Black Education – by Walter Williams


Detroit’s (predominantly black) public schools are the worst in the nation and it takes some doing to be worse than Washington, D.C. Only 3 percent of Detroit’s fourth-graders scored proficient on the most recent National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) test, sometimes called “The Nation’s Report Card.” Twenty-eight percent scored basic and 69 percent below basic. “Below basic” is the NAEP category when students are unable to demonstrate even partial mastery of knowledge and skills fundamental for proficient work at their grade level. It’s the same story for Detroit’s eighth-graders. Four percent scored proficient, 18 percent basic and 77 percent below basic.

Michael Casserly, executive director of the D.C.-based Council on Great City Schools, in an article appearing in Crain’s Detroit Business, (12/8/09) titled, “Detroit’s Public Schools Post Worst Scores on Record in National Assessment,” said, “There is no jurisdiction of any kind, at any level, at any time in the 30-year history of NAEP that has ever registered such low numbers.” The academic performance of black students in other large cities such as Philadelphia, Chicago, New York and Los Angeles is not much better than Detroit and Washington.

What’s to be done about this tragic state of black education? The education establishment and politicians tell us that we need to spend more for higher teacher pay and smaller class size. The fact of business is higher teacher salaries and smaller class sizes mean little or nothing in terms of academic achievement. Washington, D.C., for example spends over $15,000 per student, has class sizes smaller than the nation’s average, and with an average annual salary of $61,195, its teachers are the most highly paid in the nation.

What about role models? Standard psychobabble asserts a positive relationship between the race of teachers and administrators and student performance. That’s nonsense. Black academic performance is the worst in the very cities where large percentages of teachers and administrators are black, and often the school superintendent is black, the mayor is black, most of the city council is black and very often the chief of police is black.

Black people have accepted hare-brained ideas that have made large percentages of black youngsters virtually useless in an increasingly technological economy.

This destruction will continue until the day comes when black people are willing to turn their backs on liberals and the education establishment’s agenda and confront issues that are both embarrassing and uncomfortable. To a lesser extent, this also applies to whites because the educational performance of many white kids is nothing to write home about; it’s just not the disaster that black education is.

Many black students are alien and hostile to the education process. They have parents with little interest in their education. These students not only sabotage the education process, but make schools unsafe as well. These students should not be permitted to destroy the education chances of others. They should be removed or those students who want to learn should be provided with a mechanism to go to another school.

Another issue deemed too delicate to discuss is the overall quality of people teaching our children. Students who have chosen education as their major have the lowest SAT scores of any other major. Students who have an education degree earn lower scores than any other major on graduate school admission tests such as the GRE, MCAT or LSAT. Schools of education, either graduate or undergraduate, represent the academic slums of most any university. They are home to the least able students and professors. Schools of education should be shut down.

Yet another issue is the academic fraud committed by teachers and administrators. After all, what is it when a student is granted a diploma certifying a 12th grade level of achievement when in fact he can’t perform at the sixth- or seventh-grade level?

Prospects for improvement in black education are not likely given the cozy relationship between black politicians, civil rights organizations and teacher unions.

  • mmcfm

    Why don't conservatives other than a handful, become involved in the public education industry if they're so concerned about it and our nation?

    Well, Lucy Q, let me tell you.

    I worked for more than twenty years as a television assignment editor and producer, staff to a state Legislator in charge of many initiatives, including education in our district (where I continue to live), and community and employee relations manager for a Fortune 500 company. Needless to say, I am a great researcher, know how to work with people on both sides of the aisle, have experience working with educators and administrators (my father was one), and can gather and work with local communities, educators, and bureaucrats.

    I quit working to stay home and raise my three sons, because I understood that leaving them alone every afternoon as latch-key children was statistically twice as likely to involve them in drugs, alcohol, burglary and other vices — regardless of their economic status. We bought a home in a lower income community, and I immediately approached the principal of our elementary school to volunteer in the classroom, for PTC, or tutoring. I got shut down. The next year, I went back with a proposal to create a first day of school coffee and sign up fair in the gym for all the parents, and I'd advertise it, set it up, and break it down. I got shut down. I went to the District Superintendent, and I expressed my concern about the lack of reading instruction, grammar instruction, and poor basic math skills being taught, and I got shut down. My neighbors and I created and went door to door to find out how many people had children in our school, and how many had transferred their children to schools in other towns, and we presented it to the Superintendent : one third of the children who he should have been accruing ADA federal dollars in our district were attending school elsewhere. He didn't care.

    It took four more years, but we were able to sell our house, move and buy a home in a district whose Superintendent had a vision of success in education that created a culture of excellence in the classroom that permeated the District. Parents have to be turned away, because all of the time to have parental involvement — in classrooms, projects, special programs and field trips — filled. Build a better mousetrap and they will come.

