Monday, December 03, 2012

Failure Explained

Are you ready Sean? The reason for poor academic achievement at Racine Unified is cultural. The cultural problem I am about to describe affects us all to some degree, but is disproportionately more harmful to minorities than whites and to boys than to girls. As such, the people most harmed by the cultural problem are minority boys.

Let us start with birth. We are seeing increasing numbers of out of wedlock births with a far greater occurrence among minorities, particularly blacks. A child born into a single parent family is at a big disadvantage as anyone who has raised children understands that it is a difficult enough undertaking with two parents.

The reasons for the increase in out of wedlock births are many. Immaturity and impulsivity are characteristics of youth naturally that must be drummed out of them by culture. Ideally they would be replaced by maturity, caution, reason, and delayed gratification among other values. Incidentally, these are the things that also lead to academic achievement, success and in many cases wealth.

A child born out of wedlock is therefore more likely to have only one active parent and indeed one demonstrably displaying the characteristics of immaturity and impulsivity rather than the healthier values listed above. A rough start indeed for the future RU scholar.

Such a child will have several years stewing in a culture more likely to embrace prison fashion, misogynistic pop culture, a victim identity and an entitlement mentality etc.. than a more healthy culture that celebrates or values commitment, hard work, deferred gratification, savings and so on.

Now by no means do I think these are problems exclusive to minority communities, only that they are far more pronounced there.

Now with that cultural baggage, they show up at Unified's doorstep at age four or so. And this creates a problem for Racine Unified insofar as it is universally agreed upon that all cultures are equally terrific and healthy and deserving of celebration, except of course conservative America which must be denounced as racist, sexist, homophobic, etc... at every opportunity. Thus RU can not and must not challenge the culture of their students.

The result is a school system that does not challenge the negative culture that harms the student and his future. Instead, they become enablers like Sean, making excuses for the poor performance, blaming society and or corporations that refuse to sell free range goat meat in the inner city.

So a child born into a culture as I have described has little chance, on his own, with few role models in or out of school, to reject said culture in favor of a more healthy one.

One more thing. Whites will fare far better at RU in part because the white liberals at RU hold different standards and expectations for white students than they do for minorities. Also, they will be peddling the myth to minorities, and not whites, that society will not give them a fair shake, thus lessening the incentives for minorities to work hard as compared to whites.


Sean Cranley said...

Well you make some good points Denis, those are definitely problems and they do have feedback loop that exascerbates those problems. But you've undermined your case against RUSD, because it is absurd to blame a local school district for a "cultural problem", out of wedlock births, that is not only national, but international in breadth.

Furthermore, while you have correctly identified the condition of the students in RUSD as the problem, you are focusing on a symptom that rises from other causes. And it is because of that, that your explanation fails to address the obvious question that immediately arises from reading the first paragraph of your post, that being; why is this problem "disproportionately more harmful to minorities than whites"?

Well it turns out that in the US, out of wedlock births are far more likely among those with lower education levels, especially those without HS diplomas, you know, poor people.

Here's another interesting fact. There are countries that have even higher out of wedlock births than we do without accompanying educational problems. For example, in Sweden 55% of all births are out of wedlock, but they don't have the disparity of educational outcomes that we do. Guess what else they don't have. They don't have great income disparity or great concentrations of poverty.

GearHead said...

Sean contradicts himself by saying out of wedlock births are born by poor blacks in the US, but also by ostensibly savvy rich Sweeds. Please! Is that somehow better?

The school district has everything to do with the cultural problem, because not addressing it in a responsible fashion only reinforces it. But they can pat themselves on the back because they won't be called racist, for never calling out the black culture for its own dismal failure to take advantage of a free education.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Denis Navratil said...

I just deleted a long response that had nothing whatsoever to do with the topic. Wouldn't want anyone else to waste their time reading it.

Denis Navratil said...

Sean, I do not blame Ravine Unified so much for the cultural problem as I blame them for their approach in dealing with it. They are classic enablers.

The cultural problem is disproportionately harmful to minorities because the culture is stronger there. I know you like to think that poverty is the cause, but it is itself a symptom. Some things actually cause poverty Sean, such as a failure to learn marketable skills or a disinterest in earning or saving, or a mindset that the government should take care of you. But in your world, these mistakes/attitudes are merely symptoms.

