A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media
iSteve Blog

From Minding the Campus:



A remarkable article on the University of Wisconsin (Madison) appeared yesterday on the John William Pope Center site. In it, UW economics professor W. Lee Hansen writes about a comprehensive diversity plan prepared for the already diversity-obsessed campus. The report, thousands of words long, is mostly eye-glazing diversity babble, filled with terms like “compositional diversity,” “critical mass,” “equity mindedness,” “deficit-mindedness,” “foundational differences,” “representational equity” and “excellence,” a previously normal noun that suffers the loss of all meaning when printed within three words of any diversity term.

But Professor Hansen noticed one very important line in the report that the faculty senate must have missed when it approved this text: a call for “proportional participation of historically underrepresented racial-ethnic groups at all levels of an institution, including high-status special programs, high-demand majors, and in the distribution of grades.” So “representational equity” means quotas at all levels. And let’s put that last one in caps: GRADES WILL BE GIVEN OUT BY RACE AND ETHNICITY.

Professor Hansen writes: “Professors, instead of just awarding the grade that each student earns, would apparently have to adjust them so that academically weaker, ‘underrepresented racial/ethnic’ students perform at the same level and receive the same grades as academically stronger students.

“At the very least, this means even greater expenditures on special tutoring for weaker targeted minority students. It is also likely to trigger a new outbreak of grade inflation, as professors find out that they can avoid trouble over ‘inequitable’ grade distributions by giving every student a high grade.”

If they gave out grades specifically by race — e.g., “D’Qnisha, you get a Black A- for your team project with Lisa, who gets an Asian C+” — then grades would still be pretty good at discriminating among individuals within races. But since these kinds of projects are rationalized not as acknowledging the different levels of performance among the races, but as rooting out the White Racism infesting the minds of U. of Wisconsin at Madison professors, well, then the usual outcome is: A’s for everybody!

I’d been kind of wondering about this, but it seemed too depressing to look up. So I’m glad the New York Times did the work for me:

Enmity and Civilian Toll Rise in Ukraine While Attention Is Diverted

DONETSK, Ukraine — One was a retired cook. Another installed alarms in cars. Another was a cleaner in a grocery store who had gone out to buy ground beef to make her son meatball soup.

With international attention focused on the tragedy of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, the deaths of these three civilians — some of the roughly 800 who have been killed in the battle over eastern Ukraine — have gone virtually unnoticed by the outside world.

The Ukrainian military’s advances to reclaim territory from rebel control have come at a steep human cost. According to a United Nations count released on Monday, 799 civilians have been killed since mid-April, when Ukraine began to battle insurgents here, and at least 2,155 have been wounded. …

The rising toll of the conflict in eastern Ukraine — the first open hostilities in Europe in 15 years — is a direct consequence of the nature of the war here. Much of the fighting takes the form of low-tech airstrikes and artillery fired at a distance from aging weaponry, tactics that can inflict significant harm on civilians. (In comparison, 330 Ukrainian soldiers have been killed, the United Nations said. There are no estimates for rebels.)

In a report released on Thursday, Human Rights Watch documented four instances of the use of unguided Grad rockets, which killed at least 16 civilians in and around Donetsk in nine days. While both rebels and Ukrainian forces use the rockets — descendants of World War II-era weapons — the investigation “strongly indicates that Ukrainian government forces were responsible” for the four attacks.

“Using these kinds of weapons in populated areas is a violation of the laws of war,” said Ole Solvang, senior emergencies researcher at Human Rights Watch. “International allies of the Ukrainian government — the United States, the European Union — should condemn this use and urge the government to stop.”

The strategy of the Eastern Ukraine rebels was based on the assumption that in an age of cellphone video, it’s hard for a government to pound rebels in cities. Some countries in recent years have shifted toward federalism rather than fight civil wars on TV. And in the successful crushing of a rebellion in Sri Lanka, the government took steps to black out video.

Initially, the new Kiev government attempted a treads-on-the-ground show of might to win the war of morale, but the civilians tended to win the face-to-face games of chicken that ensued. Not many tankers were willing to roll over their fellow Slavs Tiananmen Square-style, resulting in embarrassing videos of unarmed locals facing down tanks.

So the Ukrainian government has switched to long distance weapons like airstrikes, artillery, and rockets that are less psychologically debilitating to the men ordered to fire them, with the inevitable side effects on nearby civilians.

Of course, the civilians are the Bad Guys, so that’s okay. Everything is a lot simpler once you know who is Bad and who is Good.

Apprised that pro-abortion activists are now turning against the phrase “a woman’s right to choose” as transphobic for implying that only women can have abortions, commenter David calls our attention to this meeting of the People’s Front of Judea:

JUDITH [Sue Jones-Davies]: I do feel, Reg, that any Anti-Imperialist group like ours must reflect such a divergence of interests within its power-base.

REG [John Cleese]: Agreed. Francis?

FRANCIS [Michael Palin]: Yeah. I think Judith’s point of view is very valid, Reg, provided the Movement never forgets that it is the inalienable right of every man–

STAN [Eric Idle]: Or woman.

FRANCIS [Palin]: Or woman… to rid himself–

STAN [Idle]: Or herself.

FRANCIS [Palin]: Or herself.

REG [Cleese]: Agreed.

FRANCIS [Palin]: Thank you, brother.

STAN [Idle]: Or sister.

FRANCIS [Palin]: Or sister. Where was I?

REG [Cleese]: I think you’d finished.

FRANCIS: Oh. Right.

REG: Furthermore, it is the birthright of every man–

STAN: Or woman.

REG [Cleese, sounding like Basil Fawlty]: Why don’t you shut up about women, Stan? You’re putting us off.

STAN: Women have a perfect right to play a part in our movement, Reg.

FRANCIS: Why are you always on about women, Stan?

STAN: I want to be one.

REG: What?

STAN: I want to be a woman. From now on, I want you all to call me ‘Loretta’.

REG: What?!

LORETTA: It’s my right as a man.

JUDITH: Well, why do you want to be Loretta, Stan?

LORETTA: I want to have babies.

REG: You want to have babies?!

LORETTA: It’s every man’s right to have babies if he wants them.

REG: But … you can’t have babies.

LORETTA: Don’t you oppress me.

REG: I’m not oppressing you, Stan. You haven’t got a womb! Where’s the foetus going to gestate?! You going to keep it in a box?!

LORETTA: crying

JUDITH: Here! I– I’ve got an idea. Suppose you agree that he can’t actually have babies, not having a womb, which is nobody’s fault, not even the Romans’, but that he can have the right to have babies.

