Well, no. (Short Takes and Snarks)

The items below would take me a good eight months to write about in full (I made that number up), and most of them would drop off the table for the dog to snatch up (I don’t have a dog). How can someone who writes as slowly as I do still write so much?

So briefly (yes, laugh), while working on memory and math and wondering if Corona del Mar has successfully buried its cheating incident, I read many sentences that made me go “Well, no.”

  1. “Even if that was necessary to success — and it’s not — surely she’ll have plenty of time later to agonize about putting a foot out of place.”–Megan McArdle, chastising America for forcing a tenth grade student to think she needs straight As.

    Well, no. For kids with no legacy, no sports, no ethnic desirability (that is, lacking URM status), and no real money, a GPA less than 4.0 puts them out of contention for a top 30 school, certainly, and probably a top 40 school as well. Now, I agree that success can be achieved from almost any starting point, but for any smart kid with strong ambition, a top-30 school should be a reasonable goal. But many kids are out of the game by freshman year, despite excellent brains, challenging transcripts, and sterling test scores, simply because they don’t obsess about grades the way that sophomore does. The problem isn’t the fear of failure, but the corrupt admissions process that has put GPA ahead of everything else. I’m a big fan of Megan McArdle, but when she shows empathy by offering up her devastation at having to settle for 7th-ranked Penn, she’s out of touch with reality—unless her column is meant as no more than a self-help guide for wealthy parents.

  2. “Google attracts so much talent it can afford to look beyond traditional metrics, like G.P.A.”–Thomas Friedman, on his key insight after a free trip to the Googleplex.

    Well, no. First, as far as I’m concerned, Google just flat-out lied to Friedman. Specifically, according to Bock himself, Google does require GPA and transcripts for recent college grads. In previous years, Google demanded them from all applicants, no matter how much work experience. Less specifically, Google implies that you should just be a good, creative, humble person and they’ll take a serious look at your resume with its BS in Cognitive Science from Chico State. Please don’t believe that. Quite the contrary: you could be a really good, smart, creative person with a recent degree from Chico State and Google will laugh at your hubris in thinking you could work with God’s Chosen Few. Daniel Willingham raises his eyebrows at Google’s “purported” (ooooh, delicate, that) practices and says “Everything Bock says is probably not true, and if it were true, it would not work well in organizations other than Google.” Indeed.

  3. “For context, KCPS is a system where 70 percent of students are below proficient and the average ACT score is a tick above 16.“–Ethan Gray, CEO of CEE, posting at Eduwonk.

    Well, no. That’s not context. You can’t have test score context without race.

    The Kansas City Public School district is 59% black, 26% Hispanic. The bulk of these students are also poor. The average black ACT score is 16.9, average Hispanic score is 18.8

    Considering that most blacks and most Hispanics aren’t poor, the simple truth is that Kansas City schools are probably neither better nor worse than any other urban, high poverty, black and Hispanic school district.

    But boy, it sounds sooooooo dramatic. Like, you know, the teachers are doing a bad job and if they’d just let the reformers come in, they’d have those high poverty kids at a 20 ACT score in no time.

  4. “While middle school and high school may have brought a few more male teachers into the mix, the truth is, the teaching profession was and really still is, dominated by women.”Amy Mayhew of the Tri-County Times.

    Well, no. As the article itself observes, ” male educators make up 2.3 percent of the overall pre-K and kindergarten teachers, while male elementary and middle school teachers constitute 18.3 percent of the teaching population. It evens out a little more at the high school level with men representing about 42 percent of the teachers overall.”

    Perspective: Law enforcement is roughly 20% female, federal and state combined, but the specifics vary both by agency and
    city. Meanwhile, 4% of firefighters are female, or at least were in 2008.

    So preschool and kindergarten teachers are predominantly female, just as firefighters are predominantly male. Elementary and middle school teachers are as male as cops are female, more so in many cases. And what, exactly, is the problem with the gender balance in high school? You all have got to stop treating it as one occupation.

    If you need to point and sputter at a female profession, try nursing.

  5. “As for the school board, what it should do is feel ashamed for once again putting students, families and educational achievement at the bottom of its priority list.”LA Times Editorial, on LAUSD’s refusal to renew two Aspire charters.

