SCAMMING THE GLOBE! When the Nation reported the state of the schools, the scamming was quite general: // link // print // previous // next //
TUESDAY, AUGUST 31, 2010
Ed Schultz rejects Dr. King: Some of us liberals have made perfect sense in our reviews of the Glenn Beck event. (We plan to review Becks effort on Friday.) Then too, some of us liberals have been quite ugly. Others have merely been comical.
For comical, lets talk Bill Press, a favorite of ours for years. Watching Sundays Reliable Sources, we were saddened by the way he has declined.
For years, Press sat at the top of the cable heap, co-hosting CNNs Crossfire. During that era, Press was a sane, intelligent liberaland he wasnt a hater. We even did a whole morning of radio with Brother Bill at one point! But now, the liberal world has re-emerged from the woods, where it spent so many years napping. Apparently, Press has decided that he must play the fool if he hopes to hang on.
Well-scripted liberals are very angry that Beck wont apologize for one of his stupidest remarksthe claim, advanced in July 2009, that Obama is a racist. But as we jump about and play, feigning outrage and offense and dumbing ourselves down in the process, lets examine the way a leading liberal apologizes for his own stupid remarks. Sorry, but this was pathetic:
That was just sad. Earlier, though, we had averted our gaze as Press attempts to be a Tough Modern Pseudo-Liberal produced remarks which were simply comical. Heres how it began:
Pedants may recall the fact that a famous preacher named Dr. King once talked about God on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. But as Kurtz questioned Press a bit further, Press remarks went over the shark. This is how silly we liberals can get when we agree to play at being fashionably angry:
We shouldnt talk about God at the Lincoln Memorial because its a sacred spot! The analysts groaned and writhed.
(Inside the Memorial, on the wall, Abraham Lincoln talks about God. The Almighty has His own purposes If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him?)
Press was comically awful. Others have been remarkably ugly. The spirit of Dr. King was nowhere around as an increasingly ugly man spouted and fumed and hated last night. We refer, of course, to Big Ed Schultz, who was offended by all the old white people who had appeared on the mall:
Denouncing Beck as a hate merchant, Schultz kept bringing the hate himself. He stoked the anger of his viewers, complaining that Beck wont apologize for that idiotic remark. (Although, to be honest, he pretty much has.) And as haters have always done through the years, he denounced his foes by the tens of thousandsperhaps by the hundreds of thousands. Beck had brought out a crowd of angry old white people. These angry old white people just cant seem to stomach the fact that we have a black man in the White House, Schultz said, denouncing them all.
Ed Schultz is a rapidly devolving disgrace; increasingly, hes a flat-out hate merchant. But there has been a lot of this sort of thing as liberals complain about the way Beck has dishonored Dr. Kings sacred memory. Ugly insults have been widely directed at those who dared attend this event. The name-calling has been widespreadand so have the lofty invocations of Dr. Kings legacy. Last Friday, Steve Benen offered this lofty thought from his spot of a tuffet, as he waited for the right-wing zealots to assemble at the mall:
According to Benen, the confused people at the event had tried to destroy the King legacya legacy they dont understand. They can't comprehend why King was a giant, this arrogant know-little said, allowing for no exceptions.
They cant comprehend why Dr. King was a giant? Neither can ugly haters like Schultz. Tomorrow, well recall one part of Dr. Kings legacy, quoting his words as we go.
Dr. Kings legacy is a mountain. Ed Schultz, mouthing words of hate, would be loved by Dr. King all the same.
PART 6SCAMMING THE GLOBE (permalink): Its hard to grasp the amount of scam involved in our nations education reportingthe reporting which comes from the mainstream press corps and from the liberal world.
On the one hand, the mainstream press is profoundly inept in such reporting, even at the highest levels. Beyond that, our biggest newspapers often play civic booster in the case of local and state education establishments. Example: In the past month, the New York Times has vastly underplayed the scandal involved in the state of New Yorks disavowal of its recent statewide tests. The state has basically copped to a multi-year fraudbut the great grey lady has tiptoed about, pretending it hasnt quite noticed. The state has said that its statewide tests got easier down through the years, essentially rendering them uselessbut no one is making any attempt to tell us how this occurred. Years of test scores lie in the trash, the near-definition of fraud.
At least the Times has reported the fact that past scores have been thrown down the drainin effect, have been rendered inoperative. As you may recall, the Washington Post did even less in 2006, when the state of Virginia admitted to a statewide scam involving its test score reporting procedures. In that case, the chairman of Virginias board of education acknowledged to us, after months of effort, that the states procedures couldnt be defended (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 3/23/06). In effect, the state had systematically overstated passing rates at all its schools, all over the state, especially at low-income schools.