Otherwise I think GH nailed it.

Denis Navratil said...

Sean writes:

"Well it turns out that in the US, out of wedlock births are far more likely among those with lower education levels, especially those without HS diplomas, you know, poor people."

Had I only known in my younger, poorer days that poverty was helpful with the ladies.....

Sean, I think you are on to something. What greater motivator than sex to stay poor. Why on earth would young black men spend hours hitting the books, going to college, earning a living wage etc.... when only celibacy awaits them.

I am extrapolating a bit on your argument. That is, I am assuming that sex is the cause of pregnancies and thereafter births. Or is it merely correlation? Or do children cause sex? Do liberals have a stance on that one Sean?

Sean Cranley said...

Gearhead, I didn't contradict myself at all. I noted that out of wedlock births is a world wide phenomenon and that the educational consequences are not the same everywhere else as they are in the U.S. You ask how is it better in (not necessarily rich) Sweden? I addressed that already, go back and read again.

Denis, I think perhaps we've gotten to a chicken and egg point. Do poor choices lead to poverty? Yes. Does poverty lead to poor choices? Yes.

You and Gearhead seem to be experts on what goes on in the Unified School classroom. I don't know when the last time you were in one, but it's been over 30 years for me and I hesitate to speak on something I've no real current knowledge about. I do know that that it would do little good to pass judgement on the circumstances of children who've been greatly disadvantaged through no fault of their own when your job is to try and get them educated.

You should be aware that in the U.S. 77% of out of wedlock births are to women who are 20 and older, in other words beyond school. I'm sure there are programs at RUSD to combat teen pregnancy, but again you will blame your local schools for not being able to change a condition that is global.

Nothing will ever change your minds, public schools are bad and you hate having to pay for them. What you would replace them with that would be more effective is an open question. Because anything that you put in place will have to operate in the environment of the surrounding culture which is way bigger and more pervasive than any school.

So how do you propose to effect change in our culture, what would you change it to and how will you get people who are struggling to cope with concentrated poverty and no family supporting jobs to stop and listen to you?

Denis Navratil said...

Sean writes:

"Denis, I think perhaps we've gotten to a chicken and egg point. Do poor choices lead to poverty? Yes. Does poverty lead to poor choices? Yes."

No WE haven't. YOU have. I don't think poverty leads to poor choices any more than I think children lead to sex. What's more, our seemingly minor difference leads to enormous consequences for the children in question.

You have a fatalistic view. Poor make bad decisions, bad decisions lead to more poor. There is no way out! No wait, there is. Sean etc... will swoop in, as present day Robin Hoods, and make everything all better. And the formerly poor will somehow miraculously begin to make wise decisions because of Sean's benevolence and society will function beautifully and harmoniously thereafter.

I, on the other hand, take an entirely different approach. For starters, I reject yours. I see no evidence to suggest that poverty itself leads to poor decisions or its corollary that wealth leads to good decisions. We all have heard the anecdotal stories of poor people winning the lottery and then somehow losing all their wealth in just a few years. How to explain that I wonder.

The not so easy answer to the problem, in a nutshell, is to get kids immersed in progressivism to reject it in favor of self reliance, hard work, deferred gratification, study, character development and so on. Not an easy task I realize.

Sean Cranley said...

Seriously Denis, the lottery!? sheesh.

Well once again we see what happens when I try to find some kind of accord or common ground here, a slap, rejection. At frei Racine ve must maintain schtrict ideological purity! Agreement und compromise ist veakness!

Denis, are you suggesting that minorities which you identified as disproportionately harmed, such as blacks, hispanics, native Americans, etc. all have a common culture? Because they all tend to have poorer educational outcomes than whites? Is there some element of culture that they hold in common which you can identify that accounts for this shared outcome?

What about the white people in Appalachia, they also tend to have poor educational outcomes. Do they share a culture with indians and urban blacks and hispanics? I know! It must be all that gansta bluegrass music! Come All You Fair and Tender Hos.

