Will Eliminating Standard Tests Really Reduce Racial Disparities In Education?

Below is my column in The Hill newspaper on the announcement that the University of California will now join the “test-blind” movement and end the use of the SAT and ACT in its admissions decisions. Some have called for the change to increase diversity in the schools, particularly after California voters refused to change the long ban on affirmative action in education under state law.

Here is the column:

The Supreme Court will decide early next month whether to take a new case on the use of race in college admissions. For decades, the court has fractured on the issue and left an unintelligible morass. A challenge brought by Asian students at Harvard could bring clarity, including a possible rejection of the use of race as an admissions criterion.

However, the massive California university system has just taken an action that could make such challenges more difficult in the future. University of California President Janet Napolitano announced that the ten schools in the system will no longer base admissions on standardized tests — joining a “test-blind” admissions movement nationally.

Without standardized testing, it would be difficult to prove the weight given to race in admissions.

Advocates for greater diversity in admissions have long opposed the use of standardized tests as disfavoring minority applicants. Many have decried standardized testing as vehicles for white supremacy. Indeed, education officials like Alison Collins, vice president of the San Francisco Board of Education, have declared meritocracy itself to be racist.

Napolitano responded to such criticism with a Standardized Testing Task Force in 2019. Many people expected the task force to recommend the cessation of standardized testing. The task force did find that 59 percent of high school graduates were Latino, African-American or Native American but only 37 percent were admitted as UC freshman students. The Task Force did not find standardized testing to be unreliable or call for its abandonment, however.

Instead, its final report concluded that “At UC, test scores are currently better predictors of first-year GPA than high school grade point average (HSGPA), and about as good at predicting first-year retention, [University] GPA, and graduation.” Not only that, it found: “Further, the amount of variance in student outcomes explained by test scores has increased since 2007 … Test scores are predictive for all demographic groups and disciplines … In fact, test scores are better predictors of success for students who are Underrepresented Minority Students (URMs), who are first generation, or whose families are low-income.” In other words, test scores remain the best indicator for continued performance in college.

That clearly was not the result Napolitano or some others wanted. So, she simply announced a cessation of the use of such scores in admissions. The system will go from two years of “optional” testing to a “test-blind” system until or unless it develops its own test.

Ending standardized testing will have a notable impact on legal challenges to the use of race in college admissions. Last November, Californians rejected a resolution to restore affirmative action in college admissions.

The Supreme Court has issued a series of 5-4 decisions that have ruled both for and against such race criteria admissions — but even justices supporting such systems have expressed reservations. The author of the 2003 majority opinion in Grutter v. Bollinger, Associate Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, said she expected “that 25 years from now, the use of racial preferences will no longer be necessary to further the interest approved today.” That 25 years is about up.

Reports indicate that significant differences remain on such scores, particularly for Asian students. The Harvard Crimson reported that “Asian-American applicants to Harvard earned an average SAT score of 726. White applicants earned an average score of 713, Native American and Native Hawaiian applicants an average score of 658, Hispanic American applicants a score of 650, and African American applicants a score of 622.” Yet, during that same period, “Asian-Americans saw the lowest acceptance rate of any racial group.”

In Students for Fair Admissions v. President and Fellows of Harvard College, the litigants cite a study finding that Asian Americans needed SAT scores that were about 140 points higher than white students; the gap with admitted African American and Hispanic students is even greater.

The Supreme Court has allowed race to be considered in overall admission decisions, but has stressed that it cannot be used as a determinative or dominant factor. Judicial reviews, therefore, often focused on the objective standardized scores to deduce the weight given to race. Most of us agree that admissions should be based on a holistic review of applicants and not just their scores or GPA. This includes achieving greater demographic, socio-economic, racial and other forms of diversity. However, standardized scores remain highly valuable as objective comparisons of all applicants to guarantee a system based on meritocracy, including within such groups.

In the Harvard case, the scores are particularly important because the litigants allege that subjective factors were systemically used to disfavor them on issues such as likability and personality. While the lower courts ruled for Harvard, the trial judge did note that there may have been bias in favor of minority admissions and encouraged Harvard to deal with such “implicit bias” while monitoring “any significant race-related statistical disparities in the rating process.” But what if there are no “statistical disparities” because there are no objective statistics?

The elimination of scores has a pronounced impact on students. While it will likely allow for greater diversity in admissions, it also removes a way for students to distinguish themselves in actual testing of their knowledge of math, English and other subjects. Yes, there are other ways to distinguish themselves, like community service and high school projects. Yet, as found by the UC task force, these tests do have a predictive value on success. Indeed, at a time when the United States is losing ground on math and science, the elimination of such testing could undermine our competitive position in a global economy; countries like China demand high levels of objective performance in areas like math and science.

There is an alternative. Rather than eliminate standardized scores due to the disparity in performance of racial groups, we should focus on improving the performance of minority high school students in these areas.

Testing results reflect a continuing failure of our public schools. The top-spending public school districts are also some of the worst-performing districts. New York topped the per capita spending, at $24,040 per kid. Yet, according to a 2019 study, over half of New York City public school kids cannot handle basic math or English. On tests, Asian kids shows a 74.4 percent proficiency in math, with a 66.6 percent proficiency for whites, 33.2 percent proficiency for Hispanics and 28.2 percent proficiency for African Americans.

Eliminating standardized scores will not erase true racial disparities in our educational system. Indeed, it may only exacerbate them.

Jonathan Turley is the Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University. You can find his updates on Twitter @JonathanTurley.

121 thoughts on “Will Eliminating Standard Tests Really Reduce Racial Disparities In Education?”

  1. There are real problems with standardized testing… two come to mind… first, the single most reliable thing that the SAT and the ACT predict is the amount of higher education completed by the test-takers parents… second, because test-taking preparation courses/tutors are both effective and expensive… economic advantages translate into higher scores… these are two sides of the same truth… life is not fair. It never has been and it never will be. There are advantages and disadvantages conferred at birth. The issue, as I see it, is not so much in the use of the tests as admissions criteria… the issue is the weighting of scores in the process. The kid who achieved absent advantages, who did well in a crap school system, who is a first-generation college student, who played a poor hand well… there’s no reason, with a close look at an application, to not overlook lower test scores. There’s no need to remove test scores as data… the solution is to make sure data is examined in context.

