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"The Rhetoric and Reality of Gap Closing:" A.k.a., the Socrates-Plato-Aristotle Problem of Teaching

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It’s frequently announced that an ultra-charismatic educator has recruited a super-dedicated set of teachers to implement a new paradigm at some school in Harlem, whose students now scores above the state average on test! Much of the time it turns out that the new paradigm depends upon cheating on the tests, but I like to believe that good people actually can pull this off honestly.

But, I then ask, what if the superstar educators were teaching in Westchester County instead? Do we really believe that Westchester County public schools are, on average, all that they can be? Or would it be possible to boost learning even in nice suburbs?

Here’s a survey paper on this old question:

The Rhetoric and Reality of Gap Closing
When the “Have-Nots” Gain but the “Haves” Gain Even More
Stephen J. Ceci and Paul B. Papierno
Cornell University

Many forms of intervention, across different domains, have the surprising effect of widening preexisting gaps between disadvantaged youth and their advantaged counterparts—if such interventions are made available to all students, not just to the disadvantaged. Whether this widening of gaps is incongruent with American interests and values requires an awareness of this gap-widening potential when interventions are universalized and a national policy that addresses the psychological, political, economic, and moral dimensions of elevating the top students—tomorrow’s business and science leaders—and/or elevating the bottom students to redress past inequalities and reduce the future costs associated with them. This article is a first step in bringing this dilemma to the attention of scholars and policymakers and prodding a national discussion. …

It turns out, however, that when these gap-narrowing interventions are universalized— given not only to the group of children who most need assistance but also to the more advantaged group (regardless of whether the latter is identified as White, rich, high ability, etc.), a surprising and unanticipated consequence sometimes occurs: The preintervention gap between the disadvantaged group and the advantaged group is actually widened as a consequence of making the intervention universally available. This is because, as we will show, although the disadvantaged children who most need the intervention do usually gain significantly from it, the higher functioning or more advantaged children occasionally benefit even more from the intervention. The result is increased disparity and a widening of the gap that existed prior to universalizing the intervention. This has led a prominent intervention researcher to bemoan the major drawback of universalization that “makes nice children even nicer but has a negligible effect on those children at greatest risk” (Offord, 1996, p. 338).

Is it possible that better teachers most benefit better students? Down through history it has been assumed that it was a good thing that Socrates had Plato for a student and that Plato had Aristotle for a student. Socrates could have taught the poor kids down at the docks in Piraeus, which would have reduced inequality. But instead he chose to hang out with the rich kids in Athens, which boosted absolute accomplishment.

As I wrote in 2010:

So what goal do I propose instead of Closing The Gap?

My goal, instead, would be to raise the average performance of all racial groups by half a standard deviation.

In other words, both goals are intended to improve the national average by half a standard deviation—but the Gates-Obama-Bush-Kennedy consensus wants to do it entirely by raising the scores of the minority half.

Which objective sounds more achievable?

Mine, obviously, for two reasons:

- Diminishing marginal returns: a one standard deviation improvement is not merely twice as hard to accomplish as a half-standard deviation performance, it’s much harder.

- Real improvements tend to better everybody`s performance. For example, I can drive a golf ball farther off the tee than I could 15 years ago because driver technology has significantly improved. (Clubheads are approaching the size of toasters, so you can now take a wild swipe at the ball without fear of whiffing). But then, Phil Mickelson can also hit the ball farther, too. So the pro-hacker gap in driving distance hasn’t closed.

In summary: my aim is both more achievable, more fair, and more sensible than the Gates-Obama-Bush-Kennedy consensus.

And therefore, of course, it’s also much more unmentionable.


74 Comments to ""The Rhetoric and Reality of Gap Closing:" A.k.a., the Socrates-Plato-Aristotle Problem of Teaching"

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  1. And Aristotle taught Alexander the Great and Ptolemy, whose descendants ruled Egypt until the Roman conquest about 400 years later.

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  2. Ceci & Papierno’s paper is from 2005. It’s not new.