FRANCIS: Good idea, Judith. We shall fight the oppressors for your right to have babies, brother. Sister. Sorry.

REG: What’s the point?


REG: What’s the point of fighting for his right to have babies when he can’t have babies?!

FRANCIS: It is symbolic of our struggle against oppression.

REG: Symbolic of his struggle against reality.

I always like reading about the bickering McDonagh brothers — the more immediately successful playwright and filmmaker Martin (In Bruges) and his resentful older brother John Michael who finally had a hit with the very funny Brendan Gleeson comedy The Guard — because they remind me of the good old days when showbiz brothers couldn’t stand each other (e.g., the Everly Brothers).

It was especially rare for brothers to work together behind the scenes. But ever since the rise of the Coen Brothers in the mid-1980s, it has become common for movies to be made by brothers who project a blandly cooperative image to the outside world. I’ve often speculated on the causes behind this unexpected development, but if you have any theories, let me know.

One factor in the rapid triumph of World War T is the opportunity it gives some powerful men to rack up massive Diversity Points by publicizing their friendships with trans “women.” For a male politician, friendship with a trans “woman” comes with about 100X times the Pokemon Points of a normal woman; and, even better, the trans don’t chatter on and on about boring girl stuff like real women do. For example, consider the new right-of-center Australian prime minister Tony Abbott and his old cricket buddy Lt. Col. Malcolm “Cate” McGregor:

Tony Abbott to introduce Australian Story for transgender friend Cate McGregor
February 20, 2014
Judith Ireland

Prime Minister Tony Abbott may have recently had some stern words for the ABC, but he will be in a friendlier mood next Monday, when he introduces the Australian Story for his friend Cate McGregor.

The ABC program will next week feature Lieutenant Colonel McGregor, an army officer and cricket expert who is also one of Australia’s most high profile transgender people.

It is well known that Mr Abbott is a long-standing friend of Lieutenant Colonel McGregor, after the two met in their student days.

At the time, Mr Abbott said that he and Lieutenant Colonel McGregor – who has also been a speech writer for army chief David Morrison – had been in a ”few scrapes together over the years”.

”She has, as you know, an interesting personal story.”

Last year, the army officer described Mr Abbott as one her her longest continuous friends.

She told the ABC that she withdrew for several months during 2012 when she transitioned from her old identity as Malcolm McGregor.

When she finally got back in contact with Mr Abbott and told him what was going on, he said: ”It changes nothing.”

With World War T turning into a rout, Michelle Goldberg in The New Yorker profiles one last pocket of resistance: radical lesbian-feminists who have been trying for 40 years to stop men in dresses from showing up at the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival and hitting on the poor lesbians who just want to camp in the dirt and enjoy the earnest folk stylings of the Indigo Girls. But today even the Indigo Girls are threatening to boycott the Festival unless the aging lesbians submit to the all-conquering Trans Power:

What Is a Woman

The dispute between radical feminism and transgenderism

An old school lesbian-feminist named Sheila Jeffreys has pointed out that a large fraction of the most aggressive trans activists are not pitiful intersex individuals, but highly masculine guys who have a private agenda they keep secret:

But, if that’s true, why would men demote themselves to womanhood? For reasons of sexual fetishism, Jeffreys says. She substantiates her argument with the highly controversial theories of Ray Blanchard, a retired professor of psychiatry at the University of Toronto, and the related work of J. Michael Bailey, a psychology professor at Northwestern University. Contrary to widespread belief, Blanchard says, the majority of trans women in the West start off not as effeminate gay men but as straight or bisexual men, and they are initially motivated by erotic compulsion rather than by any conceived female identity. … To describe the syndrome, Blanchard coined the term “autogynephilia,” meaning sexual arousal at the thought of oneself as female.

Blanchard is far from a radical feminist. He believes that gender-reassignment surgery can relieve psychological suffering; he has even counselled people who undergo it. He also accepts the commonly held view that male brains differ from female brains in ways that affect behavior. Nevertheless, Jeffreys believes that the work of Blanchard and Bailey shows that when trans women ask to be accepted as women they’re seeking to have an erotic fixation indulged.

But the spirit of the age is against the old lesbians:

The members of the board of the New York Abortion Access Fund, an all-volunteer group that helps to pay for abortions for those who can’t afford them, are mostly young women; Alison Turkos, the group’s co-chair, is twenty-six. In May, they voted unanimously to stop using the word “women” when talking about people who get pregnant, so as not to exclude trans men.

(Cue Theodore Dalrymple on how the purpose of politically correct propaganda is not “to persuade or convince, not to inform, but to humiliate; and therefore, the less it corresponded to reality the better.”)

There’s a certain historic irony and inevitability to lesbian feminists being routed by the only people claiming to be women who are even more ferociously masculine than themselves: individuals with actual Y-chromosomes.

The unstated but obvious engine of feminism was the anger and of the most masculine women that their leadership urges weren’t satisfactorily reciprocated by more attractive women’s followership urges. Instead, feminine women tend to like masculine men and find lesbians to be an inadequate substitute.

This led to feminism traditionally having plenty of chiefs but never enough Indians, as I pointed out in Why Lesbians Aren’t Gay in 1994. For decades, the leaders of the National Organization for Women bestrode the national media stage like colossi, even though the actual number of dues-paying members was surprisingly small.

But now the XX lesbian feminists are being out-aggressed by individuals with Y-chromosomes.

Of course, in the long run the lesbian activists and the trans activists will hammer out an accord in which it is announced that everything is the fault of cisgendered straight white men.

I wanted to come back to the popular NYT Magazine article “Why Do Americans Stink at Math?” about how they teach math better in Japan, as you can tell because Japanese students average a higher PISA score than American students. According to the article, the Common Core now offers us another opportunity to teach math better. But, American teachers have consistently failed to exploit the opportunities offered them by educational theorists:

It wasn’t the first time that Americans had dreamed up a better way to teach math and then failed to implement it. The same pattern played out in the 1960s, when schools gripped by a post-Sputnik inferiority complex unveiled an ambitious “new math,” only to find, a few years later, that nothing actually changed. In fact, efforts to introduce a better way of teaching math stretch back to the 1800s. The story is the same every time: a big, excited push, followed by mass confusion and then a return to conventional practices.

You see, it’s not that the math fads of the past failed, it’s that they were never really tried.