  2. The point of standardized tests — all of which test only very basic knowledge — was to put students from disparate school systems (e.g different grading systems) on more equal footing.

    The strained arguments that there is something wrong in some school and that is the primary reason some children do better than others is completely belied by just looking at any regular school — and the differences in achievement among the students in them. Studenf learning and achievement is primarily a function of two things: the student’s IQ, and the culture of the student’s home. Here and there an exceptional teacher may make a difference for a class as a whole, but the relative disparities remain.

    It may be a tough reality to swallow for some, but “facts don’t care about your feelings.” You could have tried to train me with world-class teachers to become an opera singer or a gymnast and it still never would have happened. And if doing so meant that I had displaced the opportunity to put that time and effort into a kid with talent, that would have been a shame. People are different. Accept THAT “diversity”.

  3. I always find it laughable when those who benefit most from systems stacked in their favor attempt to diagnose a fix through a wildly reductionistic lens. I’d somehow hoped we could rise above the standardized testing mechanism canard by now. But clearly, that’s a naive thought on my end.

    eb

  4. Kind of reminds me of the old South Pacific cargo cults and akin to the recent tendency for prosecutors not to prosecute certain crimes. Means crime is going down, right?

    antonio

  5. While bias is intrinsic, prejudice is progressive. The critical racists’ theory presumes diversity [dogma] (i.e. color judgment), not limited to racism, sexism, ageism, which denies individual dignity, individual conscience, intrinsic value, and normalizes color blocs (e.g. racist designation “people of color”), color quotas, and affirmative discrimination.

    That said, diversity of individuals, minority of one. Baby Lives Matter

  6. Without testing, there will no longer be any racial disparity in education because there will no longer be education; everyone will be equally ignorant and uneducated. Why bother to learn anything if there are no consequences to not learning?

    Next I suppose will be that babies will all receive high school diplomas at the same time as their birth certificates in the hospital when they are born. Next is college diplomas issued without any classwork required. Just send the school of your choice their four-year tuition and fees, and they will send your newborn a bachelor of philosophy degree–masters and doctorates available for an extra cost.

    1. Actually the University of California is eliminating the basket altogether. The player’s score will be determined by what jersey they wear.

  7. Michio Kaku, Japanese American physicist, has said that virtually all of his PHD candidates are foreign born. Not native born Americans. And not educated in this country.

    1. The focus of Turley’s post is on college admissions, you’re talking grad school level. Truth is, at higher level learning, when someone wants to undertake a graduate degree with a teacher they really admire, the real weight shifts to the personal interview. GRE scores are still a factor because they’re ensconsed in the system, but they’re a dinosaur.

      eb

      1. “GRE scores are still a factor because they’re ensconsed in the system, but they’re a dinosaur.”

        Bug, you stick to generalities so much that you haven’t learned much of anything. Much of the testing none of us like is a way to reduce costs and decrease the number of people who need further assessment. You remain ignorant of economics.

        SM

  8. The pernicious effect of the welfare state is generally downplayed, IMO. The IQs of White and Hispanic welfare cases don’t exactly set the world on fire either. There has been a very determined program carried out by liberals to keep the Blacks cooped up in ghettos as a voting base. The southerners simply replaced chains with Jim Crow. And when that finally played out they replaced Jim Crow with free money. Welfare is soul-destroying and always results in riot and despair. We have bred a class that is incapable of working, is not expected to work and has been treated only with increasing levels of free handouts. What we are seeing was inevitable when that southern racist sold the Great Society to one of the dumbest groups of people on Earth, the US Congress

    1. Reading the comments on Turley’s article I wondered if there were any worth responding to. Yours, Jeff, provided such a mixed up version of history I couldn’t let it go. It’s good that you know there was such a thing as Jim Crow and it was bad. It followed the Black Codes which were implemented immediately after the Civil War where the South did their best to replicate slavery. They introduced mass incarceration where the penalty for violating any of the rules that applied only to the former enslaved people, was being returned in most cases to the very plantations they were freed from. The perpetrators were the Democrats in this case who were the party that welcomed white supremacists and the Klan which got its start after the war ended.
      Jim Crow came later after the Compromise of 1877 which was a conspiracy to allow Republicans to win the contested 1876 Presidential election in return for removing the federal troops from the South which was the only thing protecting the newly freed slaves to a degree (lynching’s were at a high level) and ensuring Black people the right to vote during what was called the Reconstruction Era. Rutherford B. Hayes became President and quickly enacted Posse Comitatus which ensured the federal troops could never come back under most circumstances. The Democrats immediately stopped most Black people from voting and killed seven Black elected officials as well. Jim Crow wasn’t only in the South but was enacted in many northern states as well.
      Your reference to free money didn’t include the G.I. Bill which is credited for forming the middle class. Black veterans were either denied access to the components of the Bill that allowed for 100% financing on homes or almost free education. It was white people who got the free money while Black people were forced into low paying jobs and substandard housing. The Democrats from 1865 through the entire Jim Crow period could hardly be described as liberals. In fact, much of that group including the evangelists that are so important to Republicans were Democrats until the slow movement that began when Truman integrated the armed forces and sped up dramatically after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
      You may have missed the fact that most of the recipients of welfare have always been white. The Great Society programs like Medicare and Medicaid also benefited mostly white people especially when you consider the lower life spans of Black people due to many factors including substandard health care.
      I could agree with you that LBJ was racist but he was pragmatic enough to recognize he couldn’t stand by and do nothing while Alabama state troopers were beating non-violent protesters on the Edmund Pettus bridge. Bull Connor got the Voting Rights Act passed though I’m sure that wasn’t his goal.
      Related to Turley’s story, I was once a tutor for the Princeton Review which prepped high school students for the SAT, ACT, LSAT, GMAT and other exams. I can tell you that portions of those tests are easier if you hung out in country clubs and were familiar with terms you were more likely to know if you were white and rich. As an aside, for some reason, I, who was neither a member of a country club or rich, did exceptionally well on standardized tests which is neither here nor there.
      You left out the category of people who were denied good work, prevented from joining unions, and when they got jobs in certain categories were paid less (also true for women). Your belief that Black people ever disproportionately benefitted from “free stuff” is mistaken and misguided. It is true that “liberals” are trying to maintain a Black voting base though many Black people are not liberals but quite conservative. It’s a shame that Republicans who once got over 90% of the Black vote have given up on offering a reasonable alternative but are entirely focused on keeping enough Black people so they can win elections.

