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"...this entire school of race politics, where you try to diversify the elite first and then somehow get to broad justice later...."

I don't know who pointed this out first, but this whole thing is basically Reaganomics but with race and gender. It's all built on the idea that if you diversify the elites, it'll naturally "trickle down" to other areas of life. Clearly I don't think it works.

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Nov 30, 2021Liked by Freddie deBoer

Oh God the funding "issue". If I hear one more Leftist tell me that American schools are underfunded I might blow my brains out. Please tell me more about how America, the country that spends 50% more per-pupil on K-12 ed than Germany and New Zealand, is spending too LITTLE on schools.

I think this is my main gripe with Leftists now - every problem is boiled down to "the government isn't throwing enough money at the problem" when a lot (dare I say most) problems in the US have very little to do with how much public money we throw at it.

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I have taught graduate school for a long time which has traditionally required the GRE (Graduate Record Exam). It's similar to the SAT. The students with higher GRE scores are better students. Another school at which I taught made the GRE optional. The quality of student performance declined. I mean across the board--late assignments, poorer writing, weaker analytical skills. The students I taught were of all backgrounds. This wasn't racial.

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Among the more amusing facets of this argument, one which I have never seen anyone else point out, is that Education graduate schools have higher proportions of black and female students than almost any other graduate degree major. Presumably, The College Board is interested in hiring people with Ed degrees, so I would expect that The College Board is hiring higher proportions of black and female Ph.Ds than almost any other industry. I wrote a little bit about that on my blog at one point: https://itsnotmyfault01.medium.com/san-franciscos-pac-lowell-high-school-and-kendi-s-arguments-7955df437850

>The second thing here is that I find it even more sad/amusing that we’re bringing up “bad man thought of it first” as if there aren’t hundreds of scientists and scholars working diligently at the College Board or in academic research to try and remove racial bias from their tests and measures in the present. To assume that standardized intelligence tests (no described relation to current admissions tests) carry their racist biases and mission after 100 years, with no changes in tools, viewpoints, or objectives requires just a stunning amount of faith in one man’s antiquated vision. It’s ever more shocking because women and black people take up larger shares of psych and education PHDs than other fields. Maybe they don’t tend to specialize in psychometric measures or making tests… but they’re in the same field to be doing that work, and Ed schools are famous for their highly progressive slant. https://ncses.nsf.gov/pubs/nsf21308/report/fields-of-study Table 16: Women are 69.3% of Education PHD in general, and 69.6% in “Educational assessment, testing, measurement”. Table 24: Black is 14.1% of “Education research” subfield, which is quite high compared to their fraction of other sciences. Knowing the high relative proportions of women and black people receiving education and psychology PhDs, both groups historically believed to be less intelligent, is the takeaway that women are the most racist testmakers? Should the takeaway be that that the College Board (or whatever test maker for these more local admissions tests) is systematically hiring unqualified people and racists or maybe not even trying? Does the high fraction of black PHDs in this field have 0 effect on the tests, even after 100 years?

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It's going to be hard to fault Asian Americans for turning into Republicans when our left-wing institutions are so explicitly working against their interests. The first signs of this shift already appeared in the NYC mayoral election.

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Man, all these pro-GPA advocates know those numbers are flunkier than ever for the class of 2022, right? We had no idea how to grade during online schooling and so a whole year's worth of grades are basically so much confetti. But somehow tethering college acceptance to a student's internet connection and home life in 2020-21 isn't going to reproduce inequalities?

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it seems like moving away from objective criteria like the SAT and moving towards the whims of admissions workers would allow for a quiet Affirmative Action program without having to come out and be explicit about it.

Affirmative Action is *incredibly* unpopular with most people, so finding a way to do it without having to admit you're doing it seems to be the main objective here.

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This was your best opening paragraph ever.

BTW, it seems to me in this essay you are mostly repeating points you have made many times before. But I, for one, never tire of reading them.

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I did not fit into typical school systems and until i got into a university without walls program i never would have graduated college. I have never understood why schooling in this country (incorrectly called education, they are not the same thing) is so inflexible, why there are not trade schools, why there are not apprenticeships, why the curricula in colleges are so fucking boring and similar to each other. James Lovelock, the developer of the Gaia hypothesis, said that had he not attended in the 20s, he would never have made it through. Programs then were very different, they had a flexibility that programs today do not. It seems to me that as the conservatives began looking at colleges as employment centers for big business and the liberals began looking at colleges as training to be in the ranks of the elite with a subsequent denigration of the working class the entire education system began to collapse. There are options, it's just that nobody wants them, well, except maybe the people who need them. The truth is that any human created system can be gamed by those who will benefit from gaming it and the entire schooling system in the US has been gamed and we are not the better for it. GPA and SAT do measure real things and as Freddie notes, do actually have informational relevance to the real world. But . . . they are only relevant to one aspect of what is possible. The US is pretty much stuck in a loop where they keep doing the same thing over and over again believing they can get a different result. That is crazy and it reflects the fact that the country has pretty much gone off the rails. It is unlikely to get better any time soon.

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I think there's a space in the higher education industry press for an alternative to the Chronicle and similar publications which would question orthodoxies about meritocracy, universal college, the sorting function, elite schools, the superiority of in-person to online in all circumstances, the need for a faculty-centered as opposed to student-centered university, etc.