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  3. On the other hand, as Steve has pointed out a few times, there’s already a ton of policy made by intelligent, competent people which is really advantageous for intelligent, competent people. So maybe interventions only for the left half of the bell curve (including the white and Asian kids there) are not a bad thing.

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  4. If we really cared about poor black kids then ghetto schools would be bootcamps with military discipline. But that, ironically, would be seen as racist

    • Agree: reiner Tor
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  5. It is, of course, completely intuitive that better students benefit from better teachers. As a teacher, I can say that better students also force the teacher to think harder, which in turn may challenge the students more; sort of a virtuous circle.

    The types of intervention/instruction would also change. Ways of making trigonometry and calculus more readily understandable to a group of students of average IQ of 115 would be important, but it would hardly matter to a group of students with an average IQ of 85; they can never grasp those subjects no matter how well or many times they’re explained. Read the educationrealist blog for the depressing details. Making basic arithmetic and use of hand tools more understandable would better benefit the latter group (not to mention such traits as reliability, punctuality and not fighting at the drop of a hat), but it would do nothing to close the gap; it would make it even more visible.

    In a racially homogeneous society (e.g., Japan) this kind of tracking is probably possible, but in a racially diverse society the racial composition of the high-IQ, low-IQ groups become instantly apparent and politically intolerable. So we keep pounding that round peg (closing the gap) and hope that it will eventually, somehow, please, oh please, go into that square hole (disparate results).

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  6. Off topic, but another racial hate crime hoax:

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  7. there’s already a ton of policy made by intelligent, competent people which is really advantageous for intelligent, competent people

    Cite needed.

    If we were as intelligent and competent as we think we are and/or had the benefit of an alleged “ton” of policy, wouldn’t we be doing a better job of that for which intelligent, competent people have traditionally been responsible?

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  8. The average achievement score of Group 1 of students is A.
    The average achievement score of Group 2 of students is B.
    The gap between the two groups is A-B.

    My innovative new teaching method increases the achievement
    of all students by 10%. So with my method,
    the average achievement score of Group 1 of students is 1.10A;
    the average achievement score of Group 2 of students is 1.10B.; and
    the gap between the two groups is 1.10A – 1.10B = 1.10(A-B).

    Should my new method be adopted? No, because it does nothing
    to close the achievement gap between the two groups; in fact,
    it increases the Gap by 10%.

  9. An observation I’ve made is that educated people usually know that these sociological gaps exist, but have no idea how big they really are. The way these gaps are framed makes all the difference in how they are perceived. Mentioning that black students achieve 180 points less on the SAT on average than whites (and 400 points less within the Ivy League) is hard to grasp and doesn’t seem so bad, whereas people can wrap their heads around the fact that blacks with $200k+ of income score less than whites with $10k. Same thing with the Jewish-Gentile income gap and the US-rest of the world autism/allergies gap. Numbers or percentages on their own don’t compute well in our reptile brains and framing gives us the social context we need to understand them.

  10. Such a mutual benefit should be common sense. Why the assumption has been ignored all these years is baffling to me – whatever will benefit one group should also benefit other groups – not exactly rocket science, and thus achievement gaps will be maintained and we’re back where we started from, trying to fix the unfixable.

  11. This post reminds me yet again that all the Human Decency is on our side of the political equation.

    Not every Superhero wears a cape, Steve.

  12. a surprising and unanticipated consequence sometimes occurs: The preintervention gap between the disadvantaged group and the advantaged group is actually widened as a consequence of making the intervention universally available. This is because, as we will show, although the disadvantaged children who most need the intervention do usually gain significantly from it, the higher functioning or more advantaged children occasionally benefit even more from the intervention.

    This is mumbo-jumbo: gaps persist pre and post-intervention because gaps persist pre and post-intervention. Until educators admit that not everyone is equally educable we will continue to pour resources down this hole.

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  13. Page 10: In their analysis, Jencks and Phillips (1998) made this point:

    “Cognitive skills explain the entire black–white gap in college graduation rates, and they also seem to account for most of earnings gap between blacks and whites, especially among women.”

