gave 556 college seniors from 35 top rated colleges a multiple choice question asking who was the American general at Yorktown. Only one out of three correctly identified George Washington from the other choices of Douglas MacArthur, William Tecumseh Sherman and Ulysses S. Grant.(26)
Beginning in the 1960s the new math stressed conceptual rather than computational mathematics. In 1998, the New York Times reported that US high school seniors were the least prepared in math and science as compared to students in other Western countries.
The "teacher as coach" movement in education has resulted in many classrooms being ruled by anarchy. Progressives, after all, make no distinctions between teacher and students. Equity of outcome demands that not only standards become lower, but also those teachers become facilitators rather than teachers. The lecture method is becoming rarer. Educators and teachers label direct instruction as the pedagogy of the oppressed. There is a widespread belief based on the philosophy of Jean-Jacques Rousseau that children naturally learn from themselves and need little or no formal instruction. Professor Rochester notes that Rousseau abandoned all five of his infant children.(27)
This brief summary of Professor Rochester's book is insufficient to document its true merit. Professor Rochester writes in everyday language yet maintains academic integrity by his meticulous endnotes. Rather than a boring rendition of "on one hand and the other hand" type of theoretical discussion, Professor Rochester uses his persona experience over ten years to highlight all issues. Like most that are not professional wordsmiths, he has a problem being funny or sarcastic. Occasionally, he makes pejorative, personal comments about some of the people that he has encountered. I note that he indicates an awareness of his sarcastic remarks as being a function of 10 years of frustration.
I am unsure whether my including the statistics on IQ and race was helpful. I felt Professor Rochester was well aware of these, but was hesitant to use them. This I can understand since quoting such statistics results in one of two things --verbal or physical stoning. Tenured radicals now dominate academia.(28) Presently, there are now more than 900,000 faculty members: in 1960 there were only 380,000.(29) . Professor Rochester recognized his colleagues as having a "liberal bias."
I am also unsure whether including a discussion of Rawls was necessary. Admittedly, even Judge Posner does not believe he is a "public intellectual;"(30) however too often conservatives look at the silly and stupid practices in education and assume these people are stupid and silly. They may well be, but they may be covertly or overtly carrying out a radical form of egalitarianism justified in their minds by Rawlsian dogma. In any case, it does no harm to see the liberals as rational and having good intentions.
President Bush gave his Saturday radio talk today on education. The proposals he made are in Professor Rochester's book. The President's speech was followed, on my local station, by commercial advertising for a new parochial school touted as being Christian based, patriotically inclined and having high, traditional academic standards. I believe this school will not have to advertise very long.
If a public intellectual is someone who influences a broad group of people both inside and outside his field of endeavor, then Professor Rochester certainly is a candidate for the label. He has done a great service to the public with this book and still kept his academic credentials intact. I hope that people will recognize this as a significant book and buy it. In the meantime, anyone who has the slightest interest in education must buy this very readable and professional book.
(1) The Book, Page3.
(2) The Book, Page 6.
(3) The Book Pages 199-210.
(4)The Book, Page 202 (Cites Martin Gross as origin)
(5) The Book, Page 202 (Cites Michael Kirst as origin)
(6) Brooks, D.(2000) Bobos In Paradise: The New Upper Class and How They Got There. New York, Touchstone. Pages 26-27.
(7) Herrnstein, RJ and Murray, C.(1994) The Bell Curve.New. York, Free Press. Pages
(8) Rushton, J.P.Sweeping Away Culture-Only Orthodoxy Almost. Amazon Book Reviews. 29 November 2002. Professor Rushton has also writtenRace, Revolution and Behavior: A Life History Perspective (edition 3).
99) Herrnsteinsein RJ and Murray C.(1994) The Bell Curve.New. York, Simon and Schuster.
(10) Staff. Mainstream Science on Intelligence.Wall Street Journal. 13 December 1994.
(11) See the Bell Curve, Page 272-276 for a preliminary discussion of this.
(12) Same as 11.
(13) Pinker, S. (2002) The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature. New York, Penguin. Page 372-400.
(14) The Book, page 19. Cites Diane Ravitch as source.
(15) US Census Bureau. (1999) Statistical Abstract of the United States.169:Table 263, 199th Edition.
(16) Asimov, A. School Exit Exams Need Warnings, Attorneys say: Suit on Behalf of Disabled Students. San Francisco Chronicle, 4 January 2003. What is truly fascinating about this article is that the plaintiff attorneys are asking a warning label be placed on the test indicating the test does not measure accomplishments.
(17) Sowell, T.Race and IQ I, II, III. Jewish World Review. 01,02,03 October 2002
(18) Thernstrom, S. and Thernstrom,A. (1997) America in Black and White: One Nation Indivisible. New York, Touchstone Books.
(19) Lippman, W. Debunking Intelligence Experts: Walter Lippman Speaks Out. New Republic: 33 (27 December 1922): 116-120. This can be found on the History Matters Website.
(20) Brand, C. (1996) The "G" Factor: General Intelligence and its Implications. Published as an E-Book by Chris Brand. This book was originally published but then pulled back by the publisher because the book claimed racial differences in IQs. The portions on Gardner can be found in Chapter I, pages 27-35. This is an excellent and comprehensive resource for issues surrounding IQ. It is also a good textbook for those just beginning their inquiry into this subject. It is very well written.