In reality, the New Math mostly failed because it was an attempt by math professors to design a curriculum that makes sense to math professors wanting to create new math professors. To students, however, it was repetitious (every September from 1965-1970 I had to study the Number Line in the first chapter of each math textbook), boring, and pointless. The Number Line didn’t do anything to help me think more interesting thoughts about baseball statistics.

The trouble always starts when teachers are told to put innovative ideas into practice without much guidance on how to do it. In the hands of unprepared teachers, the reforms turn to nonsense, perplexing students more than helping them.

The trouble starts earlier when the Powers that Be adopt some smooth-talking salesman’s pitch for a whole new way to teach math without making him test it first on real students. The reason we have the Common Core is not because it aced its Phase I, II, and III experiments involving real students. It was never tested before roll-out.

No, we have the Common Core because David Coleman impressed Bill Gates as significantly less stupid than the typical education theorist, so Gates bribed the educational establishment to get behind Coleman’s baby and make it a fait accompli before anyone had a chance to ask: “Shouldn’t we test this first?” (And keep in mind that I’m relatively positive toward the Common Core versus most of the other junk out there. If our country is going to let one guy control education according to his whims, Bill Gates would be among the less bad choices for that guy.)

Carefully taught, the assignments can help make math more concrete. Students don’t just memorize their times tables and addition facts but also understand how arithmetic works and how to apply it to real-life situations. But in practice, most teachers are unprepared and children are baffled, leaving parents furious.

This paragraph reflects today’s education establishment worldview about the past up until about last week. Until yesterday, children were forced to sit up perfectly straight in their desks and chant the time tables and get rapped on the knuckles with a ruler when they made a mistake. That’s why students “just memorize their times tables and addition facts” instead of developing Critical Thinking Skills and Concern about Social Justice.

In reality, of course, large fractions of students these days fail to memorize their times tables and addition facts.

In other words, liberals are completely amnesiac about how they’ve been running education for a long, long time.

For instance, I went to a Catholic parochial school with nuns, and there was a little knuckle-rapping still going on in the mid-1960s. But by the time I got to St. Francis de Sales’ 7th grade in 1970, the younger teachers had staged a coup and organized a junior high school teaching collective that was more relevant. Most of my schooling in 1970-72, as far as I can remember, consisted of listening in class to album sides from Abbey Road, Deja Vu, Hair, and Jesus Christ Superstar for examples of symbols and metaphors, and sitting in a circle and rapping about how the deaths of Hendrix, Joplin, and Morison bummed us out.

And this was at a prim parochial school. I went to public Millikan Junior High for summer school those years and it looked like Dazed and Confused. Granted, St. Francis de Sales is just over Coldwater Canyon from the Sunset Strip, so we were probably a year or two out in the lead of the rest of the country, but your junior high school probably went through the same changes within a half decade.

Let me repeat this NYT explanation of how things will be better if the educational theorists ever get their full funding:

Students don’t just memorize their times tables and addition facts but also understand how arithmetic works and how to apply it to real-life situations.

Look, forcing students to memorize their times tables and addition facts (e.g., 6+7=13) is not something the current liberal-run system is all that great at. It’s boring for teachers. But you sure can’t apply arithmetic to real-life situations without being instantly aware and really confident that 6+7=13.

As for “understand how arithmetic works,” well, that’s a rabbit hole that more than a few of the greatest minds of the later 19th and early 20th Centuries went down:

“From this proposition it will follow, when arithmetical addition has been defined, that 1+1=2.”

That’s on p. 379 of Volume I of Principia Mathematica by Bertrand Russell and Alfred North Whitehead in 1910. (I haven’t actually read the previous 378 pages.)

There’s a difference between how to work with math and how math works. But the article on why Americans stink at math seems oblivious to that:

The new math of the ‘60s, the new new math of the ‘80s and today’s Common Core math all stem from the idea that the traditional way of teaching math simply does not work. As a nation, we suffer from an ailment that John Allen Paulos, a Temple University math professor and an author, calls innumeracy — the mathematical equivalent of not being able to read. On national tests, nearly two-thirds of fourth graders and eighth graders are not proficient in math. More than half of fourth graders taking the 2013 National Assessment of Educational Progress could not accurately read the temperature on a neatly drawn thermometer. (They did not understand that each hash mark represented two degrees rather than one, leading many students to mistake 46 degrees for 43 degrees.)

May I suggest that numeracy and mathematics are not necessarily the same thing. The New Math of the 1960s, for example, was definitely not intended to emphasize the kind of practical numeracy that say, a carpenter needs. It was intended to make students better at the higher, more abstract forms of mathematics that would form the underpinnings of their college and postgrad math courses that would allow the very smartest students to make the theoretical breakthroughs necessary to win the technological competition in the Cold War and/or create better grad students for math professors.

In general, numeracy and abstract higher math skills correlate, just as the ability to harmonize and the ability to read music correlate. But lots of star musicians are bad at reading music. For example, here’s a list of 15 guitarists who couldn’t read sheet music, including John Lennon, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, and Eddie Van Halen. Similary, from Wikipedia on the Beatles’ song “Golden Slumbers” on Abbey Road:

“Golden Slumbers” is based on the poem “Cradle Song“, a lullaby by the dramatist Thomas Dekker. The poem appears in Dekker’s 1603 comedy Patient Grissel. McCartney saw sheet music for Dekker’s lullaby at his father’s home in Liverpool, left on a piano by his stepsister Ruth. Unable to read music, he created his own music.

My impression is that while McCartney lacks musical literacy, he’s quite good at numeracy and could probably tell you off the top of his head his annual after-tax royalties on “Golden Slumbers” and how much that bitch Yoko made off his song before Paul wrestled the rights back. (I don’t know specifically about “Golden Slumbers,” but there was a period of years in which 100% of the royalties from Paul’s “Yesterday” went to Yoko, and that sum is no doubt carved in Paul’s soul.)

By the lowly standards of pundits, and even by the higher standards of MBAs, I’m pretty numerate. I can do arithmetical stunts like calculating a weighted average in my head. But I let my wife help my sons with their high school math because all that stuff is over my head. It’s too abstract for me. I don’t like variables that can stand for different things, I like numbers that represent real things. If I didn’t like working with actual numbers so much, I might care more about working with pretend numbers.

Unlike most people, however, I don’t advise children to Be Like Me. But, I think people who theorize in the New York Times about education should try at least to be aware of these tradeoffs.

On the same multiple-choice test, three-quarters of fourth graders could not translate a simple word problem about a girl who sold 15 cups of lemonade on Saturday and twice as many on Sunday into the expression “15 + (2×15).” Even in Massachusetts, one of the country’s highest-performing states, math students are more than two years behind their counterparts in Shanghai.