In the Virginia case, the nature of the fraud was so clownish that it almost defies description. But even after the state admitted the scam, the Washington Post refused to report what had happened. Jay Mathews made a brief mention on his blog; a columnist at the (Norfolk) Virginia-Pilot wrote a column about the matter (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 3/20/06) But to all intents and purposes, Virginia citizens were never told that their state had conducted a multi-year scam, in which all passing rates, from all public schools, had been overstated.
By the way: We didnt know it at the time, so we didnt report it. But sitting on the Virginia board of education at the time was Andrew Rotherham, a liberal educational expert who served during the Clinton administration and later appeared on a few short lists for Obamas secretary of education. In fairness, Rotherham wasnt appointed to the nine-member board until February 2005. (To scope the current board, click this.) But that means that he had been in position for almost a year when we started kicking and screaming about this matter, in February 2006. You know how these educational experts can be! Here at THE HOWLER, we managed to notice, and document, the giant fraud the state was conducting. But the matter had somehow escaped Rotherhams expert notice.
Repeat: Its hard to grasp the mammoth incompetence involved in our education reporting. The mainstream press is inept; liberal journals dont care. And good lord! Those educational experts! Especially the ones on our side!
What happens when liberals report on the schools? Sadly, the scamming can be quite extensive. When major liberals descend to earth to discuss the interests of black and brown kids, a scam is often waiting to happen. So it was, in various ways, when The Nation published its special education issue on June 14 of this year. (For access to all articles, click here.)
How overt will the scamming be when left-leaning journals discuss public schools? It can be quite overt. The problem often starts with an ideological imperativean imperative which may require inaccurate/misleading recitations of facts. According to tenets of Hard Liberal Law, the gloom must be general when intellectual leaders assess the effects of No Child Left Behind and its major points of emphasis. And so it was in the Nations special issuefor example, when Linda Darling-Hammond provided a grim overview of the current state of play in the schools.
Darling-Hammond, a Stanford professor, is a liberal educational expert. She was an adviser to Candidate Obama; she then headed the team which selected the president-elects secretary of education. She herself appeared on some short lists for the post; we would have been perfectly happy to see her chosen. That said, the gloom was general as her piece in The Nation began. And if you want to be perfectly frank, the scams did seem to be several:
That overview was very gloomyand somewhat scam-ridden. In fact, the achievement gaps are not larger today than in 1988, if we are working from the NAEP long-term trend data, the data typically used by researchers to study such questions. Meanwhile, achievement by black and Hispanic kids is substantially higher today than it was in 1988, a fact Darling-Hammond completely failed to discuss. (For data, come back tomorrow.) But to see how slickly we liberals can get misled when our great experts start scamming the globe, just consider this puzzling passage as Darling-Hammond continues her gloomy assessment:
The United States ranked thirty-fifth out of the top forty countries in math? A bit surprised by this rock-bottom showing, especially when compared to results on other international tests, we found ourselves wondering why Darling-Hammond had included an extra word: top.
Answer: To all appearances, top was included in that sentence to help scam liberal readers. (Does the Nation proof-read this stuff?) Darling-Hammonds sentence is technically accurate; the United States did rank thirty-fifth out of the top forty countries on that four-year-old PISA math test. But in fact, fifty-seven countries took part in the PISA study, not the forty mentioned by Darling-Hammond; if she hadnt been trying to scam you, Darling-Hammond might have said that the United States ranked thirty-fifth out of the 57 total countries which took part in the test (click here). Plainly, this wasnt a desirable performance (the PISA tests 15-year-old students); it just didnt produce as awful an outcome as the one Darling-Hammond seemed to describe. Similarly, the United States finished twenty-ninth out of fifty-seven countries on the four-year-old PISA science test, right exactly in the middlenot twenty-ninth out of forty, as Darling-Hammond inaccurately wrote.
We e-mailed Professor Darling-Hammond twice, asking her to explain her construction, but we got no reply. If we have misunderstood what she wrote, well be happy to tell you.
Lets review. Darling-Hammond seemed to misstate the facts about achievement gapsand she simply omitted the facts about gains in achievement itself. Completing the hat trick, she seemed to perform a bald-faced scam about this countrys standing on one international test. But so it often goes when liberal educational experts help us proles picture the state of the schools. Just consider the various things Diane Ravitch said in her report in the Nation.
