Encylopedia of Ed, Part I: Things Voldemortean

Every so often I run across a forum  conversation, in which one poster says “Hey, I remember reading a teacher who talks about HBD stuff” or “What’s the blog of that teacher who writes about IQ?” The answer always comes in a minute or two, and the answer is never not me. Like Michael Clayton, I ‘ve made a niche for myself. (I miss Sidney.)

So I’m the HBD teacher. But I write about a lot of stuff. Fox (sigh), not hedgehog. Occasionally, fans of one aspect of my work realize they were playing one of the blind men, with me as the camel. “Um, what? This awesome math teacher thinks immigration is bad for education?” (well, I might have made up the adjective.)

Hence the Encyclopedia, from Controversial to Universal. I original began this as one page, but it’s huge.

So this is Part I, the stuff that keeps me anonymous.

Cognitive Ability

What causes the achievement gap? The Voldemort View: Mean differences in group IQs are the most likely explanation for the academic achievement gap in racial and SES groups.

So many people read the previous statement and say, “Well, this is of course nonsense. Everyone with any understanding of biology knows that race is a social construct, not a biological one. So only ignorant bigots would argue that race is genetically linked to IQ.”

To which I ask, with considerable irritation, where does the View mention biology? Or genetics? You will see no mention of actual science here in this blog.

“Don’t be an idiot,” these people say, “If a gap exists, and it’s cognitive, then what could cause the gap, if not a genetic link to race?”

Who knows? The View is unconcerned with cause of group cognitive differences. At this point, the desirable causes have been all but eliminated: poverty, racism, government spending, parental education, test anxiety. There are no happy answers or easy solutions.

None of the above means that any race is inferior, or that high and low IQs don’t exist in all races. As I understand it, the difference lies in frequency, not range. Nor does it mean that any particular IQ is inferior or less equal. Finally, it doesn’t mean that IQ is destiny.

I try not to stray from the mainstream when I discuss the accepted truths of IQ: it’s accurate, measures something meaningful, predicts a wide range of social outcomes, and average black IQ is one standard deviation below average white IQ, (with Hispanics in between, and Asians slightly above whites). But most people are so ignorant of the mainstream on IQ that they think Charles Murray, he of the dread Bell Curve, and James Flynn, of the much-cited-by-dilettantes Flynn Effect, are at polar opposites on IQ. In fact, the two disagree not on the accepted facts but on the degree to which they hope the gap can be mitigated. From what I can tell, that’s the primary debate among those who actually know about IQ (and I’m just someone who reads a lot about it): those on “the left” like Flynn, or Christopher Jencks, hold out more hope for environmental changes, vocabulary enrichment, than do those on “the right”, like Murray.

Anyway. The Voldemort View essay above is important to understanding this blog, and this short little “Me, too!” piece on Richard Posner, Voldemortean Educational Realist summarizes it very well.

But canonical Ed on IQ is Philip Dick, Preschool and Schrödinger’s Cat.

Then there are the sub-categories.

Cognitive Ability in the Classroom

What it looks like when you’re teaching, at ground level and 60,000 feet.

The Myth of “they weren’t ever taught…”

Algebra and the Pointlessness of The Whole Damn Thing

The false god of elementary school test scores

Two Math Teachers Talk

Push the Right Buttons

Teaching Students with Utilitarian Spectacles

Algebra Terrors

Noahpinion on IQ–or maybe just no knowledge.

Minority Teachers and Cognitive Ability

Every time you hear someone say “We need to upgrade the teaching pool”, understand that they are saying that we need fewer black and Hispanic teachers, and more white teachers. They deny this, but they’re either ignorant or lying. Understand, too, that the data establishing a link between teacher cognitive ability and student outcomes is so slight as to be non-existent. While a basement seems logical—that is, teachers have to have a certain level of smarts—the lack of a connection suggests that we’re comfortably above the basement. There’s as much, if not more, data supporting a link between race of teacher to student outcomes as one of cognitive ability. How’s that for depressing?

Bottom line: we don’t need to upgrade our teaching pool, and we’ve already wiped out a significant chunk of prospective black and Hispanic teachers with the demands of the 1998 Higher Education Act and No Child Left Behind.

Listed in order written:

The lurker in the teacher quality debate

Radio silence on Clarence Mumford

Black teachers, teacher quality, and education reform, revisited

More on Mumford

It’s the Tests, Zitbrains!

The Takeaway from the TFA Study

Teacher Cognitive Ability

Remember that all discussions about teacher quality lead back to race. Teachers, in fact, aren’t like Fredo.

Teacher Quality Pseudofacts, Part I

Teacher Quality Pseudofacts, Part II

Elementary School Teachers: What do they know, and what does it matter?

Teacher Quality Report: Lacking a Certain Quality

Ed Schools and Affirmative Action

The Available Pool

TFA Diversity and the Credibility Gap

Denial

Every so often I just need to rant in frustration. The entire education policy debate takes place while everyone ignores the reality of cognitive ability and hopes desperately it will go away.

