Number One Pick going for W, M

Scott Alexander writes about Freddy DeBoer’s The Cult of Smart.

If the season had started, and if DeBoer were on someone’s team, Alexander would get a Win. In response to DeBoer’s case for the Null Hypothesis that successful school reform is not scalable, Alexander writes

These are good points, and I would accept them from anyone other than DeBoer, who will go on to say in a few chapters that the solution to our education issues is a Marxist revolution that overthrows capitalism and dispenses with the very concept of economic value. If he’s willing to accept a massive overhaul of everything, that’s failed every time it’s tried, why not accept a much smaller overhaul-of-everything, that’s succeeded at least once?

Later in the essay, Alexander creates a candidate to score a Meme.

School is child prison. It’s forcing kids to spend their childhood – a happy time! a time of natural curiosity and exploration and wonder – sitting in un-air-conditioned blocky buildings, cramped into identical desks, listening to someone drone on about the difference between alliteration and assonance, desperate to even be able to fidget but knowing that if they do their teacher will yell at them, and maybe they’ll get a detention that extends their sentence even longer without parole. The anti-psychiatric-abuse community has invented the “Burrito Test” – if a place won’t let you microwave a burrito without asking permission, it’s an institution. Doesn’t matter if the name is “Center For Flourishing” or whatever and the aides are social workers in street clothes instead of nurses in scrubs – if it doesn’t pass the Burrito Test, it’s an institution. There is no way school will let you microwave a burrito without permission. THEY WILL NOT EVEN LET YOU GO TO THE BATHROOM WITHOUT PERMISSION. YOU HAVE TO RAISE YOUR HAND AND ASK YOUR TEACHER FOR SOMETHING CALLED “THE BATHROOM PASS” IN FRONT OF YOUR ENTIRE CLASS, AND IF SHE DOESN’T LIKE YOU, SHE CAN JUST SAY NO.

He also has a lot to say about charter schools.

Source: Number One Pick going for W, M

Are the Woke a False Flag Operation of White Supremacists

It is hard for me to imagine anything that white surpremacists could do to permanently impoverish African-Americans than some of the things the woke are supporting. Case in point is this story from Oregon :

The Oregon Department of Education (ODE) recently encouraged teachers to register for training that encourages “ethnomathematics” and argues, among other things, that White supremacy manifests itself in the focus on finding the right answer.

An ODE newsletter sent last week advertises a Feb. 21 “Pathway to Math Equity Micro-Course,” which is designed for middle school teachers to make use of a toolkit for “dismantling racism in mathematics.” The event website identifies the event as a partnership between California’s San Mateo County Office of Education, The Education Trust-West and others.

Part of the toolkit includes a list of ways “white supremacy culture” allegedly “infiltrates math classrooms.” Those include “the focus is on getting the ‘right’ answer,” students being “required to ‘show their work,'” and other alleged manifestations.

“The concept of mathematics being purely objective is unequivocally false, and teaching it is even much less so,” the document for the “Equitable Math” toolkit reads. “Upholding the idea that there are always right and wrong answers perpetuate objectivity as well as fear of open conflict.”

And the link at the word “toolkit” leads to the document that describes the ways mathematics instruction is racist.

On page 7, we see:


We see white supremacy culture show up in the mathematics classroom even as we carry out our professional responsibilities outlined in the California Standards for the Teaching Profession (CSTP). Using CSTP as a framework, we see white supremacy culture in the mathematics classroom can show up when:

The focus is on getting the “right” answer.
Independent practice is valued over teamwork or collaboration.
“Real-world math” is valued over math in the real world.
Students are tracked (into courses/pathways and within the classroom).
Participation structures reinforce dominant ways of being.

On page 66, we have:

White supremacy culture shows up in math classrooms when…

The focus is on getting the “right” answer.

The concept of mathematics being purely objective is unequivocally false, and teaching it is even much less so. Upholding the idea that there are always right and wrong answers perpetuate objectivity as well as fear of open conflict.


