Scientific American again posting nonscientific political editorials

November 11, 2021 • 9:15 am

I have no idea why Scientific American is publishing editorials that have absolutely nothing to do with science. Yes, they have gone woke, and yes, they’re circling the drain, and while they of course have the right to publish what they want, they’ve abandoned their mission to shill for the progressive Democrats.

The latest shrill editorial is a critique of CRT implying that those who oppose its teaching in schools in whatever form, and are in favor of anti-CRT bills, are white supremacists. If you don’t believe me, read the article below. First, a screenshot from Jesse Singal, who rightly mocks the editorial staff of Scientific American:

I myself am against anti-CRT bills because how CRT is interpreted differs widely among people.  As the authors note correctly, these bills are sometimes construed as meaning that schools can’t teach anything about racial inequality or the genocide of Native Americans. I think school should teach that, but also that they should not set race against race, which, as we know, some schools are doing.

So, contra this editorial, I think there is something to be concerned about: woke teachers, of which there are plenty, propagandizing their students and spreading divisiveness. I’m not going to give all the examples that I’ve posted on this website, including the new curricula at NYC’s private schools that have angered (liberal) parents, California’s original draft of its ethnic studies curriculum that was pretty much anti-Semitic (that’s okay, it’s fine to diss the Jews), and the class where students had to paint their skin colors, or another where they compared their skin color to a chart that was, in effect, a way to measure how oppressed you are. If you think there’s not a problem, look what happened in Virginia. You can’t have your woke ideology and Democratic governance too—not with the sentiments of most Americans being what they are.

So yes, I’m in favor of teaching the very unsavory bits of American history, and are opposed to state laws that, designed largely by Republicans, are meant to prevent such instruction. But what you cannot do is say that CRT is never taught in classrooms, nor that all parents who oppose what’s going on in schools are racists and white supremacists. As Andrew Sullivan wrote last week:

And when the Democrats and the mainstream media insist that CRT is not being taught in high schools, they’re being way too cute. Of course K-12 kids in Virginia’s public schools are not explicitly reading the collected works of Derrick Bell or Richard Delgado — no more than Catholic school kids in third grade are studying critiques of Aquinas. But they are being taught in a school system now thoroughly committed to the ideology and worldview of CRT, by teachers who have been marinated in it, and whose unions have championed it.

And in Virginia, this is very much the case. The state’s Department of Education embraced CRT in 2015, arguing for the need to “re-engineer attitudes and belief systems” in education. In 2019, the department sent out a memo that explicitly endorsed critical race and queer theory as essential tools for teaching high school. Check out the VA DOE’s “Road Map to Equity,” where it argues that “courageous conversation” on “social justice, systemic inequity, disparate student outcomes and racism in our school communities is our responsibility and professional obligation. Now is the time to double down on equity strategies.” (My itals.) Check out the Youtube site for Virginia’s virtual 2020 summit on equity in education, where Governor Northam endorsed “antiracist school communities,” using Kendi’s language.

A main reason Youngkin won in Virginia is that parents didn’t like this kind of instruction—a curriculum over which they had no say. Maintaining, as the article below does, that Democrats should just “keep it up” is a recipe for disaster down the line. This piece could have been written (and indeed perhaps was written) by “progressive” Democrats. And it doesn’t belong in a magazine about science, any more than an article about the nuances of string theory belongs in The National Review or New York Magazine.

Again, click to read:

Some quote from the Sci Am piece (indented):

The recent election of Glenn Youngkin as the next governor of Virginia based on his anti–critical race theory platform is the latest episode in a longstanding conservative disinformation campaign of falsehoods, half-truths and exaggerations designed to create, mobilize and exploit anxiety around white status to secure political power. The problem is, these lies work, and what it shows is that Democrats have a lot of work to do if they want to come up with a successful countermessage.

Conservatives have spent close to a century galvanizing white voters around the “dangerous” idea of racial equality. When such disingenuous rhetoric turns into reality, the end result is criminalizing educational programs that promote racial equality. [JAC: Criminalizing?] Youngkin, who pledged to “ban critical race theory on Day One,” frequently repeated this promise at his “Parents Matter” rallies across the state in the final months of the campaign.

But in his campaigning, he and others misrepresented what critical race theory (CRT) actually is: a specialized intellectual field established in the 1980s by legal scholars Kimberlé Crenshaw, Neil Gotanda and Stephanie Phillips that emphasizes the unique historical role that legal systems play in upholding and producing racial inequalities in the United States.