  14. Investigating a potential new way to earn a living, I lately took a “real estate” sales class offered as “career education” at a local state college. The process demands passing a “sellers’ class” before taking a state exam to get a real estate license. To become a realtor you must learn the jargon indigenous to the real estate and finance trade, as well as the particular rubric of taxation and the hierarchy of surcharges associated with loans and titles.

    The instructor, an old hand at teaching real estate courses, spent the class hours READING THE TEXT BOOK

  15. Ceci & Papierno’s paper is from 2005. It’s not new.

    Just goes to show how much influence one can expect it to have.

  16. Maybe the answer is to spend more time developing better teachers. Limit teaching to those who score in the top 25% on application to college. Colleges turn out way too many teachers anyway, most can’t find jobs or anything more that substitute jobs. This article shows to me, more effort = better results, across the board. Sad that you would consider not using a method to improve education because it could possibly widen an already existing gap. Or am I reading this wrong? And, oh yeah, who would want “nice children to be even nicer.” Hey teacher, call on me.

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  17. An intervention to make education WORSE instead of better would create more equality by hurting the right half more than the left, ergo, if you want more equality, make education worse.

  18. The implication being newer is better, or more accurate ?

  19. The purpose of all this remedial education is to make sure that everyone is equal, not to make sure that everyone reaches their highest possible level. As our leaders have discovered, equality can be most expeditiously achieved by handicapping the elite while giving extra help to the backward.

    Smart white boys are systematically held back by hostile female teachers, and school books and class activities are designed to make boys and girls the same intellectual height by putting the girls on little pedestals and cutting the boys off at the ankles.

    For those who prefer a literary metaphor from 1961:

    THE YEAR WAS 2081, and everybody was finally equal. They weren’t only equal before God and the law. They were equal every which way. Nobody was smarter than anybody else. Nobody was better looking than anybody else. Nobody was stronger or quicker than anybody else. All this equality was due to the 211th, 212th, and 213 th Amendments to the Constitution, and to the unceasing vigilance of agents of the United States Handicapper General.

    Some things about living still weren’t quite right, though. April for instance, still drove people crazy by not being springtime. And it was in that clammy month that the H-G men took George and Hazel Bergeron’s fourteen-year-old son, Harrison, away.

    It was tragic, all right, but George and Hazel couldn’t think about it very hard. Hazel had a perfectly average intelligence, which meant she couldn’t think about anything except in short bursts. And George, while his intelligence was way above normal, had a little mental handicap radio in his ear. He was required by law to wear it at all times. It was tuned to a government transmitter. Every twenty seconds or so, the transmitter would send out some sharp noise to keep people like George from taking unfair advantage of their brains.

    From Harrison Bergeron, by Kurt Vonnegut

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  20. People with completely opposite opinions both think they are intelligent and competent, and the other isn’t.

  21. Exactly,
    I can teach it to you, but I can’t understand it for you.

  22. Socrates would, for example, take his students to a shoe-maker and then engage the shoe-maker in a discussion about the essence of shoes.

    * Exactly what is a shoe?

    * When is a shoe not a shoe?

    * Is a foot’s sole a shoe?

    * Is any shoe perfect?

    Socrates exercised his students in abstract reasoning without mathematics.

    The discussion had no practical use for the shoe-maker, who simply acted as a straight-man for Socrates’ arguably comical questions. The discussion did not help the shoe-maker to make shoes better, but the discussion did help Socrates’ students to think more profoundly.

    During the discussion, though, the students learned something about shoe-making and about how shoe-makers think.

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  23. Some of the schools in Westchester County are worse than those in Harlem.

  24. “The haves and the haves-not” is correct.

    “The haves and the have-nots” is not.

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  25. The authors are flummoxed because they crimestop themselves from thinking that there are inherent differences in ability of the students that determine how effective teaching can be.
    Example: My differential calculus skills are rusty. I buy a video tutorial course on calculus and watch it together with my cat. Afterwards, what will be the percentage increase in my skills at solving calculus problems? What will be the percentage increase in my cat’s skills at solving calculus problems? I am baffled that the gap actually increased even though we both watched the same video.