    Well, no. LAUSD rejected the charters because they refused to join the district’s special ed services group, or SELPA, opting instead to pay El Dorado County a small fee to basically funnel their state funds right back to them, with a much smaller haircut than LA takes. Which sounds reasonable, except California takes a $2 billion loss every year providing IDEA-mandated services that the feds don’t pay for (hi, unfunded mandate!), and much of that loss is passed on to local districts. Both San Diego and Los Angeles lose millions each year paying for mandated special education services, and they spread that cost among all the kids. But California gave charters in region the ability to pull out their kids, thus increasing the cost to all the other kids in the district who don’t go to charters. El Dorado, presumably, doesn’t take a bath on special education, so is able to do nothing except give charter funds a hair cut and send them right back. So not only do LA charters have fewer special education students, but they also aren’t required to pay for all the special ed students in the region, like all the other district schools are. (I suspect the charter schools that stay with the district do so because it’s more cost effective, and no, I don’t know why.) Special education is expensive and frustrating, and I understand why any school, any district, would get out from under its thumb. But it’s very, very weird that El Dorado gets to sit back and collect money from charters who just want to escape the costs that everyone else in their district shares. However, the shame here points directly at the LA Times. There’s all sorts of additional reporting to be done on this story, but they can’t be bothered to even really investigate how much money is funneled through El Dorado County, or why charter students are allowed to skate the burden of regional special education. Because the district kids are suffering under a bigger share of the costs, while the LA Times is bleating on behalf of the lucky lottery winners who, as the paper points out, won’t lose their schools despite all the sturm und drang.

  6. “In truth, the well-off kids went to far better “common” schools. The less well-off and minority students went to schools that didn’t give them an equal shot in life. “Andrew Rotherham and Richard Whitmire, on the reformer’s dream “common schools”.

    Well, no. It’s not the schools and teachers that didn’t give students an equal shot, but rather the students’ cognitive ability, their parents’ income, and their peers. The only one of those that schools can mitigate, somewhat, is the peer group. That, not higher quality teachers or a better curriculum, remains the appeal of charter schools, private schools, and districts with well-protected zipcodes. Tracking and a better understanding of the impact of low incentive kids would give public schools much better weapons to fight the problems caused by mixed ability and mixed incentives. Alas, the feds keep threatening public schools if their discipline records aren’t racially balanced. Meanwhile, highly sought after charter schools often expel undesirable students, often free from scrutiny, although taken in total, charters and publics have roughly the same suspension and expulsion rates. And no one wants to talk about tracking. Peer environment remains the huge unmentionable.

About educationrealist

51 responses to “Well, no. (Short Takes and Snarks)

  • anonymousskimmer


    Don’t forget extracurricular opportunities. And I’m not just talking about sports, music, etc….

    I work in a biotech company with a group that goes around demonstrating various easy to demo science things. One of the people mentioned that they have no problem finding volunteers to demo in the wealthier suburb cities. (Where every kid has seen these demos before, or even “My parent works at your company”.) But very few volunteer to go to any school or community center within the city (even the good areas of the city), and there are many more of those kind of schools and neighborhood centers.

    Maybe this could be chalked up to “parents’ incomes and peers”, but it seems a bit more broad-based.

    • educationrealist

      No, I wouldn’t chalk that up to parents, incomes, and peers. I’d also seriously question that the opportunities aren’t equivalent. I work at a Title I school; we’ve had all sorts of visitors and career opportunities. It’s positively stylish to visit inner city schools, and has been for decades. Now, I’m not sure that all sorts of opportunities come round in rural areas, but reformers only give lip service to those places anyway.

      • anonymousskimmer

        That anecdote might be biotech and my Midwest city specific. But it’s a recent one. Oh heck, I’ll outright say it: Indianapolis. Everyone wants to demo at the Zionsville and Carmel school districts (upper middle class to rich). Not so much the districts inside the circle.

        And yes, the rural and non-suburb small city thing is a real issue. I had to bring it up to people blogging about how the free market would take care of any anti-gay bias if Arizona SB 1062 had passed.

      • educationrealist

        Oh, I’m sure that’s true. But just because the super-techie folk aren’t eager to spend time in the inner cities, I think there are plenty of people who are. I won’t swear to it, though. Sports is a different issue–plenty of sports in the inner cities–often you’ve got schools that are strong in sports but dismal scores.