Adulthood does not alleviate our quantitative deficiency. A 2012 study comparing 16-to-65-year-olds in 20 countries found that Americans rank in the bottom five in numeracy. On a scale of 1 to 5, 29 percent of them scored at Level 1 or below, meaning they could do basic arithmetic but not computations requiring two or more steps.

This PIAAC test of adults from the PISA people showed that immigrants and blacks were pulling the U.S. scores way down versus other rich countries in Europe and Northeast Asia. From the New York Times last year :

The new study shows that foreign-born adults in the United States have much poorer-than-average skills, but even the native-born scored a bit below the international norms. White Americans fared better than the multicountry average in literacy, but were about average in the math and technology tests.

The NYT Magazine article assumes that numeracy is the same as understanding how math works. For example, in reactionary America in contrast to progressive Japan, according to the article,

Students learn not math but, in the words of one math educator, answer-getting. Instead of trying to convey, say, the essence of what it means to subtract fractions teachers tell students to draw butterflies and multiply along the diagonal wings, add the antennas and finally reduce and simplify as needed. The answer-getting strategies may serve them well for a class period of practice problems, but after a week, they forget. And students often can’t figure out how to apply the strategy for a particular problem to new problems.

In contrast, street children in Brazil are numerate and understand the essences:

But our innumeracy isn’t inevitable. In the 1970s and the 1980s, cognitive scientists studied a population known as the unschooled, people with little or no formal education. Observing workers at a Baltimore dairy factory in the ‘80s, the psychologist Sylvia Scribner noted that even basic tasks required an extensive amount of math. For instance, many of the workers charged with loading quarts and gallons of milk into crates had no more than a sixth-grade education. But they were able to do math, in order to assemble their loads efficiently, that was “equivalent to shifting between different base systems of numbers.” Throughout these mental calculations, errors were “virtually nonexistent.” And yet when these workers were out sick and the dairy’s better-educated office workers filled in for them, productivity declined.

The unschooled may have been more capable of complex math than people who were specifically taught it, but in the context of school, they were stymied by math they already knew. Studies of children in Brazil, who helped support their families by roaming the streets selling roasted peanuts and coconuts, showed that the children routinely solved complex problems in their heads to calculate a bill or make change. When cognitive scientists presented the children with the very same problem, however, this time with pen and paper, they stumbled. A 12-year-old boy who accurately computed the price of four coconuts at 35 cruzeiros each was later given the problem on paper. Incorrectly using the multiplication method he was taught in school, he came up with the wrong answer. Similarly, when Scribner gave her dairy workers tests using the language of math class, their scores averaged around 64 percent. The cognitive-science research suggested a startling cause of Americans’ innumeracy: school.

But of course the favela kids making change don’t understand the “essence” of arithmetic, not in the sense that say Bertrand Russell understood its essence. They have rules of thumb they follow that work fine for their tasks. Their techniques aren’t necessarily generalizable, however. Their change-making techniques aren’t going to be much use in getting them through Algebra II, which is now required to graduate high school in some regions in America.

So, in the real world, inculcating the numeracy to make change and getting all students through Algebra II turn out to be somewhat contradictory goals for the bottom half or so of the population. I don’t know what’s the best way to deal with this partial trade-off. But certainly the first step is to be able to publicly admit there is a tradeoff.

• Category: Science • Tags: American Media, Education, Math

Ethan Hawke stars as the professional actor in “Boyhood”

Richard Linklater is a director whose movies I’ve almost gone to see about a dozen times. I watched Dazed and Confused 20 years ago and it was not bad, and ever since I’ve just about seen every movie he’s made, but only actually got around to one or two. But a lot of people really like him, with critics particularly going wild over his latest, Boyhood.

In making this autobiographical movie about his childhood in Texas, Linklater used a cute gimmick. He started filming in the summer of 2002 with a seven year old boy as a fictionalized version of himself, and came back every year for a few days with the same cast through 2013 when the now strapping lad goes off to college to study photography.

It’s pretty good, although as the insidious Mr. Sneer says to the hopeful playwright in Sheridan’s 1779 comedy The Critic:

Sneer: Why then, though I seriously admire the piece upon the whole, yet there is one small objection; which, if you’ll give me leave, I’ll mention.

Sir Fret: Sir, you can’t oblige me more.

Sneer: I think it wants … incident.

Sir Fret: Good God! you surprise me! — wants incident!

Sneer: Yes; I own I think the incidents are too few.

Nothing much happens to the boy. It starts out with him being poor (he has to share a room with his bratty 9-year-old sister in a cheap Houston apartment) because his father (Ethan Hawke, good) and mother (Patricia Arquette, less good) have broken up.

But, over time, hereditary IQ wins out. Mom becomes a psychology professor and Dad gives up on his singer-songwriter dreams and passes all the rigorous math exams to be an actuary. The story in Boyhood is a mash-up of Linklater’s boyhood in the Houston area (Linklater’s mom became a professor at Sam Houston State) and Ethan Hawke’s in Austin (his parents met in college, then separated when he was four; his father became an actuary).

Mom gets married a couple of more times to ill-suited men. But nothing lasts (George Strait’s song All My Exes Are in Texas should have been on the soundtrack), in part because the new stepfathers don’t understand the boy, who, in contrast, has so much in common with his real father. Linklater’s subtext is that his mother and father should have gotten back together, but that never gets around to happening.

But, at least, housing is cheap, and college is practically free and not very hard to get into. Driving to college in his pickup truck, the lad stops to take some still lifes at the near ghost-town of Terlingua (namesake of the ultimate 1970s Texas alternative country album, Jerry Jeff Walker’s Viva Terlingua).

The notion of the Artsy Texan sounds oxymoronic, but I’ve known a lot of them. The low cost of living makes for an encouraging background for people with aesthetic orientations.

The movie is set in the present, but the uncompetitive way of life is out of the Baby Boomer past. Linklater is a year or two younger than me, and with my having gone to Rice U. in Houston in the 1970s, I very much recognized his characters as people I knew in Texas 35 years ago from the state’s bohemian 3-digit IQ set. The little boy grows up to be that kind of very deep-voiced dopesmoker; I knew about a dozen in high school and college.

So Boyhood was pleasantly nostalgic for me, but if you didn’t spend time in Texas in the 1970s I’m not sure how great the appeal would be. Linklater is kind of the opposite of another Texan arthouse director, Wes Anderson, whose The Grand Budapest Hotel will compete with Boyhood for a spot on a lot of critics’ lists come December. Anderson stylizes everything to within an inch of its life (with surprising success in his latest movie), while Linklater just sort of lets stuff happen.