      1. “You may have missed the fact that most of the recipients of welfare have always been white.”

        Many of the problems that have ‘afflicted ‘ black people on welfare had the same on English white persons that were also on welfare despite their lack of melanin. That was stated by Charles Murray in, I think ,“Losing Ground”. I suppose the same thing happens to whites that are on welfare for a long time, or on welfare for more than a generation.

        It seems that the Democrat ‘giving’ to welfare recipients at the same time takes away the people’s spirit. I have nothing against helping people that are in need and need a little help. Maybe you ought to rethink some of the statements you have made in the past.

          1. Enigma, maybe I should have used the word contemplate rather than think. I wasn’t suggesting you open your mind to debate.

            We both have something in common. We both have serious grievances against certain groups of people for things that should never happen. Though my grievances are likely far more significant than yours in severity and time of occurrence, I have put those things away while trying to deal with all people as human beings to be treated equally under the law.

            1. My guess is you were being queried on your reluctance to speak on a level that doesn’t venture past platitudes and generalities, Allan. And by your answer it’s clear that question was well founded.

              eb

              1. Bug, you always seem to lack the where with all to prove your case. So instead, you accuse others of using generalities because your contentless responses are precisely what you always do and are doing here today.

                I have had to correct you on numerous occasions using content to show where you went wrong. Unfortunately, you can’t provide data or rationals that prove your case. You are a contentless responder.

        1. Thomas Sowell refers to Theodore Dalrymple’s work on the English “underclass” when assessing the impact of welfare state policies on the culture and motivation of their beneficiaries. He argues that those policies have been greatly destructive, without regard to race. He considers many of the issues facing the Black community today to be the legacy of “great society” policies rather than of slavery or Jim Crow.

          1. You are right, Daniel. I seem to remember Thomas Sowell mentioning Dalrymple. Sowell is a tremendous intellect who, at 90, is still going. You probably already know he released his last book on his 90th birthday.

            1. Yes, on charter schools. He shows that with the right approach, disadvantaged Black and Hispanic students in poor areas of NYC can be taught very effectively. They score well on tests and in many cases go on to college. And it does not require more money, fancy facilities, or the elimination of poverty or other socioeconomic problems. These schools are viciously opposed by Democrats, the educational establishment and the teachers unions, because their success exposes the bankrupt ideology and hollow excuses of these groups. Their success also shows that those in charge have not made the education of these students a priority.

              I discovered Sowell only recently, and have been reading many of his works. Fortunately there is a lot of him to read.

              1. I knew charter schools in NYC were successful, but until I heard him speak on Uncommon Knowledge and read his book on charter schools, I didn’t realize how successful they were.

                If you don’t have time for the book, listen, or read the interview transcript.

                I did both, so I got a copy of the numerical comparisons between public and private schools. It was an eye opener.

                1. S. Meyer,
                  I have not had a chance to read Sowell’s book, though it is on my list. Does he address the issues of self-governance and taxation without representation?

                  1. No. Sowell’s near-total focus is on comparing public schools and charter schools along with discussing the variables involved. Maybe there is more, but I don’t remember. The book reads more like a study than the typical book one reads.

                    You already listened to his interview and possibly read the transcript of it. I think you might find it more beneficial to read other things he wrote. You seem to be interested in self-governance and the idea behind taxation without representation. I find him to be very enlightened on those subjects and one of the leading experts. Remember, he was initially a Marxist and did his Ph.D. in Marxism when he was young. Then he investigated the numbers and realized socialism doesn’t work.

                    What you might not recognize is that he is not promoting charter schools. He is promoting competition that benefits both the public and the private schools. He wants students to have a choice.

                    You seem to believe because you pay school taxes, you have representation. You only have representation if your local government permits you. The trend today is less power to the individual and more power to government entities. That is what the fight is all about, power.

                    Many of the elite has joined with high tech and wish complete control over your life. They don’t have much concern for America and have taught all too many that America is terrible. You can see the result of that on this blog. Take not over their envy and criticism, but also take note they are devoid of solutions. The America they hate was an America built on solutions, so it is no wonder they have none.

                    1. Sowell’s book on charter schools compares the test results in reading and math of students who are in the same physical building but going to different schools, traditional public schools or charter schools. There are many charter schools in NYC that occupy the same buildings as the traditional public schools and serve similar students. Sowell compares the test results of students in the same grades in those schools that have substantial majorities of Black and Hispanic students who are poor. He shows that the students in charter schools do much better, and in a number of cases have eliminated the performance gap not only with predominantly white traditional schools in NYC but also with the predominantly white traditional schools in NYC’s wealthy suburbs. And he also shows that it’s not simply self selection by motivated parents. He compares the results of students who won the charter school lottery to those who did not and demonstrates that the students who were lucky enough to get into the charter schools outperform those who did not. To those who argue that this is because those who lose the lottery are stuck in traditional public schools where the unruly behaviour of others destroys their opportunities to learn, he says that is because the ideology of public education today precludes maintaining appropriate discipline and grouping students by motivation and ability. He also stresses the role of teachers unions in traditional public schools which consistently favour the interests of teachers over the education of students.

                    2. Daniel, you wrote an excellent summary that sounded professional. It will likely help answer some of Prairie’s concerns,

                      Don’t forget his books on culture.

                    3. S. Meyer,
                      I did listen to the interview, several times, actually. Interviews are not a comprehensive examination of books typically, so I was unsure whether he covered this point in his book (though it may be beyond its scope).