  • Barry Zuckerkorn

    On #1, how are you defining “real money” and is your 4.0 on a system where 4.0 represents straight A’s or one where AP class grades go above 4, and what kind of standardized test scores are you assuming? I was applying to colleges 10 years ago and it seemed like what you are saying held true for the Ivies + Stanford + the 2 big Techs, but not so much for the schools in the back half of the top 30 (assuming you are using the US News rankings) if you had high standardized test scores, a handful of 5s on AP exams, and wrote for your school newspaper or something. Have things gotten that much more competitive in 10 years, or is my experience colored by going to a school where a 4.0 meant actual perfection?

    • educationrealist

      Ten years ago, you certainly needed a 4.0 or higher to go to anything under a top 30. Higher test scores would not get you past the GPA requirement. The top UCs have required higher than a 4.0 for well over a decade. I’m talking weighted. Grades in an AP class have mattered more than scores for at least that long.

      I was in this line of work a decade ago, plus my kid was applying for colleges at that time. He had an ACT 34, was an AP Honors scholar (4s or higher in 7 APs), Subject test scores of 690, 760, 780. GPA fully weighted was 4.2, unweighted 3.4. He applied to some top 30 schools just as stretch, but only made it into top 50 (high 40s). And I was working with many other kids then and now. I had kids making it into top schools with SATs in the 1800 range, but GPAs above 4.0. Very common.

      So if you think you could get into, say, Tufts with a 3.5 and high test scores, with no other affiliation (a favored school, legacy, athletics, URM, rich parents), well, no.

  • janegalt

    I think you mistook my meaning, probably because I didn’t make it clear enough. I understand that she is rationally responding to incentives. I think those incentives are completely insane and destructive.

    • educationrealist

      No, I got your meaning. I agree they are insane and destructive. But they aren’t doing so because of some demand for perfection, but because of an unintended consequence of devaluing test scores. . And I don’t think that saying “hey, it’s okay, a lesser college will do” is a reasonable response for an ambitious kid.

      Of course, the other irony is that a good number of the kids getting straight As aren’t all that remarkable, and often not nearly as smart as some of the kids who get Bs now and again. BUt that, too, means that the problem isn’t with the kids, but with the phony rewarding of “perfect”.

    • educationrealist

      As I said, I’m a big fan of your work. I just thought the article made it about our drive for perfection, our fear of failure, when in fact it’s because colleges are basically corrupting the admissions process.

  • Barry Zuckerkorn

    I definitely knew (white) kids who went to Tufts, as well as places like Wash U in St. Louis, Vanderbilt, Duke, georgetown, etc. with GPA’s below 4.0 and no college-level athletic skill, but like I said, our GPA’s weren’t weighted. My GPA was a 3.3 and I got into Tufts, though my SAT and SAT II scores were perfect except for a 780 on the 2c. Our parents were mostly rich, but doctor/lawyer/engineer rich, not hedge fund/lobbyist rich. Does that matter? I guess with weighted GPAs a lot of those kids would have cleared 4.0, though, or maybe we were more privileged than I realized.

    • educationrealist

      Yes, that’s rich enough. I know many kids who didn’t get into top 40 schools with higher GPAs, but not 4.0, and while not quite perfect SATs, fairly close. My kid would probably not have gotten into Tufts, for example.

      Anyone getting into Vanderbilt or Duke with a 3.3 has either legacy parents or some other factor. A normal, unconnected kid could not do Vanderbilt with below 4.0 GPAs.

      Another connection level–kid went to an elite private school that was well known by the university, and had a counselor pulling strings. But that, too, is a connection and also implies the student is pretty well off.

      • Apollo

        I have a couple years’ (recent) experience on the admissions committee at a HYPSMC school. I can tell you, first of all, that high school-reported **weighted** GPAs go right out the window. No high school is consistent on their weighting procedures, and many don’t weight at all, so every top university simply recalculates the GPA themselves according to their own weighting scale, if they have one, or (more often) simply back into a raw GPA. At my school, we turn it into a raw GPA and throw out non-academic courses (PE, Choir, etc.) in the process. We don’t weight for AP or honors but we do expect that the classes taken (in relevant subjects) have been the hardest available.

        I will admit that we may be unusual, but SAT and SAT II results (and also AP test results where available) are also very important in our admissions process. In our discussions, it’s actually much easier to justify taking a kid with high test scores and B’s than vice-versa, especially if there are some AP 5’s and solid (solid for us is 750+) SAT II results in relevant subjects to help counteract the B’s.