We know, we knowRavitch, an old Bush 41 hand, isnt exactly a liberal. But she has now repented her ways and reversed her stands; she now reliably says bad things about accountability and choice. (Back when she had significant influence, she strongly supported such approaches.) Beyond that, she now reliably says bad things about No Child Left Behind and its points of emphasis. Presumably for this reason, Ravitch was asked to share her patented cherry-picked data in the Nations special issue.
Like Darling-Hammond, Ravitch painted a gloomy picture of the current state of the schools. In the following passage, she accurately describes the interplay between state-devised, statewide testing programs and the federally managed NAEP testing program. And sure enough! She presents her first piece of cherry-picked data, about Texas, deceiving us rubes as she does:
In Texas, eighth-grade reading scores have been flat for a decade on the NAEP, Ravitch says. This claim isnt quite correct, but the gains have been fairly small. Since 1998, white kids in Texas have gained two points on the eighth-grade NAEP reading test; black kids have gained three points, Hispanic kids have gained two. (According to a very rough rule of thumb, ten points on the NAEP scale is often said, by major players, to equal one academic year.) But here, as elsewhere, Ravitch cherry-picked the grade and subject she chose to cite. She only mentions eighth-grade reading, the area where American schools have had the most trouble making progress on the NAEP. (The NAEP tests math and reading in fourth and eighth grades.)
In the other three areas tested, Texas kids have shown large gains on the NAEP since 1998. In fourth-grade reading, black kids have gained a walloping 22 points from 1998 to 2009; Hispanic kids have gained ten. On fourth-grade math, black kids have gained eleven points since 2000 (there was no math test in 1998); Hispanic kids have gained eleven points, white kids have gained twelve. In eighth-grade math, white kids have gained 14 points; black kids have gained 22 points, Hispanic kids fifteen. In short, there have been significant score gains in Texas on the NAEP in three of the four areas tested; Ravitch only mentioned the one area where score gains have been rather slight. But so it quite typically goes as we liberals get turned into rubes. (For all data, click here, then click on State Comparisons. Youre on your own from there. Be sure to compare apples to apples when it comes to accommodations.)
As she continued, Ravitch kept spreading the gloom. Now, she spoke of the nation as a wholebut her claims were still quite selective, and her central claim was just wrong:
Seeming to speak about national progress, Ravitch claimed that scores on NAEP have increased slowly or not at all from 1998 to the present. With this claim, we finally get where the rubber meets the roadand we meet an absurdly inaccurate claim, the kind of claim we liberals love when reading about No Child Left Behind and its points of emphasis. In Sundays Washington Post, George Will painted a somewhat similar picture, stressing the alleged lack of progress by black school kids in the past several decades. Tomorrow, well review Wills representation, then stack it against the relevant data. Well assess Ravitchs pleasingly gloomy claims at the same time.
For today, well only say this: The gloom was general as Darling-Hammond and Ravitch outlined the state of American education. The scams were rather general too. But this has been the name of the game for as long as weve followed education reporting, dating back to the early 1970s. Is there any area of American life where so many thumbs land on so many scales, misleading us proles in the process?
Here at THE HOWLER, we were right about the fraud in Virginia, as the chairman of the state board quite graciously said. We were right, in the past decade, as we repeatedly questioned the state of New Yorks statewide test scores. By way of contrast, the educational experts dozed in the woods, seeing, hearing, reporting no evilexcept when they cherry-picked and misstated data as they went scamming the globe.
Liberal experts to black kids: Drop dead! Given the way we liberals race-bait today, why wouldnt that be a reasonable summary of the Nations misadventure in June?
Tomorrowpart 7: Lets take a look at the data!
Flip-flop-flips dont count: Theres nothing wrong with changing your mind when data contradict prior beliefs. For ourselves, weve been surprised by the strength of the data over the years since accountability and choice began holding sway in American schools, long before No Child Left Behind. (For our money, Darling-Hammonds article starts at an appropriate placewith the Bush Education Summit of 1989. The event was co-chaired by someone named Governor Clinton, whose name has been scrubbed from Darling-Hammonds account, making the general history a bit more pleasing for liberals.
Theres nothing wrong with changing your mind. But for sheer entertainment, note the way Ravitch describes her own change of mind at the start of her Nation piece. For entertainment purposes, we suggest that you read her full account. But heres the most comical passage:
According to Ravitch, she didnt really do a U-turn. She just reverted to the time before [she] jumped on the bandwagon of organizational change and accountability!
She didnt really do a flip-flop; it was really a flip-flop-flip! It simply reversed the error she made when she jumped on that previous bandwagon!
At the Nation, fiery editors read that wonderfully comical passageand they saw nothing wrong.