The Available Pool

(This is by far the most Voldemortean topic I’ve taken on in a while. Brace up.)

Some readers might have noted a potential flaw in my observation that ed schools can’t commit affirmative action. If the average elementary school SAT score is 500 per section, and the average content SAT score is 580 in the relevant subject, then there shouldn’t be a shortage. Plenty of African Americans have those scores, right?

Well, it depends on what you mean by “plenty”.

Just ask Malcolm Gladwell.

Four words I’d never thought I’d say. I liked Gladwell’s article about ketchup. I also find him useful as a predictive sorter: when I meet someone who admires his work, I run like hell.

But recently I came across a page I’d either missed or forgotten about since the last time I flipped through his book.

gladwelliqbarriers

Gladwell even cites Jensen.

Conceding what he sees as a minor aspect of IQ to make a larger point, Gladwell acknowledges that regions, or thresholds, of IQ exist. But beyond these broad ability differentiators, IQ differences are irrelevant compared to factors like luck, birth, language, rice paddy history. Given certain thresholds, IQ is relatively unimportant in outcomes.

And given certain thresholds, Gladwell’s not terribly wrong, as Jensen confirms.

There’s just one pesky little problem still left to plague modern society: the thresholds. The regions, as Jensen describes them, that differentiate between broad ability levels. The ones that even an IQ pishtosher like Gladwell accepts as given. They’re kind of an issue, if by “issue” you mean the fatal flaw lurking in most of our social and education policies.

Jensen’s regions correspond to the IQ standard deviation markers. The average IQ is 100, with a standard deviation of 15. An IQ of 70 is 2 SD below the average of 50 (2nd percentile), 85 is 1 SD below average (16th percentile), 115–the marker for graduate level work, according to Gladwell and Jensen—is 1 SD above the mean.

Translating Gladwell and Jensen into standard deviations: in order for an American student to be ready for a college graduate program, he needs to have an IQ at the 84th percentile, with “average” (this is Gladwell’s word) as the 50th percentile. Give or take. IQ tests are finicky, no need to be purist. These are broad strokes.

Using those broad strokes, we know that average African American IQ is a little less than one standard deviation below that “average IQ” (again, Gladwell’s term), which means that the 84th percentile for all IQs is attained by just 2% of blacks. Test scores consistently prove out this harsh reality. While the mean African American IQ has risen five points since 1970, test performance has often remained stubbornly 1SD below that of whites. As Chistopher Jencks observes, “typical American black still scores below 75 percent of American whites on most standardized tests”, and often as much as 85% (or 1SD). Much has been written about the 1 SD difference; you can see it in the SAT, the GMAT, and the LSAT. (The SAT is much easier these days; before the recentering, just 70 blacks got over 700 on the verbal, whereas today it’s 2100, or 2%. In 1995, 90% of African Americans scored below 430 on the verbal section whereas the unrecentered LSAT has a score distribution chart registering no black scores over 170.)

(You’re thinking oh, my god, this is Bell Curve stuff. No, no. This is Gladwell, remember? Secure position in the pantheon of liberal intellectual gods. It’s all good.)

We are oversupplied with whites with IQs over the 115 threshold, all of whom have the requisite tested ability to be lawyers and doctors and professors. Since these fields are highly desirable, the educational culling process weeds out or rejects all but the most cognitive elite candidates. Thus all the cognitively demanding fields have a sorting process for whites: medicine, law, academia, science, technologists, executives, politicians, venture capitalists, mathematicians, yada yada yada all the way down to high school teachers, the peasants of the cognitive elite.

The available pool of blacks with the requisite Gladwellian-approved IQs to test into graduate education is barely toe deep.

To build cohorts with blacks exceeding single digits, graduate schools in law, medicine, and business, to name just a few, commit deep discount affirmative action, regardless of legal bans. Ed schools can’t, for reasons I described in the last post. Given the wide range of choices blacks with anything approaching the requisite cognitive ability have, it’s hard to say if any sorting occurs at all.