The authors need to grasp what Sullivan says above. These authors are promoting a false view of what’s happening: that no aspects of CRT is seeping into public schools.

And here the authors claim that the anti-CRT movement (even the kind of watered-down CRT mentioned above) is motivated solely by white supremacy and racism:

Conservative anti-CRT rhetoric and the accompanying bills introduced and enacted by Republican state legislatures across the country comprise a disinformation campaign designed to manufacture white grievance in the service of white power. These policies reveal the need for researchers and scholars concerned with the quality of democratic debate to treat white supremacy as a disinformation campaign and to incorporate an honest accounting of America’s racial history and legacy of present-day inequality into all levels of education.

. . .Elections never depend on a single factor, and it’s not unusual for the party that captures the presidency to lose ground. That said, the perceived success of conservatives’ anti-CRT campaign will likely further legitimate explicit appeals to whites like those famously used by former President Trump. This will likely have long-lasting consequences. It further organizes U.S. politics around hardened racial and ethnic coalitions: a majority-white Republican Party and a multiethnic, multiracial Democratic Party. The Republican Party promises to maintain white people’s status at the top of the social hierarchy, while anti-CRT rhetoric conveys that this is justifiable.

I am a Democrat and am wary of the racial polarization of schools as it’s happening in many places, as well as ideological propaganda fed to kids. Not everybody who voted for Youngkin was a white supremacist, for crying out loud! Read Sullivan’s article, “The Woke meet their match: parents.” But wait! There’s more!:

Unfortunately, we know from history that white racial mobilization is a potent force, both at the ballot box and in attempts to subvert it.

This disinformation campaign must be directly confronted. Rather than dismissing manufactured concerns over critical race theory as fake, Democrats should embrace the robust teaching of America’s racial history in our public schools and make an affirmative case for why it matters for American values of fairness, equality and justice. Democrats should then focus on articulating how attacks on critical race theory are meant to divide people of all races who otherwise share interests. Rather than dismissing these attacks on CRT as isolated incidents, Democrats should mount their own sustained and coherent campaign to argue affirmatively for diversity, equity and inclusion programs and complementary efforts such as the 1619 Project.

Conservatives are unified around anti-CRT rhetoric. Now it is time for Democrats to form the same united front, to own that racism is real and to call out conservative legislative efforts designed to outlaw the teaching of racial inequality for what they are: a fitting example of how legal systems uphold racial inequality in the United States. This, of course, is exactly what CRT is trying to point out.

The last sentence, about legal systems upholding racial inequality, is absolutely debatable and should not be taught without careful parsing about what you mean by “legal systems.” The problem here is that this kind of facile and dubious assertion is already causing divisions among Americans and playing straight into the hands of Republicans. In the editorial above, the authors are staying “stay the course, full steam ahead”, while every other sensible Democrat is saying, “Wait! What happened? What can we do about it?”

The authors don’t seem to get out much, and really should pay attention to what Sullivan says here:

And if the culture war is fought explicitly on the terms laid out by the Kendi left and the Youngkin right, and the culture war is what determines political outcomes, then the GOP will always win. Most Americans, black and white, simply don’t share the critique of America as essentially a force for oppression, or want its constitution and laws and free enterprise “dismantled” in order to enforced racial “equity.” They understand the evil of racism, they know how shameful the past has been, but they’re still down with Youngkin’s Obama-‘08 impression over McAuliffe’s condescending denials and the left’s increasingly hysterical race extremism.

Instead, the authors take the stance of the Kendi-an left.

But why is Scientific American publishing this kind of debatable (and misleading) progressive propaganda? Why don’t they stick with science?  As a (former) scientist, I resent the intrusion of politics of any sort into scientific journals and magazines. If I want to read stuff like the above, well, there’s Vox and Teen Vogue, and HuffPost and numerous other venues.

I wonder how long Scientific American will last. . . . .