        So the parents who start out with “my kid has a 4.2…” elicit an eye-roll. In the end, for the purposes of our university’s discussions 4.0 means straight A’s and nothing else, and although we do have lots of those (usually ALSO with near-perfect test scores, mind you), it’s not the majority of the class. And we admit plenty of normal white and Asian kids with good-but-less-than-4.0 GPAs, and great SAT/SAT II scores. I can’t imagine that a school on the level of Vandy, good but several notches below us and applicants that reflect that, actually can afford to turn up their nose at a “normal” NAM with a non-4.0 GPA, unless you’re talking weighted GPAs and that 4.0 could actually be a 3.3 or something, in which case I agree: good luck to you. But a 3.7ish unweighted in the tough subjects and high SATs is going to get a look at Vandy.

      • educationrealist

        You know, you say this, but the data doesn’t back you up. Nor does my personal experience in coaching a few hundred kids through college applications and watching the process. I have never, ever had a kid without legacy admits get in with high test scores, high AP scores, and Bs in school.

        I also find that admissions committees are incredibly inaccurate reporters of their decision-making process. It’s not that I’m certain you’re lying, but I’m pretty certain you’re kidding yourself. And if admissions committees want to be believed, they could release their data in its entirety, by race and income.

      • Apollo

        Also, for us at least, parental income/wealth at anything below the “parents endowed a professorship” or “family name adorns buildings all across the campus” level doesn’t matter a bit. We wouldn’t even have any way of knowing; that number isn’t in the applicant’s file. Nor is any information about the parents’ occupation, unless of course a student mentions that in an essay or free-response.

      • Apollo

        Our 25-75 SAT range is 1460-1590, so if we’re somehow de-emphasizing intelligence in favor of grades we don’t appear to be very effective at it.

        And your claim about “wealth” on the level of a doctor or a lawyer mattering in admissions is just silly. Seriously: that number isn’t even in the folder. 8 figures in actual donations is about where that would start to matter even slightly.

      • anonymousskimmer

        According to this: http://media.collegeboard.com/digitalServices/pdf/research/SAT-Percentile-Ranks-Composite-CR-M-2013.pdf

        Only about 2,400 SAT exams last year make the 1590 cutoff. I assume this is a relatively constant figure for the last decade, and an elevated figure compared to the 90’s.

        According to the admissions statistics for HYPSMC about 2,500 freshman make up the 75+%-iles. So unless HYPSMC is (on average) capturing the entirety of 1590+ SAT takers, or unless a good number of the 75+%-ile at your school do not have SAT scores (and are being placed in the 75+%-ile some other way), that statistic seems sketchy. Not impossible, but really unlikely.

      • educationrealist

        I was focusing on the low end, but this is a good point, too.

      • anonymousskimmer

        Sorry, I mistook the admitted figure for the enrolled figure (~1600). Still, that means that HYPSMC is (if they are assumed to be equivalent at the 75+%-ile) capturing 2/3rds of the 1590+ range (which begs the question as to whether that is the entirety of the 1590+ range who apply to HYPSMC, or whether HYPSMC turns away some of those 1590+ applicants in favor of sub-1460 applicants.).

      • anonymousskimmer

        And nothing you wrote answers this question: “I have never, ever had a kid without legacy admits get in with high test scores, high AP scores, and Bs in school.”

        Which is the truly important question.

        Do elite admissions committees care about talent wherever it may lie, or do they care more about talent plus the tendency to follow the herd or game the system for grades?

      • educationrealist

        25% of the class gets in scores lower than 730 per section, and you don’t think that proves my point?

        I was talking about “wealth” in top 40 schools in both national universities and liberal arts. Many of the schools in this category say openly that they use ability to pay, and many people making in the high 6-figures have put aside that kind of money for their kids. I agree it’s not relevant in the top 10 schools, and probably not 20.

      • Apollo

        Yes, I think it does prove my point, actually, because it’s not “lower than 730 per section”. We care much more about the Math subscore, and our enrollees consequently have a much tighter Math 25-75 range than they do for the overall SAT: 770-800. So “deficiency” in verbal score makes up most of the space between that 25th-percentile 1460 you malign and a 1600. Furthermore, although I don’t have the stats on this, I can tell you anecdotally that the lower end of that Verbal range is foreigners and the children of immigrants. Verbal scores aren’t ignored and all else equal of course we want them higher, but the *primary* reason they’re high at all for us is because high Verbal and high Math (and Writing, for what it’s worth: not much) scores correlate with each other.