Much has been written of the supposedly low standards for teacher licensure exams but what do we know about the standards for becoming a lawyer in Alabama or a doctor in Missisippi?

I often ask questions for which data is unobligingly unavailable. Sometimes I just haven’t found the data, or it’s too broad to be much good. Sometimes it’s like man, I have a day job and this will have to do.

Med school: Not much data. See Razib Khan’s efforts.

Law school: For all the talk about mismatch or the concern over dismal bar exam passing rates for blacks, the reality is that low LSAT scores, law school, and persistence can still result in a licensed black lawyer. State bar exam difficulties aren’t uniform (which is also true for teaching). This bar exam predictor says that a law school graduate with an LSAT of 139, three points below the African American mean, attending an Alabama lawschool not in the top 150, graduating in the bottom tenth of his class, has a 26% chance of passing the bar. In Iowa, the same person has a 17% chance–in California, just 4%.

If that predictive application has any validity, the cognitive abilities needed to pass the average high school math or science licensure test in most states are higher than those demanded to pass a bar exam in states filling out the bottom half of the difficulty scale. Passing the math or science licensure exams with an SAT score below the African American mean would be next to impossible in most states. English and history probably compete pretty well on that front as well. It wouldn’t surprise me if the cognitive demands needed to pass elementary school licensure tests in tough states (California) are greater than those needed to pass the bar exam in easy states (Alabama). (sez me, who has passed the tests in three subjects, and sez all available information on average SAT scores for passing candidates).

Here we are back at the cognitive dissonance I mentioned in the last post. Received wisdom says teachers are stupid. Reality says teacher credential tests have significant cognitive barriers, barriers that appear to exceed those for law and may do so as well for medicine—and the other professional tests are presumably easier still.

Before I looked into this, I would have assumed that licensure tests for law and medicine weeded out a “smarter” class of blacks than those weeded out of teaching. Now I’m not as sure. It seems law schools and med schools keep out the “not-as-smart”whites and Asians while admitting blacks and Hispanics who would only be “not-as-smart” if they were white or Asian. The med and law school licensure exams, in knowledge of this weeding, are gauged to let in the “not-as-smart”, secure in the knowledge that these candidates will be mostly black and Hispanic. (A number of “not-as-smart” whites and Asians will make it through, assuming they paid a small fortune for a low-tier law school, but jobs will be much harder to find.) Understand that I’m using “smart” in the colloquial sense, which means “high test scores”. And most evidence says these are the same thing. I’ve said before now I’m not as certain of this, particularly with regards to African Americans.

This isn’t enough to prove anything, of course, and I wanted more. What else could I could use to—well, if not prove, at least not disprove, what seems to me an obvious reason for a dearth of black teachers?

Employed persons by detailed occupation, sex, race, and ethnicity

I made some predictions going in:

  1. Blacks would be a higher percentage of elementary/middle school teachers than of high school teachers. I couldn’t sort out academic teachers from special ed and PE teachers, and I wasn’t sure whether sped teachers would be included in the count. But given the easier licensure test, I was betting the percentage would be higher.
  2. There would be more black school administrators than black high school teachers.
  3. The ratio of black lawyers and doctors to black high school teachers would be higher than the ratio of white lawyers and doctors to white high school teachers (in absolute numbers).
  4. The ratio of black social workers to black teachers would be much higher than the same ratio for white teachers.

So this table shows the total employed in each category, the percentage black and white, the absolute number black and white:
blackwhiteprofs

This table calculates the ratio of each non-teaching occupation to K-8 and high school teachers by race. So the number of black high school teachers is 25% of the number of black K-8 teachers, and there are 154% more black administrators than there are black high school teachers, and so on.

blkwhiteprofperc

I didn’t want to over-interpret the data, so this is just simple Excel, pulling the numbers right off the table (calculating white percentage by subtracting the other races). And I was right about a lot, except this very funny thing:

There are more white lawyers than white high school teachers!