Choose problems that have complex, competing, or multiple answers.
Verbal Example: Come up with at least two answers that might solve this problem.
Classroom Activity: Challenge standardized test questions by getting the “right” answer, but justify other answers by unpacking the assumptions that are made in the problem.
Classroom Activity: Deconstructed Multiple Choice – given a set of multiple choice answers, students discuss why these answers may have been included (can also be used to highlight common mistakes).
Professional Development: Study the purpose of math education, and re-envision it. Schooling as we know it began during the industrial revolution, when precision and accuracy were highly valued. What are the myriad ways we can conceptualize mathematics in today’s world and beyond?

Engage with true problem solving.
Verbal Example: What are some strategies we can use to engage with this problem?
Classroom Activity: Using a set of data, analyze it in multiple ways to draw different conclusions.
Professional Development: Study the art of problem solving by engaging in rich, complex mathematical problems. Consider whether your own content knowledge is sufficient to allow you to problem solve through math without the strategies you typically use

Somehow, I can’t see this working when you’re running fourth-graders through a sheet of long division problems.

Source: Are the Woke a False Flag Operation of White Supremacists

Why Math Is Racist

(John Hinderaker) This is actually a claim that is being made often these days: the sciences in general, and math in particular, are racist. The latest comes from Oregon :

The Oregon Department of Education (ODE) recently encouraged teachers to register for training that encourages “ethnomathematics” and argues, among other things, that White supremacy manifests itself in the focus on finding the right answer.


Liberals believe that scientific and mathematical talent are distributed unequally among the races, with Asians being well-endowed in those areas, and blacks below average. Therefore, it is appropriate to discriminate against Asians and to lower standards for blacks–e.g., by pretending that it is unimportant to get the right answer to a math problem.

Source: Why Math Is Racist

Have Teachers Unions Finally Overplayed Their Hand?

According to the most recent data from School Digger, a website that aggregates test score results, 23 of the top 30 schools in New York in 2019 were charters. The feat is all the more impressive because those schools sported student bodies that were more than 80% black and Hispanic, and some two-thirds of the kids qualified for free or discount lunches. The Empire State’s results were reflected nationally. In a U.S. News & World Report ranking released the same year, three of the top 10 public high schools in the country were charters, as were 23 of the top 100—even though charters made up only 10% of the nation’s 24,000 public high schools.

We are told constantly by defenders of the education status quo that the learning gap is rooted in poverty, segregation and “systemic” racism. We’re told that blaming traditional public schools for substandard student outcomes isn’t fair given the raw material that teachers have to work with. But if a student’s economic background is so decisive, or if black students need to be seated next to whites to understand Shakespeare and geometry, how can it be that so many of the most successful public schools are dominated by low-income minorities?

Some will argue that charter schools obtain these results by picking the best students, which isn’t true. Of the 43 states that have charters, all but three—Arizona, Colorado and Wyoming—mandate that lotteries be used to choose students randomly. Washington Post education writer Jay Mathews reports that even states that don’t officially require the use of lotteries use them anyway or employ “other impartial ways of admitting students.”

A second popular argument against charter schools is that they benefit from having motivated students, which is true but misleading. Numerous empirical studies have shown that charter students outperformed similarly motivated peers in traditional public schools who applied to a charter but weren’t admitted. But there’s an even more fundamental problem with the “motivation” explanation of charter success, as Thomas Sowell explains in his most recent book, “Charter Schools and Their Enemies.”

“While those parents who enter their children’s names in the lotteries for admission to charter schools may well be more motivated to promote their children’s education, and to cooperate with schools in doing so, those who win in these lotteries are greatly outnumbered by those who do not win,” Mr. Sowell writes. “When charter schools take a fraction of the children from motivated families, why does that prevent the traditional public schools from comparably educating the remaining majority of children from those motivated families?”

Source: Have Teachers Unions Finally Overplayed Their Hand?

