THE BEST LACK ALL INSTRUCTION! Leonhardt and Klein are the brightest and best. They bungled the hottest new topic: // link // print // previous // next //
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 7, 2010
When we practice to hate and to lose/NAACP edition: Truth to tell, the dumbness is probably worse than the hatred. But fresh off its recent accusation that Shirley Sherrod was a slobbering racist, the NAACP is helping us see the downward spiral, in morality and intelligence, of the liberal world.
In Saturdays Washington Post, Krissah Thompson reported on the NAACPs new Tea Party Tracker sitea site intended to monitor racism and other forms of extremism within the Tea Party movement (click here). In theory, that could be a constructive endeavorin theory. But how much do we liberals now love to hate? Try to grasp the amazing dumbness captured in Thompsons accurate report about the new sites contents:
The dumbness of that highlighted point would be hard to overstate. So would the extent to which such nonsense teaches liberals to hateand to lose.
Lets understand: Someone went to the Beck event looking for evidence of racism. The size of the crowd was estimated at 97,000 by CBS Newsat 300,000 by NBC.
Lets suppose the crowd was just 97,000. In that massive throng, the NAACP managed to find one person, wearing one t-shirt, which it found offensive. It posted a photo of the t-shirt on-line, saying this constitutes evidence of racism within the Tea Party. Or something.
The NAACP went to the rallyand all it got was that one lousy t-shirt! If you dont understand the sheer stupidity involved in the decision to post and publicize that photo, we wont attempt to help you. We will say this: The NAACPs post should go straight to Guinness Book of World Records, where it could be hailed as the all-time greatest example of the practice known as nut-picking.
Until recently, liberals derided the practice of nut-picking. Now, we cling to its fruits.
(In a second post about Becks event, the NAACP links to this pathetic report from ThinkProgressa report intended to counter the claim that the rally was non-political. How dumb are big liberal orgs now willing to be? Go check that ThinkProgress post, which is an utter embarrassment, unless your IQ is 9.)
Back to the t-shirt post: The stupidity of that post is astoundingbut it also borders on the hateful in its desire to slime tens of thousands of people based on one lousy t-shirt. We will only warn you of this: Last Monday and Tuesday, Glenn Beck was (quite successfully) using this sort of liberal conduct to flip long-standing historical frames on the civil rights movement. Repeatedly, he played videotape of nasty pseudo-liberal commentators denouncing the old white people who attended the rally; he interspersed these nasty rants with interviews with calm, sane people at the actual event. The flip in frames was quite astounding. Loud, inane haters like Matthews and Schultz were suddenly cast in the role of the nasty, snarling southern sheriffs of the 1950s and 1960s. (Beck didnt say this; he didnt have to.) Becks followers were cast in the role he has prepared for them all yearthe role of decent, non-violent people being unfairly reviled. (Liberals dont know hes been doing this. Were too lazy to watch his program.)
Lucky for liberals, Bad Beck returned last Wednesday; he offered a stream of nasty, ludicrous claims in which everyone in the Obama administration was a Communist and/or a lover of Mao. But when liberals engage in the ludicrous conduct defined by that post about that one t-shirt, were asking for political death. We are practicing for defeat, the one thing weve always been good at. (Along with napping in the woods, our approach to the Clinton-Gore years.)
(Once again, well recommend Dr. Kings ruminations on his opponentshis views on the hearts and minds of people who were actively trying to kill him. RememberDr. King was the greatest achiever of progressive outcomes of the past century. See THE DAILY HOWLER, 9/3/10. Better yet, read Dr. Kings books. In the past few years, have you read Strength to Love, a primer for progressive victory?)
Back to the NAACP, an organization grown so inept that it recently declared that Shirley Sherrod was a slobbering racist:
They went to the Glenn Beck eventand all they got was that one lousy t-shirt! If you dont understand how deeply stupid the NAACPs web post is, we wont even try to explain it. But how much do some of us liberals now practice hate? Just consider a link we followed from Digby over the weekend.
Do liberals love to hate at this point? In this post, Digby directed us buck-toothed readers to a post by Howie Kleina post about Arizona governor Jan Brewer. (Happy reading, she cheerfully said.) Heres the headline on the post to which we were directed:
Because it runs in the blood! Kleins point: Governor Brewer has a son who is mentally ill. In fact, because he committed violent crimes in 1989, Brewers son has been judged criminally insane in the courts. Maybe this is why Brewer sounded like a lunatic, Klein thoughtfully mused. Digby linked us to his post, wishing us happy reading.