Still, this data mostly bears out my predictions. I threw in some other categories: entertainment/media, and all health, just for compare/contrast.

Many blacks become social workers, far more than become high school teachers or even K-8 teachers. Now, I know teachers complain about low pay, but social work has really low pay, less attractive vacations, and a client base even less cooperative than the average high school student.

I was wrong about lawyers, obviously, but not about doctors. While black high school teachers and black physicians/dentists are in roughly equal supply, white doctors are just 87% of white high school teachers. Whites have to compete with Asians, who are 20% of doctors (and just 5% of lawyers), but if the professions were cognitively sorting on anything approaching an equal basis, there should be a lot more black high school teachers, shouldn’t there? And when expanding the field to all health care practitioners and technicians—therapists, optometrists, nurses, hygienists, pathologists—blacks outnumber black high school teachers by twice the ratio that white high school teachers are outnumbered.

So blacks are choosing skilled health care work over teaching at considerably higher rates than whites are making that same choice, and the number of black doctors have near parity with black high school teachers, while white doctors are a bit further behind.

Then there’s my amazing perspicacity in predicting the overrepresentation of black education administrators. Pretty obvious, really. Districts can only practice affirmative action in teacher hiring to the extent they have black candidates. But administrative positions are wide open for affirmative action. While I’m sure there’s a test, it’s got to be a piece of cake compared to the high school subject credential test. I can’t really take all the credit, though.
CJ Cregg first alerted me to affirmative action in principal selection. But before you shed all sorts of tears for Tal Cregg, remember that the Brown decision resulted in thousands of black teachers and administrators losing their jobs, all in the name of racial equity and equal access.

I only had one surprise. When I started this effort, I figured that I’d include a snarky remark like “Want more black teachers? Raise the cut scores for the bar exam.” But no, lawyers, it turns out, are whiter even than high school teachers. That might explain why the cut scores are set so low on the bar exam, and it suggests that the predictive application knows its stuff. The legal profession in many states is doing its best to bring in more black and Hispanic lawyers by lowering the cut score—in others, not so much.

Steve Sailer noticed something I’d missed in my original post on teacher SAT scores—namely, teachers had strong verbal scores regardless of the subject taught. Law, too, is a field heavy on the reading and talking. So maybe whites are drawn to fields that reward this aptitude. It’s arguable, in fact, that America’s entire educational policy through the century was informed, unknowingly, by its unusually large population of unambitious smart white people who like to talk. We might want to consider that possibility before we start demanding diversity.

Anyway.

Step one in investigating the lack of black teachers should start with the oversupply of black social workers and see why, given their strong interest in community work, they aren’t going into teaching. The uninformed yutzes who presume to opine on education policy think ed schools are either prejudiced against or just uninterested in recruiting black teachers. Those actually interested in creating black teachers think it’s the licensure tests. I’m with them.

So go find out. If I’m right, we can start talking about lowering the cut scores for k-3 licensure tests. Once we realize that the Common Core goals are a chimera, we might create high school teaching tiers, with easier tests for basic math and English classes. (In exchange, maybe, for loosening up the affirmative action grip on administrative positions, if such a grip exists.)

Given the tremendous overrepresentation of blacks in our prisons, I’d argue we need to spend our time and policy creating more black lawyers, not black teachers. Better pay, better status and who knows, maybe better justice.

The available pool of black cognitive talent is small. Tradeoffs must be made. If we want more black teachers, we’ll have to lower the cognitive ability standards required for teaching or reduce the number of black professionals in better-paying, higher-status jobs. To a certain extent, the first of those options make sense. The second one’s just stupid.

I got into this because of that damn TFA announcement saying that 1 in 5 of their teaching corps was black, and the congratulatory nonsense that spewed forth in the announcement’s wake. And you still should be wondering how TFA is getting so many blacks that can pass the licensure tests. Next up, I promise.

