TO THE DATA THEMSELVES! This weeks striking test results deserve to be seen for themselves: // link // print // previous // next //
FRIDAY, MAY 1, 2009
Progressives of the world, unite: On the progressive TV show Countdown, it was a gala May Day Eve special. The topic of Olbermanns number-one story? Miss California, Carrie Prejean, has been revealed to have breast implants! TVs five million dollar progressive deftly swung into action:
Be sure to read the actual words the corporate hireling said: Our number-one story: Miss California now being accused of using performance-enhancers. (To watch the whole segment, click this.)
As many readers already know, this whole thing started when Prejean was asked to state her view on same-sex marriage. She stated a view slightly to the left of Barack Obamas (and Al Gores, and Hillary Clintons). She therefore had to be trashed on the progressive TV shows which endlessly kiss that presidents keister. Thereby attracting the demo, of course, which these programs exist to stalk.
But uh-oh! Suddenly, it had been revealed that the lady in question has breast implants! As a major TV progressive, Olbermann sensed that he had to act. (Executive producer Bill Wolff may have been called in to help with his thinking.) But the topic was too challenging for one actor alone. And since you cant spell Musto without the word smut, Michael Musto, Village Voice seer, was rushed to a nearby studio.
Progressives of the world, unite! Janeane Garofalo could hardly have said it betteralthough Musto failed to mention Prejeans obvious limbic brain problems. And yes, it made a tasteful lead-in for the next programs host:
The girl was dumb and a ding-dong, Musto explained, as he struggled with her last name. (Olbermann fake-mispronounced her name too, right at the start of the segment. He added the fact that the girl is a boob.) Did we mention that Prejeans position on the issue at hand resembles that of almost all major Dems? Resembles that of President Obama, to cite just one example?
At any rate, the boys went on and onand onwith their clever boob jokes. Musto proved he was a progressive when he announced that he wouldnt call Prejean a c*nt (or even a b*tch, one might assume), as Perez Hilton has done. Because the gentlemen were so clever, we offer you more of their minstrelsy:
No ones quite as progressive as Musto, a regular guest on this TV show. Appreciatively, KeithO closed like this:
The segment had been our guilty pleasure, KeithO told us progressives. And then, he threw to Rachel Maddow, as he does every night at this time.
As readers may know, were not real high on Maddows work to this point. We think she tends to be under-prepared (and over-extended). We think she isnt real sharp on domestic affairs; we think shes made a few very poor judgments. That said, it was a remarkable pie in the face when Olbermann staged this segment of locker-room clowning about boobs and breasts, then threw directly to Maddow. Elsewhere, gentlemen of Olbermanns type get sued for such wonderful workplace humor. But as has occurred since the dawn of time, Maddow was forced to take his pie right in the kisser last night, although we thought she may have seemed a bit offended as the hand-off occurred. (Tape of the opening isnt available at the Maddow Show site.)
Final notes about Prejean for all us May Day pseudos:
Criticizing Prejean for this stance, and for her new affiliations, is perfectly OK, of coursealthough she simply isnt an important public figure. But Prejeans stance has nothing to do with her boobs, or with Olbermanns undying need to denigrate womens intelligence and joke about womens bodies. The fact that this keeps occurring on a progressive TV show is a truly amazing fact about an amazing corporate era. Even more amazing: The fact that a screaming mess like this would then be thrown to a woman host. The fact that few progressives on the liberal web will ever say boo about this.
Progressives of the world, unite! Although few such souls will likely arrive at the meet from the ass-kissing liberal web.
How big a progressive is KeithO: To give you a rough idea: As of this morning, only one newspaper in the whole country has stooped to mention Prejeans implants, or Moaklers ridiculous conduct. (Unless Nexis is somehow deceived.) In other words, that Countdown segment wasnt about same-sex marriage. That segment concerned a very strange mans relentless desire to mock womens bodies and brains. This conduct has persisted for yearson our progressive TV show.
TO THE DATA THEMSELVES: The program known as No Child Left Behind was signed into law by George W. Bush on January 8, 2002. He was president at the time.
