Millionaire Minority Filmmaker Claims American Schools Only Educate White Kids


He got schooled on light in 3D conversions

He got schooled on light in 3D conversions

M. Night Shyamalan, formerly a successful director, later an unsuccessful director, who got bitten by the education reform bug, is the guy you may not know you know. But if you ever rolled your eyes at the ridiculous ending of a movie, then you’ve probably watched one of his efforts.

Shyamalan is ridiculously egotistical to the point of being completely delusional. So his book, “I Got Schooled”, which claims to have the answers to fixing schools is being mocked for all the right and wrong reasons.

“In America, we’re actually educating our kids very well… but just the white kids,” Shyamalan said. “If you pull out schools in which 85 percent of students qualify for a free meal, which are predominantly African-American and Hispanic, the data show that the rest of the kids are being taught better in America than anywhere else in the world. Countries like Finland teach their white kids well, and we teach our white kids better.”

That’s true, I suppose. But M. Night Shyamalan is the product of American schools, albeit high end private ones. Like so many American Desi, he’s the product of wealthy and ambitious parents who made his dreams happen because they were willing to do everything for their little prince.

That’s a big part of the answer. It’s not so much the schools that fail. It’s the parents.

Otherwise why can American schools educate Shyamalan; but not the 16-year-old gangbanger in Chicago? M. Night Shyamalan writes…

“If America’s scores were limited to those from schools in districts in which the poverty rate was less than 10 percent — Finland’s poverty rate is less than 4 percent — the United States would lead the world, and it wouldn’t be close: 551 on the latest PISA test, compared to Finland’s 536, or South Korea’s 539. In fact, if all you did was exclude the American schools that have student bodies that are more than three-quarters poor, U.S. schools would still score 513, just behind Australia, but ahead of the Netherlands, Belgium, Sweden, Germany, Iceland … well, you get the picture.

“Unfortunately, nearly 20 percent of schools in the United States have student bodies that are more than 75 percent poor. That’s a fifth — the bottom quintile — of all the 100,000 public schools in the country: 22 percent of America’s elementary schools, and 11 percent of our secondary schools.

“It’s mostly an urban problem: Only 29 percent of America’s public school students attend schools in cities, but a whopping 58 percent of them are in high-poverty schools. Thirty-five percent of all public school students are in suburban schools, but only 23 percent of them are high-poverty schools. In towns, only 9 percent attend high-poverty schools, 11 percent in rural areas.

This was pretty depressing, even to an optimist like me. About the only good news I could extract from this research was that the problem was localized; that it seemed to happen everywhere you had a high percentage of low-income, urban families. That’s what my Foundation researchers told me. And, since I don’t live on Mars, and know that “low-income and urban” is code for “African-American and Latino,” I then asked, “Is this a problem of poverty or racism?”

You already know the answer to this one.

The philosophical answer — a liberal commitment to social justice — isn’t going to surprise anyone who knows what I do professionally. One thing everyone believes about Hollywood that turns out to be mostly true is that its politics are pretty progressive. This gives a lot of people permission to call us hypocrites for talking about climate change while flying around the globe — or, in this case, having an opinion about public education and sending our kids to private schools.

But the philosophical case for social justice is even better. It has a lot of intellectual forebears, but my favorite is a book that most people encounter in college and never pick up again. In simple terms, John Rawls’s A Theory of Justice tells us that the most just society is one whose institutions are the ones its members would construct if they knew they were going to be born into the society but had no way ofpredicting whether they’d be part of the most- or least-favored segments.

If we had to build a society from behind Rawls’s famous “veil of ignorance,” where no one knows if he or she is going to be born smart, lucky, or wealthy — in a Mumbai slum or a Philadelphia suburb (or, more to the point, in a neighborhood where the public school is more than 90 percent poor or less than 10 percent) — what kind of education would everyone get?

Rawls was a Communitarian and his Theory of Justice and its Veil of Ignorance is glib nonsense that assumes that everyone is fixed in their lot in life and forced to cope with fixed structures that he cannot escape.

In reality, if you played the game, you would end up with a randomly mixed bag of areas that would sort itself out. With two generations, you would have the same exact setup as now, with achievers getting out and underachievers staying put, and the political and social structures emerging around that reality.

One reason that countries such as Finland and Singapore have such high international test scores, Mr. Shyamalan thinks, is that they are more racially homogenous. As he sees it, their citizens care more about overall school performance—unlike in the U.S., where uneven school quality affects some groups more than others. So Mr. Shyamalan took it upon himself to figure out where the education gap between races was coming from and what could be done about it.