        Also, our MODE for SAT II: Math IIC is 800. I assure you we care very much about test scores as an objective measure of ability, but at the same time we don’t think the difference between (say) a 780 and a 790 is much more than noise when it comes to comparing individual applicants to each other. So yes (to anonymousskimmer), a kid with a 780 SAT Math and an A in Calculus is going to look better to us than a kid with a 790 and a B. I think that’s the correct outcome, unless there’s some other significant piece of information (AP scores, say) that favors the B applicant.

      • anonymousskimmer

        “So yes (to anonymousskimmer), a kid with a 780 SAT Math and an A in Calculus is going to look better to us than a kid with a 790 and a B. I think that’s the correct outcome”

        Could you tell me why? As in what presumptions are admissions officers making when two kids with equally demonstrated “objective” math ability are judged anything other than equally?

      • Apollo

        First of all, to be clear, I’m not an admissions officer. I’m an academic who does not currently, but has recently, sat on the admissions committee (here, academics are roughly 2/3 of the voting committee members).

        And why? The reality is that the two putative students I listed above are *not* objectively equal in demonstrated math ability. The admissions rate at a HYPSMC school is ~10% in any given year–we can afford to take the kid who has 99th percentile SATs *and* also aced calculus. The SAT I Math and even the SAT II: Math IIC are objective tests, but they’re not difficult enough to differentiate between students in a very finely-grained way. In the absence of other information, grades in upper-level courses therefore have real meaning for us. An AP 5 for the B student and a 3 for the A student would certainly go towards flipping around that assessment, but absent that bit of information, yes, an A in calculus means something to us. The decision has to be made somehow.

        Remember, the 25th percentile kid has a Math SAT of 770. By SAT score, virtually all of the students we seriously consider for admission already have objectively equal or within the noise of the measurement test scores in math (and also on SAT II math/science subject tests), because they’re compressed into the upper end of the range.

      • anonymousskimmer

        Ok. That’s an acceptable answer to me.

      • anonymousskimmer

        If you’re willing to reply to some more questions, I have a couple.

        1) As a US school, do you prioritize foreign applicants who have access to a world class science institution in their native country (e.g. the UK, Switzerland, Japan, China) – and who would presumably be admitted to those institutions – over US citizens for whom yours is the native world class institution?

        2) If so, how is this justified (e.g. relative native population versus native enrollment slots?)? I’m considering the fact that it is very unusual for those of the middle class and lower to expatriate for their beginning undergraduate education – and thus that admissions of foreigners limits the slots available to natives of putatively equal ability. Knowing what I know now I could only justify this by trying to equal out the opportunity for a great education to those populations that do not have such an opportunity.

        3) Are you aware of results that state students who score higher in ACT Science + Reading than English + Math fare worse in college than equivalent composite percentiles with reversed sub-test results (i.e. “Improving College Performance and Retention the Easy Way: Unpacking the ACT Exam”)? If you were, would this influence your admissions criteria for or against such students? As an academic, would this influence the kinds of reforms you seek at your school? I ask because I was such a student (34.5 average SR+R, 29 average E+M), and ended up dropping out of a school I was otherwise seriously undermatched for. In retrospect I can see many things that the school “did wrong” in relation to my preferred learning style, and see the recommendations in the above paper as blaming the weaker student instead of the far more powerful school environment and class format.

  • Sisyphean

    “The only one of those that schools can mitigate, somewhat, is the peer group.”

    Ha, except the only response to this reality that I’ve seen of late is not tracking but its opposite. My middle school son is taking a gifted language arts course in his online school and the teacher has seeded him and the few other top performers individually into each of the different sections of the class (against their objections, all these students know each other and love to discuss books together so much that they often do it outside of school). I assume the theory is that they will cause the others in this (supposedly) gifted course to aspire to the interest and worth ethic of the top performers. In practice all that has been achieved is that discussions reliably degenerate into chaos. My son has already asked to not participate in the gifted English next year. Was there ever a time when gifted was actually about putting smart kids together to help them develop their talents to the fullest?

    • educationrealist

      But isn’t a gifted English class tracking? You’re saying the other kids aren’t top notch?

      • Sisyphean

        Yes, that’s exactly what I’m saying and I’m assuming you aren’t being sarcastic, which I wouldn’t blame you for.