Also, both directors have movie star alter egos: Wes Anderson and his college buddy Owen Wilson, while Linklater has Ethan Hawke, who is 9 years younger. Anderson and Wilson started out writing together but have increasingly moved in different directions as they’ve aged, while Linklater and Hawke seem to be getting even more on each other’s wavelength as their 9 year age difference becomes less important as their ages get higher. I earlier referred to this as Linklater’s autobiographical movie, but it might be just as much Hawke’s autobiographical movie, with Hawke playing his own father.

Both Anderson and Linklater would be really good if they were funnier (if you could combine the best of Anderson, Linklater, and Mike Judge into one, you’d have The Great Texas Director; maybe toss in Robert Rodriguez’s chutzpah, too).

The funniest scene in Boyhood comes in 2008 when the Bush-hating father is having his two kids hand out Obama lawn signs to neighbors. The angry white man with the Confederate flag tells them to get off his private property. At the next house, the nice white lady tells the adolescents how wonderful it is that today’s youth are getting involved in the democratic process, and then proceeds to tell the children at uncomfortable length about her erotic dreams involving Barack Obama.

That got a big laugh out of me, but most of the Arclight audience didn’t see what the joke was, and seemed to wonder why Linklater didn’t get back to making more fun of those horrible Texas Republicans.

• Tags: Movies

Screenshot 2014-07-26 14.08.29

From a new report by the liberal Russell Sage Foundation based on crunching government data, we see that the net worth of the median household in 2013 was $56k, down sharply from $88k in 2003, which was before the silliest part of the Housing Bubble. Thus, the median household’s net worth is down 36% from the economically meh year of 2003. You might almost suspect that America’s elites don’t have the average American’s interests foremost in mind.

The 75th percentile is down from $302k to $260k.

The 25th percentile of net worth is currently $3,200, plus whatever is in the penny jar and/or the sofa cushions.

Fortunately, we’ve got all these unaccompanied Central American adolescents and pregnant women clamoring to get in, which, according to 90% of the respectable political rhetoric I’ve heard in this century, will no doubt do much to fix things.

See, it’s simple arithmetic. If the government lets in extremely poor people equal in number to 25% of the population, that will push households at the 50th percentile up to the 75th percentile, thus making their net worth increase from $56,335 to $260,405, making the average American household more than $200,000 richer. You don’t believe me? What are you some kind of innumerate who doesn’t understand math? There are trillion dollar bills lying on the sidewalk!

In a review of John McWhorter’s book The Language Hoax, which denounces the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, Oliver Kamm writes in The Times of London:


Put like that, the idea that language determines thought seems absurd. Why do people believe it? There is an understandable motivation. Peoples are diverse. Whorf analysed what were once popularly and falsely thought of as “primitive” tongues, such as the native American language Hopi, and demonstrated that their speakers were far from being primitive. It’s a short step from this fascination with the complexity of other languages to the notion that it invests their speakers with an understanding of the world that is more nuanced than the one possessed by, say, speakers of Standard English.


In George Orwell’s great invention of Newspeak in Nineteen Eighty-Four, striking a word from the language makes literally unthinkable the idea it expresses. That’s Whorfianism on a totalitarian scale. Yet the link in the real world is subtler. In McWhorter’s image, “language dances ever so lightly on thought”. The differences in language are variations on being the same. All humans have the innate faculty for learning a set of complex grammatical rules — Hopi, Flemish, Japanese, or one of thousands of others. That sameness, as McWhorter wisely suggests, is worth celebrating.

So close, but so far away. Shouldn’t the distinction be obvious that grammar hasn’t proven to be terribly important, but vocabulary has? Orwell’s Newspeak is less about grammar than about controlling what vocabulary is politically correct, and thus narrowing the limits of what it is convenient to think.

For example, contemporary Americanese lacks any and all of the terms common in Spanish for sophisticated racial distinctions. Hence, who gets called what depends upon who has the power.

Since reading Philip Roth’s 1969 bestseller Portnoy’s Complaint in 1982, I’ve been interested in the much discussed concept of “Jewish guilt” and how it differs from the (also much discussed) concept of “white guilt.”

Yet “Jewish guilt” and “white guilt” never seem to be discussed simultaneously. As far as I can make out, “white guilt” is the worry that your ancestors were too ethnocentric, while “Jewish guilt” is the worry that you aren’t ethnocentric enough for your ancestors.

But the topic of “Jewish guilt,” despite all the verbiage published on it and the talent of its explicators, remains obscure.

For example, here’s the entire entry on Wikipedia:

Jewish guilt

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Jewish guilt is a term used to identify the supposed guilt felt by Jews. Currently, Jewish guilt is often a source of Jewish humor, but sometimes leads to self-hate among some Jews.[1]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]

At Human Varieties, tetrapteryx offers advice on how not to lose Wikipedia Edit Wars over contentious articles like “Race and Intelligence.”

Screenshot 2014-07-24 23.08.41

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be a teacher these days?

Here’s one of those robot animations. It’s by a schoolteacher who calls himself Mr. TeachBad. In it, the spunky heroine gets professionally developed according to the latest theories on “Differentiated Instruction” by a downtown staffer in a bloody hockey mask. The final minute of this four minute video is pretty great.

Click here to play.

The Wall Street Journal editorializes today in favor of Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper program:

Obama on ‘Acting White’
Some honest remarks about culture and authenticity.

July 24, 2014 7:36 p.m. ET

President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative doesn’t get much media attention, perhaps because it isn’t controversial.

Actually, it drove TN Coates nuts with rage when Obama came out with it. Of course, Coates couldn’t attack Obama over it, so he attacked various white liberals like Jonathan Chait.

And on that score Mr. Obama had some pointed but honest remarks at a town hall in Washington, D.C. on Monday: “Sometimes African Americans, in communities where I’ve worked, there’s been the notion of ‘acting white’—which sometimes is overstated, but there’s an element of truth to it, where, okay, if boys are reading too much, then, well, why are you doing that? Or why are you speaking so properly? And the notion that there’s some authentic way of being black, that if you’re going to be black you have to act a certain way and wear a certain kind of clothes, that has to go. Because there are a whole bunch of different ways for African American men to be authentic.”

Okay, but how are the Obama-appointed personnel of the Obama Administration operationalizing the boss’s sentiments? Do they have a worldview that allows them to create policies based on the idea that some of the bad outcomes of blacks are their own fault?