    If public education is not as bad a people paint it, than why do people go to the effort of transferring their children to town ten to fifteen miles away for school? The bright students who go to college have survived, in many cases, an educational system that has failed the majority of their classmates. Their success is in large part due to the example and standards set by their parents who expect excellence from them.

    The thought police already exist in our schools. The thought police have already regulated what and how information is presented in our textbooks, and the teachers who know the texts are biased are afraid to deviate from the content. In this environment, there is no honest discussion. The teacher has to fear the hypersensitivities of parents who are part of a culture that discourages excellence, competition, and debate, but exhalts the orthodoxy of FDR's record, the horror of slavery over it's abolition by a moral nation, denigrates our international leadership over the righteous defense of our nation, and fawns over idealized paternalistic, feudalistic, nanny-states that oppress it's people over our democracy, capitalism and liberty.

    Vocational education is not what it used to be. People don't get jobs from auto shop and print shop — think about it!!! What school can afford the technology, and its updates, required to service a car? In a country where newspapers and magazines are dying, and books can be downloaded on a computer, who will hire anyone from a printshop? The world is changing more rapidly than you are. The vocational jobs that exist in this world are so technical that they require at least community college educations. The unskilled labor jobs that are left can not be considered a lifetime career.

    This is not liberal or conservative — it's a matter of everyone getting their heads back in the light and looking at reality. Reality is that all nations and cultures use education to exhalt their history, their government and their economy, and when your educational system does not do that, the country becomes less cohesive, biased, suspicous and divisive — ANY Country, ours included, needs a common set of national virtues that we uphold — even when there have been occasional failures, because we strive to overcome them together. Reality is that unless ALL students and their parents join themselves to a culture of hard work, they will not achieve success. Reality is that unless our educational community embraces competition, rewarding excellence, and demanding a code of conduct that rewards good behavior and extricates bad behavior — there can not be an educational environment.

    I watched,with my father an educator, in the 1970s as his ability to require good behavior from students as a classroom teacher was eviscerated by the courts and the educational bureaucracy. I remember the quiet order of my elementary classroom, and I contrast it with the 'centers' and chaos of my children's classrooms — and people wonder why there was an increase in Attention Deficit Disorder through the eighties and the nineties? Most people in this country never attended a school where discipline in conduct, classroom behavior, dress and speech were required, and they can't imagine how that changes the educational environment.

    The last thirty to forty years have seen a decline in the quality of education in America, but until the culture of education and its self-centered priorities are forced to question the orthodoxy of their insulated, self-aggrandizing, union-protected culture nothing is going to change. I, personally, would like the whole thing to be dismantled from the top down, and reorganized from the bottom up. Angry customers of our educational system should be involved, not shut out. I am an angry customer.

  • USMCSniper

    First of all, the only purpose of education is to teach a student how to live his life-by developing his mind and equipping him to deal with reality. The training he needs is theoretical, i.e., conceptual. He has to be taught to think, to understand, to integrate, to prove. He has to be taught the essentials of the knowledge discovered in the past-and he has to be equipped to acquire further knowledge by his own effort.”

    In truth, public “non-free” education has achieved its goal perfectly — it has turned a potential free-thinking child that will fight for his freedom, into a adult incapable of abstract reasoning, that demands to be to be provided for and enslaved by the state. In fact, public education has done such a good job at this, that most people cannot imagine a society where public education does not exist. Education is the realm of ideas and much of the nonsense that is taught in the public education system is indoctrination by the left.

  • 2maxpower

    the christmas bomber was on a religious based visa …maybe that was going to be his sermon. the sound of an airplane exploding.

  • JeanH

    That is so true. That is the only reason I am in the NEA… lawsuit protection. I'm an moderate leaning a little conservative teacher and we have NO voice in our schools. I try to teach my students to think.. and put it in writing.

  • JeanH

    I do not know what my test score was on that test but I was shocked by a comment I received in an interveiw for a teaching position. The principal asked me what my GPA was. I told her 3.5. Then she said,”Oh, a smart one.” I now wished I had worked harder for a higher GPA, but I was a single parent supporting myself and child trying to better myself. I hope I'm not a low scoring teacher on that test. I am older than most new teachers though… I graduated from high school in '77. I think I was one of the last group of students to receive phonics training in school… but I do know I was always in the higher reading groups. My Dad was career Navy. My Mom never graduated but developed a new species of a Begonia and had it named after her by the Begonia society. My parent's education was not the same as mine but mine is definitely not the same as what kids get today. I'm all for doing what works!

