Monday, August 2, 2010

Flash! Academic Achievement Is Racist

Alas. The little red schoolhouse, and the not so little ones, were supposed to get another boost from the federal government which just felt it didn't have enough control over national curricula. President Obama wants everyone to go to Columbia and Harvard Law, so he cobbled-together a $4.5 billion program called "Race To The Top."

Obama and his Indoctrination (oops, Education) Secretary should have known it's not nice to inject race into the title of any bill, even if human race has nothing to do with it (sort of like "black" in "black hole"). If they had called it "Equal Failure In The Schools," it probably wouldn't have drawn the attention of the NAACP, Rainbow/Push Coalition and the National Urban League, among others. But since the program is designed solely to reward some nebulous federal standard of success in academics rather than provide funds based solely on race or ethnic background, the usual suspects are in high dudgeon.

Since the passage of No Child Left Behind, the race and color-based organizations have been suspicious of any federal program that is niggardly in providing huge sums of money for "disadvantaged youths" and emphasizes instead accomplishment over "racial empowerment." In that bill, Senator Ted Kennedy managed to put in lots of goodies for special programs based almost entirely on race and ethnic background, but not enough to suit the big race-based organizations. George Bush enabled the bill by once again misplacing his veto pen.

But now "those people," apparently including their former messiah in the White House, have added insult to injury by throwing more federal funds at, horrors, incentives for competitiveness in education, a healthy dollop of funding for charter schools, and the closure or takeover of failing schools. Several of the spokespeople for the big organizations have essentially called Obama a race-traitor, even though that could at best be only a half-truth. This is a major problem since it pits him and his administration against major funders of his perpetual campaign, and not just the race-based organizations. The teachers unions don't much like it either, because they know that success among black, ethnic, and white students depends in large part on good teachers. That is a classification sorely lacking among public school union teachers. Please note that I do not include teachers who would rather not join the union, but have no choice.

The whole flap is comically ironic. The goal of progressive education since time immemorial has been to use poor (mostly black and/or foreign) neighborhoods for social engineering and untested methods of pulling the disadvantaged out of ignorance and poverty. Obama has billed himself and his gang of Democratic lefties as Progressives. Yet now he proposes to raise student accomplishment rather than reward failure and racial happenstance by funding programs based almost solely on academic success. Has anybody told him that if he's not careful, he's going to sound like the conservative educators who have been proposing this sort of thing, unsuccessfully, for years. Next thing you know, he'll start quoting Martin Luther King, Jr.--correctly.

Using the words of the earlier fund-fest, Obama's critics in the race industry say that the proposed bill stacks the deck against the "majority of low-income and minority students who will be left behind." They haven't quite yet found a way to explain how additional incentives for academic success will negate all the billions of dollars that will still be spent to provide a dubious safety-net for poor students in failing schools.

President Obama spoke before the National Urban League recently and couldn't figure out why his speech was not received with the usual euphoria. "Let me tell you, what's not working for black kids and Hispanic kids and Native American kids across the country is the status quo. That's what's not working." Something tells me that Obama did not get script approval for that statement from his buddy, Weather Underground Education Professor William Ayers.

Obama spent most of his post-academic career raising and obtaining funds for all kinds of ridiculous and expensive programs in the ghettoes and barrios, but education wasn't among those goals. So naturally, he chose the former superintendent of the Chicago public schools, Arne Duncan, to be Secretary of Education. He praised Duncan for raising Chicago school standardized test scores by 29%. What he didn't mention is that it would be nearly impossible to lower Chicago's achievement on test scores. For instance, after his seven year tenure as superintendent, Duncan's 11th graders failed to meet minimum standards to the tune of 70% of students taking the tests. Well, I guess that's better than 80% failure. And then, of course, there's the matter of raising scores by lowering the standards of the tests.