Of course not. Instead, this initiative turns into a disparate impact-driven federal exercise in encouraging bad behavior by blacks by punishing those who punish blacks and Hispanics more than whites. Back on July 20, Motoko Rich of the New York Times reported:

Obama to Report Widening of Initiative for Black and Latino Boys
My Brother’s Keeper Program Grows to Include More Impoverished Minorities

President Obama will announce on Monday that 60 of the nation’s largest school districts are joining his initiative to improve the educational futures of young African-American and Hispanic boys, beginning in preschool and extending through high school graduation.

The districts, which represent about 40 percent of all African-American and Hispanic boys living below the poverty line, have committed to expand quality preschool access; track data on black and Hispanic boys so educators can intervene as soon as signs of struggle emerge; increase the number of boys of color who take gifted, honors or Advanced Placement courses and exams; work to reduce the number of minority boys who are suspended or expelled; and increase graduation rates among African-American and Hispanic boys.

President Obama announced in February a five-year, $200 million initiative, known as My Brother’s Keeper, to help black and Latino youths. …

Black and Latino students have long experienced a pattern of inequality along racial lines in American schools. According to data from the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights, black and Latino students are suspended and expelled at much higher rates than white students and attend schools with less-experienced teachers. …

The My Brother’s Keeper initiative will also address the needs of Asian-American and Native American boys.

But no white boys.

John E. Deasy, superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District, said he was eager to share some successful tactics with other school systems. In Los Angeles, he said the district reduced its annual suspensions from 50,000 in the 2009-2010 school year to 8,000 this past school year, in part because of a new policy eliminating “willful defiance” as a reason for suspension.

So no matter what the President might say about black youths ought to behave better, his followers know in their bones that the real problem is discrimination against black youths.

The Obama Administration announced today a plan to make it more convenient for “refugees” from Central America to win asylum in America without even first going through all the trouble of getting to America. Instead, they can take the bus down to the American consulate in their own countries and demand to be admitted there. This is, shall we say, precedent-setting.

But how many people in this world live in countries poorer on average than the Central American banana republics that are sending so many “refugees?”

The poorest Central American country is Nicaragua with a per capita GDP of $4,500 (compared to the U.S.’s $52,800). That’s poor, but according to the CIA World Factbook, another 2,823,051,216 people live in countries poorer than Nicaragua.

Then there’s Honduras, with a per capita GDP of $4,800 (compared to the U.S.’s $52,800). Another 2,943,980,454 people live in poorer countries. Other Central American countries include:

Guatemala 3,231,368,451

El Salvador 3,552,798,437

Belize 3,562,049,018

Costa Rica 5,484,041,555

Panama 5,788,940,368

The total population of Central America (south of Mexico, north of South America) is 43,000,000.

We are repeatedly assured that Central American “children” are seeking refuge in America. But have Latin Americans ever been known to be cagey about their ages to get what they want? Here are a few baseball examples off the top of my head.

From “Benchwarmers”

Although you probably won’t notice this from reading Michael Lewis’s book about the 2002 Oakland Athletics, Moneyball, the A’s slugging shortstop Miguel Tejada, just entering his prime at age 26, was the league’s Most Valuable Player. After the next season, Tejada signed a six-year $72 million contract with the Baltimore Orioles that would run from age 28 through age 33.

The Dominican shortstop had a monster season at age 28 for Baltimore, leading the league with 150 RBIs. After that, however, his performance declined steadily. The increase in steroid testing was one cause for why Baltimore didn’t get their money’s worth out of Tejada (he was convicted of lying to Congress about PEDs), but there was another problem as well: he’d signed his big contract under false pretenses. From Wikipedia:

On April 17, 2008, Tejada was confronted by an ESPN reporter during a sit-down interview with documentation revealing that Tejada had been lying about his age ever since he first signed a Major League Baseball contract in 1993. Tejada had claimed to have been born in 1976 when a Dominican birth certificate showed that he was born in 1974. That birth certificate also shows the spelling of his surname as “Tejeda” rather than “Tejada”.[26][35] He struggled to take off his microphone and kept questioning who the interviewer was referring to. Tejada stormed off the set, ending the interview.

Before the interview was aired in April 22, 2008, he acknowledged this fact.[36]

How about Albert Pujols, who at age 21 hit .329 with 37 homers and 130 RBIs? A decade later he signed a $0.254 billion contract with the California Angels that would run from age 32 through 41. Sure, reasoned the Angels brain trust, Pujols had had an off-season the year before the contract, but this is the most consistent player of the century and he is still in his prime in terms of age.

Except, Pujols played for the Angels not like a 32-year-old who had hit 37 homers at age 21 but like a 34-year-old who had hit 37 homers at age 23 (and they have to pay him over a quarter of a billion dollars to play for them through age 43.)

In fact, controversies about how old Pujols was had dogged him since high school. From Wikipedia:

Born on January 16, 1980, Pujols was raised in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, mostly by his grandmother America Pujols and 10 of his uncles and aunts. He was an only child. His father, Bienvenido Pujols, was a softball pitcher, but he was also an alcoholic. Albert often had to take his father home when his father got drunk following the games. Growing up, Pujols practiced baseball using limes for balls and a milk carton for a glove.[1] Pujols, his father, and his grandmother immigrated to New York City in 1996, where Albert witnessed a shooting at a grocery store. Partly because of the shooting, they moved to Independence, Missouri two months later to join some relatives.[1][2][3] His surname Pujols is of Haitian origin.[4]

Pujols played baseball at Fort Osage High School in Independence and was named an All-State athlete twice.[5] As a senior, he was walked 55 times in protest because opposing coaches believed he was older than 18, but he still hit eight home runs in 33 at bats. One of his home runs travelled 450 feet.[1] After graduating from high school a semester early in December 1998, he was given a baseball scholarship to Maple Woods Community College.[5] Pujols hit a grand slam and turned an unassisted triple play in the first game of his only college season.[6] Playing shortstop, he batted .461 with 22 home runs as a freshman before deciding to enter the Major League Baseball (MLB) draft.[1]

Few teams were interested in Pujols because of uncertainty about his age, which position he would play, and his build.[1][6]

Little Danny and his wife

Pujols is playing relatively well this year (.274, 20 HR, 66 RBIs, but only 28 walks because pitchers don’t fear him as much as they used to) … if you assume he’s 36 instead of his official 34. The Angels still have to pay him $203 million from age 37 to 43.