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About educationrealist


28 responses to “The Available Pool

  • Max

    “Given the tremendous overrepresentation of blacks in our prisons, I’d argue we need to spend our time and policy creating more black lawyers, not black teachers. Better pay, better status and who knows, maybe better justice.”

    Speaking as someone who has been through an American law school, I can basically guarantee that more black lawyers would produce much less justice than at present. Despite the statistical over-representation of blacks in our prisons, the level of over-representation is actually lower than would occur if the courtroom were colorblind.

    And you call yourself Voldemortean. =P

    • educationrealist

      I was thinking about moving blacks from the medical fields to lawyering.

      That said, Johnny Cochrane was a C student who probably struggled hard to pass the bar exam.

      • Sisyphean

        I think his mantra (I’m paraphrasing here): “If the glove don’t fit, you Must Acquit.” was brilliant in its simplicity and rhythm. Getting things to stick in the mind of the jury during deliberation is hard to do, (I say this as a former juror, not as a lawyer) but Mr. Cochran did it and well.

    • anonymousskimmer

      Perhaps more black police officers?

      Half of justice is the process of getting the accused to a trial (or letting them off with a warning, or not letting them off with a warning, or calming the situation down, etc…, etc…).

  • vijay

    This article talks about supply side. There is a corresponding demand side (on the part of colleges); to meet state and federal requirements of attaining college enrollment (notice I say enrollment not graduation) shares approximately comparable to population percentage distributions, universities practice selection by race and sex. Practically, this means the following:

    1. Wholistic admission policy to group students by race and sex (obtained from the admission forms and essays)
    2. Using differential cutoffs in SAT and grades to pick by race and sex.
    3. Competing for a smaller pool of college-ready applicants among NAMs, and, to a lesser extent, for female engineers.

    Because, the demand for the small pool of NAM students that meet the (admittedly lower) cutoffs, there is a severe competition among colleges. As an example, see the case of the AA student admitted to all ivy league schools; 2250 is no big whoop for Asian students. See, as an additional example, the Meyerhoff program.

    However, higher demand makes it appear (to even below average students) that they are special and need to move to more demanding colleges and classes. This puts a downward pressure on NAM students who would normally qualify for education schools; there is a smaller pool available. Hence a much smaller number of NAM students in colleges of education.

    Hence, this is not a story of IQ and cognitive ability only; there is a parallel story of universities chasing a small pool of applicants to fill their, should I use the word, quotas. This needs a followup discussion of academic mismatch. Equally responsible for the whole mess is consequences of good intentions.

    • vijay

      To be honest, irrational economic expectations based on perceived demand (an a reasonable IQ) is a curse for whites and Asians also. Hence, you have a large number of lawyers who expect the 160 K payout, but spend their ambulance-chasing life at less than 50 K incomes; large number of Barristas with masters degrees; disappointed Asian parents. An IQ above 115 may even be a curse to a large number of people.

    • anonymousskimmer

      Do you know if anyone knows whether URM “chasers” (specifically African-Americans, I guess) are chasing AAs who live in rural or small city locations? Or does it still follow the “loking by the streetlight” approach of large metropolises?

      • vijay

        Using words like URM chasers is probably in bad taste, I apologize.

        However, the university admissions consider American Indians/Alaskan Natives, African Americans/Blacks, Mexican Americans, and Puerto Ricans as URM’s. It does not matter where they live, or what percentage URM a person (1/2,1/4 or 1/8; granted I am not sure if 1/8 is URM), thy are considered to have the highest “hook”, meaning they have the highest percentage of being admitted. This can be seen in the following table:

        Sample characteristics of applied and admitted in elite colleges

        White applied percentage = 48.7; admitted % of applied = 26.9
        AA applied percentage = 5.3; admitted percentage = 38.9
        Hispanic applied % =5.7; admitted percentage = 31.6
        Asian applied percentage = 23.1; admitted percentage = 20.9

        However, in reality, nearly 33% of admitted URM are children of Caribbean, African and Hispano/Caribbean immigrants, at last in elite colleges. They are concentrated in North east US metros, Eastern seaboard, Florida, California and Texas Metros and suburbs. A large majority of the remaining 65% are from suburbs. The URMs, at least in elite colleges from inner cities are no more than 10-17%.