Then you could write for it and puncture the myths about the admissions process at the elite universities, including the one you mentioned here.

I think the Wall St. Journal already did some detailed reporting on this. And for those here who only know the WSJ from their editorial page, their reporting section is independent of it. It still leans right but is very rigorous and has broken major stories, like the recent one on FB and the one on Elizabeth Holmes' company a few years back for which is now facing charges.

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By the time a kid's taking the SAT his die is already cast. You want to improve SAT's and college performance, then educate kids long before they take the test. What needs to be done is a real "affirmative action program" for K-12 instead. The question is how do you affect that while public education is in the grip of the professional administrator class, teachers unions, schools of (mis)education, etc. and students' true education is of secondary concern.

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I would love to experience a dialogue between you and Caitlin Flanagan on this topic. She has written/spoken in depth about the same SAT issue, and specifically leaving black Freshman college students out to dry because they were equity'd into the program but given no remedial support. Her first conversation with Sam Harris (I know) goes into this. Think about it.

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The reasons for the current state of affairs are obvious: most progressive intellectuals with influence went to elite schools. So they have a vested interest in keeping elite schools elite but more racially diverse.

It would be a more just world if there were no elite schools and if people only had to get as much education as they needed for their jobs and no more. (Thus ending many occupational licensure boards, and the "universal college" push endorsed by both conservatives and progressives in the US.) But there are too many vested interests for that actually to happen.

An anti-racism which doesn't address class will always be more appealing to the American elite than one which does - even if a class-conscious anti-racism wouldn't have to frame itself in opposition to the white working class.

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I agree with Freddie on almost all of this, although I am apoplectic at the abandonment of scores for grades. It's insane. Grades are a joke.

While I think lotteries are impossible for private unis, I think they are definitely doable for state schools, and doing so would dramatically improve the status of state universities. If you got a college degree from a school that only accepted kids with SAT scores of, say, 1200 or higher and picked them from a lottery, that would be a huge signal of baseline ability. The problem with a lottery is the lawsuits.

I gotta say, if you think crappy teachers or teachers unions or poor funding are the reasons we have "failing schools", you're doing it wrong.

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I suspect that this was really just a way to admit more students and make more money. As I understand it college admissions are down, and due to declining birth rates (less babies always means less students the long run) it's the long term trend. This means a reduction in revenue and I expect we'll see standards being reduced of waived altogether to plug the gap. If students aren't prepared and too many flunk out, they'll start finding ways to either grade easier or allow students to pass some other way. They'll do anything and everything to keep those tuition dollars flowing.

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"Antiracists (an obnoxious term but let’s roll with it)"

Please... let's not. Let's roll with the term "woke supremacists" Because these people are not antiracists. I live among them and they are just the standard racists repackaged. Instead of white robes, they wear tweed. But their tribal bias over superficial difference that discounts the common human element is just as profound.

"But then isn’t it profoundly odd that they’re so angry at the SAT for demonstrating the outcome of that disadvantage? If the test shows Black and poor students struggling, it’s only an indicator of precisely the conditions they think are real and meaningful and troubling. Why would they want to silence that indicator? How does it help them?"

THEY pushed social and economic policy that caused the US to export working class economic opportunity to other countries while also importing other counties poverty... at the very time that US civil rights progress passed primarily by Republicans had the black community poised to enter the middle class.

THEY protect the crappy inner city schools as the teachers union members finance their political campaigns and they pay back the teachers unions with more union protection and benefits.

THEY push the addictive dope of government paid welfare that locks generations of families into a pattern of dependence.

THEY diminish law enforcement and criminal punishment thus causing poor minority neighborhoods to explode in crime and gang activity.

THEY attack social capital generating private organizations like churches and implement tax policy that dissuades private donations so that more money flows to government.

THEY pass laws like Title-IX that have directed funding for school athletic programs away from boys... the gender that has great need for that type of competitive discipline.

THEY do these things and they know they do these things... and the minority communities THEY harm are always on the cusp of recognizing the TRUE source of their misery... and so THEY get busy creating a false narrative of false blame while also virtue signaling support for "fixes" that are never real fixes... but serve to perpetuate and even increase the misery.

The fix to black and Hispanic under-representation in academic and economic achievement begins and ends with a view that we need to invest in PREPARING more students for a successful launch into individual earned economic self-sufficiency and prosperity... at the same time we invest in bringing back more work opportunity to these communities. It is stupid to think we can hobble high-achieving Asians and whites to "make more safe space" for other minorities. It is stupid for several reasons, but primarily because it is just clearly so fucking irrational (or purposely harmful) that the people pushing it should be pushed out of all positions of power and influence.

There are hundreds of thousands of unfilled jobs in the trades. The population of illegal immigrants also helps to depress the wages in these jobs. We also need more manufacturing and industrial jobs to return to the US and give tax incentives for the companies to locate their operations in depressed areas.

By stopping the flow of illegals while also investing in trade and industrial education in depressed areas of the country... we can begin to help these communities develop more economic vitality that then supports keeping families together and helps children develop into more successful and productive members of society.

Or we can keep allowing THEM to fuck things up and blame US.

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