More on Mumford

(Totally accidental pun, I promise. The man’s a disgusting sleaze, but he’s not stupid.)

So for some reason, the Clarence Mumford story broke this week. Odd, that.

A sample, just from my twitter feed:

Robert Pondiscio: “Cheating on teacher certification tests? Seriously?? Not exactly the highest bar to clear.”

Eduwonk: “The real scandal is the low-level of the Praxis test and why it continues to be used at all. The Praxis II is different, but the basic Praxis is much too low a bar given what we expect of teachers.”

Sarah Almy, Director of teacher quality at Education Trust: ““These are pretty basic tests….The fact that there were folks who felt like they needed to bring somebody else in in order to meet a very basic level of content knowledge is disturbing, in particular for the kids those teachers are going to wind up teaching.”

Walter Russell Mead: “Massive cheating scandal on teacher certification tests. Worse: tests are pathetically easy, only idiots could flunk.”

Here are the names of the people thus far indicted:

Notice all these people are black. Which is what I predicted back in July, when this story first broke. Some of the other names are Jadice Moore, Felippia Kellogg (somehow, this Fox news story couldn’t find a picture of her), Dante Dowers, Jacklyn McKinnie. (A primary tester was John Bowen; I haven’t been able to find a picture of him, oddly, Fox News couldn’t find a picture of him, either.) If I do some bad ol’ stereotyping based solely on those names, I’d advise gamblers to bet on them being black, too.

I am pleased to be wrong about one thing—I thought it likely the testers who could easily pass the test would be white, but it appears that most of them are black, as well. Notice also that the Fox News story and many others make it clear that many of the people paying for the tests were already teachers, and that some of the tests were Praxis II. I’d written about that, too.

If you’re wondering why I am pretty sure that most, if not all, of the teachers paying for testers are black, here are some helpful graphics:

And yet, no one save little old me is even mentioning the race of the people involved, as if it’s this totally random factor, like you could find white teachers desperately paying thousands of dollars to pass these tests.

Robert Pondiscio, WRM, and Andy Rotherham and the many other people sneering about the people who need to pay someone else to pass the test, be very specific: Only 40% of African Americans can pass the Praxis I the first time. The other 60%? That’s who you are calling idiots.

Let’s be clear what I am not saying. I am not excusing the fraud. I am not hinting that African Americans are incapable of passing the tests (this fraud ring shows clearly that they are not).

And since I’m prone to prolixity, I will bullet my points.

I am saying that reformers are:

  • hammering constantly on the need for “higher standards”,
  • sneering at the low standards on teacher credential tests,
  • scoffing at grossly distorted stats suggesting that all teachers, regardless of content area, have low SAT scores,
  • declaring that the only way to “restore credibility and professionalism to teaching” is to pull teachers from the top third of college graduates, ignoring the fact that high school content teachers are already drawn from the top half, as well as the fact that there’s no real need for elementary school teachers to be rocket scientists

And while they rant on endlessly on these talking points, they are ignoring the following unpleasantness:

  • the low cut score on the basic content knowledge tests are put in place specifically to ensure that some small number of African American and Hispanic teachers will pass. The white averages are a full standard deviation higher; a huge boost to the cut scores in most credentialing tests wouldn’t bother the bulk of all teachers (white females, remember) in the slightest.
  • research has turned up very close to empty in proving that teacher content knowledge has any relationship to student achievement. (Cite to research in my earlier article).
  • research consistently shows that teacher race has a distressing relationship to student achievement–specifically, more than one study shows a positive outcome when black teachers teach black students. (again, cite in earlier article)
  • Raising the cut scores will decimate the black and Hispanic teaching population.
  • Many states dramatically increased the difficulty in elementary school credentialing tests after NCLB, yet research has not shown these new teachers to be far superior to the teachers who just passed the much easier (or non-existent) earlier tests. There hasn’t been research done specifically on this point. Hint. Oh, and by the way–those cut score boosts have already dramatically reduced the URM teaching population.

So reformers, when you call for higher content standards, when you say that teachers who can’t pass the test are idiots who should never be allowed in a classroom, you are talking about black and Hispanic teachers. When you demand that we need far more rigorous demonstrated content knowledge for teachers, you are merely making calls for changes that will decimate the already reduced URM teacher population.

And you are doing this with next to no evidence that your demanded changes will impact student achievement, merely on your own prejudice that smarter teachers would make better teachers.

Maybe you’re right. Maybe there’s a perfect research paper out there waiting to be written that will winkle out the lurking variables to prove that yes, we need smarter teachers and yes, it’s okay to annihilate the black and Hispanic teaching population in a good cause. Fine. Go find it.