        I experienced a similar situation back in my brick and mortar high-school only I wasn’t allowed in the advanced classes (I don’t remember exactly why) but my SAT ended up being higher than everyone else in my grade and I went on to Univ of Chicago. Being a compliant little toadstool has always counted for more than brains in my experience.. but my experience was rural Upstate NY, to take it with a grain of maple syrup or something.

      • educationrealist

        Oh, so the teacher is just doing heterogeneous classroom grouping. Bad, bad.

    • DensityDuck

      This same reasoning is used as an argument for why charter schools and private schools are a bad thing; the assumption that students will emulate others.

      Which is actually true, only not in the way that these people intend. You can’t “emulate” intelligence any more than a rotten fish can emulate a sound one; but, as with the fish, a few rotten ones in the barrel will spoil the rest, and putting a good one in a barrel of rotten ones to make it better is like…I dunno, homeopathic medicine.

  • momof4

    Even in many sports, kids are effectively shut out of the HS teams (varsity certainly and likely the JV) if they have not been playing that sport at elite travel level for at least 4-5 years prior to HS; they simply don’t have the same level of skills/tactics. I’m sure it’s the same in music; kids who don’t play well before ms aren’t likely to get into the top HS music venues. Yes, building a resume matters, especially in the affluent suburbs where many academically-qualified kids apply to many top schools. And, you’re right that less emphasis on grades and more emphasis on top est scores would change that – because the former aren’t necessarily reflective of the latter

    • educationrealist

      Odd that so many black and Hispanic athletes get recruited from poverty, despite the lack of elite training level.

      • momof4

        It depends on the sport and the area. At the leafy suburban public schools where the competition for elite-college admission is fierce, tennis,soccer, lacrosse, tennis,golf, swimming etc are important sports for those kids – and that includes the black and Hispanic kids who come from the same, highly-educated, upper-middle class families in the same neighborhoods (although nowhere near as important because those are the kids who the elites want for “diversity” – they can do the work -and will take with significantly weaker academic records). The kids who have the top academics are much less likely to be on the football team – or basketball, baseball or track, in my experience (cross-country, maybe).

      • educationrealist

        I agree that there probably are inner city kids who would do quite well at lacrosse. Jim Brown was a hell of a lacrosse player. The others, quite possibly not.

  • DensityDuck

    Google offers a lot of freedom and self-direction, so long as you freely direct yourself to work on what you’re told, the way they tell you, using the tools they give you.

    They do not look kindly on people who try to go outside those boundaries. Although they are careful never to refer to them as boundaries; instead it’s just, well, the “best” way to do things, the “most efficient” way, and you wouldn’t want to be doing things the inefficient non-best way, would you? Of couse not.

  • DensityDuck

    “Peer environment remains the huge unmentionable.”

    That’s because “peer environment” means “culture”, and in America “culture” is assumed to mean “race”, and as soon as you suggest that a particular race is bad you’re a racist and nobody will ever listen to what you say about anything ever again.

  • countenance


    For context, the Federal judiciary forced the state of Missouri to convert KCPS facilities into Taj Mahals, with really nothing to show for it.


    Story out of Chicago last week that their charters have an expulsion rate 12 times that of the CPS. It’s not that CPS students are 12 times better behaved than Chicago’s charter school students, it’s that the charters can get away with suspending and expelling more students more often than the publics. And remember, expelled charter students almost always go back to the publics. It’s not a coincidence that these stats come from a CPS press release:


  • anti-racist

    6. If income inequality were eliminated the “low cognitive ability” kids would be up to speed.There’s a large body of evidence that suggests that the best way to improve the lives of low-income kids is to address poverty and income inequality directly. There’s very little (if any) credible evidence that suggests otherwise.

    • educationrealist

      There’s all sorts of credible evidence suggesting otherwise, including the fact that IQ predicts outcomes better than either race or SES.

      • Withywindle

        Some research I have read out of Latin America: if your parents are too poor to feed you regularly, keep you decently housed, or (say) pay for eyeglasses so you can see the chalkboard, you will do very lousily in school. It may therefore be worth while arranging matters so that the poorest families don’t (literally) have to worry where the next meal is coming from. But once you pass that threshold, wealth transfers don’t matter as much. FWIW.

    • vijay

      Wait, what? Is this serious?

      How would it even be possible to remove income inequality, when it harks back to inequality in cognitive ability and IQ?

      • DensityDuck

        It makes sense if you think of it as a chicken-or-egg problem. Income inequality causes differences on IQ which reinforce income inequality.