And then there was the twelve-year-old star of the 2001 Little League World Series, 5’8″ Danny “Little Unit” Almonte, a Dominican immigrant who threw a perfect game on the strength of his 75 mph fastball.

Four years later, the child married a 30-year-old w oman.

Of course, by then his team’s performance in the Little League World Series had been thrown out for him being 14 instead of 12.

P.S. Tim Meadows inspects a 12-year-old Dominican slugger’s birth certificate in Benchwarmers.

The top headline in the New York Times reports on a breakthrough idea the Obama Administration has cogitated on how to solve the border crisis. Or, to be precise, this initiative will solve what the Obamaites define as the border crisis. Namely, that the inconvenient trek through Mexico is discouraging some of the less enterprising Central American youths from becoming wards of the U.S. government, future Democratic voters, and progenitors of even more future Democrats.

To Ease Crisis, U.S. May Vet Refugees Inside Honduras
The proposal aims to stem the surge of migrants at the border, allowing minors and young adults from Honduras into the United States without making the dangerous trek through Mexico.

To build support for its new policy breakthrough, the Obama Administration released this video of a Honduran child fleeing gang violence being interviewed at the American embassy in Tegucigalpa about his American Dream and his demand for his human rights, “just like the President said.”

As you’ll see, “He loved the American Dream. With a vengeance.”

Another refugee child who came here with nothing but an American Dream

Jerry Brown gets down and raps with the community. (We all had more hair in 1974.)

In Politico, Alexander Burns notes that the top five Democratic Party politicians in California average 77 years old.

“You know, Linda, back in the Fifties when my Dad was governor, it was a different scene.”

Jerry Brown, California’s 76-year-old governor, is running for reelection this year to a post he first won in 1974. The two senators — Barbara Boxer, 73, and Dianne Feinstein, 81 — have held their jobs since the early 1990s.

The most prominent member of the congressional delegation, 74-year-old House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, started out as chairwoman of the California Democratic Party when Ronald Reagan was president. The current party chairman, 81-year-old John Burton, is a former congressman who first went to Washington in the 1974 post-Watergate revolution.

One of the secrets of why California Democratic elites are so mellow about massive immigration, why it seems like such a bitchin’ primo idea to them is because it really hasn’t offered them all that much competition. They’re still here, so what’s your thing, man? All we’ve got to do is keep on truckin’. That’s a 10-4, good buddy.

If the upper echelons of Democratic leadership here are unrepresentative in terms of age and race, they also come disproportionately from the San Francisco area.

The New Face of California Democrats in 2015-2019

About 20 percent of the state’s population lives in the San Francisco-San Jose region, according to the U.S. Census. But fully half of California’s people are in the greater Los Angeles area, which has produced only one major Democratic statewide officeholder — recalled ex-Gov. Gray Davis — in a quarter-century. The last U.S. senator from L.A. was John Tunney, who left office before Jimmy Carter was sworn in as president. …

Geography, however, is only one of the many ways in which California’s leadership is out of line with a state that has a median age of 35. Its under-45 population is larger by 3 percent than the nation’s as a whole; California’s Latino population is double that of the rest of the country, and its Asian population is nearly triple.

John Burton: “Do I look more like Redford or Hoffman in All the President’s Men“?

Burton, the [81-year-old Democratic] party chairman, called talk of leadership turnover still several years premature: “It’s not something on my radar.”

He said he hadn’t yet heard rumblings from candidates laying the groundwork to succeed Brown or the two senators.

“What are they gonna say? ‘I’m thinking of running’? Fine. Call me in four years,” he said. “I’m sure they’re all salivating.”

Burton went on to say that in recent decades he’s come to realize that the Democrats need candidates with experience, familiar faces who have been putting themselves out in front of the public for years, individuals who have the maturity to say what’s on their minds. To follow Jerry Brown in 2019, therefore, he’s leaning toward Donald Sterling.

Over the last half year at Human Varieties, Jason Malloy has been posting his exhaustive meta-analyses of IQ studies from different countries as part of his Human Varieties Global IQ project. If you are familiar with Lynn and Vanhanen’s IQ and the Wealth of Nations book from a dozen years ago, then in terms of number of studies and careful effort, Jason’s emerging encyclopedia is roughly an order of magnitude larger.

And that may underestimate what he’s undertaking. For example, Malloy’s meta-analysis of Thailand (where he has lived, by the way) includes “almost 50 studies of intelligence and scholastic achievement.” His Puerto Rican survey includes over 70 academic papers published between 1925 and 2007.

In launching his project on January 19, 2013 Jason mentioned the difficulties of finding and accurately interpreting obscure psychometric technical documents in multiple languages, but went on to rightly note:

I have, however, been tracking down world IQ studies for about 10 years now, and it’s probably safe to say that I have immediate hard drive access to more global intelligence test studies than any other person on earth. And with this website I now have a more transparent way of recording this data and a more immediate way of sharing it.

So far, he’s focused upon two regions: New World Islands and Southeast Asia. In chronological order, the 15 countries he has reviewed so far are:

New World Islands



Cayman Islands


The Bahamas

Dominican Republic


Puerto Rico

Virgin Islands

Turks and Caicos Islands


Southeast Asia:





Following a decade of data collecting, he’s now publishing at a rate of about ten countries per year, which would put his completion date out in the 2020s or 2030s.

This is one of the heroic works of independent scholarship of our time.

It’s not just Americans who are said to stink at math.

In Slate, economist Ray Fisman writes:

Sweden’s School Choice Disaster

Advocates for school choice might be shocked to see how badly the country’s experiment with vouchers failed.

And, indeed, Sweden’s PISA scores haven’t trended well:

Sweden PISA 2000 2003 2006 2009 2012
Reading 516 514 507 497 483
Mathematics 509 502 494 478
Science 503 495 485

Fisman implies the fault lies with the school choice system started in Sweden a couple of decades ago.

In Reihan Salam’s column in National Review, economist Tino Sanandaji replies:

As Fisman himself acknowledges in passing, only 14 percent of Swedish fifteen-year-olds are enrolled in private school. … The remaining 86 percent still attend public schools. If the rise of private education caused the crisis, what explains poor performance in far more numerous public schools? In fact, performance declined slightly more in public school than private school, after controlling for socioeconomic background. …

One-third of Sweden’s municipalities still have no private schools. Social Democratic strongholds in northern Sweden in particular were less enthusiastic about licensing such institutions, and if private schools were causing the Swedish school crisis, we would expect municipalities with no privatization to outperform the rest of the country. Two studies by Böhlmark och Lindahl suggest that school results, if anything, fell more in regions with no private schools.