        Here, note that elite colleges attempt to admit some 31% of student body with minorities, and 4% legacies, 2% athletes; this admission pile is separate from general admissions, and take away some 38% of available spots. In large public state schools, obviously, the percentages vary by state.

        The above results are valid for large public state colleges, and have even higher percentages of “Admission Granted” URMs a percentage of applied; the situation is confused for state colleges because the numbers of admitted URMs who attend the college is proportional to scholarships. The scholarships are a different matter altogether, and beyond the cope of discussion here.

        Reference
        1. Admission preferences of minorities, athletes, legacies in lite universitis, page 1425.

      • vijay

        I apologize for another reply, but I did not explain the term “URM chaser) university admissions in the earlier reply. This term can be understood by looking at the columns of URMs applying, admitted, and attending by universities, subivided into elite, large public, and small private schools. You notice that 5% of elite university applicants are AA, but 39% of those are admitted, but only 10% attending, giving a yield of 29%. The numbers for yield are even less in large public state universities. It can be concluded that the admissions are chasing a small pool of minority applicants, who are in large parts (estimated to be about 33%) composed of children of African and Caribbean immigrants.

      • anonymousskimmer

        No please, thanks very much for all the information.

  • vijay

    I know I am supposed to wait for the TFA essay you are writing, but I want you to consider the following:

    TFA is an elitist equivalent of 1960s peace corps or a Habitat for humanity. For a graduating senior at Harvard, it is a signal equivalent to study abroad or build houses in Nicaragua program. When applying to graduate masters programs, medical schools, an law schools, a 2 year or a four year tour at TFA is roughly equal to 20 percentage points in admission. In addition, the starting salaries for TFA in charter schools (about 50 K for 9 months) in the last few years, is very reasonable. I estimate that some 75% of the TFA kids leave between years 2 and 5, mostly to law schools, med schools, and places that are hard to get employmnt at, such as think tanks.

    TFA Teachers: How Long Do They Teach? Why Do They Leave?
    By Morgaen L. Donaldson and Susan Moore Johnson, Phi Delta Kappan, says this:

    “But, we found that 60.5% of teachers taught in K-12 schools longer than two years and more than one third (35.5%) taught for more than four years. After five years, 27.8% were still in teaching. This retention rate is markedly lower than the 50% estimated for new teachers across all types of schools (Smith & Ingersoll, 2003)”.

    Let the conclusions fly.

  • Redneck Esq

    A view from the mergers-and-acquisitions legal practice: Please, no more effort at promoting black lawyers or pushing blacks into law. Law is cognitively and economically stratified. A man with a 115 IQ can be a fine public defender, district attorney, or car-crash / medical-malpractice / government benefits lawyer, and maybe more blacks in those fields would be good for society. But as an M&A lawyer (or intellectual property lawyer, or appellate lawyer, or other top-flight specialist) the 115 IQ man will be woefully out of his league. The partner ranks in the million-dollar-a-year fields are nearly all white, Asian and Jewish.

    Blacks are no more immune to the desire to live fat on rents extracted from the body politic than other lawyers. Most big firms recruit at minority job fairs and bend over backwards to help young black lawyers along. But water eventually finds it own level. There is just no good solution to this: You can either profile people by their capability (meaning very few blacks get into the lucrative sub-fields to start with), or set lower-capability people up to fail by tossing them into a shark pool with higher-capability people and letting them wash out. Either way, blacks wind up almost entirely shut out of the top economic and status ranks in the field, and a lot of them resent the fact. As you say, there’s a limited pool and a lot of tradeoffs, and I’d argue that law already drains off way too much cognitive talent from all segments of society. Many an IP lawyer would probably be happier as an engineer, but chooses to make five times as much money extracting rents instead.