  • ciccio

    Sniper, you are confusing education with public education. Public education started in England almost in tandem with the industrial revolution. There was an urgent need for a very large number of clerks, they needed to be able to write neatly in good English, they needed to be able to calculate and above all, be grateful for the opportunity to be able to learn to be a clerk rather than a labourer.
    Public education has filled that need for almost two hundred years. Computers now do all the reading-writing-rithmetic, all that now needs to be taught is to be good little boys and girls. Needless to say, that sort of education has never been for a gentleman. Even in America the rich and powerful have always been educated seperate from the peasants.

  • eerie Steve

    I say just do to the schools what we did to Columbia…

    have Dick Marcinko forcibly tatoo things like “failing student” or “disruptive” or “talkative” or even “gum” on foreheads.

    Bring back Scarlett lettering people, but to a degree. They don't like it? They get shipped off the farm to the Hardgrave Military Academy.

    Yes liberals, I get it. I read Hawthorne, I read Thoreau, I read Proust, but guess what, societies are not the problems, it really are the people. Let's not start with the three Rs, but even more basic than that. Things like “why I want to live after 20″ and “why fuggin like rabbits might make me feel good now, but will make my city fall apart in roughly ten years.”

    You know what? Forget it. Let's teach them one thing and one thing only. Pain is not conditionable. Forget torture. I'm going to torture you already. Forget calling me Mr. or first name or whatever. How about character teachers? Oh and there are so many great characters from the course of history we can pull. Start by asking a Catholic that he better give me a “Priest War” brought to you by “Cardinal Syn” or you not only cat Rome because of Roman decadence, you start catting cities. If the pope turns a deaf ear, then you coy dog his cat city, and let the dogs eat the cats.

    There the ones who started this. All this indian de-education program produced was more indians, yet they have the law on their side and know it. If it was me, I would start school at Spring, and make the marauding little bastards turn in every drug dealer in Old Detroit or they get the taser. Then I would send the drug dealers to death row and let the children do the execution and botch it horribly.

    Once the bucks get their spring fever out of them, I would utilize every attack vector possible. Text books? Who needs text books? Friggin NASA will give you their tech briefs for free. Start there. Oh wait teachers are just too stupid. So we design some experiements that bring punitive measures to teachers. You know what? Fuck it. Make Marcinko in charge of the teacher's union and have him enforce “punitive” action. Got a child left behind? Guess you are tarring the school roof.

  • eerie Steve

    Mad Max types of worlds and delusions are the salt of which this world has been salted. Those come and go, now if even salt can loose its favor, with what can it be seasoned?

    How about we simply due away with the reversal of letting kids out during the summer, and leave summer to the adults and bring kids home at winter time. If they want to sling rock on the corner, well your dead because of the cold.

    Like it or not, the human body bases itself as an animal with its soul nailed to a cross. The schools have neither but adrog goo, the kids are wise to it, and with no retaliation at home, well then you got Pee-Wee's Playhouse. I would rather live in CENTCOM Part deux, but hey, that's just me.

    Children ended the crusades, children to an extent ended the civil war, and like it or not, it will be children who end this terror war. Their children blow people up while ours produce heinous tortures and robots that run on lipid splatter. America indeed is a bounty and to me that is a scary fact.

    Really, forget the twin towers or the FBI. What would stop foreign nationals from teaching one classroom? That is 30 evil brains operating at hormonal induced superhuman efficeny.

  • Cynthia Hill

    As a Riffed Teacher from DC Public Schools, I can say from experience that the High Schools such as Ballou have very large class sizes. My class size went as high as 46 in one class. If DC Students truly receive $15,000 per student, where is the money going. We don't have supplies, the school is in constant disrepair, there is no curriculum in place just a pacing chart and no one questions this? The School System is simply being robbed. Check the facts first or simply visit a high school east of the river.

  • eerie Steve

    Forget books not basketballs.

    How about Commander Marcinko instead of Crypts Vs. Bloods. Bring back the rule of thumb for certain students, but this time it is an Udai Hussein cattle prod!

    Detroit! Oh Detroit! Oh how I here your name calling…

    PR 10! USA #1!!!

  • Alena

    I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


  • tomas

    As long as young black males feel or believe few people on either side of the ethnic lines cares what they do, they unfortrunately will continue on the same path. Oddly that's why many choose to do things that's illegal or wait to be discovered in the hip hop community. Crazy, but those who so, believe it's better than doing nothing. But racism and ethnic profiling has always been the obstacles, and most of it are against the black male. Do you believe the personal attacks on the president would sound the same if he was a black woman? A far thought, but it wouldn't be. Arsenio Hall was an example of bigotry against black men even if they try. Although his night time show was as good or maybe better than Oprah's. She never had to deal with the same to the same degree as he did.

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