Or maybe you just want to be snobby elites who don’t personally know anyone who scored below 600 on any section of the SAT, and think your own personal prejudices should substitute for education policy.

Whatever. Just learn and accept what you’re doing. You are calling for changes that will further homogenize an already white career category, closing off a major career option to over half of all blacks and Hispanics, for what is thus far no better reason than you think teachers should be smarter.

Got it? Own it. Or shut the hell up about it.

About educationrealist

15 responses to “More on Mumford

  • snapperhead soup

    If blacks routinely do stuff like this in education, imagine what they get away with in elections. I’m sure there’s massive voter fraud. I mean there has to be, and no one does anything about it because they are soooo afraid of being called ‘racist’.

  • Allan Folz

    This is the gross anatomy of affirmative action. Polite people can’t conceive the magnitude of the disparity on demographic terms. They think of it as a nudge to help otherwise equally qualified minorities. The reality on the ground is that ‘the gap’ is a chasm, and the assistance non-asian minorities receive is not a nudge but a pickup and carry across the goal line.

    As the number of jobs available to people in the -1 to +1 sigma of the bell curve drops due to automation and technological improvement, the fighting over the spoils is going to get uglier and uglier. More and more people will compete for fewer and fewer slots. We appear to have entered a zero-sum economy, and that’s never a fun. Worse, AA makes it negative-sum for the fat part of the white bell curve.

    Will the liberals that started us down this garden path be able to keep a lid on it? Obviously they think so. Look what depravity Eastern Europeans endured for nearly two full generations. So who knows. There’s a lot of ruin in a nation.

  • Steve Sailer

    Mumford? Organizing a test scam in Memphis? Recording hit records in London? Marrying Carey Mulligan? What can’t Mumford do?

  • Bill


    And you are doing this with next to no evidence that your demanded changes will impact student achievement, merely on your own prejudice that smarter teachers would make better teachers.


    research has turned up very close to empty in proving that teacher content knowledge has any relationship to student achievement.

    “Teacher content knowledge” isn’t “teacher smartness.” Content knowledge is “can you regurgitate?” Smartness is “what’s your IQ?” Obviously, they are correlated (because smart people are better at intellectual tasks like regurgitation), but they are not the same thing.

    If you read the Clotfelter et al NBER paper you link in the other article, it does not sound like they are describing a very g-loaded test. Describing the test: “material on curriculum, instruction and assessment. Starting in the mid-1990s, teachers were required to take both
    that basic elementary test and a test that focused on content.”

    If you want to read that paper as being about the question, “Does teacher smartness affect student achievement,” then you need to notice that their measure of smartness is (apparently) poor, i.e. not g-loaded. Badly measured independent variables causes something called “attenuation bias.” So their estimates are almost certainly underestimates of the effect of teacher smartness on achievement.

  • Florida resident

    Dear EducationRealist !
    Dear participants of the discussion !
    Ron Unz {see

    wrote an article (long one, 38 pages)

    “The Myth of American Meritocracy.
    How corrupt are Ivy League admissions?”

    Here is the link:

    I read the article in full;
    spent about 3 hours to do it.
    I think it is an important article.

    Your truly, Florida resident.

  • The fourth doorman of the apocalypse

    When you say that blacks do better under black teachers, are you saying that they close the achievement gap?

    I think that this article tells us that a one-SD change in IQ will take about 700 years to effect.

  • 2012 in review « educationrealist

    [...] More on Mumford—finally, the media noticed the Clarence Mumford story, and I slam down hard on the education pundits who scoff at the “stupid” people who can’t pass the Praxis without cheating. [...]

  • Plague of the Middlebrow Pundits, Revisited: Walter Russell Mead | educationrealist

    [...] he thinks the Memphis cheating scandal proves that teachers are stupid, when in fact…well, more on that here. And he opines that teaching isn’t a “lifer” job, deciding that older teachers [...]

  • What Can We Blame Teacher Unions For? | educationrealist

    […] lose your black and Hispanic teachers, something I’ve documented at length here, here, and here, and that Stephen Sawchuk has been covering vis a vis the CAEP push to raise […]

  • Asian Immigrants and What No One Mentions Aloud | educationrealist

    […] for Asians in this country, is impersonation, the method used by the Great Neck SAT scandal and the Clarence Mumford case. Cheaters need lots of money, an imposter who can guarantee results, and an anonymous setting. […]

  • Teacher Quality Report: Lacking a Certain Quality | educationrealist

    […] HARDER. I shouted this back in March (It’s the test, Zitbrains!) and at least twice on the Clarence Mumford case, and I don’t know how to holler it any […]

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