                      “You seem to be interested in self-governance and the idea behind taxation without representation. I find him to be very enlightened on those subjects and one of the leading experts.”

                      This is why I hope he examines these issues in references to charter schools. The issue of taxation without representation and the erosion of self-governance is a relevant point that should be balanced against the positive benefits in many charter schools.

                      I have his Basic Economics and have read and enjoyed quite a few of his shorter articles.

                      “He is promoting competition that benefits both the public and the private schools. He wants students to have a choice.”

                      It is not clear to me that the competition is necessarily a net positive for education. Education benefits from a high degree of stability and market forces with business failures is antithetical to stability in education. I am sympathetic to students being able to flee to charter schools in terrible school districts (where self-governance has broken down, in general). I have seen the excellent curriculum that some charter schools have. However, where parents and community members still wield control over their districts, I think the negatives outweigh the positives. I do not want business to invade every aspect of community life. Businesses do not have to really be transparent at all (if you don’t like the way we do business, go somewhere else). While government often tries to thwart transparency, people can legally, and in the voting booth, work to increase it. In communities with a high degree of positive communication and good relationships, it seems to me that the system is a benefit to self-governance (which, as an American citizen, I HIGHLY value).

                      “You seem to believe because you pay school taxes, you have representation. You only have representation if your local government permits you. The trend today is less power to the individual and more power to government entities.”

                      I at least have a place to go to voice my opinion on the use of my tax dollars and the quality of the district. This is not the case with the charter schools. I cannot vote out their Boards. I cannot possibly keep watch on the effectiveness of all of them–the only check is ‘market forces’, which only relies on the wisdom and observation of parents–not all parties involved (the taxpayers). If I am dissatisfied, there are elections to change out the people if the people are making poor decisions. If it is the administration that is causing problems, the school board can be prevailed upon to reexamine their policies and the direction they are giving to the administrators or reconsider the employment of problematic administrators in the worst case.

                      I, and my fellow citizens, are the foundation of our local (and state and federal) government. This needs to be far more at the forefront of all our minds. While I would like to see perhaps a bit more participation, especially at school board meetings and in school-oriented committees, the desire for small government is pretty typical around here. I am sometimes concerned that the attitude towards small government inadvertently equates to some degree amongst the populace people wanting so little government they don’t want to get involved at all. On a side, but related note, have heard things like–I don’t have any kids in the district so what do I have to say about its quality or how well it runs (so long as you don’t raise my taxes). That exasperates me. So what if they aren’t *your* kids?! Shouldn’t the kids in *your* community gain an excellent education? It helps the whole community be better.

                      The trend towards less power to the individual and more power to faceless government (dare I say, corporatist) entities has been going on for a long time, though, I agree, it seems to be reaching a fever pitch lately. The corporatist element is one reason why I have profound hesitations regarding charter schools. The melding of businesses and government is not good for the populace at large. Public loss, private gain off taxpayers’ backs is no way to run a self-governing society.

                    4. Prairie,

                      “The issue of taxation without representation and the erosion of self-governance is a relevant point that should be balanced against the positive benefits in many charter schools.”

                      What makes you believe that there is actual taxation with representation? When ObamaCare was passed, the legislators were encouraged to vote before reading the bill. Is that taxation with representation?

                      Taxation With Representation: We decided as a country to educate the young. How to do it is the question. There are many ways, not just one. However, to satisfy the educational needs of the young, you latched on to only one, public schools. You forgot about other forms of education, homeschooling, charter schools, etc.

                      Voting with one’s feet is taxation with representation.

                      “It is not clear to me that the competition is necessarily a net positive for education.”

                      What is or isn’t clear to you is not what these parents believe. Forcing your beliefs onto others is not taxation with representation. Instead, it is closer to totalitarianism.

                      “I at least have a place to go to voice my opinion on the use of my tax dollars and the quality of the district.”

                      Those parents in Harlem want a choice as well. The charter schools better fulfilled the educational desire of the American public. So why should they be denied access to charter schools? Why should what you think count more than what the parents want for their children?

                      You are placing your desires and beliefs above the parents of school-aged children. All one has to know is whether or not the charter schools are
                      meeting the educational requirements.

                    5. Daniel,
                      “the ideology of public education today precludes maintaining appropriate discipline and grouping students by motivation and ability.”

                      I recognize that this is a problem. The curricula, discipline, and ability grouping are within the locus of control of public schools. It is something that I am advocating in my own district. There are some on the school board who are supportive of changing tack.

                      “He also stresses the role of teachers unions in traditional public schools which consistently favour the interests of teachers over the education of students.”

                      This is quite conceivably part of the problem, though I’d like to see a good, comprehensive analysis. I do think it unconscionable for people to hold the education of children hostage to contract demands. That treats children as pawns.

                      Out of curiosity, from where do you hale? Are you in Britain? The Michaela School has captured my interest.

                      While the points you noted are worthy of consideration, they do not address the wider problem of taxation without representation or the erosion of self-governance. Has Sowell examined these concerns in relation to his examination of charter schools in NYC?

                      On a side note, in an earlier discussion, it seems that the success of many charter schools in NYC does not necessarily occur in other areas, namely New Orleans. While I applaud the success of some charter schools and the avenue it has provided students in ineffective school districts, the struggles of charters in other areas is important to consider for a broad understanding of the pros and cons that can occur in complex systems.

                    6. S. Meyer,
                      “What makes you believe that there is actual taxation with representation? When ObamaCare was passed, the legislators were encouraged to vote before reading the bill. Is that taxation with representation?”

                      They should have told whomever told them to vote without having read the bill to pound sand.

                      “Voting with one’s feet is taxation with representation.”

                      It is only voting with one’s own dollars then. My neighbors who do not have any children in the district yet pay taxes toward education have no representation for how *their* tax dollars are spent at charter schools (and neither do the parents who pay taxes and stay within the system). Those parents who leave to go to charter schools were not elected by anyone to decide how other people’s money gets spent. If they want to take their portion of the tax bill and direct it to education, then they are voting with their feet.

