Monday, April 27, 2009
All this talk of the New Haven firefighters, test scores, racism and the Supreme Court has my disparity and proportionality antennae on high alert. In this mode, I spent Sunday afternoon at a CYO track meet with my 13 year old son and a good mix of black, white, Latino, and a sprinkling of Asian, K-8 kids.
From a participation standpoint, the white and Latino kids predominate, as the overlap of black and
Catholic, even in predominantly black neighborhoods trails. Nonetheless, the black kids pretty much dominate all but the distance running events. Yet, no one seems to mind. There are no white, Asian or Latino cries from the stands of unfairness or bias. No one wants to gift the white kids a five second reduction in their times, just for being white. Everybody accepts that the black kids are disproportionately better in track and field, with no better coaching, facilities, or commitment.
In watching many of the non-black kids, I saw opportunities where better coaching etc. would certainly improve their competitiveness, but the cost to benefit ratio does not warrant this effort, as few, of any hue, will go on to the Olympics. This is exactly the opposite behavior of my own working-class parents placing my sister and me in a summer reading program at the University of Denver nearly 45 years ago, as a seven year old. Something made them think it was worth a bus ride across town to become better readers. Cost to benefit, again.
If it is insane to repeat the same activity again and again while hoping for a different result, then education in the US is hopelessly insane. Teaching a one-size curriculum to kids with measured intelligence gaps of more than one standard deviation and hoping that they will grow up as equivalent contributors, is irresponsible. Arguing over intelligence testing, when empirical results back up the current testing, is splitting futile hairs. The back-end dole of affirmative action hides the obvious incompetence of the front-end approach, in the name of ‘all men are created equal’. Men (and women) are equal in spirit, but kids of different cultures are unequal in starting abilities and it’s high time we stopped ignoring this fact.
We need to say that which shall not be spoken. By the third grade, the natural course of black school children permanently reflects intellectual inferiority to whites, Asians, and Latinos (language adjusted) in learning skills development and ability. The ills of black culture, beginning from before birth, are largely responsible for this inferior preparation. Argue the source if you will, but this practical inferiority, once established, is intractable and sets a course through life, with dependence upon arbitrary handouts from inept, but politically correct, race arbitrators, like those in New Haven.
What are we afraid of? Black kids, who place consistently behind their white and Asian classmates in learning, are no worse off for this bit of honest recognition than are those white kids, at today’s track meet, who went home feeling bad that the black kids are so dang fast and best them from the beginning to the end of the season. Each has the choice of how they are going to respond. In the case of the white kids, they can either practice or better yet rub their aching muscles with their latest “I’m so proud of you” report card. Tragically, the black kids have fewer report cards to beam about, along with a legacy of mislaying blame and guilt on others, to no prescriptive benefit.
We worry so much about labels that the truth gets buried. Special education classrooms, even entire special education schools, across the country are packed with black kids, while white kids and Asians pack AP. Large swaths of black kids are quietly shifted to this unofficial under performance track. If you read what expert educators prescribe for fixing this you will notice no mention of cultural drivers or race. To say that black culture is poisoning black kids is to commit professional suicide, so any real fix is elusive.
Back to New Haven, anyone who is expecting the high court to save our kids and our future, better think again. By the constitution, the court's job is to limit how much damage bad solutions are allowed to inflict, and only if those solutions violate the founding doctrine. They are not about telling people to ignore the labels and see the obvious. When we can look at black first graders and accurately predict that 55% will not meet the minimum requirements for a high school diploma, labels are not the problem. The blind eye on black inferiority and what is driving it has become the primary driver to fulfilling the prophecy.
For the record, I do not believe that intelligence in blacks is genetically inferior to any other group. The brain physiology of an average healthy black kid next to a white kid is no different, says modern science. Rather it is segmentation of normal distributions of intelligence driven by time, ethnicity, culture, and geography, where difference is made. We must stop rewarding educators who blow smoke up our butts, and promote those who speak sensible, accountable, albeit unpleasant, truths and solutions.
James C. Collier
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