I don't know if someone slipped something into the administration's evening merlot, or whether it's just a simple case of mass hysteria, but even Duncan is now praising charter schools. But like the race-based organizations, I think I smell a rat as well. While he was Chicago's superintendent of public instruction, he spent most of his time going to fund-raisers and political get-togethers put on by the Chicago political elite. Duncan carefully categorized these powerhouses by both income and political clout, and amazingly, the children of those on the lists were fast-tracked out of the worst public schools and into the best public and private schools. Sure, some of those rewarded were black, but for Progressives looking out for the deprived and oppressed, the fast-tracking didn't do any good for indigents, the powerless, or poor minorities.

The "status quo" of which Obama speaks is almost entirely attributable to liberals, progressives and social engineers--people much like himself. The concept of being rewarded for what you've done rather than what you are is not ordinarily in their philosophy. So it's no shock that the race-based organizations and special pleaders are upset with Obama on this issue. What is a little surprising is that Obama seems to be as tone-deaf to his own base as he is to the will of the majority of Americans. By the time he leaves office, he may have set the record for the number of political groups of all persuasions that he has alienated.

30 comments:

Joel Farnham said...

LawHawk,

When he returns the money for the students kicked out of the school that his children are going to then I will start to believe him. Otherwise, this is just a smoke screen for something else. Maybe give school vouchers to all his progressive friends? I don't know, but I don't trust him.

AndrewPrice said...

Everything is racist these days. This attack is so overused that I've entirely stopped caring. The term has become meaningless to me. All it means today is something blacks don't like.

LawHawkRFD said...

Joel: Public schools, particularly urban public schools, are largely cesspools. This bill was a very small step toward trying to fix that for the students who have not only the guts but the brains to succeed. But according to the current progressive mantra, if someone succeeds, someone else fails. A repressive regime depends on blind ignorance, as do race-based organizations. The bill would help kids of all colors, but since it doesn't provide coddling and money, money, money for special pleaders, it must be racist. I am not a fan of national imposed test standards, but I have to admit that even some standards are better than no standards at all.

LawHawkRFD said...

Andrew: It's meaningless to you and me and most of our readers. But it's the only thing many of these organizations have to hang onto, and liberal guilt still gives the use of the word some power. But I really am beginning to think that at long last, the overused and usually inaccurate word is finally fading in impact. When an overly race-conscious "post-racial" president merely supports a bill that provides equal rewards for academic success and gets called "racist" for doing so, it is a good sign that nobody outside the self-serving organizations much cares. But it can still cause mischief because there are numerous legislators beholden to those very archaic organizations.

HamiltonsGhost said...

Lawhawk--Is this an example of "no good deed goes unpunished?" Obama actually strikes a blow for character instead of color and his major supporters attack him.

LawHawkRFD said...

HamiltonsGhost: It certainly looks that way, doesn't it? Obama is the target of something we've been putting up with for years. He backs a perfectly reasonable bill that does nothing more than try to help academic achievement and fails to realize that since it doesn't make special provisions for race (even though race isn't an issue or a topic of the legislation), it must be racist. Now he can live for awhile in the Alice-in-Wonderland world we've been forced into by progressives very much like him.

patti said...

"by the time he leaves office..."

the only part that gave me a glimmer of happiness. yet part of me, god help us, wonders if that will actually happen. that's right, I'M HYSTERICAL! and by the looks of this article, a racist as well. i just can't catch a break...

CalFederalist said...

LawHawk. Progressives are always talking about "a way out of poverty." Education is one of the best ways out. Sadly, urban public schools reward teacher mediocrity and encourage bad student behaviors. And at the risk of being called racist, I point out that black students who attempt to do more than show up for class are regularly told by their classmates that they're "acting white." It's a pattern and a mentality that has to be broken.

LawHawkRFD said...

Patti: Be strong, and of a good courage. Oh, and no hysterics, please. The only things sure are death [panels] and taxes, and Obama is providing plenty of both. If the eternal pessimist (me) can feel at least somewhat confident that Obama's reign will end in 2012, you can figure there's a darned good chance of it. But it means that all we believers in equality of opportunity (i.e., racists) must stick together and work hard throughout the next two election cycles.