                      “It is not clear to me that the competition is necessarily a net positive for education.”

                      “What is or isn’t clear to you is not what these parents believe. Forcing your beliefs onto others is not taxation with representation. Instead, it is closer to totalitarianism.”

                      I am not forcing my beliefs on others. Quite the contrary. I am presenting my opinion and making an inconvenient observation regarding those who pay taxes yet have no representation and no capacity to observe the quality of the schools their dollars go to support. That is not fair play with people’s money.

                      “I at least have a place to go to voice my opinion on the use of my tax dollars and the quality of the district.”

                      “Those parents in Harlem want a choice as well. The charter schools better fulfilled the educational desire of the American public. So why should they be denied access to charter schools? Why should what you think count more than what the parents want for their children?”

                      I have said I am very sympathetic to families in lousy districts that are so broken as to be unchangeable in the foreseeable future. The argument for charter schools is not limited to these specific circumstances, however. Thus, I have stated my concerns regarding self-governance. I am happy to help support education; however, I want a say in how my money is spent. I am having a hard enough time with this in my public school district, let alone even attempting to follow what the 10 cyber charter schools are doing using my and my neighbors’ money. Why should what I think count more than what they want? It’s my hard-earned money–not theirs.

                      “You are placing your desires and beliefs above the parents of school-aged children. All one has to know is whether or not the charter schools are meeting the educational requirements.”

                      My money. I want a say in how my money is spent. Charter schools should not be treated like dark money institutions.

                    7. “They should have told whomever told them to vote without having read the bill to pound sand.”

                      Prairie, that is wishful thinking.

                      They passed the bill without reading it. That is reality.

                      “My neighbors who do not have any children in the district yet pay taxes toward education have no representation for how *their* tax dollars are spent at charter schools”

                      That is an argument for ending school taxes.

                      On the other hand, there is a policy to educate the young. That is the reason for the tax. Therefore, another argument can be that anyone that meets the educational standards should get a share of the school tax.

                      Even though school taxes are paid to educate the children, many children are not being educated. Therefore, to adhere to the education policy, school tax revenues should pay for charter schools and other educational methods.

                      Your belief that the taxes can only go to schools places policy before results. That is not good.

                      “I am not forcing my beliefs on others. ”

                      Yes, you are. You want a policy to educate students while at the same time you are getting in the way of doing so. If you prefer, you can say your “opinion” is getting in the way of actually educating them.

                      “making an inconvenient observation regarding those who pay taxes ”

                      What is inconvenient is that we have a policy of educating our young, and then we adhere to a public school system that leaves the young uneducated. Taxes are a result of funding policy. If we have a policy of getting rid of the trash, we don’t pay people to dump the garbage on the minority group’s lawns.

                      “I have said I am very sympathetic to families in lousy districts ”

                      Your sympathy is worthless to the thousands of kids that are left uneducated and end up dying in the streets.

                      Self-governance by majority rule doesn’t always work out for the minority.

                      “I want a say in how my money is spent.”

                      Then don’t create a policy that discriminates against a disadvantaged group. If the school system sees a better method to educate all students, they should either do so or end public education at the taxpayer’s expense. Of course, that would hit the advantaged group, possibly providing the impetus to educate the poor and disadvantaged.

                      “My money. I want a say in how my money is spent. Charter schools should not be treated like dark money institutions.”

                      They are not necessarily being treated in that way. In NYC, it is clear what they are doing and how much better they do it than the public schools. Elsewhere, to obtain public funds, the school board can demand the same.

      2. Spot on my friend. Spot on.

        But now we have to go forward, and while reviewing the errors of our past may sooth our ideas and guide us to better cultural decisions in the future, they do not solve the underlying problem of learning deficit in native blacks. I believe it starts early in grade school, and continues getting worse as a self full filling act. How do you/we fix this? Do you want to look at your doctor and question his/her competence?

        We, as a culture and nation, need to rise above this back biting stuff and find real answers. Throwing dishes at one another may make us feel good today, it does nothing for tomorrow but assure the marriage therapist continued work.

    2. Jeff: As a white who was actually born and raised on welfare and in public housing, I would disagree. 95% of the people in the projects were women and their children. Their only mistake was marrying a man who failed or refused to support his children. Some of these women, like my mom, married too young, when the guy’s looks and personality were all that mattered, and he later turned out to be a lout. But nonetheless, many of the kids turned out well. Only two families had a father around. One was Jewish. I was too young to know their circumstances, other than my observation that their father was unusually old and didn’t work. But the two boys went to a good state university; one became a civil engineer and the other a pharmacist. Their was a Syrian family with a father in the home; the son in my grade became an architect; don’t know about the other kids. A Portuguese family had a son in my grade who became an electrical engineer. The Irish generally went into the trades: one has his own plumbing co, two have painting companies, another is a successful landscaper. Two Irish guys became cops. An Italian kid became a career postal worker; a white/Filipino has been a linesman for the power co for 20 years. The only black family received waived tuition at the Catholic school; all the whites had to make do with the public schools. One son became a flagman for the state transportation authority and the other clerks in a supermarket. The daughter unfortunately got on heroin and became a prostitute. I went to a state college, majored in accounting, and then went to law school. Have been a federal government lawyer for over 20 years. So all in all, the kids from the projects, at least the ones I grew up in, did well. I’ve never had an IQ test, but have no concerns about it.

    3. And yet the poorest whites routinely outperform the wealthiest blacks. The mean SAT scores for blacks from families making more than $200,000 is 981. For whites who come from families that have $40,000 or less is 995. When will people accept that different sub-species have different genetic traits?

      1. Something like that happened in Illinois and the Tribune and those they interviewed were fretting about it. “It doesn’t make sense!” They cried.

  9. “Most of us agree that admissions should be based on a holistic review of applicants and not just their scores or GPA.”

    Yes, if by ‘holistic’ Mr. Turley means the additional meaningful skills and capabilities an applicant brings to the table — not the color of his or her skin, or ethnicity, or familial financial resources (or lack of).