    And of course the diversity racket is itself a nice means of extracting rent. If you can’t (or choose not to) hack it in the lucrative specialty, there are lots of law-related jobs available for people who want to coordinate diversity outreach programs, teach consciousness-raising continuing legal education seminars, or otherwise capitalize on diverse status to remain employed. Similar programs exist for women lawyers (graduate from law school at age 25, have children when?) and are starting to exist for gay lawyers. It’s all social dead weight, even more so than the law generally.

  • vijay

    I promise that this will be my last reply.

    “I would have assumed that licensure tests for law and medicine weeded out a smarter class of blacks than those weeded out of teaching. Now I’m not as sure. It seems law schools and med schools keep out the not-as-smart whites and Asians while admitting blacks and Hispanics who would only be not-as-smart if they were white or Asian. The med and law school licensure exams, in knowledge of this weeding, are gauged to let in the not-as-smart, secure in the knowledge that these candidates will be mostly black and Hispanic.”

    The above paragraph is based on a wrong understanding of admissions and statistical distributions. The people who do admissions are smart and understand statistical distributions very well, and compensate admissions in very complicated ways.

    Consider a college going (replace by law school or medical school applying) distribution of 56 whites, 12 blacks, 12 asians and 18 hispanics. Of these, black students above 1SD (above the mean = 16% of the population) is comparable or lower than the white and Asian man. Given the population trying to attempt college, if the admissions office were to use test cores (LSAT, MCAT or SAT) then the blacks will be swamped out.

    School or UG grades is used as the second step; that actually help black populations since minorities attend schools dominated by minorities.

    However, the first and foremost criteria i the wholistic approach; this refers to essays, ECs, and other non-measures. They are always used to reach down into test scores and grades to make sure that the percentage distribution of minorities at admission reflects the population.

    However, the admissions are not responsible for graduations, licensure tests, etc, and what follows is what is exactly predicted by test scores.

    Now we have a whole new industry of complaining about graduation, income gap, and so on (http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/race-gap-narrows-in-college-enrollment-but-not-in-graduation/).

    • vijay

      not
      “Is comparable or lower than the white and Asian man”!

      but
      Is comparable or lower than the white and Asian mean”

    • momof4

      I’ve never read any comments on this issue and don’t know if it’s been researched, but my kids’ black friends and classmates all knew (this was starting in the mid-80s) that they would be admitted to elite and competitive colleges with SAT scores, AP classes/scores and GPAs significantly lower than their white peers, let alone their Asian ones. My kids’ friends freely admitted this and avoided the AP-heavy courseload and paced their general work level accordingly. A history of lower academic effort and avoidance of the most challenging coursework might explain some of the SAT/AP disparity and different college grad rates. My observations were in an affluent, highly-educated leafy suburb, where the black kids had the same family income/education as the white/Asian kids, went to the same schools and shared extracurriculars, so the social isolation issue as an explanation for lower college grad rates (from the linked article) – unfamiliar being with white/Asian kids all the time and lack of shared background – wouldn’t apply. I’ve read some reports that URMs admitted with significantly weaker preparation tend to move out of the more demanding/more in-demand majors and might be a contributing factor to post-grad underemployment.

    • momof4

      I did a quick run through a number of state medical licensing boards and all I saw required passage of NBME, FLEX or USMLE exams, which are national and have specific pass scores, outside of state control. The NMBE’s first level is after sophomore year of med school and usually must be passed in order to enter the junior year. The second level is at the end of the senior year and usually must be passed in order to graduate and schools with poor pass rates risk their accreditation. Post-graduate training (residency) is also usually required for licensure and the Board scores weigh heavily on residency applications. During residency there are usually annual, national exams, and programs whose pass rates are weak risk their accreditation. There is also a Board certification exam in each specialty, passage of which is usually required for hospital privileges.