    • Agree: Taco
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  26. The most effective education system is in Finland, where the smartest people are in competition to become teachers.

    Socrates taught of a super-good, which meant that nothing could harm the bearer of his philosophy. A bit like Christianity .

    Anyway, if the best teachers are put into Socratic (antiracist) mode and thus inspired proceed to dedicate their careers to teaching the less able in the worst schools, then the racial gap can be closed to a certain extent.

  27. Surprised CNN even reported that. Ten bucks says the girls get a slap on the wrist.

  28. I really recommend perusing the educationrealist blog–it’s an eye opener as to what teachers confront in the classroom. We’ve been hearing “fix the schools” for years as the solution to a whole host of problems; in truth, there’s very little teachers can do. In many classes it’s a challenge just to keep order–any learning that goes on is incidental. One suggestion on this comment thread is to run black schools like military boot camps (I’d add sex-segregated if that idea isn’t already implicit). That’s probably the best solution, but it’s politically unacceptable.

    I teach at the college/graduate school level and I’ve given up calling out the students for texting or surfing the web in class, as long as they’re not disturbing anyone else. But have I gotten tired, or have I gotten lazy; even I don’t know. In the end, it’s the quality of the raw material; the genetics and the home that make the difference–teachers affect the end product only marginally.

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  29. The discussion about shoes probably did Socrates’s students good, but they were probably one percent of Athens and destined for careers in politics or administration in any event. There are better ways to learn how to make shoes–even Socrates wouldn’t have taught shoemaking by this technique. Not everyone is interested in or capable of benefitting from a Socratic education.

  30. Someone like Charles Murray wrote any good education tactic increases the gap between best and worst students. It’s actually quite intuitive: if everyone has no education, there won’t be much difference between top and bottom students; if everyone has a college degree, there will be.

  31. What will be the percentage increase in my cat’s skills at solving calculus problems?

    Your cat doesn’t need to study calculus. Your cat already has excellent intuition about the mechanics of jumping, and transforming a mouse’s coordinates to the cat’s own inertial frame.

    You want to make a difference in your cat’s life, teach it algebra instead; )

    • Agree: AndrewR
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  32. A certain kind of elitely-educated teacher will actually make slow kids worse because of cultural frictions.

    I was that teacher! I taught people alot like me as a grad student at a top-10 university. Then I became an assistant prof somewhere a notch or so lower. It took some getting used to: my jokes didn’t work, my enthusiasm for the subject mostly made their eyeballs roll. And when they don’t like *you* they tend to tune out of your subject too.

  33. Don’t know if it’s directly on point, Mr Sailer, but I am put in mind of Richard Montgomery High School in Rockville, Maryland.

    Montgomery County abuts the District of Columbia, and schools such as Churchill and Whitman have always been nationally known. RM was always thought of as the armpit of the Montgomery County Public School system (in Maryland the school districts are all county-wide), but when that area went heavily Han Chinese, the school rocketed ahead and is now ranked sixth in the state by US News.

    So, yes, I would say districts like Westchester in New York and MCPS are performing as well as their students are capable (and just for the record, RM was not black, it was what my father would call “red, white, and blue” (red neck, white skin, blue collar)).

    Do I take it from the tone of your comments that you believe that the schools such as those depicted in “Waiting for Superman” are somehow fraudulent? I know that there is a certain effect (I’m sure some of your readers can remind me of what it’s called) that has been observed such that some students will do better simply because they are part of a study, that just the knowledge that someone actually cares will drive them to do better. But I think those schools demonstrate that the NYC schools are not performing as well as their students are capable of doing. One-party rule: Yay!

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  34. Dirk Dagger [AKA "Chico Caldera"]
         Show CommentNext New Comment

    During the discussion, though, the students learned something about shoe-making and about how shoe-makers think.

    Some students learned something … eh … maybe. Most? ¡Muy tedioso!

  35. Ask people if they favor an economic arrangement that

    1) Raises all boats 50% in ten years.

    2) Raises the bottom half 100% in ten years and the top half 200%.

    Over 70% choose #1, and that was several decades ago. Got to be worse by now.