Oregon quietly eliminates all standards in reading, writing, and math for getting a high-school diploma

August 11, 2021 • 9:30 am

According to the two articles below (and others from sources that are more on the Right), Governor Kate Brown of Oregon has quietly signed a bill that eliminates the need for students to demonstrate minimal proficiency in reading, writing, and mathematics to graduate from high school—for the next five years. Up to now, demonstration of that that proficiency has been required by administering “about five different tests or by completing an in-depth classroom project judged by their own teachers. ” Those requirements are going out the window, so I guess you can graduate if you’re both effectively innumerate and illiterate. The two sources I used in this post are below:

The Oregonian:

. . . and yahoo! news:

Not only did the governor sign the law (more heavily supported by Democrats and more heavily criticized by Republicans), but she refused to comment on it, nor did she give the signing any publicity like a press release or signing ceremony), though other bills passed at the same time were entered into the legislative database and sent out as email notifications to those following the bills.  This bill—Senate Bill 744—was not. From the Oregonian:

Gov. Kate Brown had demurred earlier this summer regarding whether she supported the plan passed by the Legislature to drop the requirement that students demonstrate they have achieved those essential skills. But on July 14, the governor signed Senate Bill 744 into law.

Through a spokesperson, the governor declined again Friday to comment on the law and why she supported suspending the proficiency requirements.

Brown’s decision was not public until recently, because her office did not hold a signing ceremony or issue a press release and the fact that the governor signed the bill was not entered into the legislative database until July 29, a departure from the normal practice of updating the public database the same day a bill is signed.

The Oregonian/OregonLive asked the governor’s office when Brown’s staff notified the Legislature that she had signed the bill. Charles Boyle, the governor’s deputy communications director, said the governor’s staff notified legislative staff the same day the governor signed the bill.

It’s not hard to get the impression that the governor and her minions are hiding this bill, but of course the press got wind of it (probably from Republicans who voted against it).  And they have good reason to keep this bill quiet, as it completely eliminates any educational standards

Now you might also guess why the bill was passed. In fact, you don’t have to guess, as the governor’s own staff told us:

The Oregonian/OregonLive asked the governor’s office when Brown’s staff notified the Legislature that she had signed the bill. Charles Boyle, the governor’s deputy communications director, said the governor’s staff notified legislative staff the same day the governor signed the bill.

Boyle said in an emailed statement that suspending the reading, writing and math proficiency requirements while the state develops new graduation standards will benefit “Oregon’s Black, Latino, Latina, Latinx, Indigenous, Asian, Pacific Islander, Tribal, and students of color.”

“Leaders from those communities have advocated time and again for equitable graduation standards, along with expanded learning opportunities and supports,” Boyle wrote.

You can see Senate bill 744 here.  It mandates a committee from the state Department of Education that will report to the Senate by September 1, 2022, devising new learning standards, and part of the report must include the following. Note that “proficiency in essential learning skills” is not required to receive a diploma up to graduation in 2024 (section 3). As I noted, that’s been extended to 2027.

However, The Oregonian notes that this requirement will actually extend three more years, until the class of 2027 graduates—five years from this fall’s incoming class (my emphasis).

Proponents said the state needed to pause Oregon’s high school graduation requirements, in place since 2009 but already suspended during the pandemic, until at least the class of 2024 graduates in order for leaders to reexamine its graduation requirements. Recommendations for new standards are due to the Legislature and Oregon Board of Education by September 2022.

However, since Oregon education officials have long insisted they would not impose new graduation requirements on students who have already begun high school, new requirements would not take effect until the class of 2027 at the very earliest. That means at least five more classes could be expected to graduate without needing to demonstrate proficiency in math and writing.

As yahoo! news reports, the measure did receive some bipartisan support, passing the state House by 38-13 and the state Senate 16-13. The bill was signed on July 14, but it’s being reported now because the news has apparently just leaked out.

What is going on here? It’s pretty clear that the elimination of proficiency in essential skills is—like the elimination of many standardized tests in high school and for college entrance—part of the dismantling of the meritocracy that goes along with the desire to create academic “equity”. I would guess that the black, Hispanic, and Indigenous students weren’t performing as well as Asian or white students in graduating, and, as Ibram Kendi tells us, inequities of this sort are prima facie evidence of racism. To eliminate the racism, you eliminate the inequities: in this case by eliminating any need for students to be literate and numerate.

This, of course, will create five years in which Oregon high-school graduates can get a high-school diploma without demonstrating the merest proficiency in the skills needed to survive as a citizen in this country. But the playing field has been leveled; all adhere to the same standards—or lack of standards. In this case, a high-school diploma, which previously indicated that the possessor had at least rudimentary reading, writing, and math skills, now means absolutely nothing, and employers will have to discount it.

It’ll be interesting to see what standards the Oregon Department of Education comes up with next year. Will those standards depend on the background of the student? What will be the “alternative methods for students to demonstrate proficiency in skills or academic content areas that are not related to career and technical education”?