    “This includes achieving greater demographic, socio-economic, racial and other forms of diversity.”

    I have never understood why this is important. Wouldn’t a college want applicants who are the most competitive, most intellectually capable, with the greatest college success potential?

  10. We assume many things with standardized testing: one faulty assumption is that they measure what we want them to measure.
    My major concern is that the tests are garbage. Students can’t read, comprehend what they read, identify vocabulary, make articulate sense in terms of evaluating the texts. I don’t see this as a racial issue, but rather a socio-economic issue. I’ve taught for almost 40 years. Multiple choice doesn’t work well. Constant essay tests don’t work well either. Get students to love reading, for its own sake, and give them the time in school to do it. The war against electronics is nearly lost. Weighing them is easier than feeding them, I’ve observed, but feeding them is the key. As for math, it is simply ridiculous what has occurred with the curriculum as a result of “new math” and one size fits all standards. Facts first practice would be enormously helpful. Showing the work, optional, imho.

    1. Betsy “Get students to love reading, for its own sake, and give them the time in school to do it”.
      ***
      Good idea, but the books provided are often dull. History texts are unreadable. Better they read actual history, Barbara Tuchman or Bruce Catton or Vera Brittain or Mary Chestnut, but they won’t.

      1. I caught the reading bug in middle school. I was amazed that the school library had books of fiction; I thought it was all textbooks and dreaded reading them, until I found the science fiction section in the library. Even when I checked the books out, I was afraid they would correct their “mistake” and remove all the “fun” books.

        1. I had a similar experience. I assumed I hated history because the class history books were corporate mulch and the teachers were almost as bored as I was. But in the library I found and devoured a nonfiction book on Rome at the time of Julius and Augustus Caesar and then sought others of the type. It actually took me awhile to think, “Wait a minute! ‘This’ is history!'” I came to think the textbook industry has been bad for education.

  11. All disparities of any kind can be done away with by abolishing the meritocracy of testing, grades, homework, and class participation. Students can spend their time converting O2 to CO2, and attend to the lecture or not.

    Granted, this will produce deeply ignorant graduates incapable of competing against highly educated countries, but, hey, it will do nicely to get rid of racial disparities.

    After all, such disparities must be due to racism, right? There could be no possible other reason for poor academics, such as single motherhood, a lack of value placed on education in the home, peer pressure to ditch school… It must be due to the white cisgendered Christian authoritarian patriarchy.

    It will all work out fine. We’ve outsourced as many STEM jobs as possible. CA has chased a great many job opportunities out of the state, leaving low skilled minimum wage jobs. Biden is so fond of saying that as CA goes, so the rest of the nation will follow. All we have to do is jack up the price of minimum wage labor to $45/hour, make gas so expensive as to be unaffordable, thus making every item possible to be shipped unaffordable, and these ignorant graduates will have a career ahead of them in fast food. Well, until those jobs are destroyed as well.

    We will soon be just like Venezuela. It doesn’t take much of an education to fight over toilet paper and dumpsters to dive in.

    1. By abolishing testing, the failure of the public school system to educate students will not be measured. CA suspended CAASPP testing for 2020 and 2021. Doubtless, the teachers union and the public school system does not wish the severe drop in education quality to be measured. Without a record, there is plausible denial. CAASPP will likely be dropped altogether at some point in future.

      I homeschooled my son this year, in a book-based curriculum. We have satellite internet out here in this rural area, and so lacked the bandwidth to do Zoom distance learning all day. When the pandemic first hit, the school switched to Zoom for the last couple months of last year. My son learned exactly zero.

      I was so glad I switched to homeschooling. Other parents I know have said that their kids didn’t crack a math book all year during their “distance learning” at the local public school. They were just directed to online math games. Their teacher just dialed it in. The distance learning experienced varied greatly by school, curriculum, and teacher.

      With our homeschool program, my son took a computer adaptive test at the beginning and end of the year. His improvement in math was incredible. It was very beneficial to be able to choose which math curriculum to use, and to have that one-on-one instruction. Another benefit – I did not teach math using the Common Core approach, which probably helped him make those gains. Matched with the right curriculum, homeschooling might benefit any student.

      Yet the teachers unions, and the Democrats they’ve lobbied, are staunchly opposed to homeschooling and charter schools. So much so that as applications to charter schools surged when public schools closed, CA capped Charter School enrollment at pre-pandemic levels. Given the chance, they would remove homeschooling as an option, too.

      You don’t really need the public education system. We need more choices, not less, especially if you’re not happy with the academics at your local public school, or the far Left politicization. If you’d rather your child focus on math, reading, writing, and science, rather than skin color or 75 different gender pronouns, then perhaps public school is not for your family.

      1. “You don’t really need the public education system”

        What all would be unraveled, good and bad, without public schools?

        1. Prairie Rose: “What all would be unraveled, good and bad, without public schools?”
          ***
          That is a very good question. Good and bad. We need empirical analysis to try to find and preserve the good and eliminate the useless and bad. Getting rid of teachers unions could be a start. They are a source of propaganda and funding for radical politicians. Rethink the textbook industry. It could invite public graft and, in any event, publishes expensive and unreadable rubbish. Maybe we should go to Korea or Taiwan and see what they do. Their kids seem to learn far more than ours do. Or maybe we could use Abraham Lincoln’s school. He seemed to learn a lot going a few years to a school in a frontier shack…no bells and whistles, just learning.

          1. Young,
            Yes, public schools, the benefits and the problems, need analysis. The points you brought up are just a start. Regarding the Korean and Japsnese schools, they have often looked to us to see what we are doing. Bizarrely, we have moved in the direction they are moving away from: lots of testing.

            “Rethink the textbook industry. It could invite public graft and, in any event, publishes expensive and unreadable rubbish.”

