Waiting for Super-Flynn

The NAEP has begun giving students vocabulary tests.  New Mexico fourth-graders came in 50th out of 50 states – although they still beat DC.   New Mexico usually does abysmally on standardized tests, but we often have managed to score higher than Louisiana or Alabama – and now California is now a contender for the Bottom Five.

Then there’s Mississippi, which until now had been our firewall.  As far as I know, this is the first time we’ve been the lowest-scoring state.  But not the last!

I always enjoy discussions of our educational problems. They remind me of an important  mystery in Andre Norton’s Witch World series: the inhabitants of Estcarp (except for our half-Earthly protagonists) can’t even think about what may lie behind the mountains to the East.  It is as if that direction does not even exist.

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21 Responses to Waiting for Super-Flynn

  1. j says:

    How is the feeling to teach in a Third World state?

  2. rightsaidfred says:

    New Mexico! I believe it has the highest ratio of federal money received for federal taxes payed. Living the dream.

    I always figured New Mexico was a template for our (supposed) country’s future: a few pockets of Liberal wealth (Taos, Sante Fe) where real estate prices and the cost of living chase out the riff raff while the politically correct denizens can hold forth on how we are all equal. The rest is a bit hard scrabble and ethnically aware, thus keeping out immigrants and sucking down all the transfer payments the Liberals can orchestrate from the few remaining business enterprises.

  3. panjoomby says:

    the only real route to higher scores is… selective breeding (gasp – eugenics)
    vs. trying to teach better – b/c
    1) good teaching does NOT make stupid people smarter
    2) biology tends to trump environment
    but since the biological route would take a few generations, that’s too long to wait!

  4. curt dunkel says:

    Panjoomby, drugs or neural implants could work.

  5. 36% of New Mexicans speak a language other than English at home. In Mississippi, the number is 4%. Given this ratio, it’s remarkable that New Mexico could compete with Mississippi in English vocabulary tests at all. Percentages of non-English-speaking K-12 students should be higher yet, because of higher Hispanic birth rates.

    Also, in case you were wondering, New Mexico is not the highest. That honor goes to California, with 44%.

    The curious part is that, while in California most non-English-speakers are first generation immigrants, in New Mexico, the majority of those 36% are native born.

    • gcochran says:

      “The majority of Hispanics in New Mexico claim a Spanish ancestry, especially in the northern part of the state. These people are the descendants of Spanish colonists who arrived during the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries. ” So says Wiki. When annexed, after the Mexican War, there were enough of them to hold onto their culture and language. They have their own dialect, which has elements of 16th century Castilian (along with words from Amerindian languages, and of course from English). They’ve also got their own founder-effect genetic problems, since that original colonization group was small.

      But they don’t do well in school (on average). Not even after six generations as US citizens.

      • Right, but the fact that they don’t speak English at home is a separate hit against any test that measures the proficiency in English, especially in early grades.
        In 2011 NM was tied for the last place with Alaska in 4th grade reading, but it was 6th to 8th from the end in 8th grade science and math.

      • Eliezer Ben-Yehuda says:

        A claim is made that a significant fraction of those northern NM people have Israelite blood dating back to the violent forced conversions in the 1400′s in Spain. Efforts are being made to “reclaim” them and bring them back to Israel. http://www.shavei.org

  6. I don’t see any problem at all with this. Concern with “closing the gap” sucks energy from people who would otherwise pursue causes that lead to bullying and pushing people around, like gun control or right to life or eugenics. Gap closing does cost us a lot of money, Head Start and beyond, but otherwise is a fairly harmless preoccupation.

    Of course trouble follows when any of these become too popular. Eugenics at the beginning was genteel liberals urging the poor to have fewer children, i.e. harmless, but when it became mainstream it lead to massive abuses. Let us hope that we can keep the lid on the the gap closers.

    • gcochran says:

      You are so wrong, Henry.

      • j mct says:

        I’d have to disagree with you there.

        First of all, a ‘progressive’ is word that basically means someone who’s thinking is fashionable, and progressives are always men of their time so to speak, as in you can usually date a progressive or fashionable in his day, type writer by what he says, just like archaeologists date pot shards by the artistic motif’s used in the decorative painting on them. What such people usually think is generally pretty stupid because intellectual fashion is set by people with a passion for ideas, people who like to think. If one were to take the top 5% of the people in the passion for ideas metric and estimate how many people in this metric also were in the top 5% in having a talent for thinking as distinct for a passion for thinking, or are actually good at thinking as in getting it right, the number would be slightly north of 5%, if higher than 5% at all. No one mistakes being good at golf from liking to play, but they do it with thinking all the time, and thinking is something one does, a deed, just like hitting a golf ball.