Now what is it that all these groups tend to share? It's concentrated poverty of course and it is pattently absurd for you argue that poverty has no impact on the decisions and educational outcomes of these groups. It is the ONE common thread that binds them all together and explains the results.

I heard a stunning statistic recently; black women in America have an average net worth of $1, hispanic women $3, white women over $40,000. Are you seriously going to tell me that the white woman is not in a better position to help her children in countless ways that will give them advantages in every avenue of life including education? Chances are she herself is well educated and THAT is probably as big an advantage as child will ever get! One of the reasons the Arab world is so backward is that in many cases they've refused to educate their girls and that ultimately holds their children back.

Concentrated poverty does indeed leave people less equipped to make good decisions. They and the people around them have diminshed opportunities for educational attainment, particularly expensive higher education. They have diminished opportunities in terms of the number, quality and breadth of jobs available to them and the incredibly valuable experience that that can provide, including developing a work ethic. And of course they have less potential exposure to successful, highly educated people who make good decisions, who might act not only as role models, but also as mentors and help in making good decisions. You cited that factor yourself Denis.

Poverty leads to deprivation and deprivation leads to taking the opportunity for gratification when it presents itself. That is human nature and you can't escape that. Furthermore, poor people are under a lot of stress and stress is proven scientifically to lead to poor decision-making.

People who are born into poverty in America are even less likely today (and less than other industrial nations) to be successful at upward mobility than they were in the past and it's ALWAYS been called "beating the odds". It is even more so now and education has always been a big part of that story when it happens. It also helps to know the right people, which is also a problem here, but I digress.

Your denial that concentrated poverty is at the core of concentrated student failure flies in the face of reason and that's obvious to anyone willing look around and see where and who it's hapenning to.

The fact that you've identified culture as part of the problem is a step in the right direction, but culture doesn't happen in a vacuum, it's tied intimately with geography, economic class, ethnicity, etc.

At least there is one conclusion that's clear from this discussion. If culture is to blame then it's foolhardiness in the highest degree to blame the schools for the environment they must operate in with vague accusations of "enablement". That's like blaming a school of fish in the sea for being salty.

The only real difference between RUSD and BASD that explains the gap in outcomes is the students and the conditions they experience in their communities.

Denis Navratil said...

Sean, imagine a child, born to a 50cent net worth mother and a sperm donor dad. Very few good role models in the neighborhood. Limited job opportunities nearby for adults. Etc.. etc... etc...

But said child lives in a home, though he bounces around among family or friends from time to time. He even has spent some time in a homeless shelter here and there over the years. He is therefor technically homeless.

Despite virtually every disadvantage, he nonetheless has a choice. He can go the route expected of him by his peers, by his school, by his community and by Sean. Or he can reject their negativity and hit the books. Only he doesn't realize that he has a choice because nobody told him. Rather, they all told him that he is trapped in the hood by a racist white society that wants to hold him back.

It is beyond unlikely that more handful of kids will go the studying hard route. It is not poverty that is holding them back as I have demonstrated repeatedly. It is culture. Your culture Sean. The culture of "soft bigotry of low expectations."

Denis Navratil said...

Sean we seem to agree to some extent on the challenges facing minority youth. It seems cruel to saddle them further with a message of hopelessness.

GearHead said...

Sean bloviates for over 10 paragraphs on why poverty is the problem, and how we are dumb for not seeing the utter logic of his proposition. But he fails from his own lacking knowledge of history.

Back in the old days, before the blacks were "saved" by the "war on poverty" they were poor, put upon, and discriminated against. They necessarily had strong family ties to get through life. Including going to school at segregated schools. While their learning conditions were often atrocious, they still managed to learn. Now "poor" families are rich beyond their ancestors dreams.

Has the war on poverty solved anything? I'd argue it made things worse, given the culture change making black male adults unneeded within the family structure. Sean loses again with his poverty argument. It's the culture, stupid!

Sean Cranley said...

Oh so now it's MY culture and I'm to blame.

You guys are just plain full of vile BS. I and every other liberal/progresssive I know believe personal responsibility and hard work. I don't have low expectations or hopelessness for poor people or minorities and I don't believe for one second that most teachers do either, that's YOUR preferred bias.