Tino notes:

Meanwhile, grade inflation has indeed become a major problem. Private schools have an incentive to give their pupils more lenient grades in order to attract more applicants. Competition for students has given public schools similar perverse incentives.

There has also been an element of crony capitalism in Swedish privatizations of schools and other services: Public assets have been sold below their market price. …

It’s long struck me as bizarre that some charter school operators in America simply get handed giant campuses worth $10s or even $100s of millions of dollars (e.g., the 80 acre Birmingham Community Charter High School in the center of the San Fernando Valley that’s one of the steadiest moneymaker sites for filming movies and commercials) with few qualms. The enterprising Turkish Gulen cultists have figured out that there are all sorts of interesting opportunities in charter schools and now operate over 100 charters in the U.S.

As Fisman points out, the design of the Swedish voucher system ignores economics 101. Grading is a perfect example. Swedish universities are not allowed to adjust for grade inflation and have to take grades set by schools as given. This gives schools strong incentive to set grades excessively high. Students find out which schools that are lenient and take their voucher money there. …

The problem was that libertarian supporters of school privatization dogmatically denied the possibility of the private sector’s creating problems such as grade inflation. Real capitalists know that corporations can be opportunistic and will cheat on quality if you let them. When private firms subcontract, they therefore make sure to write tough contracts and closely monitor performance. Businessmen and sophisticated supporters of free enterprise are not as naïve about how capitalism works as libertarian ideologues.

Tino makes an interesting general point:

In practice, what private Swedish schools have control over is management and cost control, and this is where they have directed their efforts. But since the public Swedish schools were pretty well managed to start with, productivity gains from privatization were limited.

So why have Sweden’s PISA scores dropped? Tino argues:

But in my view, the main culprit was the experiment with radically new pedagogical methods. The Swedish school system used to rely on traditional teaching methods. In recent decades, modern “individualist” or “progressive” pedagogic ideas took hold. The idea is that pupils should not be forced to learn using external incentives such as grades, and children should take responsibility for their own learning, driven by internal motivation. Rote memorization and repetition are viewed as old-fashioned relics. Teacher-led lectures have increasingly been replaced by group work and “research projects.”

Grades have been abolished below the sixth grade, and homework heavily reduced. According to TIMMS (a test similar to PISA), the average hours Swedish students spend doing mathematics homework declined from 2.1 hours per week in 1982 to 1.1 hours in the late 2000s. Despite criticism from teachers, the Swedish school board has ruled that pupils are allowed to have mobile phones and wear caps in class.

The Rousseauian experiment in pedagogic method has caused a collapse in discipline and non-cognitive skills in general.

Here are some interesting findings from a PISA report on Sweden:

In all OECD countries, the largest gender differences in performance are found in reading with girls consistently outperforming boys. In Sweden, the gender gap used to be of the same magnitude as the average across OECD countries. But with a larger decline in performance among boys than among girls between 2000 and 2012, the gender gap in Sweden is now larger than the OECD average. Today, Swedish girls have an average score of 509 points in reading, 8 points below the OECD average for girls, while boys have an average score of 458 points, 21 points below the OECD average for boys. In mathematics, boys outperformed girls in Sweden in 2003, whereas today the two genders perform at the same level. In science, boys’ performance has also deteriorated more than girls’. While girls and boys performed at the same level in science in 2006, girls now outperform boys by 7 points.

Sweden is the most pro-feminist country in the world, so it’s not surprising that they get more of what they pay for. I suspect Swedish schools are suffering from an unintended but malign interaction of First World feminism and Third World male supremacy.

In the First World, male supremacy is defined in practice as men achieving more than women, so much effort is made to Close the Gap. The easiest way, of course, is to not encourage males to achieve. Boys wasting time on video games is less a problem than a solution for the pressing problem of Male Supremacy.

In contrast, in much of the Third World, especially Islamic and African cultures, male supremacy means women doing most of the work. African feminist organizations complain not that men keep women from working, but that men don’t work much.

So, when males grow up in a First World culture obsessed both with keeping men from out-achieving women and with not criticizing Third World cultures, well, there’s a handy win-win solution: the males just slack off even more.

The PISA people go on:

Sweden has a larger share of immigrant students than most other OECD countries and the largest share among the Nordic countries. The share of immigrant students increased in all Nordic countries over the past decade; in Sweden, it increased from 12% to 15% of 15-year-old students. These figures include both first- and second-generation immigrants.

The increase in the share of immigrant students had only a small impact on the overall results for Sweden and cannot explain the significant decline in Sweden’s overall results.

Don’t overlook interaction effects: as identifiable and under-performing minorities take up ever more space in the brain of the educational establishment, Closing the Gap tends to become an obsession, which can mean that investing in high achievers becomes politically suspect. For example, after Sputnik in 1957, the U.S. focused for a number of years on finding diamonds in the rough and on mobilizing the talents of the talented. But with the black equality becoming the highest value in the land and shocking realization that there weren’t many black diamonds in the rough, standards plunged across the board in the Jeff Spicoli Era of American education in the 1970s

Both immigrant and non-immigrant students in Sweden saw a sharp decline in performance over the past decade and the results did not deteriorate significantly more for one group than for the other. Between 2003 and 2012, the mathematics performance of immigrant students deteriorated by 21 points; among non-immigrant students it deteriorated by 27 points. …

Nevertheless, the performance gap between immigrant and non immigrant students remains a major challenge for the Swedish school system.

Almost one in two immigrant students in Sweden (48%) performs below the baseline level in mathematics, compared with 22% of non-immigrant students. This performance gap is only partly due to differences in the socio-economic status of the students.

The performance gap between immigrant and non-immigrant students varies among countries … The performance gap between immigrant [first and second generation] and non-immigrant students in Sweden is 58 points on the PISA scale.

After adjusting for socio-economic status, the Swedish first and second generation immigrants still average 40 points lower than the not particularly sterling math scores of the ethnic Swedes.

This is not statistically significantly different from the performance gaps observed in Denmark, Iceland and Norway. In Finland the performance gap is 85 score points, significantly higher than in the other Nordic countries; however, the share of immigrant students in Finland is relatively low, at 3%.

Finland has an educational system designed for Finns.

Steve Sailer
About Steve Sailer

Steve Sailer is a journalist, movie critic for Taki's Magazine, VDARE.com columnist, and founder of the Human Biodiversity discussion group for top scientists and public intellectuals.

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