    We don’t want no

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  36. Dirk Dagger [AKA "Chico Caldera"]
    • Website     Show CommentNext New Comment

    ¡Cállense la pinche boca you feelthy prescripciónista!

  37. International Jew, Excellent insight. I have two cats, one orange and the other, shall we say, vibrant. I will start them on basic algebra as soon as they awaken from their naps. Look for my future reports on their progress.

  38. And what happens when they get out of school and have to exist in the real world, which has a definite lack of drill-sergeant-style authority figures? As obnoxious as bosses can be, they’re usually not overseers.

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  39. If you really want to lower the gap, do what President Francia of Paraguay did.

    “In March 1814, Francia banned Spaniards from marrying each other; they had to wed Indians, blacks, or mulattoes.”

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  40. I believe the availability of online resources (Wikipedia, blogs on technical subjects, Khan Academy, iTunes U, MIT Open Courseware) will massively expand the gap between the smart+motivated kids and everyone else. There is no reason at all a bright 14 year old can’t learn calculus if he’s interested, and Sal Khan will teach it to him for free. Meanwhile, his average neighbor won’t *ever* learn calculus.

  41. First time I heard about the ‘acting white’ accusation from one underachieving NAM to one making an effort; it’s all over for them. Can’t read or write, there’s no hope. But I didn’t realize how the SJWs would be able to reframe this to racism, white privilege, BLM, and all the rest of their nonsense. We need two countries…

  42. I reminded of an old Onion article, from way back.

    “William Safire orders two Whoppers Junior”

  43. OT- Steve’s written about Robert Kagan before. Behold Kagan’s latest in the Washington Post:

    Then there was the party’s accommodation to and exploitation of the bigotry in its ranks. No, the majority of Republicans are not bigots. But they have certainly been enablers. Who began the attack on immigrants — legal and illegal — long before Trump arrived on the scene and made it his premier issue? Who was it who frightened Mitt Romney into selling his soul in 2012, talking of “self-deportation” to get himself right with the party’s anti-immigrant forces? Who was it who opposed any plausible means of dealing with the genuine problem of illegal immigration, forcing Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) to cower, abandon his principles — and his own immigration legislation — lest he be driven from the presidential race before it had even begun? It was not Trump. It was not even party yahoos. It was Republican Party pundits and intellectuals, trying to harness populist passions and perhaps deal a blow to any legislation for which President Obama might possibly claim even partial credit.

    I was actually laughing at this idiocy, the entire column is of a piece where Kagan is misreading every single issue. Yes, Trump’s rise is because the Republican leadership forcing Rubio to abandon the Gang of 8. Oh brother.

    Isn’t Kagan part of the crew who believed that they could create their own reality? Do you think he’s trying to create a storyline here and get the rubes to buy into it?

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  44. I don’t actually know whether Socrates teaching the poor would have helped. But two points:

    The public teachers in ancient Greece were financially supported by donations, rather like public musicians today. Teaching to the rich is a lot more rewarding monetarily than teaching to the poor.

    If Socrates had taught the poor, we’d probably have no record of what he said and did, and the benefits (if any) would have been lost when Greek society was upended by the Roman invasions. We have records of him because he taught people who were able to record his teachings (however inaccurately – I’ve always been highly suspicious of Plato’s accounts, which are strangely patchy in style and content).

    History is made by the people who manage to get themselves written about.

  45. Now that’s depressing. Anyone who thinks change comes from winning arguments, take note.

  46. Socrates could have taught the poor kids down at the docks in Piraeus, which would have reduced inequality. But instead he chose to hang out with the rich kids in Athens, which boosted absolute accomplishment.

    There’s a sharp philosophical-political divide between those who hold uplift of downtrodden as the highest societal goal (welfare, disparate impact, etc.) and those who value achievement (moon landing, etc.) that John Haidt should have considered with his theory of political types. Not that everyone exists at one opposite pole, but nearer one on a continuum. Trump represents an implicit challenge to the continuing dominance of the post-civil rights focus on uplift over achievement–a direct refutation of Obama on the other side. America has had its fill of uplift, I suspect.