        The idea that income inequality might *not* cause differences in IQ is RACISM OF THE HIGHEST ORDER, so goes the enlightened progressive thought.

      • anonymousskimmer

        “How would it even be possible to remove income inequality, when it harks back to inequality in cognitive ability and IQ?”

        Historically, through much of human history, this hasn’t been the case (varna has existed in most of the world, even the recent U.S., not just India). Even today, in the U.S., measures of educational success correlate strongly enough with various non-IQ factors, includings parents’ educational status and income. Yeah, it correlates strongly with IQ too, but nowhere near unity. You only have to read Miraca Gross’ longitudinal study of the exceptionally and profoundly gifted to find strong counter-examples.

        Poverty alleviation, better nutrition, and toxin elimination (e.g. tetra-ethyl lead, superfund sites), within the U.S. and the rest of the world, is almost guaranteed to have some positive impact on quality of life / income inequality (outside of the immediate boost), and even on things such as crystallized and fluid IQ. The only question is to what magnitude.

      • vijay

        I am sure this reply deviates from this article, but let me give a response to anonymousskimmer:

        In the united states, poverty (at least food poverty) has been alleviated; nutrition is the best in the world; tetra-ethyl lead has been eliminated since what 1980? However, gaps (as enumerated by NECS 4th, 8th and 12th grade test results, SAT scores, GE scores, and college completion rate) have stayed stable or gotten worse. Success has been in reducing the lowlying fruits of the 4th grade gaps, but the impact on 12th grade and onward, has been very limited. Parents educational status and income is a strong IQ factor, because the parents attained their educational status and income using their cognitive ability which they passed along via genetics.

        The indian varna is a terrible example here, because genetic studies show each caste differ by fractional genetic percentages in their core racial groupings, and the result is
        when each varna gets a chance, they shine brightly in education. There is no comparison between the Indian caste system and the races of the US, because the castes are a genetic spectrum that differ just marginally. The indian education (lack of ) attainment can be attributed to poverty, health, etc; however, such an easy answer is not available in the US.

      • anonymousskimmer

        I’m not arguing that things haven’t improved tremendously. But it does take a good long while for the slate to fully reset.

        Historical varna in the west = Jewish bankers. How many descendants of those Jewish bankers are still in finance? It takes time for the slate to fully reset. It really does.

        Personal anecdata time:

        I sincerely believe that there is nothing my father wouldn’t have been prouder about than if I had followed him into the military. How many families are multi-generational military (etc…) families in the U.S.? How many of these kids feel pressured, very much pressured, to follow their parents’ paths? More than a smattering. Other than the tuition payment, I received no real help in finding a post-secondary school from my parents, or anyone else. And the crappy thing about that is that the University of Washington, less than two hours away, was the local state flagship, and one of the top-ranked schools in my discipline. But I, having been raised in a Republican/Libertarian family mindset, where schools such as UC Berkeley were called Berzerkley, thought that there was absolutely no way the UoW, as a public school, could be anywhere as good as a private school. Because nothing the government runs is as good as private industry. So I found a school with the word “Tech” in the name, far away from home, and went there. Blowing my entire savings (4 years of paper routes – $6k), and my parents’ tuition payment money and dropping out after a year and a half.

        Mine is not an isolated case. It cannot be.

        I’ve got (barely) top 1%-ile ASVAB and ACT composite scores (34 Science), was asked to interview thrice at the large company I’ve worked at as a Kelly Services technician-level contractor for 5+ years, and feedback after one interview said I should continue applying for hourly technician positions, not exempt scientist positions.

        I’ve been stereotyped as far dumber and less capable that I really am. So I know it happens. I know they see my (white) face, my 35 years of age, my only recently having gotten a B.S., my 5+ years as a technician, the fact I’m living in a state (Indiana) conventionally stereotyped as a hick-ish state. And I know they are drawing the wrong conclusions.

        No, Varna in the Indian sense doesn’t exist here anymore, but the assumptions are still echoing. Still having an impact.

  • anonymousskimmer

    unintentionally double negative with the “wouldn’t” above.

  • End of Education Reform? | educationrealist

    […] A year after the election, I wrote about unions and asked, again, why the GOP was so intent on attacking teacher protections when cops and other government workers get the same advantages. I mean, even the bitching about gender imbalance is ridiculous, since law ennforcement is far more male than teaching is female. […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: