Time for leftists to explain why the 'achievement gap' is much worse in progressive cities than in conservative ones

Based on its own ideology, the American Left must now conclude that its own educational policies are racist.  A groundbreaking study by a group called Brightbeam ("a network of education activists demanding better education and a brighter future for every child") has discovered that cities politically dominated by progressives have far greater gaps between the average educational achievement levels of whites and minorities of blacks, Hispanics, and Native Americans than cities politically dominated by conservatives.

John Hinderaker of Powerline introduced me to the findings:

This report by Chris Stewart of Brightbeam is a blockbuster. It is titled: "The Secret Shame: How America's Most Progressive Cities Betray Their Commitment to Educational Opportunity For All." Stewart is a liberal activist from Minnesota who undertook to find out why the Twin Cities' left-wing public schools have some of the country's worst achievement gaps between white and minority (black and Indian) students.

Stewart compared achievement by race in a number of cities that he classified as progressive or conservative. The results didn't surprise me, but they shocked Stewart. Conservative cities (as ranked by political scientists used as a reference for the study) consistently did a better job of closing student achievement gaps–sometimes, to zero–than progressive cities. This chart sums up the findings:

No topic is dearer to the hearts of America-hating leftists than the "achievement gap" in education.  The statistical tendency of minorities deemed racially oppressed by the Left to on average score lower on academic tests and other measures of learning than whites and those minorities that outperform the white average, in particular East Asians and Jews, always is blamed on "racism!"  And the cure for racism! is supposed to be spending more, sensitivity training, and other factors extrinsic to the underperformers.  The history of discrimination against over-performing minorities like East Asians and Jews is relegated to taboo status, as is any examination of parental and cultural values as well as individual behavior of the children.

John Hinderaker links to an essay by James Bacon in Bacon's Rebellion that sums up the data and probable causal factors:

At one extreme is San Francisco, where Democrats and progressives have long prided themselves on efforts to uplift the underprivileged. Educators are dedicated to openness, tolerance, diversity and equal opportunity. Yet the black-white cap is horrifying. Seventy percent of white students score proficient in math compared to only 12% of blacks — a chasm of 58%. For math, the gap in Washington, D.C., is even worse — 62 percentage points.

By contrast, the conservative cities of Virginia Beach, Anaheim, and Fort Worth "have effectively closed the gap in at least one of the academic categories we looked at, literally achieving a gap of zero or one," the study reports. "The politically conservative Oklahoma City has even turned the tables on our typical thinking about race-based gaps. There, students of color outperform white students on high school graduation rates."

The study systematically ruled out other explanations for the differences between progressive and conservative cities — per-pupil spending, income inequality, poverty rates, percentages of white and black students, and other factors. "Of all the factors we looked at progressivism is the greatest predictor." Remarkably, despite the obsessive attention that progressives give to closing the gap for lower-income students, the racial gap in both San Francisco and Washington, D.C. is worse for low-income students than for middle- to upper-income students.

James Bacon hypothesizes what might lie behind the counter-productivity of the progressive approach:

§  Agency. By blaming racism and discrimination for the woes afflicting minority communities, progressives deprive minority students of agency — the sense that they control their own destinies and that their efforts will make a difference. If minority students see themselves as victims of systemic racism, why bother working hard and "acting white"?

§  Discipline. Progressives have implemented "social justice" approaches to school and classroom discipline on the grounds that suspensions and other punishments disproportionately affect minorities. The resulting breakdown in classroom discipline has the perverse effect of disproportionately harming the minority students whose classes are being disrupted.

§  Lower standards. As an offshoot of the "self esteem" movement, progressive educators don't want to damage the self-esteem of minority students. Accordingly, they have lower expectations and set lower standards for minorities to offset the advantages that white students have from "white privilege."

All of these factors make intuitive sense, yet all touch on theological beliefs of the Left, doctrines they will not give up on willingly.

No doubt, the major media will do their best to suppress the findings of the study, and however valiant the efforts of conservative media outlets to publicize the findings, they won't influence policymakers unless and until parents of children in progressive cities go on the attack and help themselves to the tactics that Saul Alinsky systematically laid out in Rules for Radicals — in particular, number four: "Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules."