    As for me, it’s taken a lifetime to come from naivete to realism, but even as a young man trying hard to be a radical leftist, I inwardly recoiled at the barbarity of Gil Scot Heron’s “Whitey on the Moon” bs. And since the time he wrote that lament, we’ve siphoned off worlds of wealth from Whitey on the Moon to Gil’s neighborhood. Imagine what we could have accomplished… And if this is the end of America, we’ll never realize the heights we could have if we had not succumbed to the maudlin romance of Equality.
    Some of you may have seen a video of one of these diversity classes they force on businesses. In it a latino instructor is leading his captives, er, class, in chanting “thank you black people” (for civil rights, etc). I sometimes flash on that when I think of this, or any other distortion on peace and order caused by black dysfunction. Yeah. Thanks, black people. Thanks a lot.

  47. says:
         Show CommentNext New Comment

    Well… they do say ‘gender is fluid’.

    So far, it’s been about individuals declaring oneself in gender-fluid terms.

    But if one has the right to judge one’s own gender anyway one pleases, why shouldn’t this apply to others?

    So, if a man sees himself as a man but if I see him as a woman, he is a she to me.

    If no one should force me to see myself as a man or woman, then no one should force me to see someone else as man or woman. I will decide.

  48. This would be funny if it didn’t sound so plausible.

  49. says:
         Show CommentNext New Comment

    “Isn’t Kagan part of the crew who believed that they could create their own reality? Do you think he’s trying to create a storyline here and get the rubes to buy into it?

    Victoria Nuland’s husband. In 1983 he was a foreign policy advisor to Jack Kemp. He doesn’t like the rubes. According to Wikipedia, “He’s often characterized as a leading neoconservative, but he prefers to call himself a ‘liberal interventionist.’”

  50. The surest ways to get better test scores are:

    A) Get better students
    B) Cheat

    But I’ve seen enough poorly run schools to believe that a good principal hiring good teachers with less interference from downtown staffers can actually make a difference sometimes.

  51. From your link:

    “What happened on the bus was not a ‘hate crime,’” Wiley said. “The only person we heard uttering racial epithets was one of the defendants.”

    Balderdash. It was just as much a hate crime as the one they fantasized. It’s just that the “victims” were the perpetrators. So throw the book at them.

  52. Indeed, there are frequent reports of a charismatic, capable and highly motivated teacher improving the achievements of kids at a school in a poor area. Maybe even by teaching Philosophy or Latin.

    The big mistake is to assume that the same methods can be rolled out to poor kids nationwide, using teachers with average levels of skill and motivation. It is a part of the crisis of reproducibility.

  53. says:
         Show CommentNext New Comment

    The evidence gathered against them included interviews with 35 bus passengers, video from a dozen security cameras on the bus and mobile videos taken by passengers.

    Twelve cameras on one bus. And 35 witnesses, some of whom videotaped the proceedings? How on earth did they think this wouldn’t blow up in their faces?

    From another article:

    One of the alleged victims spoke at the rally, according to CNN affiliate WTEN. “We are shocked, upset, but we will remain unbroken. We are proud of who we are,” she told the gathered crowd through tears.

    Campus police said Monday that 34 people of interest were identified by video. Police identified 29 and interviewed 16.

    The allegations of the use of racial slurs are being taken “very seriously,” said Steven Smith, spokesman for the Albany police department, which is coordinating efforts with university police in the ongoing investigation.

    The interesting thing here is that the police had already reviewed videos of the incident, and interviewed sixteen witnesses, but weren’t prepared to pour any cold water on the story. This is just grotesque! If the situation were somehow reversed, so that three white women had publicly accused a group of unnamed black students or citizens of racially charged assault, despite overwhelming evidence, what would the police do? Would they sit idly by as angry whites held torch-lit rallies on campus, stoking fear and prejudice? Would they mention to the University president that the allegations being made by their students were perhaps dubious?


  54. Don’t blacks who come out of the military seem to do better than those who never go in? Could be a chicken and egg situation but it probably would help since many blacks lack self-discipline more than anything else.