You know what's hopeless? Blaming the schools when the real problem is poverty or culture whatever you want to pin it on that is beyond the reach of the schools. Either way these are big problems to be sure, but there is ZERO hope in solving them if instead you want to blame soomething else to suit you political agenda.

And don't give me this crap about black children being told they can't succeed because of racist whites. What do you know about it?

And the notion that the kids themselves are generally going to see the future potential and hit the books without being pushed by a parent is ludicrous. They're kids, by definition they don't make good decisions, that's why they're MINORS.

I know my history Gearhead and it wasn't the war on poverty that changed the shape of American families of all colors AND by the way undermined what was once a more vibrant black business community.

Civil rights ment that blacks could shop where ever they wanted and based on economies of scale alone the black businesses were bound to have more difficulty competing with larger white businesses. So over-all a good thing with some negative unintended consequences and I certainly don't think most Americans want to back to the pre-1960's era of openly institutionalized segregation and discrimination, the kind we have now is bad enough.

Women's rights are what have made men less of a requirement in a family. Women can now work outside the home. In fact they can get educated, get good paying jobs and be head of households. If they do get pregnant, and it's human nature people WILL have sex, they don't have to accept a shotgun wedding, which was the norm back in the good ol' days. Most Americans certainly aren't going back to the days where women a kept barefoot pregnant and in the kitchen.

On the other foot, men, knowing that women now have these options as well as the option of avoiding a pregnancy in the first place, are less inclined to feel responsible for the birth of a child and it's support.

Human beings have adapted to a lot of different conditions over time and we are no doubt still adapting to these advances in society and technology. The nuclear family with a mother, father and their children living together in one home by themselves is a uniquely American phenomenon of the last 100 years or so. Things change. Get used to it. The 1950's are over.

GearHead said...

So why is it that small gas stations, convieniance stores, dry cleaners and whatnot within the central city are owned by folks of middle eastern origin, are profitable, and become members of the community they serve? Aren't they facing the same economy of scale uphill climb their white counterparts continue to enjoy? Could it be they counter it by taking advantage of their education, keep their family together and work like hell to "beat the odds?"

In case you haven't noticed, you just dug yourself a little deeper. Memo to Sean: When the dirt starts falling in on you, stop digging and give up your silly poverty argument!

Sean Cranley said...

Study released TODAY:

A new study conducted by the Forward Institute, a non-profit, non-partisan public policy research and education institute, reveals important findings for the future of educational opportunity in Wisconsin. Our study shows that poverty is closely linked to school Report Card scores, and Wisconsin’s public schools outperform non-traditional charter schools even when adjusting for the effects of poverty.

Currently more than 4 in 10 school age children in Wisconsin are defined as poor or “economically disadvantaged,” up from about 2 in 10 a decade ago. A student from a family qualifying for “free or reduced price lunch” is considered economically disadvantaged for the purposes of DPI scores – over 350,000 children in Wisconsin schools.

Based on data from the new Department of Public Instruction (DPI) Report Cards, our study showed a clear link between low Report Card scores and economically disadvantaged students who already have significant barriers to educational prosperity. Those schools with higher numbers of economically disadvantaged students had significantly lower scores on the Report Cards.

The study results show that nearly half of the Report Card score variation from school to school can be explained by the variation in poverty levels from school to school.

Since higher enrollments of economically disadvantaged students are a significant factor in the scores on the DPI Report Card, current proposals to tie school funding and teachers’ salaries to Report Card scores would unfairly punish schools in high poverty districts. As the study clearly shows, a very significant factor affecting Report Card scores is poverty, something which is outside the control of teachers and schools.

The data also revealed that contrary to the assumptions that non-traditional charter schools would be more effective through creating competitive choice, Wisconsin’s public schools significantly outperformed charter schools overall. This finding was especially evident in those schools with high poverty enrollment.

In the last four years, public school budgets have been cut by over $1 billion, while in 2012 alone, Wisconsin taxpayers provided $143.6 million to charter schools, the highest amount in state history. These fund increases did not translate into charter school performance over the three years of Report Card data collected.

The Report Card data indicates public schools continue to better educate Wisconsin children than the non-traditional charter schools. Charter schools are underperforming at the core level of their mission – student excellence and achievement, without the taxpayer accountability of public schools.