HamiltonsGhost said...

Lawhawk--Another thing is hidden within the complaints from the NAACP, Urban League, etc. They always talk about "poverty" students who would do just fine if you only gave them more money. But when they say "poverty," they mean black and often use both terms in the same sentence.

LawHawkRFD said...

HamiltonsGhost: It's both sad and ironic that the race-based organizations conflate "black" with "poor", not realizing (or lying about) the fact that the lack of education is always a major factor in generational poverty. Rather than applaud Obama's initiative in setting aside funds for academic achievement, they complain that it disadvantages poor (black) students. Failure to encourage solid academics among blacks (and everyone else) produces the self-fulfilling prophecy of blacks remaining poor because they are inadequately educated. Poverty and lack of education are inextricably intertwined.

Tennessee Jed said...

Hawk - you used the term "niggardly." What are you racist? How about if all the suburban, N.O.W. teacher's union presidents (and Democrat convention delegates) are forced to be bussed into the cesspool schools to teach? Just a thought.

LL said...

Equal opportunity is important and the education ladder that elevates people and allows them to better their condition is essential to a strong America.

Equality of outcome is a moonbat scheme that liberals pine for, but it can't be obtained with human beings without removing the bar (there is no lowering here).

StanH said...

I am truly a sick man, I get such a jolly when these jerks get bitten by their own dog. Urban schools are an abysmal failure. They amount to glorified daycare centers, pitiful.

Side note: Odumbo has been in Atlanta today, screwing up traffic, lying to our brave soldiers, and raising campaign money…goody!

LawHawkRFD said...

Stan: It's a perfectly normal reaction to enjoy watching the leftists and race-baiters chewing on each others' legs. The magnet schools in most urban centers couldn't care less about race, but since academic achievement and ability are the only reason for the existence of magnet schools, they're "racist" too, even though black students benefit immensely from being surrounded by others who don't treat them like freaks for wanting to excel.

I don't know how Atlanta handles it, but in my former home of San Francisco, his arrival is greeted like Christ on Palm Sunday. It's appalling, particularly since Christ brought a message of peace and reconciliation with God, and Obama just puts his hand out for more money.

StanH said...

Inside the city he’ll be loved, for the most part. Outside the city he will be despised.

Bryan Pick said...

This issue is of particular interest to me -- I think education should be a top priority of any political movement, and that shoving kids into government-administered schools for generations has been a big boon for statists.

I think we're making progress on that issue. People are becoming more open to alternatives to the public school system, from charter schools to home-schooling. Trying to shut down to the DC voucher program was very embarrassing for Obama, and he had to flip-flop on it. That's exactly what we should be forcing on Lefties, with full-court press.

My suggestions for programs we should force Democrats to vote on:

* Vouchers up to the variable cost of sending a child to public school. They spend so much time arguing for more infrastructure and smaller class sizes that this turns the argument against them: they can have smaller class sizes and more spending per student if current public-school kids take a voucher up to the variable cost of sending that kid to public school.

* Vouchers aimed at the disadvantaged people Democrats are always talking about:
o Blacks and other minorities (the research I've seen shows that experimental voucher programs have helped blacks the most)
o Kids in the lower half of the test-score distribution (again, research shows these kids show the most improvement -- and we can't be accused of "skimming the cream" off the top)
o Kids with a history of disciplinary problems (private schools have a good record of improving discipline, and these are the kids who supposedly drag down public schools)
o Children of immigrants and kids whose first language isn't English, provided that the private school improves their English language skills at least as fast as the public schools do
o Special-needs children (again, supposedly dragging down public schools -- heck, Sarah Palin could be a good advocate for this)
o Inner-city kids (far from the Republican base, these schools would go straight for the people who are being worst-served by the current school system)
o Drop-outs (after all, they obviously gave up on public schools -- why not offer them a voucher to help fill out a market of private schools?)

Anyway, those are my personal recommendations. Feedback welcome.

LawHawkRFD said...