“That was the click,” says Mr. Shyamalan. It struck him that the reason the educational research was so inconsistent was that few school districts were trying to use the best, most proven reform ideas at once. He ultimately concluded that five reforms, done together, stand a good chance of dramatically improving American education. The agenda described in his book is: Eliminate the worst teachers, pivot the principal’s job from operations to improving teaching and school culture, give teachers and principals feedback, build smaller schools, and keep children in class for more hours.

Genius. Obviously.

Some of this might improve things, but it’s also glib and ‘easier said than done’. Shyamalan doesn’t really believe in performance bonuses or merit pay. He doesn’t believe smaller class sizes work, but that smaller schools do. And like Bill Gates, he insists in thinking of a rigid bureaucracy as functioning like a creative place or tech firm that is always receptive to being transformed with new ideas.

As Shyamalan admits at the outset, American schools do a good job of teaching white kids. And apparently Indians. Which means they do work. It’s not a schools problem. It’s a culture problem.

Education isn’t rocket science. We turned out a generation of inventors using prairie schoolhouses. Its goal is to transmit knowledge. Students have to come from a place where they see a purpose in learning it. That’s the roadblock in American education.

  • El Desdichado

    Reparations are being paid out – and have been since the days of LBJ’s “Great Society” in the form of public schooling and social services/welfare.

    • UCSPanther

      Aka the War on Poverty, which has only forced black culture into the gutter and created a longstanding dependency on the government.

  • Geoffrey_Britain

    Shyamalan is a perfect example of a liberal “useful idiot”. He looks selectively at the data and filters it through his preconceptions. Ignoring Asian-Americans, along with Asian immigrant success, while also ignoring the fact that West Indian blacks in America are also descended from slaves yet their average incomes are equivalent to the average incomes of whites and nearly 25% higher than the average incomes of American born blacks.

    He and other ‘progressives’ ignore this highly relevant data because they are in willful denial as to the real cause of minority failure in America.

    Group success in America requires the cultural embrace of three values; education, a strong work ethic and familial loyalty and obligations.

    Setting aside individual exceptions, minority group’s success in America exactly tracks the degree to which a minority culture embraces these three cultural values.

    Asian cultures and West Indian black cultures embrace all three of these values. Hispanics embrace a strong work ethic and familial loyalty and obligations but ignore the value of education. Native Americans are at best, ambivalent in their embrace of the three. Similarly, Pacific islander cultures. Indian and Muslim culture’s success also track their embrace of the three values.

    Urban black culture rejects all three and that and that alone is why blacks reside at the bottom of the socioeconomic scale.

    No amount of money or affirmative action can substitute for a culture’s rejection of the qualities necessary for success..

    • Vlad

      I remember reading an article by a young black man who was a senior in high school or on college about how black youth denigrated learning. This was in the early 1980s. The article ran in in the Peoria Journal Star.

      Black classmates who did too well academically were called ducks and accused of acting too white. Nothing has changed in 30 years.

      Black minds are totally capable of excellence in academic pursuits. the chance of it it happening in black ghetto culture is slim.

  • T100C1970

    It is truly IMPOSSIBLE to educate anyone who is unreceptive to education. And unfortunately that is now true of a large segment of the black population (as well as growing proportions of the white and latino populations). It is the rejection of education (along with common sense ideas such as having a child at age 15 is a bad idea) that have created the massive underclass in the US.

    • Gee

      Thank you – my thought exactly. If the student is not interested in learning, then they cannot be taught no matter what.

      If the parents are not involved and pushing for the kids to excel only the truly driven will excel

      • objectivefactsmatter

        And if your parents teach you informal versions of critical race theory before you’re first day at school, you’re probably screwed.

        • .

          That is it in in 144 character or less.

      • Drakken

        Frankly speaking, we need to purge the entire education system and put the military in charge, disciple comes back, unruly and bullying behavior is mitigated and like anything the military does, failure is not an option and standards are met. If mommy and daddy drop their kids off at school for babysitting services, then lets go whole hog and make it work.
        Our education system as it stands is on the brink of total collapse and failure. I do hope it does crash and then we will have no choice but to take drastic action to fix it.

  • Chuck

    If I relied on my local public grade school to teach my son to read, he would not have learned or at best been held back a grade or two. The local public school is decent. So I am in no way putting fault with the school system or the educators.

    What was needed was to sit down with the kids for a 3 or 4 months after school and read with them. It was harder with boys than girls. It was like pulling hen’s teeth. It was excruciating horrible, but it had to be done.

    Now your typical liberal response is that we need a program costing money, because minority parents cannot read with their 1st grade “See Dick and Jane run.”

    It is total B.S.

  • objectivefactsmatter

    “That’s a big part of the answer. It’s not so much the schools that fail. It’s the parents.”