These findings are important, especially as policy makers look for ways to provide the best educational opportunities for Wisconsin’s children while being mindful of the economic burdens on struggling families.

Based on the high rate of Wisconsin school children living in poverty and the clear effects of poverty on education, this study recommends policymakers enhance educational opportunities for our children, and save taxpayer money by redirecting educational funds to the schools most effective at meeting the current needs of Wisconsin children, Wisconsin’s public schools.

Denis Navratil said...

Sean writes:

You guys are just plain full of vile BS. I and every other liberal/progresssive I know believe personal responsibility and hard work. I don't have low expectations or hopelessness for poor people or minorities and I don't believe for one second that most teachers do either, that's YOUR preferred bias.

Well if poverty causes bad decisions and bad decisions cause poverty, then there is no escaping poverty. The poor, in your own words more or less, will remain poor and stupid indefinitely. Expectations can't get much lower Sean. So that is YOUR preferred bias.

Sean adds:

And don't give me this crap about black children being told they can't succeed because of racist whites. What do you know about it?

What do I know about it? Just what I read in the MIlwaukee Journal by a black guy named Causey who wrote just yesterday that black boys are endangered. By what you ask? White people with guns of course.

GearHead said...

Sean accuses this board of slinging BS, only to serve up a stinking pile of his own. He cuts and pastes this jewel: "A new study conducted by the Forward Institute, a non-profit, non-partisan public policy research and education institute, reveals important findings for the future of educational opportunity in Wisconsin..."

A cursory look at the quoted website tells us this: "Forward Institute is a non-partisan, non-profit ***progressive*** think tank for public policy issues in Wisconsin. For the slow learners of Burlington Progressives repute, I've highlighted a hidden word in that description, ala where's Waldo. Where's Sean?

Reading this claptrap is guaranteed to make you dumber. Exhibit A would be the board of directors, over half of which signed the recall petition for Gov. Walker. This includes the Chairman. Far from being non-partisan, ol' Scott Wittkopf, Julie, Sara et. al. represent the worst of the union thug moocher class. Their report is biased nonsense Sean continues to sink in.

Sean Cranley said...

Gearhead lots of organizations that have a particular political outlook use the word "non-partisan" to appropriately describe themselves as not affiliated with a particular political party, see conservative examples below. While viewing their output in light of their known leanings is wise. To dismis their output out of hand with no examination of the quality of their analysis is closed mindedness.

The Cato Institute is a public policy research organization — a think tank — dedicated to the principles of individual liberty, limited government, free markets and peace. Its scholars and analysts conduct independent, nonpartisan research on a wide range of policy issues.

The Wisconsin Policy Research Institute Inc., established in 1987, is a nonpartisan, not-for-profit Institute working to engage and energize Wisconsinites and others in discussions and timely action on key public policy issues critical to the State’s future, its growth and prosperity.

GearHead said...

To compare this operation to Cato or WPRI is silly, as you are attempting to confer legitimacy. These organizations, as well as many we would consider "progressive" have been around for decades, and their work has been well vetted. Your latest offering was just thrown together as of 9/7/12 based on the adoption of their bylaws.

If Denis and I created a similar org with a high-minded name, and started faxing press releases tomorrow, would you be so willing to give us the benefit of the doubt? I doubt it. Most of us see Forward for the agenda it has: an extremely liberal Haack orgainization, based on the name of another of its board members.

Sean Cranley said...

Gosh, call me a radical, but I would do exactly what I do now, evaluate your information, arguments and resultant positions and address them based on their merit.

I suppose since the Maciver Institute has only been around since 2009, you regard them as toddling upstarts and discount their information as well.

What is your cut off date for credibility? The John Birch Society and the LaRouchites have been around for years, I guess that makes them rock solidly grounded in credible reality.

GearHead said...

It's not about a cut-off date. Heck, even you have been around longer, but that doesn't make you any more credible. As such, their credibility is obviously suspect. But you already know that. Nice try.

Anonymous said...

This is what Abortion is for.

Sean Cranley said...

