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Tired Beliefs and Disregard of Data Should Evoke Shame

Posted By: Dick Schutz on September 26, 2005
“Nathan Glazer” says Natriello “concludes that our commitment to individual freedom will preclude politicians from preventing wealthy parents from enhancing the schooling resources of their own children or leaving the system completely.” Glazer, Kozol, the NYTimes (and presumably Natriello) bemoan the conclusion. But the bemoaning presumes that financially equalizing school expenditures will deliver the reliable accomplishment of educational aspirations. It won’t. Pouring unlimited financial resources into any administrative level from teacher, to school, to district, to state, to nation will not bring about that consequence. The same holds for racial integration. On that we have 50 years of forced school integration to prove it. Yet the tired beliefs persist.
A good case can be made that both courses of action are in the best public interest in and of their own right. Period.

Meanwhile, we’re virtually ignoring solid data, which indicate that racial/ethnic minorities and low socioeconomic kids receive different instruction within the same classroom. I cite the databases from the NCES Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, which has now followed a representative sample of kids from Kindergarten through Grade 3 and will eventually report data for Grade 5. These data indicate that poor and minority kids do start out in K with less expertise in reading and math than do white and Asian kids, but on matters that are well defined and receive careful instructional attention, the variability is eliminated. However, given the classroom exigencies, the glorification of “individual differences” and the lame indicators of instructional status, everyone knows which kids end up in the “third group.” Kids that get in the "third group" tend to stay in the third group--if they don't get dumped into "learning support" as
special Education is now popularly termed. There are, of course, exceptions, but you gt the drift.

The tragic irony is that by the third grade, the aggregate teachers rating of individual student expertise correlates only modestly with tested expertise, and aggregate black students rate their personal expertise higher than do white and Asian students. The fancy psychometric and multivariate analyses that have been conducted on the ECLS-K databases to this point (again ironically) obscure rather than illuminate these finings. But the findings are highly consistent and replicable within and across school subjects and are observable with the naked eye. Shame, indeed.

Dick Schutz
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 Tired Beliefs and Disregard of Data Should Evoke Shame by Dick Schutz on September 26, 2005
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