Midnight City

Perhaps we should just call this “downgrade.” The future ain’t what it used to be, with the thought of some Blade Runner reality no longer the great fear; something similar to Minority Report, however, makes more sense.

Midnight City for much of America: Until we confront the reality of black dysfunction that is…

And in today’s minority report, the notion that Waiting for Superman to fix the American education system is cast to aside. Educators no longer “believe that a man can fly”… instead, they believe that standards must be lowered [D.C. schools set new achievement targets for students by race and income, Washington Post, by Emma Brown, 9-18-2012]:

Every public school in the United States has aimed for the same goal over the past decade: that all students be proficient in math and reading by 2014. 

But that noble ambition, educators and experts almost universally agree, was never realistic. Now, in the District and many states, goals over the next five years tend to be lower for black, Hispanic and poor children than they are for white and Asian students, and in the District, they tend to be higher at schools in affluent areas than in poor neighborhoods. It’s a policy shift that strikes some parents as a form of prejudice. 

Officials say the new targets account for differences in current performance and demand the fastest progress from students who are furthest behind. The goals vary across much of the country by race, family income and disability, and in Washington, they also vary by school. 

At Anacostia High, which draws almost exclusively African Americans from one of the District’s most impoverished areas, officials aim to quadruple the proportion of students who are proficient in reading by 2017, but that would still mean that fewer than six out of 10 pass standardized reading tests. Across town at the School Without Walls in Northwest Washington, a diverse and high-performing magnet that enrolls students from across the city, the aim is higher: 99.6 percent. 

Meanwhile, at Wilson Senior High, 67 percent of black students — and 88 percent of Asians and 95 percent of whites — are expected to pass standardized math tests five years from now. 

Setting different aspirations for different groups of children represents a sea change in national education policy, which for years has prescribed blanket goals for all students. Some education experts see the new approach as a way to speed achievement for black, Latino and low-income students, but some parents can’t help but feel that less is being expected of their children. 

“It’s disgraceful,” said Alicia Rucker, a Ward 7 resident and single mother of six, one of whom graduated from Georgetown University and five of whom are still living at home and enrolled in D.C. public schools. “It’s ridiculous to even believe that if you expect less from someone, you’re going to get more.”

Sorry Alicia Rucker — what was disgracful was the reliance on cheating for the closing of the racial gap in achievement. The Atlanta Journal Constitution, embarrassed by the shame of having the Atlanta Public School – almost exclusively black -fiasco happen in their backyard, has started investigating school districts across the nation that show impossible rises/improvements in test scores.

Patterns begin to emerge for those paying attention. Unflattering racial patterns.

The greatest predicator of cheating? Standardized test scores improvements in heavily minority areas.

Emboldened by the uncomfortable ink the AJC spilt praising the fraud that was Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Beverly Hall (and the test scores that were statistical impossible – because of gross deviation upwards from scores that black students had posted for decades – without cheating), the paper has started a crusade to show that we are “cheating our children” of a good education.

The reality of standardized test cheating in America. Notice anything when overlaid with the map above?

But as the Washington Post story indicates, perhaps it is nature that has – when compared to the standard of academic achievement set by whites – handicapped black (and Hispanic) students. Having more realistic goals for these students, instead of looking to the skies for an educational miracle, makes more sense.

Now, if we could just do something about that pesky SAT [SAT Reading Scores Are the Lowest They’ve Been in 40 Years, Atlantic, by Alexander Abad-Santos, 9-24-12]:

Coming in with an average SAT reading score of 496, 2012’s graduating seniors have the dubious distinction of having attained the worst reading score since 1972. (For those test-takers of a certain age and test-taking history, “reading” is actually that part we knew as “verbal.”) Regardless of what you call(ed) it, “The average reading score for the Class of 2012 was 496, down one point from the previous year and 34 points since 1972,” reports The Washington Post‘s Emma Brown, gleaning numbers from the College Board, the organization that administers the test. 

What’s troubling beyond the low average score is that seniors’ scores in “writing,” a section related to “reading” and for most of us, life in some way or another, also dropped—to 488—a decrease of nine points since the College Board started testing for it in 2006. So what gives? Are future generations illiterate? Is the SAT too hard? As Po Bronson wrote for the Daily Beast in 2009, “It’s commonly said that the SAT, taken in a senior year of high school, has only about a 40% correlation with a student’s freshman year college GPA.” The line of thinking implied by that statement is that numbers are just numbers, to some extent, and not predictors of future successes, necessarily. They are general predictors of who will get into which colleges, though, and Bronson goes on to defend the SAT, writing, “I’ve always had a skeptical feeling about the 40% correlation statistic, and so I’ve never relied on it or used it in print.” 

Brown writes that the reading scores may have been affected by minority test takers, who came out and took the test in record numbers: “The declining national reading averages may in part reflect the ever-widening pool of students who take the SAT, first administered in 1926 to a few thousand college applicants.” She continues, “More than 1.66 million graduating seniors last year took the test, the highest number in history. Nearly half were minorities and about a quarter reported that English was not exclusively their first language. More than a quarter of public school test-takers — 27 percent — had family income low enough to qualify for a fee waiver, and more than a third — 36 percent — reported that their parents had not gone to college.”

The truly unmentionable? We are seeing the lowest scores because the rise of minority test-takers as compared to the overall white population of students taking the SAT. And this disparity is only going to grow, so that, moving forward, each year will break new records for lowest scores. 

Remember this story [Census: Fewer White Babies Being Born, CNN, 5-17-2012]?:

U.S. minorities now represent more than half of America’s population under the age of 1, the Census Bureau said, a historic demographic milestone with profound political, economic and social implications.

The bureau – defining a minority as anyone who is not “single race white” and “not Hispanic” – released estimates on Thursday showing that 50.4% of children younger than 1 were minorities as of July 1, 2011, up from 49.5% from the 2010 Census taken in April 2010.

“2011 is the first time the population of infants under age 1 is majority minority,” said Robert Bernstein, a Census Bureau spokesman.

It’s not that fewer white babies are being born; it’s that more non-white parents and their babies are being subsidized by white tax-payers, in the process remaking America in a most distressing image — that of the rest of the world.

If there ever was an idea such “American Exceptionalism” it simply bespoke our ability to assimilate Europeans of various nationalities into one identity. Behind a banner of “Manifest Destiny” a mighty nation was forged.

It was a different banner, that of “Manifest Destruction”that helped revert that greatness; it was buckets of bilge (white guilt) splashed on the descendants of a people who once proudly believed in “Manifest Destiny” that we by who now sit by, dumbfounded, at the collapse of this nation.

Were we ever to admit that black dysfunction has its roots in… Black people (the same roots that sprout lower test scores than white children, regardless of the monetary resources dedicated to the latter’s advancement), well, the entirety of the second half of the 20th century could be undone.

Until then… it’s midnight city in America.

Just remember — people can wake up awfully quick.



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