Myths of black education
By Walter Williams
Published: Saturday, Dec. 26, 2009
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 fell 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.
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's and Washington's.
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 sizes. The fact is higher teacher salaries and smaller class sizes mean little or nothing in terms of academic achievement.
Washington, D.C., for example spends more than $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 harebrained 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.
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. 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 major. Students who have an education degree earn lower scores than any other major on graduate school admission tests. Schools of education, either graduate or undergraduate, represent the academic slums of most any university.
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.
Walter Williams is a professor of economics at George Mason University.
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