The Shark Tank Approach to Financing a College Education

A publicist emailed me recently, promoting a new book by Scott MacDonald, Education Without Debt (which I might review in the future after reading the book). In the email, the serial entrepreneur Mark Cuban (who, among other things, owns the Dallas Mavericks) was quoted as saying, “We can talk about Republican and Democratic approaches to the economy, but until you fix the student debt bubble and the tuition bubble, we don’t have a chance. All this other stuff is shuffling deck-chairs on the Titanic.”


That is precisely what Income Share Agreements (ISAs) are about. Students go to an investor and say “I want to develop my human capital and my ability to provide valuable goods and services to the economy, but I need financial help.” And then the investor agrees to provide some assistance, say $80,000 over four years, in return for some “equity” in the student, say 14 percent of the student’s post-graduate earnings for eight years.

This has lots of advantages over student loans. From the student perspective, the financial risk of going to college is substantially (depending on the level of financial involvement) passed from a financially inexperienced teenager to an experienced investor. The government is removed from the process. The terms of the ISA will vary with prospects for financial success. Engineers and accountants attending top flight schools will get dramatically better terms than fine arts or sociology majors attending the College of Last Resort. Students who drop out of school or fare poorly getting a job are not burdened with a massive debt burden.

Source: The Independent Institute

This also puts someone’s skin in the game. As it stands, the student loan program doesn’t put anyone’s money at risk, except for the taxpayers. And that’s a group too diffuse to have any real say in how it’s spent.

It would be a big improvement if the college were responsible for making good on loans used to pay for majors like Deconstructed Art History Studies. When their endowments are on the line, they may wind up steering students into fields in which people can actually make a living and pay back their loans.

An ISA puts the burden on one person or group. (A tech company might fund students who major in computer science or some other field they need graduates in. Think of Jerry Pournelle’s book, Higher Education where asteroid mining companies educate promising students in the fields they need to recruit.)

IQ: For Our Sake–Revisited

A person who won’t reason is no better of than a person who can’t reason.

Stately McDaniel Manor

Upon occasion I run across a previous article that seems to have aged reasonably well and bears on a contemporary issue.  For this week’s education article, gentle readers, I provide one from January of 2019.  May I suggest you take the links therein—you’ll thank me–as well as read the whole thing?

Daniel Hannan

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What’s Wrong With Public Schools? It’s the Unions

To understand what’s gone wrong with big-city public education — where militant teachers union bosses dictate urban school policy and politics — just look to Chicago and the saga of Sarah Chambers.

Her embarrassing story has gone worldwide. But it does have a message.

It tells public school parents who want their kids back in school, and property taxpayers, everything they need to know:

That they don’t count. And their children don’t count.

Which is why some parents are leaving shutdown cities like Chicago to find places where their children can benefit from in-classroom learning rather than be dumbed down by Zoom instruction, which fails the kids.

And it is another reason, for the sake of all kids — but especially low-income children trapped in large, substandard public school systems — that there must be real school choice.

Chambers is a Chicago Teachers Union leader who was part of a union delegation that visited Venezuela in 2019 and praised its socialist government. On her social media accounts — which were under Sarah4Justice before she deleted them — she repeatedly posted entries telling teachers to stay out of classrooms and thwart Chicago school officials’ plans to reopen this week.

Source: What’s Wrong With Public Schools? It’s the Unions

Science Isn’t Dead, But It Is Ailing – Part 5

Over the years, I’ve had occasion to reflect on this many times, and consequently have given it considerable thought. Before starting with the minutiae of particular subjects, Guevara University would spend the first few weeks of the first year with a grounding in basic intellectual skills that transcend the choice of subject matter.

What would those skills entail?

I’d start with the following tips on how to study, which for some reason no one is ever taught.

• skim the material quickly in advance of a lecture

• take telegraphic notes (short phrases)

• later recopy those notes, augmenting them

• read the material again, this time carefully, taking notes on it

• if possible, read a different source on the same topic

Ace of Spades