Some have been puzzled by the claim that Digby has become a bit of a hater. If you still cant see the emerging pattern, we again wont attempt to explain.
(Governor Brewer has another son who died of cancerjust click here. Who knows? Maybe Digby and Howie can craft a takedown from that!)
Final point: This sort of thing represents disastrous politics for progressivesbut in its heart of hearts, it starts to border on evil. Hate is spreading through the pseudo-liberal world, although the stunning mega-dumbness is probably that much worse.
If this sort of thing didnt exist, Karl Rove would probably try to invent it. Warning: Before Bad Beck returned last Wednesday, Good Beck was flipping the frame on liberals in truly amazing ways. But then, we liberals are historically good at two things: Napping in the words for long periods, followed by energetic bursts in which we practice to lose.
PART 8THE BEST LACK ALL INSTRUCTION (permalink): The story came from a mythical empire. Blinkered citizens couldnt grasp an obvious facttheir emperor was wearing no clothes.
A similar situation obtains in our country. For rational people, its hard to grasp the extent to which liberal and mainstream elites dont give the first flying fig about the public schoolsabout the interests of black kids.
Well soon refer to David Leonhardt and Ezra Klein, two of the brightest, most valuable players in the whole mainstream press corps. But lets start with a front-page report in the New York Timesa clear, well-written piece by San Dillon about the hottest new craze in the educational world.
Dillon wrote about value-added modeling, a system used to evaluate teachers based on their students test scores. The method is very hot, Dillon said, with some saying it is an effective method for increasing teacher accountability, and others arguing that it can give an inaccurate picture of teachers work.
How hot is this new method of teacher-evaluation? Use of value-added modeling is exploding nationwide, Dillon correctly wrote. Hundreds of school systems, including those in Chicago, New York and Washington, are already using it to measure the performance of schools or teachers it has also been a factor in deciding who receives bonuses, how much they are and even who gets fired. The Obama Administration is supporting the use of the value-added method, Dillon seemed to say. And the Los Angeles Times has gone front-page with the method, in a remarkable way. The paper used a value-added method to evaluate more than 6000 city teachers, Dillon reported. The Los Angeles Times has even made these teachers value-added ratings available on-line.
Value-added is very hot. Eventually, Dillon gave a fairly clear explanation of the way the method works. Sorryit takes several paragraphs:
The concept is blindingly simple. If a student scored in the 50th percentile last year, she is predicted to score in the same percentile this year. If she scores in a higher percentile (the 60th percentile, lets say), her teacher gets credit for the ten-point gain. If she scores in a lower percentile (for example, the 40th percentile), her teacher gets blamed for the drop.
For our money, theres one key point which Dillon didnt make sufficiently clear. Here it is: Under this system, Teacher A may be rated more effective than Teacher B, even if Teacher Bs students end up with higher test scores. Heres how that works:
If Teacher A is assigned lower-achieving kids, but they improve over last years performance, Teacher A is rated effective. If Teacher B is assigned higher-achieving kids, but they drop from last years level, Teacher B is rated ineffectiveeven if her kids score higher, on an absolute scale, than the less-capable kids assigned to Teacher A.
The basic concept here is bone-simple. Thats why its sad to read Dillons accurate statement: Use of value-added modeling is exploding nationwide.
According to Dillons accurate statement, use of value-added modeling is exploding nationwide in the year 2010. To us, thats a rather sad statement, precisely because the concept here is so bone-simpleand because the need for this type of analysis has been around so long.
A bit of basic history might be helpful here:
Basic point: The use of test scores to judge teachers and schools isnt new in recent years. For ourselves, we came to Baltimore in 1969. Starting that fall, we taught our first fifth-grade class; in April 1970, we administered the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills to that class, as teachers were required to do all over the state of Maryland. When the test scores were released, they were published in the Baltimore Sun, on a grade-by-grade basis, for every school in the Baltimore area.
Test scores were published for every school, on a grade-by-grade basis. This was an annual practice at the Sunin the early 1970s! By the mid-1970s, the Baltimore school system was adopting some rather questionable test preparation procedures, hoping to drive those test scores upeven though it was already clear that flat-out cheating was underway in certain schools in the city. (In those days, white flight was often tied to the belief that city schools were no darn good. Major cities hoped to slow that flight to the burbs by getting their test scores up.)