Sometimes I despair that, over the coming decades, all standards will be eliminated in the name of equity—save those standards, like flying airplanes or being a surgeon—that must be maintained lest people die.  It seems to me far better to tackle the problem at the root: doing the hard work of providing equal opportunity for all Americans from the moment of birth, rather than doing this kind of invidious touch-up that does nothing to solve the problem of inequality and, in fact, damages public education.

As they say, a rising tide lifts all boats, but the Oregon tide is a falling one, and will mire all boats in the mud.

Once again, should teaching CRT be banned? Richard Hanania says it won’t work, but offers another solution that liberals won’t like

July 14, 2021 • 10:30 am

About a week ago, I posted a piece about Critical Race Theory (CRT) called “Should teaching CRT be banned?” As you know, and will see below, legislatures, all of them Republican, are in process of banning what they see as critical tenets of CRT.

My own view was that it shouldn’t be banned as I was wary about government mandating what should or should not be taught in schools. (Creationism and its variant of intelligent design are exceptions; the courts have interpreted both as forms of religion, and teaching them in public schools is thus violates the First Amendment.)  In saying that teaching CRT shouldn’t be banned but that teaching it, at least in its divisive form, was still bad, I agreed with Andrew Sullivan. There were, I thought, legal recourses against the most divisive aspects of CRT—the bits that set races against each other.  Lawsuits, I thought, could eliminate that kind of pedagogy.

I’ve had to rethink all this after I read the new article below by Richard Hanania on his Substack site (click on screenshot). In particular, I didn’t realize that governments have a perfect right to dictate what and what cannot be taught (so long as it doesn’t violate the Constitution), that they do this all the time, that mandating what can be taught also tells you what cannot be taught, and, adds Hanania, it doesn’t matter anyway because teachers, who are mostly liberals, will manage to teach what they want regardless of the law.

I can’t find much about Hanania’s politics. He seems to be a conservative but it’s not obvious, and at any rate it doesn’t matter when we’re weighing his arguments:

First Hanania presents a map showing where anti-CRT-teaching bills have been passed or are in the legislature (some states apparently are labeled for bills “with other discussions about racism”):

Then he makes his points, which I’ve characterized in bold (Hanania’s quotes are indented; mine are flush left):

Legislatures have a right to tell schools what and what not to teach, and they do it constantly:

Legislators tell schools what to teach and not to teach all the time. It’s sort of a basic function of government. Illinois just mandated “Asian American History” and California requires teaching of “LGBT History,” cementing the idea that American history should be understood through the lens of groups of people defined by their sexual preferences or racial characteristics (or, in the case of “Asian American History,” a made-up census category). As of 2019, California mandated “LGBTQ+ inclusive sex ed,” which includes teaching kids about newly discovered genders and sexual identities. A Vox article tells the story.

Andrew Sullivan and I are thus confused in saying that CRT shouldn’t be banned but is still wrong to teach.

Some, like Andrew Sullivan, take the position that CRT is a pernicious and false doctrine, but that legislators should nonetheless do nothing about it. I’m struck by the discrepancy between his discussion of what’s being taught and his ultimate recommendations. Here’s how Sullivan describes CRT, implying that it is psychologically damaging to children and even potentially abusive.

The goal of education of children this young is to cement the notion at the most formative age that America is at its core an oppressive racist system uniquely designed to exploit, harm, abuse, and even kill the non-white. This can be conveyed in easy terms, by training kids to see themselves first and foremost as racial avatars, and by inculcating in them a sense of their destiny as members of the oppressed or oppressor classes in the zero-sum struggle for power that is American society in 2021.

Liberals want to teach Critical Race Theory because they think it is true, while others want to ban teaching it because they think it’s false. I can understand both positions. In contrast, the position “this is all pernicious lies but nobody should do anything about it” is puzzling to me.

Okay, I’ll accept that. Decisions by legislatures or school boards about whether to teach CRT should be made on the basis of whether it’s imparting facts that are right or wrong. But there’s the rub, for classic academic CRT is not what’s being taught in these schools, but interpretations of CRT filtered through the likes of Ibram Kendi and Robin Di Angelo. Anything racially divisive I see as wrong, but to call attention to the odious history of bigotry in our country should surely be done. Both are parts of “garden variety” school CRT.

Mandating teaching a subject or viewpoint explicitly prohibits teaching the other viewpoint. 