            Not all are bad. I enjoyed some of my textbooks, oddly enough (science and English, were generally pretty good). They can provide a spine to a course, covering a broad swath of information that should be understood at minimum. A good teacher will introduce a great deal more supplementary material to breathe more life into the subject. Read about history from a textbook to get the overview, but then also include appropriate NF, poems, short stories, paintings, and films. Watch Gettysburg and Glory, read Whitman, The Red Badge of Courage, Across Five April’s, and the Autobiography of Frederick Douglas. Heck, read children’s books like Henry’s Freedom Box or The Price of Freedom. Look at the paintings and wood cuts of Winslow Homer.

            There are other, less tangible elements that aren’t being fully considered in regards to public schools–the community connection is one. When the community supports its schools in an intergenerational manner, that goes a long way towards determining the excellence of education.

            Aside from excellence aspect, the community choosing to support the community’s children goes a long way toward the general livability of a place. Trust is deepened as people work together.

            When the community takes a more active role in the governance of the local school district, that acts as a check and balance to problems that creep up. When people are really neighbors to one another, too, that may help ease any potential tensions. The relationships temper it.

            Also, having good public schools helps support kids whose families cannot afford better (or don’t care). I would not want those kids to get a lousy education because they lost the “got a good parent” lottery.

            There are other elements to consider if public schooling unravelled, but these are a few small points.

            1. Prairie– I agree that some science and English textbooks have been good. I remember diagramming sentences and learning elements of grammar. I didn’t like it [ordered to the principal for paddling once] but I knew the course had merit and I respected and admired the teacher despite our frosty relationship. She was never unfair or cruel. Great teacher actually and I was not easy for teachers.

              But looking at my grandson’s math books I think the quality of the material has declined significantly. It doesn’t seem that English grammar and vocabulary are very important either.

              There seems to be a movement that if black students can’t learn it nobody should. That metric is based on the lowest expectation for black students and is factually wrong. The Bell Curve said IQ distribution is a bell curve so there will be many black students who are smarter than most white students. What happens to them in a public system that expects, demands, nothing from them?

              We seem to be shooting for the bottom for everyone and we appear to be getting there.

              1. Young,
                “I remember diagramming sentences and learning elements of grammar. I didn’t like it”

                Me neither. Though, I, too, discovered its merits for parsing particularly challenging sentences (practically a requirement for reading The Federalist Papers, particularly Hamilton!).

                “That metric is based on the lowest expectation for black students and is factually wrong…What happens to them in a public system that expects, demands, nothing from them?”

                While there very well may be an element of soft racism of low expectations, this affects poor kids, no matter their race. I am in an area with a fair bit of white poverty and the district, unfortunately, seems to have low expectations.

                “We seem to be shooting for the bottom for everyone and we appear to be getting there.”

                What’s the ideal? I rather like the Renaissance Man ideal.

                “It doesn’t seem that English grammar and vocabulary are very important either.”

                Neither are on standardized tests, as far as I know, so why teach it? If we do not have a strong vocabulary and a grasp of advanced sentence structures or an ear for the rhythms of English, we will have a d@mn hard time reading founding documents or much thought-provoking material that requires more than a smidgeon of complexity to convey nuanced ideas. I absolutely believe ideas should be conveyed simply. At the same time, sometimes the exact right word is not a simple one. Same goes for the sentence structure. Words and ideas require wrestling for them to be conveyed as succinctly as possibly while maintaining the clarity–no small feat!

                1. Prairie –

                  I certainly agree that without a strong vocabulary and grasp of advanced sentence structure much of great value will be closed off. Gibbon and Macaulay wrote beautiful and sometimes complex sentences that will be denied, shrouded in complexity, to those who think and speak only in Tweets. Consider the opening paragraph of The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire:

                  “IN the second century of the Christian era, the Empire of Rome comprehended the fairest part of the earth, and the most civilised portion of mankind. The frontiers of that extensive monarchy were guarded by ancient renown and disciplined valour. The gentle but powerful influence of laws and manners had gradually cemented the union of the provinces. Their peaceful inhabitants enjoyed and abused the advantages of wealth and luxury. The image of a free constitution was preserved with decent reverence: the Roman senate appeared to possess the sovereign authority, and devolved on the emperors all the executive powers of government. During a happy period (A.D. 98-180) of more than fourscore years, the public administration was conducted by the virtue and abilities of Nerva, Trajan, Hadrian, and the two Antonines. It is the design of this, and of the two succeeding chapters, to describe the prosperous condition of their empire; and afterwards, from the death of Marcus Antoninus, to deduce the most important circumstances of its decline and fall; a revolution which will ever be remembered, and is still felt by the nations of the earth.”

                  What a beautiful paragraph, easy on the tongue and stimulating to the mind while rich with information–and inaccessible to many of today’s students.

                  I have a cousin who was a school superintendent and later professor and I asked him why the schools did not assign genuine history to students rather than the wretched, over-processed, unmemorable leavings in textbooks. He said, “Because they don’t have the skills to understand it.” No, I suppose not, and they never will have those skills until they are exposed to challenging but also interesting and rewarding material. I thought it was his job to make the students capable of understanding. They should read history meant to be read. Herodotus has been around and read for almost 2,500 years; I read all of it aloud to my daughter when she was about 11. Can you think of any public school textbook that will be prized, much less remembered and read within even 2 years much less 2,500? Not many.

                  I have seen student readers from the 19th Century and early 20th and they were better. There is too much profit, and too much of a need to please every faction (or, more importantly, not displease any faction), in today’s textbooks.

                  1. Young:

                    MacCaulay’s soaring prose (Horatius at the Gate) and Gibbon’s just utter brilliance of analysis (D & F) are two favorites but for sheer beauty of the prose, Hawthorne is hard to beat:

                    “And now I begin to understand why I was imprisoned so many years in this lonely chamber, and why I could never break through the viewless bolts and bars; for if I had sooner made my escape into the world, I should have grown hard and rough, and been covered with earthly dust, and my heart might have become callous by rude encounters with the multi-tude.. … But living in solitude till the fulness of time was come, I still kept the dew of my youth and the freshness of my heart….. I used to think that I could imagine all passions, all feelings and states of the heart and mind; but how little did I know!…Indeed, we are but shadows—we are not endowed with real life, and all that seems most real about us is but the thinnest substance of a dream—till the heart be touched. That touch creates us,—then we begin to be,—thereby we are beings of reality and inheritors of eternity.”