Simple story: Standardized testing was in wide use by the early 1970s; it isnt something that got invented by No Child Left Behind. Results from these tests were widely used, in various ways, for accountability purposes. And even then, everyone with an ounce of sense knew that you couldnt simply compare results from one school (or classroom) to the next; you had to adjust for demographic factors. The Baltimore Sun didnt waste a lot of ink on upper-class suburban schools which got high scores, since that was the predictable norm. The Sun did invest a lot of ink on schools in the inner city which turned out high test scores. (At least one of those schools was flat-out cheating, in ludicrous ways, as we told the Sun at the time, to no avail. See THE DAILY HOWLER, 7/8/05.)
Duh. Everyone knew, in the 1970s, that test scores meant different things depending on the demographics of the school or classroom at issue.
What that in mind, the value-added method is sweeping the nationforty years later! Its stunning to think that it took so long for such a bone-simple concept to be developed and adopted. If we want to be a bit unkind, we might even say this: It shows how little anyone cares about what goes on in our public schools, despite all the talk we hear in the presstalk which is typically derived from our hapless educational experts.
Those experts tend to be Potemkinsexperts in appearance alone. (As our society keeps devolving, Paul Krugman keeps making the same observation about our expert economists.) Their observations grind exceedingly slow, as has been true in this instance. Watching the glacial way we proceed, the apocryphal visitor from Mars might well draw an unkind conclusion: In the United States, no one really gives a fig about the public schools.
Since minority kids get the worst outcomes in those schools, the visiting Martian might also think this: No one actually gives a fig about the interests of back kids.
There are major exceptions to such generalizations. But amazingly few of those exceptions are found in the liberal world.
Tomorrow, well review the stunning disinformation conveyed in Robert Samuelsons latest column in the Washington Post (click here). On Thursday, well conclude our current back-to-school series with some dreams for the new school year.
But first, consider David Leonhardts remarkable piece in Sundays New York Times magazine.
Dave Leonhardt is very smart; beyond that, hes a clear writer. Plainly, hes one of the smartest, and most constructive, writers in the whole mainstream press corps. In Sundays magazine, he wrote about a statistical technique called value-added analysis, focusing on the recent work done by the Los Angeles Times. But good grief! He never explained the particulars about the way value-added worksand he offered a strikingly bungled account of the methods possible limitations:
Leonhardt cited two possible problems with value-added analysis. Incredibly, the second problem he describes is the very problem the method was designed to address! Principals may deliberately assign slow learners to certain teachers, unfairly lowering their scores, Leonhardt wrote. Thats true, of courseand theres nothing automatically wrong with that type of class assignment. But people! That is precisely the type of problem value-added analysis was designed to address! Leonhardt is as smart as it gets in the mainstream pressand he seemed to have no idea how this new method works.
Neither did his editor. But theres no big surprise there.
Ezra Klein is in the same category as Leonhardt; hes as smart as it gets in the mainstream press. (For his superlative piece in Sundays Post about the future of Social Security, just click here.) But uh-oh! In a Friday blog item, Klein linked to Leonhardts magazine piece, which had already been posted on-line. But good grief! Klein specifically posted the puzzling passage weve excerpted above, without seeming to realize it didnt make sense. He too didnt seem to know how value-added works.
Does anyone care about public schools? Does anyone care about black kids? It ought to be an utter embarrassment that value-added is exploding nationwide forty years after the nation began using test scores to evaluate teachers and schools. But even now, as this method explodes, the smartest people in the press corps dont seem to know how it works! Even the best lack all instruction when it comes to our public schools! And by the way: Value-added has only hit the New York Times front page within the past week. But in the Washington Monthly, the method was discussed in detail, in a lengthy report, way back in 2005! Even then, we were surprised to see Kevin Drum enthuse about this method, in a perfectly accurate post (click here). The reason? Kevin Drum is very smartand the basic idea behind this method was embarrassingly simple even then. This breakthrough was massively overdue, even in 2005.
Does anyone care about public schools? Does anyone care in the liberal world? Leonhardt and Klein are both very smart. But good grief! Five years after that piece appeared in the Monthly; in the wake of clear news reports in the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times; they still didnt seem to know how this hot new method works. Amazingly, Leonhardt wrote an entire magazine piece on the method without seeming to know.
Does anybody care about black kids? Within the liberal world, the answer has been clear. Routinely, the answer has been no, for a large number of years.
Tomorrow: Astounding disinformation (again)
Thursday: Thrilling conclusion! Maybe this is the year!