Based on its own ideology, the American Left must now conclude that its own educational policies are racist.  A groundbreaking study by a group called Brightbeam ("a network of education activists demanding better education and a brighter future for every child") has discovered that cities politically dominated by progressives have far greater gaps between the average educational achievement levels of whites and minorities of blacks, Hispanics, and Native Americans than cities politically dominated by conservatives.

John Hinderaker of Powerline introduced me to the findings:

This report by Chris Stewart of Brightbeam is a blockbuster. It is titled: "The Secret Shame: How America's Most Progressive Cities Betray Their Commitment to Educational Opportunity For All." Stewart is a liberal activist from Minnesota who undertook to find out why the Twin Cities' left-wing public schools have some of the country's worst achievement gaps between white and minority (black and Indian) students.

Stewart compared achievement by race in a number of cities that he classified as progressive or conservative. The results didn't surprise me, but they shocked Stewart. Conservative cities (as ranked by political scientists used as a reference for the study) consistently did a better job of closing student achievement gaps–sometimes, to zero–than progressive cities. This chart sums up the findings:

No topic is dearer to the hearts of America-hating leftists than the "achievement gap" in education.  The statistical tendency of minorities deemed racially oppressed by the Left to on average score lower on academic tests and other measures of learning than whites and those minorities that outperform the white average, in particular East Asians and Jews, always is blamed on "racism!"  And the cure for racism! is supposed to be spending more, sensitivity training, and other factors extrinsic to the underperformers.  The history of discrimination against over-performing minorities like East Asians and Jews is relegated to taboo status, as is any examination of parental and cultural values as well as individual behavior of the children.

John Hinderaker links to an essay by James Bacon in Bacon's Rebellion that sums up the data and probable causal factors:

At one extreme is San Francisco, where Democrats and progressives have long prided themselves on efforts to uplift the underprivileged. Educators are dedicated to openness, tolerance, diversity and equal opportunity. Yet the black-white cap is horrifying. Seventy percent of white students score proficient in math compared to only 12% of blacks — a chasm of 58%. For math, the gap in Washington, D.C., is even worse — 62 percentage points.

By contrast, the conservative cities of Virginia Beach, Anaheim, and Fort Worth "have effectively closed the gap in at least one of the academic categories we looked at, literally achieving a gap of zero or one," the study reports. "The politically conservative Oklahoma City has even turned the tables on our typical thinking about race-based gaps. There, students of color outperform white students on high school graduation rates."

The study systematically ruled out other explanations for the differences between progressive and conservative cities — per-pupil spending, income inequality, poverty rates, percentages of white and black students, and other factors. "Of all the factors we looked at progressivism is the greatest predictor." Remarkably, despite the obsessive attention that progressives give to closing the gap for lower-income students, the racial gap in both San Francisco and Washington, D.C. is worse for low-income students than for middle- to upper-income students.

James Bacon hypothesizes what might lie behind the counter-productivity of the progressive approach:

§  Agency. By blaming racism and discrimination for the woes afflicting minority communities, progressives deprive minority students of agency — the sense that they control their own destinies and that their efforts will make a difference. If minority students see themselves as victims of systemic racism, why bother working hard and "acting white"?

§  Discipline. Progressives have implemented "social justice" approaches to school and classroom discipline on the grounds that suspensions and other punishments disproportionately affect minorities. The resulting breakdown in classroom discipline has the perverse effect of disproportionately harming the minority students whose classes are being disrupted.

§  Lower standards. As an offshoot of the "self esteem" movement, progressive educators don't want to damage the self-esteem of minority students. Accordingly, they have lower expectations and set lower standards for minorities to offset the advantages that white students have from "white privilege."

All of these factors make intuitive sense, yet all touch on theological beliefs of the Left, doctrines they will not give up on willingly.

No doubt, the major media will do their best to suppress the findings of the study, and however valiant the efforts of conservative media outlets to publicize the findings, they won't influence policymakers unless and until parents of children in progressive cities go on the attack and help themselves to the tactics that Saul Alinsky systematically laid out in Rules for Radicals — in particular, number four: "Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules."