"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

MIT Returns to Using SAT to Keep Out the Riffraff

During the pandemic, many colleges and universities decided to drop the most infamous discriminatory tools of the college admissions trade: the SAT and ACT. Now that wishful thinking regarding Covid has entirely displaced rational analysis in our nation's policymaking centers, it's not surprising to see the first of America's most privileged universities for the most privileged move backward to once again adopting a screening tool born in an era, unlike now, when colleges did not feel compelled to hire PR firms to disguise their racism and bigotry.

So MIT says forget the research showing how the SAT, ACT, GRE, or any other standardized test cannot account for stereotype threat or the benefits accrued by test-takers family wealth and income. 

Below is a clip from a brief paper by Tom Rudd in 2011, and below that are the charts which demonstrate clearly the points about family income and SAT scores. So congratulations MIT: you have shown us your reestablished priorities to protect your institution's white wealthy elitism. One would think such rarefied air would reek less of untreated sewage. 

A close look at the distribution of average SAT scores by race and family income suggests that what the SAT does a very good job of measuring is “access to opportunity.” The correlation between SAT scores and reported family income is very high. In 2009, the highest average score on the SAT was posted by students who reported their family income as greater than $200,000 annually.  For these students, high access to opportunity, generally evidenced by high SAT scores, is cumulative. Access to high performing primary and secondary schools leads to high SAT scores that lead to heightened opportunity to attend selective colleges and universities which leads to greater opportunity to choose a life that “one has reason to value.” Despite historic and impassioned prognostications about the public mission of the academy to energize fundamental democratic values including racial and ethnic diversity, it appears that most highly selective colleges and universities use the SAT (or the ACT) as a key component of their admissions strategy.

By Catherine Rampell, New York Times Economic Blog 2009:

SAT reading scores by incomeSource: College Board

SAT math scores by incomeSource: College Board
SAT writing scores by incomeSource: College Board

Here are all three test sections next to each other (zoomed in on the vertical axis, so you can see the variation among income groups a little more clearly):

SAT scores by income classSource: College Board

A few observations:

  • There’s a very strong positive correlation between income and test scores. (For the math geeks out there, the R2 for each test average/income range chart is about 0.95.) 
  • On every test section, moving up an income category was associated with an average score boost of over 12 points.
  • Moving from the second-highest income group and the highest income group seemed to show the biggest score boost. However, keep in mind the top income category is uncapped, so it includes a much broader spectrum of families by wealth.

Sunday, March 27, 2022

Try Illuminate Education and Make Your Student Data Accessible to Hackers

On its website, Illuminate Education states that "we deploy meaningful safeguards to protect student data." Furthermore, Illuminate pledges "our unwavering commitment to student data privacy."

Despite all the assurances, hackers just ripped off the personal data of 820,000 New York City students. From NBC New York: 

In what may be the largest breach of student data in U.S. history, personal information for roughly 820,000 current and former New York City public school students has been compromised, NBC New York has confirmed.

According to the city's Department of Education, the breach occurred in January when an online grading system and attendance system used by many public schools was hacked.

Education officials blasted Illuminate Education, the California-based company behind the system, claiming it fudged its cybersecurity protocols.

The company has not disclosed what, if anything, had been done with the data. The Department of Education is asking the NYPD, FBI and state attorney general's office to investigate the hack.

But, you know those grade cards and paper in-house attendance reports were so old school. You know, like secure. 

Friday, March 11, 2022

Reflecting on Green Dot’s Disastrous Locke Takeover

“Green Dot came and made it into more of a jail.” — Chris

My history of opposing the Green Dot Charter School Corporation back when I was an activist is well known. On Schools Matter alone there’s over a dozen pieces I wrote on them.

These days, as an educational rights attorney, I’ve successfully litigated against the corporate charter chain on a few occasions. Today I had a legal research assignment that involved looking up information on them and I came across this academic paper:

Taken Over: The Story of the Locke High School Takeover Through a Qualitative Study of Student Voice

by Loyola Marymount University’s Joshua Michael Beardall.

I only had a few minutes to skim through the paper, but it features some excellent feedback on how the students felt about the hostile take-over of a once public school by the corporate charter chain. Written through a Critical Race Theory (“CRT”) lens, the paper takes a student-centric view of what Green Dot did. It also exposes the intrinsic racism of Green Dot and its carceral, white supremacist campuses. Passage like this confirm what activists have said for years:

“The students also believed that the community and school did not interact and that the school was in opposition to the community surrounding it…”

I recommend people check the paper out.

Reflecting back on the hostile Locke takeover, a couple of things come to mind. First, the takeover was, and still is, a disaster. The Green Dot Corporation had to restructure Locke a number of times as their failed management and policies played out. Second, Green Dot, which boasted it would dramatically improve student scores on racist and classist standardized tests, actually set records for having so many schools at the very bottom — including four Locke HS branches in the bottom 25 SAT scores in 2015.