Tennessee: You win. I had a secret bet with Andrew (even he didn't know about it) as to who would catch my purposeful use of an ancient Swedish/Icelandic word that simply means "cheap." Race-baiting ignoramuses went ballistic over it at one college campus, and the instructor was fired for "racial insensitivity" even though the word has absolutely zilch to do with race. She was finally reinstated when the true meaning of the word was revealed to the illiterati. I am one of those people who refuses to give up a lifetime of adding to my vocabulary because some idiot, somewhere will not have sufficient education to know a given word has nothing to do with race.

The last thing any liberal wants, black or white, is to have his kids in an urban public school. But they're perfectly willing to stick black kids in them, and offer them no viable way out.

LawHawkRFD said...

Tennessee: Blogger's acting up again. My final paragraph disappeared, so here it is again:

Kudos for being the first to catch my use of the word niggardly (or at least the nerve to comment on it). As we know, anyone who would find that word offensive needs to buy a dictionary, learn to think, or just read the DailyKos and the Huffington Post. I don't suffer fools gladly. LOL

LawHawkRFD said...

LL: Equal opportunity rewards hard work and excellence. Equality of outcome (rabid egalitarianism) retards hard work and removes the incentive for people to strive. It cuts across all races and colors. Nobody benefits honestly from racial preferences, and nobody is ever harmed by rewards for pursuing solid academic success.

LawHawkRFD said...

Bryan: That is an excellent plan. If and when the Republicans finally get around to forming a coherent attack on the current governmental play-acting about education, the party should use it. A good education for everyone must be a major building-block of any future Republican platform.

BevfromNYC said...

This is particularly timely because NY is at a crossroads - Our State legislators are "screwing the pooch" on the "Race To The Top" funding because of our local UFT leaders si fighting very hard to stop them. Part of the funding has to include a certain number of new charter schools and they are fighting with all they've got to stop the growth of Charter Schools. The following stats are very telling as to why:

NY State gives exams for math and reading to 3rd and 8th graders to access their skills and progress:

Harlem Success Academy (privately run non-union teachers): 98% passed math; 88% passed reading

UFT Charter Brooklyn (run by the union): 34% passed math; 28 passed reading

Traditional Public Schools (run by unions): 43.4% pass math; 54% pass reading

Hmmmmm...

Patti said...

fyi law: i'm linking this comment stream tomorrow, as i try not to get HYSTERICAL.

LawHawkRFD said...

Stan: That's pretty much the description of the whole State of California. They love him in SF, LA, Sacramento, Oakland and other urban centers. The rest of the State wishes he would sleep with the Delta smelt.

LawHawkRFD said...

Bev: We have a much smaller version of the same problem here. The teachers' unions don't want the program, but politicians are a little worried about opposing it outright. The unions here don't have quite the stranglehold on school policy that they do in New York, but they're working on it.

LawHawkRFD said...

Patti: I have the advantage of being able to walk out onto the deck and pump a few shots into the trees without being reported to the police. It tends to be very calming after I encounter one of these leftist messes. Otherwise, I'd be getting hysterical far more often.

patti said...

law: i just said to husband this very evening, "i need to take the gun out for some practice." ain't nuthin' like it, is there? plus it helps that it pisses off libbies...

LawHawkRFD said...

Patti: This is a new experience for me. For twenty years in the Queen City of the West, I was surrounded by radical "progressives." I don't think there's a liberal within twenty-five miles of me now, although I suspect the guy down the hill with the disabled, rusting automobiles in his side yard may be at least a Democrat. LOL

People here who may have supported the liberals (including Schwarzenegger) have long since converted as they watch the unemployment rate rise steadily while the crops wither in the fields for lack of water as the environuts protect the useless fish called the Delta smelt. Faraway Bakersfield has a large generational welfare community, so the Democrats haven't entirely left the county.

JTB said...

I think it's funny that Obama's in trouble with the left for the race to the top when he's usually in trouble for his race to the bottom.

LawHawkRFD said...

JTB: Lately, he's been in trouble for anything to do with races.

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