This Tuesday, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) released the latest test results from its long-term trend assessment program (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 4/30/09). The tests in question were given last year; testing in this much-admired federal program had last occurred in 2004. As such, these new test scores can be used as a measure of student progress from 2004 through 2008a four-year period which began soon after No Child Left Behind took effect.
To be honest, no: You really cant form detailed judgments about the effects of No Child Left Behind from data like these. We can, however, form two basic judgments from these new test scores:
How did test scores change in the period from 2004 to 2008? A bit of complexity was introduced by a change in NAEP proceduresa change designed to include more kids with disabilities, and more English-language learners, into the testing program. (Click here, then click to page 51, Accommodations and Exclusions.) That said, gains were observed for white kids, for blacks kids and for Hispanic kids, in both reading and math, at all three age groups tested.
What sorts of score gains were observed? Consider the score gains recorded by black kids and white kids in reading. And remember that very rough rule of thumb: A ten-point gain on the NAEP scale is sometimes considered, very roughly, to be the equivalent of one academic year.
From 2004 to 2008, these score gains occurred:
Among 9-year-olds: The average reading score of white kids improved by four points. For black kids, the average reading score improved by seven points. (If that seven-point gain is real, its a very large bump in these scores.)
Among 13-year-olds: The average reading score of white kids improved by three points. For black kids, the average reading score improved by eight points.
Among 17-year-olds: The average reading score of white kids improved by six points. For black kids, the average reading score improved by four points.
Among both black kids and white kids, slightly smaller gains were observed in math, at all age levels tested. (In all cases, the gains were three or five points.) Hispanic kids showed gains at all ages in both subjects too (9-year-olds gained eight points in reading), although the gains were slight among 17-year-old Hispanic kids.
Wed call those score gains quite encouragingespecially because the gains are occurring in the actual lives of real kids, real kids who deserve the best opportunities in their future endeavors. But alas! When they reported these test scores this week, we thought the Washington Post and the New York Times rushed to offer tendentious accounts of what the scores supposedly showed about the merits of No Child Left Behind. Remember? Right at the start of her relatively short report, Maria Glod offered this slightly tortured, pro-No Child assessment in the Post (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 4/29/09):
Unfortunately, the math and reading scores also provided fuel to those who want to denigrate the federal lawat least to judge by the New York Times, where Sam Dillon started like this:
Groan. On Wednesday morning, we thought Glod had started her news report with a bit of forced interpretationuntil we read the report by Dillon, who had tortured the data much more. Scandal! According to Dillon (paragraph 3), more gains occurred during an earlier twenty-year period than have occurred in the past four years! And not only that: No watershed change occurred in the last four years! On these utterly silly bases, Dillon seemed to score No Child Left Behind a bustand a suitable expert was thus found and quoted. This spinning was crammed down readers throats in Dillons opening paragraphs, right on page onebefore he proceeded to review the actual data in some detail. Inside, on page A16.
(By way of contrast, Glods first quote came from Bush Ed Sec Margaret Spellings, who wassurprise!astounded by her own programs massive success.)
In our view, wed all be better off if our newspapers and TV shows paid more attention to the actual data produced by this ballyhooed testing programdata which fly in the face of the gloomy portrait our president offered, somewhat strangely, just last month. If we actually care about low-income and minority kids, we might want to teach ourselves the facts about their historical progresseven before we renew our tedious, often self-involved fights about a highly politicized program. (But teacher! We want to criticize Bush!) By the way: The dueling assessments in these two newspapers were remarkably predictable. The Post tends to love all testing-based programs; the Times tends to look down its nose.
Anyone know why that might be the case? Were heading off for a visit with our niece and her husbandand with our great-niece, whos almost three! For that reason, well wait till Monday to speculate about possible motives. But heres one hint: An obvious financial conflict of interest has long obtained at the Washington Post. Just click here if youre the type who likes to read ahead on such topics. Search on Kaplan Inc., The Post Co.'s education division, which now provides 53 percent of company revenue.
Note: Were not suggesting that the Times work tends to outstrip the Posts. We think the Times tends toward a standard line tootoward a slant which is basically silly. And deeply self-involved.