I'm sorry Gearhead, but your empty and defensive attack on the source without any substance regarding the merit of their study exposes your unwillingness to even consider information contrary to your pre-set belief buttons.

This is why you have no credibility. But I suppose you have to close your mind to "conserve" what's in there.

Nemo said...

sean, during the many times we have debated Mann-Made Global Warming "your empty and defensive attack on the source without any substance regarding the merit of their study exposes your unwillingness to even consider information contrary to your pre-set belief buttons". Now GearHead correctly questions your "non-partisan" goofy source and you get all indignant which makes me wonder: Do you achieve such amazing levels of hypocrisy naturally or are you using some sort of hypocrisy-steroid? Good thing that Denis does not require drug tests before you one is allowed to post, eah? Heh.

And speaking of "allowed to post" are you still banning me at the BURP? I guess you're just exercising your right to an empty and defensive attack on the source without any substance regarding the merit of their ideas. Doesn't this expose your unwillingness to even consider information contrary to your pre-set belief buttons. Heh.

Sean Cranley said...

Nemo, I checked out enough of your whacky conspiracy sites to see the "quality" of your sources AND I rebutted them with real information. By the way, your climate of denial is even more stunning in light of the experience of the last two years, you're are now squarely in the fringe 10% and declining fast.

And no, if you'd bothered to check you'd know I let your last comment on the BAP blog stand. you're a shining example of the Cult of Con and banning your aNemonous comentary was an error on my part. Comment away.

GearHead said...

Why is it that after 50 years of anti-poverty programs, and literally trillions of dollars spent that we still have poor people? Because poverty programs don't lift people out of poverty, any more than they lift anyone into success. They offer a level of subsistence at best, and kill incentive to move up. Maybe that is what Sean means by poverty causing bad students(?)

But then, poverty has always been with us, and students have only recently become failures. Sounds like it's a culture thing. There must be a benefit to staying down, staying stupid, and voting for more freebies. In other words, becoming an Obama voter.

Nemo said...

I will not pull this comment thread into "sean Smack Down 8" (or 9 or 10, I didn't keep track) regarding Mann-Made Global Warming. GearHead and Denis are giving sean a fine beating and my pulling the thread off topic could result in less pummeling and less entertainment. Well, my entertainment anyway. If Denis wants to open another post on Mann-Made warming, I'll be there with fighting trousers on.

Curious though, when you wrote " fringe 10% and declining fast." where did you get that statistic? Or is that just another made up number to support your cause (much like your "real information", heh).

Finally sean, thanks for seeing the light and un-banishing me, Nemo, at the BURP.

Anonymous said...

This is why we need more abortions.

Do you really want to fund more low lives getting a unused education at RUSD?

All that money wasted on those deadbeats could be put towards abortions.

Sean Cranley said...

More evidence on poverty and education: EXCERPT: The educational disadvantage for the poor is apparent in international exams such as the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). In the most recent PISA exam, the United States placed average to below average when compared to other developed countries in reading, science, and math. These are the statistics certain politicians like to quote when they speak of “reforming” our education system. However, closer inspection of the numbers reveals that “the average American PISA reading score for higher-income schools exceeded that of all other developed countries while the average score for lower-income American schools was far lower. In fact, the PISA scores by America students were more influenced by their parents’ economic backgrounds than any other OECD country.” (“America’s Poverty-Education Link,” Howard S. Friedman) In other words, our educational system is not in dire need of reforming, but it is definitely not working for the children whose families are in poverty.
A side effect of the way Report Card scores are calculated penalizes schools with more economically disadvantaged students. For example, scores are lowered 5 full points because of lower attendance rates and another 5 points if dropout rates are more than 6 percent. Each teacher’s Personal Performance Review Score is now partially tied to their school’s Report Card score. Many districts are also moving to tie teacher pay to their personal scores in the belief this will make teachers more accountable. As a consequence, experienced high-quality teachers are likely to gravitate towards the schools and districts which have the best facilities and the lowest poverty — where their score and pay is not penalized. Alongside several years of budget cuts to education, these ingredients are not likely to encourage the best and brightest to enter or stay with educating our youth. Policies that indirectly favor wealthy districts are not a recipe for success for our nation or our children.