    But that’s archaic. We know that those Jews and Christians created so many myths in our culture that must be destroyed for us to progress. The family unit is a Judeo Christian construct. The government is our parent. It’s their job to raise kids and ensure social justice.

  • objectivefactsmatter

    “And, since I don’t live on Mars, and know that “low-income and urban” is code for “African-American and Latino,” I then asked, “Is this a problem of poverty or racism?””

    It’s a problem of culture. And you’re helping with the lame excuse-making mr. moron filmmaker.

  • http://www.clarespark.com/ Clare Spark

    On long term trends in education since the 1960s see http://clarespark.com/2011/12/02/the-whiteness-of-the-whale/. “The Whiteness of the Whale.” Or try http://clarespark.com/2011/03/26/race-class-and-gender/. “‘Race,’ class, and gender.”

  • SoCalMike

    Love guys like this who when they open their mouths an avalanche of ignorance comes pouring out.
    They just can’t help passing off their attitude and ignorance as knowledge. For clowns like this shutting up and hiding their lack of knowledge is just too difficult.

  • v

    He should stick to making stupid and meaningless movies. What he does not know or may be he knows and does not say is that in the school system we have enable and excuse low results in academics and the complete breakdown of discipline from minority children precisely for what he is saying, racism. School boards, teachers and administrators are scared to death and intimidated for fear they would be called racists and be sued for whatever issue they address. In my experience in the school system, I found that the parents of students from low income and minority families, and not all of them but the majority, do not take the trouble or the time to assist the teacher in improving their children’s performance, in fact the opposite is quite true, they fight and blame the teacher for their children’s bad performance in academics or their behavior. On the other hand, a large number of parents of children from high or middle income families are involved in one way or another in their children’s education, including disciplinary measures which does not include excusing their academic lack of achievement and the lack of discipline and blaming it on the system, the teacher, the administration, the free food provided in school, the cafeterias, the water, the environment, the clothes they wear, the government, the insufficient welfare system !!!, poverty, the neighborhoods, the geography, the color of the skin, the ethnic background, the religious affiliation, the racist components, the injustice of “white people”, whatever that means and on and on……………… All of these are excuses which enable those who are looking for a crutch and an excuse for the parents’ failure in raising their children to be productive members of society and encourage good behavior and high academic standards. What Shayamalan is saying has no basis in the truth or the reality as it exists in the school systems. There is no deliberate effort on anyone’s part to educate better or worst one group of people over the other. He is definitely speaking either out of ignorance of the system itself or as liberals always do which is create an issue for the sake of controversy and not based on reality. He should ask why is it that Asian students, particularly Koreans in the school system excel and are better disciplined than even “white students”, he should look no further thanthe parents of those students who demand performance and strict discipline from their children, they do not accept excuses , and they respect and work with their children’s teacher. Of course there are exceptions, but they are few a far in between. So stop the excuses and blame the parents involvement in their children’s future and stop blaming the system as racist, because that is the excuse those same children and their parents will use to justify their failure and the failure of their children.

  • OldArmyVeteran

    Whether or not one obtains an education is, in the last resort, the responsibility of the student. Teachers can’t “make” kids learn – especially famously anti-education minorities, who look upon succeeding in school as “acting white”. Seems to me that the main proponents for ensuring a child is properly educated should be the parents. Sadly, too many minority households are led by detached parents that are more focused on their own creature comforts/drugs/whatever than the welfare of their children.

    • Drakken

      Well let me ask you this, when you were in the Army, did or did you not no matter what, get the job done you were ordered to do? The same standard should apply to the school system.

      • OldArmyVeteran

        You’re comparing apples to grapefruit here – I volunteered for the Army. Ans , yes, as an NCO, my job was twofold – accomplish the mission and take care of my troops. And there were not “no matter what” rules – I was under no obligation to obey an unlawful order (a tenet of the Army since My Lai). There were consequences if I did not perform my duties, but whether or not I accomplished the mission was, in the end, a matter of personal pride and responsibility – I WANTED to do a good job, because I was a professional warrior entrusted with the welfare of my subordinates, not because I would have been punished for not doing my job. Personal responsibility was the bedrock of my work ethic.
        In today’s education system, parents have, it seems, abdicated their responsibilities for their children to the school and the government. My wife is a former teacher – she would tell horror stories about how parents expected the school to socialize and raise their kids, in effect acting as de-facto parents.
        What I’m saying is, first and foremost, it is the students’ personal responsibility to get an education. It is the parents’ responsibility to ensure their kids get an education.
        You seem to advocate that schools are responsible for making sure kids learn, using any means, legal or illegal.

  • cacslewisfan

    Another illustration of the bottomless desire Liberals have to stroke each other. Shama-lama-ding-dong should stick to, well, whatever it was that has kept him quiet since “The Last Airbender.”