Reverse Drinking Game–take a drink every time someone denies the impact of IQ on academic outcomes. One of the shortest essays on the site. Here are longer versions of the same idea.

The Fallacy at the Heart of All Reform (one of my favorite essays, and a good overview of a half century’s education reform).

The Sinister Assumption Fueling KIPP Skeptics?

American Indian Public Charters: What Word Are You Forgetting, People?—it boggles my mind, still, that Andrew Coulson would trumpet an all Asian charter—in Oakland!—as having closed the achievement gap.

Well, no–just some short takes on various folks missing the point or just getting it wrong.

Finding the Bad Old Days–was there ever a time after 1968 in which schools put high-scoring black students into low tracks? Systematically? I went looking through the case law.

Note: except the last, these are all rants at reformers, because progressives have backed away almost entirely from equal outcomes. I consider this a positive development.

College Admissions, Test Prep, and Race

I’ve been writing and thinking about this for over ten years, since I first became a tutor. And yet, I still learn things. For example, in the Chris Hayes essay, I said the only group that might be distorting their abilities through test prep were Asians, but mostly dismissed the possibility. (My doubts on this score are not representative of mainstream IQ research.) I don’t dismiss it anymore. But even if you think I’m a horrible racist IQ determinist, I know my stuff so check out the test prep advice.

Why Chris Hayes Fails–still a good essay for cites. And in the main, what I say still holds true for test prep—it doesn’t distort abilities and it’s not the cause of the black-white achievement gap.

Why Most of the Low Income “Strivers” are White

Kashawn Campbell

College Admissions, Race, and Unintended Consequences

The problem with fraudulent grades

What’s the difference between the SAT and the ACT?

SAT Prep for the Ultra-Rich, And Everyone Else

Fake Grades and Big Money: The KIPP “Pledges”

SAT’s Competitive Advantage—my take on the changes. TL, DR: Everyone’s missing the point.

Advanced Placement Preferences, Asians and Whites

Asian Immigrants (and the Chinese generally)

The first essay on the list blasted out of the box in October 2013 and eclipsed the previous traffic winner (Algebra & Pointlessness), written fifteen months earlier. Big, big hit that, for better or worse, spells out the stereotype about a particular category of Asian immigrant (Chinese/Korean/Indian first or second generation immigrant) and shows why the stereotype exists. For all the touchy writing I do about IQ, this essay is probably the most incendiary on the site. I did not write it lightly, and I’ve still got tons of additional information to arrange into a couple more essays. It’s a tough subject, but I feel it’s important. Few are honestly discussing the influx of Asian immigrants and their impact education and on communities. I love the kids. I’m not sanguine about the impact, given the degree of influx.

2013 and earlier:

Asian Immigrants and What No One Mentions Aloud

An Asian Revelation

Painting Pictures

Enrichment (2012)

Why I teach enrichment, reasons #1138 and beyond (2012)

2014:

The SAT is Corrupt. No One Wants to Know.

College Confidential and Braindumping the SAT

A Talk with an Asian Dad

Timothy Lance Lai: Reading Between the Lines

Building Narratives

2015:

What You Probably Don’t Know About the Gaokao

The Dark Enlightenment

So I was just bopping along, writing my happy little teaching blog, when the Dark Enlightenment decided to adopt my particular brand of adorable puppy.

Well, no. But they adopted me anyway.

I’m not qualified to discuss or characterize the movement, assuming it is one. Certainly Bartlett conflates three things as one: discussion of HBD, a willingness to state facts and opinions that have been deemed unpleasant, and belief that democracy has failed. I’m pretty much the one in the middle. But regardless of the specifics, the dominating ideologies of the Dark Enlightenment or neoreaction are not mine own. While I’m cynical, skeptical, and not approved for prime time in certain areas of social policy, my political ideology has meandered all the way from barely left of center to barely right of same in thirty years’ time. Feel free to disapprove of me for not disavowing my association. This twitter exchange captures my amused bewilderment. I’m so very, very tired of point and sputter.

The Dark Enlightenment and Me

The Dark Enlightenment and Duck Dynasty

Every thing else is pretty harmless.

Part II: The Players
Part III: Teaching
Part IV: Miscellany, Movies, and Me


3 responses to “Encylopedia of Ed, Part I: Things Voldemortean

  • Troy

    Ed, have there been any studies comparing test scores of black students in racially integrated schools and in all/majority-black schools? I thought I read something on your website a while back suggesting that when other differences were controlled for, black students did better in the latter, but I can’t seem to find it.

    • educationrealist

      Don’t think so. That’s an area I’ve been meaning to dig into, but I believe that the answer is once you control for all variables, the improvement isn’t there. There’s been a lot of talk about integration coming from the left, and that’s why I keep meaning to look it up.

      • Troy

        Yes, that’s part of why I asked — I’d seen some recent reports on NPR and elsewhere that integration improved test scores, and I seemed to remember reading the opposite at some point.

        I will be interested in what you have to say if you do blog on it at some point.

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