Ironically, the well-healed, white executives running Green Dot at the time of the take-over boasted that they would “turn the school around” and make it a “great school” in short order. Boastful Marco Petruzzi claimed they’d do it in three years. Braggart Steve Barr said they’d do it in one. Neither prediction by the two non-educators came true. Green Dot has run Locke for more than a decade now. Where’s all the compliant press parroting bromides of how Green Dot “cracked the code”?

Petruzzi was a hedge fund manager prior to running the corporate charter school behemoth Green Dot. His lack of background in pedagogy showed in everything he did. Today he’s a furniture salesman. Truth is, Petruzzi’s always been a furniture salesman. This passage by one of his vendors sums up the real essense of the “education reformer,” Marco Petruzzi:

“…Marco Petruzzi, is an ex-Bain partner who joined Dovetail in 2018 to increase sales and profitability and overhaul their physical and technology infrastructure. Marco appreciates working with analysts that can make short work of thorny Excel problems, as well as going beyond spreadsheets to assist in the technical complexities of an ERP database migration.”

KPCC did a piece on how the Green Dot Charter Corporation did not meet its promises with Locke. This passage is instructive:

“Yet for all these improvements, Green Dot has also found out just how difficult it is to act on its initial promises. Locke High School's graduation rate — at 55.9 percent — is one of the lowest of any comprehensive high school in L.A. Unified, charter or otherwise.”

Caught this during further search: ‘The Myth of Charter Schools’ Marco Petruzzi, reply by Diane Ravitch.

Tuesday, March 08, 2022

Hillsdale College Proudly Published Putin Paean

Just after Putin helped elect D----- T---- as President, higher ed's highest bastion of Trumpism invited Christopher Caldwell, Senior Fellow at the Claremont Institute, to deliver the keynote at the Hillsdale College National Leadership Seminar in Phoenix, Arizona on February 15, 2017, less than a month after the T---- inauguration (remember the record crowds?).

The speech was entititled "How to Think about Vladimir Putin." The President of Hillsdale College leadership was so impressed that, when he returned to campus, he had the College's ideological organ, Imprimis, to print an adapted version of the speech.

Below is a tiny excerpt, but it offers a strong whiff of the corrupt, xenophobic, white nationalist, anti-intellectual stench that attracts corrupt, xenophobic, white nationalist, anti-intellectual governors like Bill Lee from hundreds a miles away:

Vladimir Vladimirovich [Putin] is not the president of a feminist NGO. He is not a transgender-rights activist. He is not an ombudsman appointed by the United Nations to make and deliver slide shows about green energy. He is the elected leader of Russia—a rugged, relatively poor, militarily powerful country that in recent years has been frequently humiliated, robbed, and misled. His job has been to protect his country’s prerogatives and its sovereignty in an international system that seeks to erode sovereignty in general and views Russia’s sovereignty in particular as a threat.

. . . if we were to use traditional measures for understanding leaders, which involve the defense of borders and national flourishing, Putin would count as the pre-eminent statesman of our time. On the world stage, who can vie with him? Only perhaps Recep Tayyip Erdo─čan of Turkey.

. . . .

Why are American intellectuals such ideologues when they talk about the “international system”? Probably because American intellectuals devised that system, and because they assume there can never be legitimate historic reasons why a politician would arise in opposition to it. They denied such reasons for the rise of Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines. They do the same with Donald Trump. And they have done it with Putin. They assume he rose out of the KGB with the sole purpose of embodying an evil for our righteous leaders to stamp out.

Tuesday, March 01, 2022

The Hillsdale Curriculum: Adult Mythology as Children's History

For the antiquarian curriculum crafters at Hillsdale College, it's never too early for children to start absorbing the lies and distortions that have warped American history to conform to the self-imposed ignorance of white Americans who refuse to admit the truth. Therefore, the mythologized glories of our past are to be administered beginning in kindergarten and continuing throughout high school and college. Below is the Introductory page from the K-2 unit on the Civil War era:

Now if all this seems a little ambitious for first graders, you'd be right, of course.  But child development is not a specialty or even a concern for the classical masters who reconstructed this 19th Century historical mythology for the special "benefit" of kindergartners who end up unfortunate enough to be enrolled in schools that utilize the kind of blatant propaganda that Governor Bill Lee would like to feed to Tennessee schoolchildren.  

This curriculum is built on discarded and/or discredited renditions of America's past that seek to sanitize the American history, beginning with the American founders and their Puritan forefathers.  You may see for yourself by downloading the curriculum for free.

Below is an example of the developmentally inappropriate "approaches" that the curriculum wizards at Hillsdale have put together.  I have circled one of the many examples of discredited and discarded historical distortions that minimize the systemic nature of humans owning other humans and the role that that reality played in slave owners' desire to go to war to preserve the perversity of that economic and social arrangement. 

In this example below, teachers are urged to take the "approach" with K-2 children, no less, that most Southerners were not slaveholders and that they were actually fighting to preserve "states' rights."  I know, you probably thought that rotted chestnut had been discarded. Think again.

This is what Governor Bill Lee wants Tennessee elementary school teachers to provide our students. 

Just for the record, the 1860 U. S. Census shows that 30 percent of Southern families owned other humans.