      Nursing licensure exams are also national, with set pass scores. In the past (I know in 1970), some states had tests of such weakness that they were not recognized by other states; hence the move to a single, national standard. I imagine this is also true of physical therapy, medical technologist and similar professions. FWIW

  • anonymousskimmer

    I wonder to what extent the requirements of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act has on ed school affirmative action and the hiring on non-traditionally credentialed teachers.

    The ed schools I presume would prefer that school districts hire their graduates instead of other-credentialed minorities, and Title VII seems to require that the schools not solely use selection criteria which disproportionately impacts based on race.

    Unless the teacher hiring criteria laws (licensure tests) are made in accordance with federal laws which supercede Title VII (either due to being made laws at a later date, or via specific exemption)?

  • Janon

    Just a minor nitpick, but pathologists, radiologists, etc. are physicians.

    The pass rate for national medical licensure exams (FLEX/NBME/USMLE) doesn’t provide much information. Most of the selection in the profession occurs during the process of admission to medical school. The national exams are configured so that the pass rates are very high. However, residency programs use the numerical scores to sort applicants. More competitive specialties and elite programs within all specialties require higher scores for interviews than less competitive specialties and programs. But not every medical student is a prestige whore. There are always good students who could match into ENT or radiology who choose to go into internal medicine. Some of the might be planning on competitive subspecialty fellowships (e.g. cardiology, gastroenterology, etc.), but some of them really want to be generalists for personal reasons.

    • educationrealist

      Sorry about the error–I misread what the BLS was saying.

      And of course, that’s true for teaching, too. A good chunk of teachers are “smart enough” to be other things.

      • Janon

        Absolutely. The math and science teachers I had were very intelligent. Two of them held Ph.D.’s in their respective fields. If the academic job market had been better when they were young, I suspect that the Ph.D.’s would have gone for tenure-track faculty positions at research universities.

      • Apollo

        Depends where the PhDs were from… In most math and science fields someone with a PhD from outside the top 5 or so programs in their field is a long shot for an R1 tenure track job, and outside the top 10 or 15 a longshot for anything but community college or perpetual adjuncting. Teaching high school in a decent district or a private school is probably preferable to either of those outcomes.

        To the original post, teaching high school is probably objectively a better life than scratching out $60K a year chasing ambulances on the wrong side of the tracks or suing the government for disability benefits, which is what the bottom tier of lawyers does (if they can get even that).

        I’ll have to think a little more about the stats you’ve given, but I’m not positive the raw population numbers necessarily imply what you say about the cognitive demands of being a high school teacher vs. a physician. I suspect it is not so much that smart blacks can’t pass the HS teaching exams as that they have more lucrative paths open to them which whites of similar (and even greater) ability do not. I’d be interested to see information on passing rates, for starters.

      • educationrealist

        “I suspect it is not so much that smart blacks can’t pass the HS teaching exams as that they have more lucrative paths open to them which whites of similar (and even greater) ability do not.”

        Um. This is EXACTLY what I am saying. I don’t know how on earth you could read this and think I’m saying that no blacks or only the smartest blacks can pass the teaching exam while they can easily pass the med or law school exam.

        As a secondary point, I’m saying that it’s *possible* that the exams for, say, math teachers (in some states) and doctors are closer than I once thought. That is, if the medical tests were harder, I’d expect more black teachers.

        “I’d be interested to see information on passing rates, for starters.”

        Me, too, if you’re talking about medical boards. And I said as much.

      • Apollo

        The difference is that medical schools are a real, and ultra-selective cut, while ed schools are not. Yes, I’ve read your posts about requiring pre-passage of the exam, but med school acceptance rates hover in the single digits. That is not true of any ed school at all, even the “prestigious” ones (Harvard GSE has an acceptance rate of 33%).

      • educationrealist

        Of course. Where did I say otherwise? But the ed school cut scores are very hard for many African americans to hit–and the ones that can hit them can also hit the med school ones.

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