        The title of that ‘Liberal Fascism’ book from a few years ago might not work exactly, but if were titled or subtitled, ‘Stuff the intellectually fashionable people of yesteryear thought that intellectually fashionable people of today would find odious and despicable and stupid’ would work, if one thinks of intellectual fashion meandering around aimlessly without any discernable direction that is internal to it, or with this idea in mind, one finds calling it ‘progressive’ laughter inducing, it works just fine.

        So now such people are into ‘closing the gap’. If the gap is closeable, it’s from nurture rather than nature, these people still will never close it since in order to do so, one will have to close the ‘growing up in an in tact home versus a broken home’ gap first, and the intellectually fashionable do not seem to be even slightly interested in this at all, if anything the premises one would have to adopt to go this way are odious to them, no matter how right they are.

        Once upon a time, eugenics was all the rage. Now, it’s obviously not now, it would be like wearing a hooped skirt or a perulke to a 2012 New Year’s Eve Party. Auschwitz was the physical plant for a ambitious eugenics project. This gets buried under a lot of stuff, mostly put forward by Jews, which is quite natural and human for Jews to do, since the truth is so unflattering. No, it was not because the Nazi’s hated Jews because Jews were so awesomely better than Germans in some way, and not because of Christianity in some way, though some people might have thought that. It was because they thought that Jews were an inferior breed of human, and culling them out of the European gene pool would be eugenic. The thinking was that Jews are great bsers to be sure, but the 1000 year reich wasn’t going to be a parliamentary democracy and isn’t going to have any finance capital, and that merchants or shopkeepers were useless middlemen that didn’t add to society, so what Jews were thought to be good at wasn’t needed, and that was about all, as such thinking went, they were good for. The anti semite of that time thought that an entire country staffed top to bottom by Jews, from the farmers to the soldiers and on up, was a ludicrous idea which would never work, and that Jews were a parasite race in need of a host, and they weren’t good for the host. In the German’s case they were holding the Aryans back from their glorious destiny which seemed to be recreating ancient Laconia on a European scale with the Germans as the Spartans. If you think this, then, “Something must be done!” naturally follows, and Auschwitz was what was done.

        Most eugenicists weren’t this crazy and/or stupid, but they were crazy enough that all that craziness was thinkable and was sincerely believed in by enough, intellectually fashionable people in a certain time and place for them to be acted upon. Given that Jews punch above their weight as to what’s intellectually fashionable, is it any surprise that eugenics is such a verboten topic?

        So now closing the gap is ‘in’. Sure, they’ll never close it, and the way it’s fashionable to think about how to close it will never work, even if it is closeable, but compared to what’s been ‘in’ in the past, it is relatively benign, since the badness that will occur and is occurring because of it, will mostly be a waste of money. As there is much ruin in a nation, there is always lots of stupidity in every age of man, because man is stupid. So I guess I agree with Henry on that. Sorry this got so long.

    • erica says:

      “Gap closing does cost us a lot of money, Head Start and beyond, but otherwise is a fairly harmless preoccupation.”

      “Harmless”?

      Wow, if you could see/experience at the lower levels of public education the machinations, the lies, the obfuscations, the turmoil and conflict fostered among staff, the effect on student behavior (yeah, kids are hip to when adults bend over backwards to hide the truth or when they cowtow to interest groups promoting untruths), and the effect on parents, the manhours wasted, the money wasted, and worst of all, the setting of attitudes that then spread out into the larger society by having created citizens and voters who are just fine with pretty lies that are passed off as truths so that we can believe in unicorns all the time in every way instead of acknowledging reality and working from there, then I don’t understand the term “harmless.”

      Maybe I misunderstood your words, Dr. Harpending. Could you expand on them?

    • rightsaidfred says:

      Eric Schmidt wants us to “outrun the robots”. I think we need to craft a world where Eric Schmidt is in no position to tell us what to do.

  7. Luke says:

    OT, but when are you going to cover that paper on the epigenetics of homosexuality: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/668167

    • The fourth doorman of the apocalypse says:

      I imagine he will get to it when he damn-well feels like it. Besides, I implied such a question days ago.

    • josh says:

      The liberal commentary on it, so far, is really funny. They think that homosexuality is ‘genetic’, but what about male and female ‘preferences’? Are they genetic? Nope, they’re socially constructed.

  8. TWS says:

    I read the Witch World books in grade school. I had forgotten about the whole “what’s over the mountain” thing until you reminded me. I thought ‘he’ (like many boys I was fooled by her nom de plume) was talking about some sin or evil that grown ups kept from children. Now while her writing seems stilted it does appear to have more depth even if unintentional than a nine year old boy credited her for.

    Thanks for the reminder of years gone by.

  9. Holm says:

    This is very popular in many struggling schools…kids not passing state assessments just need more rigor!

    http://schools.nyc.gov/Academics/CommonCoreLibrary/ProfessionalLearning/DOK/default.htm

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