Notice that by mandating one thing, you ban another. A classroom that is required to teach gender is fluid and homosexuality should be accepted is banning traditional sexual morality. One that teaches that every major racial census category has its own history decides which groups are singled out for official identities (“Hispanic” and “AAPI,” but not “Jewish” or “Italian”), and denigrates the idea that American history should be taught from a more unified perspective.

The idea that government schools teach some things, but not others, and that a government school curriculum is set by government, has never been controversial. It’s only causing such debate now because instead of Democrats mandating that you teach identity politics and gender fluidity, it’s Republicans wanting to teach their own ideas.

Now maybe you think Critical Race Theory is true. In which case, you should oppose these bans. If you think it’s a false and harmful doctrine, then banning it is pretty much the job of government.

But of course this all depends on what aspect of CRT is being taught, and you’ll never know unless someone monitors the classroom.

Lawsuits aren’t a solution. As Hanania notes:

This highlights what is so strange about David French and other writers arguing that if CRT discriminates against whites, that’s already illegal under the Civil Rights Act, and people can just sue. As I have pointed out, the Civil Rights Act has been interpreted to not only allow anti-white discrimination, but actually mandate it in the form of affirmative action. As it turns out, people interested in enforcing civil rights law think discrimination against blacks is a major problem society has to constantly be on guard against, while discrimination against whites isn’t really a thing.

And of course to stop CRT teaching with lawsuits is a piecemeal effort, state by state, that may ultimately wind up in the Supreme Court; and you know what that means.

But it doesn’t matter, for what does matter is who is teaching the kids. And who is teaching the kids are, of course liberals who will impart aspects of CRT to students if they can. Although secondary-school teachers aren’t as liberal as college professors, they definitely lean Left:

A 2017 survey of school teachers and education bureaucrats showed that they voted for Hillary over Trump, 50% to 29%. That’s actually not as lopsided as I would have guessed, but there’s evidence that Democratic teachers are more committed to politics than Republican teachers, just as liberals care more about politics more generally. In 2020, educators who donated money to a presidential campaign were six times more likely to support Biden than Trump. So while Democrats may have “only” a 21-point lead in voting preferences among educators, when it comes to those who care more about politics, it’s more like an 85%-15% advantage. And teachers are probably conservative compared to the kinds of people who write textbooks, design curriculums, and work in education departments.

With those kinds of numbers, there’s really nothing conservatives can do to make the schools friendlier to their ideas and values. A CRT ban might mean a teacher won’t say “Ok, kids, today we’re going to learn about Critical Race Theory!,” but they’ll still teach variations of the same ideas.

The solution? Send your kid to private schools, or homeschool them, as such schooling is either generally more conservative or, at home, you can teach your kids what you want. It’s this solution that makes me think that Hanania is a conservative. He notes, though that private school enrollment has dropped in grades 1-8 and 9-12, as it’s expensive, but homeschooling has nearly doubled in the last two decades:

On the conservatism of private schools:

That being said, are private schools really any less liberal than public schools? Maybe not at the most elite level, as Bari Weiss has shown. Yet every indication is that private schools are in general more conservative. According to a 2015 study, “of the 5.8 million students enrolled in private elementary and secondary schools, 36 percent were enrolled in Catholic schools, 13 percent were enrolled in conservative Christian schools, 10 percent were enrolled in affiliated religious schools, 16 percent were enrolled in unaffiliated religious schools, and 24 percent were enrolled in nonsectarian schools.” Combining Catholic and “conservative Christian” schools, this indicates that at least half of private schools teach a sexual morality that would be illegal if promoted by a public educator, at least in California and other blue states.

In the end, Hanania’s solution, if you’re worried about CRT being taught more widely, is to put private schools on a more equal footing with public ones, perhaps using school vouchers to avoid the expense. That, of course, is not a solution I recommend, as I’m a big fan of public schools. And his solution is sure to sicken other liberals. But at least, says Hanania, it is a kind of solution, and nobody has offered any thing else that’s likely to stem the teaching of CRT. Hanania ends this way:

“Banning Critical Race Theory” sounds like a new, vigorous, and exciting idea, while “more school choice” seems like the same old conservative spiel.

But those who hope to change the public schools have no plan to make an overwhelmingly left-wing, and increasingly radicalized, profession reflect their preferences and values.

Trust me, I like finding new and original ideas to promote, and hate to come out for such a conventional and boring suggestion like “more school choice,” although I at least take comfort in the fact that I took an unconventional path to get to that conclusion. Nonetheless, please try not to judge the idea based on how edgy it sounds, but based on a clear understanding of how the world actually works.