(21) The Book, Page 73.
(22) The Book, Page 84.
(23) The Book, Page 95. Also cites Kirst and Goddard as primary source for this statistic.
(24) The Book, Page 150. Cites Sykes and Honig.
(25) The Book, Page 141. Cites NIH News Alert in April of 2002.
(26) The Book, Pages 163-164. Numerous original citations in the author's endnotes citing facts related.
(27) The Book, Page 176.
(28) Kimball, R. (1998) Tenured Radicals: How Politics Has Corrupted our Higher Education. Chicago, Elephant.
(29) National Center For Educational Statistics. (1998) Faculty Staff Postsecondary Institutions, 1995. E-3 (March 1998)
(30) Posner, RA. ( 2001) Public Intellectuals: A Study of Decline.Cambridge, Harvard University Press. Pages 22-23,25,334-336. Posner denies Rawls is a public intellectual because Rawls failed to address a popular audience. Posner does believe Rawls was the most influential philosopher of the last half of the 20th century.
A friend of mine (white male) graduated from an elite tech university at 20. He told me that many of his betters at university and in his industry are Russian immigrants, both Jewish and non-Jewish...
It is the top 20% which supplies the professionals and business creators in the society. The US cannot survive if the top 20% are crippled
Only about one-half of all parents believe intellectual development is the primary goal of education.(23)
This statement weakened my knees. If the primary purpose of education is not intellectual development, then what is it??
One theory has to do with Russian Jews having been concentrated in the occupations of merchant, moneylender, and craftsman: trades where IQ has a good influence on your success in that field (and thus your ability to keep your family from starving). The evolutionary pressures in favor of selecting for IQ are evident.
My cynical viewpoint on this is that the elites desire to have their own children inherit their positions of power and wealth. This is hard to do in the face of serious competition from the children of the middle class -- the middle-class, being a much larger group, will produce a large number of intelligent and energetic people. The solution is to cripple the intellects of the children of the middle class, so that they will not become competitors to the children of the elite (who do not go to public schools)
Or in other words, State indoctrination to socialist ideas.
The Russian intellectual tradition, especially in the hard sciences, seems to be a thing of its own.
I went to public school from 1955-1968. I remember vividly taking home a letter from third grade to my parents mentioning Sputnik and explaining why our science and math were being ramped up. I was a beneficiary of the described attention to the top 20%.
When my sons went to public school beginning in 1985, I was shocked at how bad it had become. Their high school is repeatedly listed in "top ten" public HS lists-if that is true, wow-the bad ones must be bad beyond description.
Wow, well said.
It's very simple. Children with IQs of 85 and below cannot-cannot-complete a legitimate academic high school program, any more than I can play in the NFL.
Focussing on white students exclusively, when I went to my (100% white) public school system, we had a large nonacademic track (called "the dumb track"), and many of its inhabitants were out of school by tenth grade.
What evidence is there that twelve (or more) years of schooling is necessary, appropriate, or even possible for kids with IQs of 85. Answer-none whatsoever.
It does not matter if a low IQ child is black or white-what matters is that, if he or she is in an academic HS they are in the wrong place.
Contrariwise, I would hope if an econ grad school were picking students, they would have the smarts to pick Dr. Sowell instead of me.
I agree completely that public high schools, flooded with children who do not belong there and are incapable of achievement, are falling apart.
They have been given a foolish and impossible job, and it shows.
you're so correct on this. I think your daughters are probably going to get a good home school education though. I HATE the way after 5'th grade or so I got a very poor education despite a good faith effort by me. I'm one of the talented high aptitude types and they tried to make me mediocre. 'Cult Of Mediocrity' is a term that has been used to describe it.
But here's another aspect of our situation. Reasonably, the only way you can come out of high school in america prepared to really make it at an elite university is if you go to a high quality education system in grades 1-12. Nobody in america gets that except upper income people. Upper income people can live in upper income communities unlike lower income people. In America most upper income communities bar by law the construction of homes for lower income people. We are segregated actually and stratified by income according to government zoning laws. I'm not exaggerating or making this up. So, lower income people are forced into dysfunctional schools. And talented high aptitude kids from those lower income areas don't stand a chance.
The explanation for this is unclear. At least one item is that nutrition seems to be a crucial variable on the left hand side of the bell curve. Also, there is a suggestion that learning how to deal with timed tests, having taken other tests may play a part as well.
As far as Black/White IQ's see Rushton's Book Review of Jensen's book on the "g" factor. It is found on Stalking the Wild Taboo. The difference has been constant for over 80 years. Controlling for socio-economic background makes at most a four point difference. Both culture fair and non-verbal tests do not improve things. Blacks for 80 years have also consistently scored lower than Native Americans, Mexicans and Asians.
It really is too bad everyone has become upset about this. The real problem is a solution. Jensen found 40 years ago that on rote learning and shor-term memory tests Blacks score very favorably as compared to Whites. So what do liberal educators discourage? You got it --rote memory.
While there are always quarrels as to what an IQ test measures and whether it is valid, remember that we now have evoked potential and other physiological tests that correlat quite well with what is called "g" or general intelligence.
All Army IQ testing can do is measure the IQs of people who decide to show up to go into the Army -- which might not be a representative sample of the population.