  55. and hope that it will eventually, somehow, please, oh please, go into that square hole

    No the people pounding just hope that the scam will last until they hit retirement.

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  56. Where’s Truth when you need him? He was the one that first pointed this heinous deed out.

  57. Anon7, Thank you for the Vonnegut and the first line of your comment….equality not excellence, sad.

  58. Diversity Heretic, First, don’t give up, always think that you may be a life changer to even one student. Two, thank you, I’ll will visit educationrealist.

  59. Flip, Excellent idea Francia had, and two hundred years later,Paraguay is where?

  60. I admire your patience and salute your commitment. KBO as the Brits say!

  61. I thought they all wore sandals

  62. It’s because most people have utility functions that value relative status of their wealth over the absolute amount of their weath.

  63. That’s at least half of what eugenics was supposed to be for.

    These days X-servatives and Y-gressives just hate Planned Parenthood and abortion and genocide of Black Baby Bodies.

    For ideologically different reasons. But the politicization of the evangelicals in the ’80s convinced most people, it seems, of was a good idea it was to keep subsidizing the breeding of the dim and feckless.

    It has led to millions of excellent careers in the exciting field of dolt wrangling, subsidized by tax dollars. So there’s that.

  64. The moment I realized this was the truth I saw all around me, was the moment I left the Ed Biz (in my 40s).

  65. Cheating is always involved if a school of randomly selected low-income black and Hispanic students perform above average. KIPP and Harlem’s Children’s Zone don’t cheat but their test scores are meh. About 25 percent of their students are proficient in English and just under half in math. Both networks have high schools and the SAT scores are very low, indicative of the students’ demographics.

    Eva Moskowitz’s Success Academy (in the documentary The Lottery) is a different story. First, they purchase test prep material directly from Pearson, the company that produces the actual state exam. Their students test at the gifted and talented level on state exams but no one from the first two of their 8th grade classes has tested into any of New York City’s selective high schools (Stuyvesant, Bronx Science, Brooklyn Tech, etc.).

    Secondly, Success Academy actively pushes out struggling kids in K-2 before they start taking state exams in 3rd grade and they don’t take new students after 4th grade. A principal named Candido Brown published a list of problem students that he wanted kicked out of his schools called a Got To Go list. Recently, a video has surfaced of a 1st grade teacher yelling at a student. That student had already been held back in kindergarten. Her mother was pregnant with her at 13 and had another child by 19. They live in a homeless shelter. After the video surfaced the girl was pulled out of Success Academy and placed in a traditional public school.

    For those who believe in military discipline, that is what Success Academy practices. Students are told how to hold their hands and read a book. Their eyes must track the teacher at all times. They spend four months practicing for the state exam. During test prep, according to the New York Times, the children frequently become hysterical, screaming and crying, and wet their pants. The schools keep a supply of sweat pants and underwear for this regular occurrence.

  66. Roland Fryer and Steven Levitt released a study in 2015 where parents helped their young children with homework assignments. There was no benefit for black children, some for Hispanics, and whites received twice the benefit of Hispanics.

    Education Realist posted data showing that East Asians received the most benefit from SAT prep, 68.8 points. While whites and blacks received the least, 12.3 and 14.9 points respectively.

    People routinely say we should do what Finland or Japan is doing in their schools, ignoring major cultural differences. On the 2012 PISA exam, Canada scored the same as Finland in math and reading but I haven’t heard of anyone studying Canada’s recipe for success.

    In the series Finland Comes to England, two teachers from Finland teach in inner city London schools for a week. Here is secondary school:

  67. I think the only way to close the vital Michelson-Sailer gap is to force Phil Michelson to swing right-handed. I think swinging as a lefty gives him an unfair advantage. And, instead of allowing him to swing a driver with a club head as big as a toaster, he should be forced to swing a stick attached to a real toaster. Let’s see how far he drives the ball off the tee. I’m saying this as the new president of GLM (Golf Lives Matter).

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The “war hero” candidate buried information about POWs left behind in Vietnam.
Are elite university admissions based on meritocracy and diversity as claimed?