My solution? Oppose the teaching on the grounds that much of it is false and it also has a pernicious effect on schoolchildren


Atlantic: The Left’s dismantling of meritocracy hurts Democrats

July 1, 2021 • 11:30 am

This article, from a recent issue of The Atlantic, highlights two “progressive” issues that are hurting Democrats: the “defund the police” campaign, which has gone nowhere (thank goodness, though we do need a rethink of policing), and—the real subject of the piece—the elimination of standardized testing requirements and “advanced placement” classes as admission criteria for secondary schools and colleges. In contrast with police defunding, says author David Frum, this is a serious issue that is hurting the Left. The elimination of testing and advanced classes are, of course, part of the dismantling of the meritocracy that “progressives” deem necessary to achieve equity (proportional representation of groups) in schools as well as in jobs.

Click on the screenshot to read:

Here are Frum’s contentions:

But as unpopular as “Defund the police” is, local progressive activists have found a cause even more anathema—and are pushing it with even greater vigor. Eighty-three percent of American adults believe that testing is appropriate to determine whether students may enroll in special or honors programs, according to one of the country’s longest-running continuous polls of attitudes toward education.

Yet across the U.S., blue-state educational authorities have turned hostile to academic testing in almost all of its forms. In recent months, honors programs have been eliminated in Montgomery County, Maryland, and Seattle. On Long Island, New York, and in Pennsylvania and Virginia, curricula are being rethought to eliminate tracking that separates more- and less-adept student populations. New York City’s specialist public high schools are under fierce pressure to revise or eliminate academic standards for admission. Boston’s exam schools will apply different admissions standards in different zip codes. San Francisco’s famous Lowell High School has switched from academically selective admission to a lottery system. At least a thousand colleges and universities have halted use of the SAT, either permanently or as an experiment. But the experiments are rapidly hardening into permanent changes, notably at the University of California, but also in Washington State and Colorado. SAT subject tests have been junked altogether.

Frum then adds that these programs face more resistance when pollsters stipulate that the programs would result in the admission of fewer black and Hispanic students, but then adds that the enthusiasm for testing returns when respondents are told that everyone, including students of color and the poor, would get free access to test-preparation courses.

This presumes that test preparation works, and it does a bit (especially when the “prep” consists of actually taking the test several times, which allows you to get an idea of what the questions are like), but it doesn’t do nearly enough to reduce the disparity of scores between Asian and white students on one hand and black and Hispanic students on the other (see here and here).

A quote from the first source, Slate:

For many decades, the testing industry denied that it was possible to raise a student’s scores to a significant degree. If coaching worked, wrote Nicholas Lemann in his essential history of testing from 1999, then “it made the SAT look like a series of parlor tricks and word games, rather than a gleaming instrument of scientific measurement.” Yet it’s clear that even the most elementary form of test prep—simply retaking the exam, multiple times—seems to have some benefit. The best independent research suggests that formal coaching can further boost a student’s score, but only by a little bit.

A quote from the second source, the New York Times, writing about the ridiculously low number of black students  admitted to the prestigious Stuyvesant High School in New York City, which has an entrance exam. (Only 8 black students were admitted out of 4,262, while more than half of those admitted were Asians.)

Ronald S. Lauder, the billionaire cosmetics heir, launched a multimillion dollar lobbying and advertising campaign in 2019 to defeat the mayor’s push to eliminate the specialized school exam. As part of that effort, Mr. Lauder and his partner in the initiative, former Citigroup chairman Richard D. Parsons, promised to shower test preparation companies with money to better prepare Black and Latino students for the exam.

Despite over $750,000 spent on test prep over the last two years, most of which was funneled to existing nonprofit programs across the city, their plan has not made a dent in the numbers.

No, test prep is not a good way to even out inequities, and certainly not a way to assure equal opportunity. While eliminating all standardized tests will create more equity by reducing the disparity among groups in test scores, it also deprives schools of valuable information about a student’s potential and makes it harder to identify outstanding minority students.

What to do? The disparity we’re seeing might be the end result of decades of bigotry against blacks that has created, as John McWhorter suggests, a culture that values street smarts more than academic achievement, and has also led to a surfeit of families with single-mother parents. To remedy this takes a lot more than test preparation. It takes substantial investment in providing families with stability, improving teaching, and tailoring instruction to individual students. And it takes a huge social investment in effacing differences in opportunities available to minority students.

h/t: Carl