                    1. Mespo — Beautiful quote. Thank you. This, too, is something that is being denied modern students because of the poverty of their costly educations.

                      I will confess ignorance. What is the source of your quote? I must read it.

                    2. Mespo- Thanks for the link. Reading it more closely I am struck by the impression that he appears to be an agoraphobic rationalizing has limited contact with the wider world. Well done though.

                  2. Young,
                    That was an excellent excerpt. I will have to put this on my reading list.

                    ““Because they don’t have the skills to understand it.””

                    That is a sad, cynical view of what kids can understand. I have an old copy of Plutarch’s Lives and while some are quite disturbing and graphic (think the story of King Cyrus), the story of Alexander taming Bucephalus is beautiful and inspiring. A vivid depiction of Alexander not found in far too many textbooks. Susan Wise Bauer’s history books do a fair job of telling histories’ stories.

                    1. Prairie,

                      I had not heard of Susan Wise Bauer but I checked a little online and she seems a remarkable woman. And it sounds like her books should be used in school instead of the corporate compost that passes for texts these days.

  12. Thank you. Your blog is one of the last bastions of common sense and reason in a world that is spiraling into jargon, nonsense, and mediocrity.

    1. I think that’s the elephant in the room. Nobody wants to talk about the inherent lower intelligence in some races. Nothing can change that.

  13. What can you do if you are a Leveler in education and a favored cohort of your students has an average IQ of 85 [the average black IQ in the U.S.}?

    Turley: “education officials like Alison Collins, vice president of the San Francisco Board of Education, have declared meritocracy itself to be racist.” [Isn’t that a backhanded way of saying black students have no merit?]

    That’s it. Eliminate merit! It is racist.

    Pull every structure of learning down to a level where everyone with an IQ of 85 or lower can be an honor student. Grammar is racist and must go. Math is racist and must go. Literature is racist and must be decolonized [go]. Classical music is racist (as well as musical notation) and must go…but we will always have Rap. We will also have lots of shelf space for lovely African art and knickknacks in our great libraries. Not much need for librarians though. Could use a squad of knickknack dusting maids.

    Toward those goals Princeton has decided that Latin and Greek will no longer be part of their Classics program. I guess there were not enough 85s making it through and we must have ‘diversity’ at all costs so, in effect, Princeton will no longer have a true classics program. Given these attitudes it was probably a crappy program anyhow. As long as they are decolonizing I wish I could get some of their books, but book burning is still fashionable with this lot and I haven’t a chance of getting a few for my own library before they are thrown onto the pyre around which, semi-nude, bone-in-the-nose, goatskin-clad faculty perform traditional African dances before someone spears one of them for cultural appropriation.

    Assuming that anyone can read in the future I wonder if historians [assuming there might be one or two] will read about these times and wonder how madness spread like gangrene through our academies and government institutions? And they might wonder why we continued to support them.

      1. Every Child Left Behind

        That said, they will compensate at the universities at 10x the cost, shared responsibility, and affirmative discrimination to keep up appearances, while accusing people of exercising liberal license to indulge diversity [dogma[ (e.g. racism, [people of] White privilege, Jew privilege, Asian privilege).

  14. One lifetime ago children could and did fail to graduate from 8th grade. In my youth children could be held back a grade or two and graduate 8th grade at 15. Only a few had the skills to high school. There was a test which revealed who could profit from a secondary education. (The IQ test.) Then it came to pass that that test was ignored, everyone got into high school and almost everyone got a diploma. The possible failure was now in college. Tests were developed to see who could profit from attending college. Now those tests will be ignored. There are tests, GRE, LSAT, MSAT and others to see who would profit from a graduate school education. The next step? Everyone gets into law school. “Six munce ago I cudn’t spell atorney, now I are one.”

    1. I received my JD in 1960. Even then I could see the deteriorating standards in the school and in the Courts. Disparate impact … um, yup.

  15. Standardized tests are valuable because they are a color-blind and class-blind measure of student learning. Beyond testing, substantive changes that could improve education for kids of all backgrounds include incentivizing the establishment of two-parent households, removing red tape that discourages bright, dedicated people from being teachers, improved transparency regarding teacher and school performance, strict discipline and law enforcement for miscreant students, and school choice.

    1. Therein lies the problem. Liberals don’t like colorblind based merit, it reveals too much about the people they pander to and they have no way to reconcile that fact….

    2. The problem is that “color blind” is now racist. In the New Haven firefighters case, every effort was made to remove any scintilla of bias in written examination, including through committees and experts, and the disparities in outcome remained. And so, what did the dissenting liberal justices conclude? That written tests should not be used at all. Pause a moment and ask yourself what that means.

      1. My wife worked in a US government arsenal, which for Quality Control required a stringent test on safety procedures, measurements, literacy, math, etc. She passed the test and was hired. Then Affirmative Action stepped in. A black colonel was hired to head the department, and he noticed that NO blacks were passing the test. His solution? Eliminate the test as a requirement! In no time, blacks flooded the QC Department. Within a year the “quality” went UP (on paper; more product was passed), but reliability in Field Testing went DOWN and accidents went UP. Imagine that!

        EVERYWHERE–in fire departments, police departments, schools, corporations, etc.–EVERYWHERE that merit has been discarded in order to get more blacks, quality has dropped.

    3. Hudson,
      “removing red tape that discourages bright, dedicated people from being teachers”

      What red tape? I see it as more of a pay and societal attitude issue (e.g., if you can’t do, you teach).

      “improved transparency regarding teacher and school performance”

      This is tricky, though I agree somewhat. Administrators will mess with the content, diminishing the breadth of knowledge students could and should acquire, focusing on teaching toward the tests to make their scores still look good. States, countries and their capitals not on the test? No need to learn that. World history not on the test? No need to teach that either.

      I remain torn on school choice. I have concerns about the erosion of self-governance and taxation without representation. I am inclined to support school choice only in cities where there is low self-governance already.

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