Hippies made a film in 1970 called Suppose They Gave a War and Nobody Came, a naïve but interesting idea, nevertheless. But what if people had a way … of opting out of all sorts of things they find awful? What if you never had to leave your house, almost? That was the subplot of 1995’s The Net with Sandra Bullock and Dennis Miller. But in real life Middle Class (White) Americans are now poised to do just that, with Education and almost everything else.
The Orange County Register reports that Hispanics still lag far behind White students in K-12 education.
The U.S. Department of Education report, released June 23, shows the achievement gap between white and Hispanic students has not closed at all since the early 1990s, with the overall difference between the groups remaining above 20 points, or roughly two grade levels, on a scale of 0 to 500.
“With everything that the state of California is trying to do, it’s frustrating that the achievement gap really hasn’t moved,” said Alicia Berhow, administrator for the Latino Educational Attainment Initiative, an outreach project of the Orange County Business Council.
The report shows a 21-point gap in math between fourth-grade Hispanic and white students in 2009. At grade eight, the gap rises to 26 points.
The gap is similarly wide in reading – 25 points in fourth grade and 24 in eighth.
California fares even worse than the U.S. average, trailing the nation by 4 to 7 points in fourth- and eight-grade reading and math.
The full report is here. Boiled down to its essentials, despite twenty years of sustained federal and state efforts, Hispanic (that means mostly Mexican) kids are about two grade levels behind White kids. This makes public schools a sink-hole for public resources, as well as being hell for any White kids unlucky enough to be lumped with significant amounts of Hispanic and Black kids. Despite all efforts, considerable sums of money, and the best educational minds spending 20 years on the matter, learning has not caught up to White kids. It remains, fairly abysmal.
This has significant impact on public culture, taxing, spending, and voting.
Education, in K-12, simply does not work for Hispanic and Black kids, save as a fairly obvious patronage operation. The dismal performance of DC public schools led voters to … toss out Mayor Adrian Fenty and Superintendent Michelle Rhee, in favor of the old-style, Marion Barry patronage. Black voters in DC don’t expect their kids to learn (and the elite like the Obamas and Clintons before them certainly don’t send their kids there). They expect the school district to provide jobs. Same as the Atlanta Public Schools, with Steve Sailer repeating the Atlanta Journal-Constitution story, about cheating parties, erased test forms, and the like done by Assistant Superintendents, to Principals, to teachers, on down the line, all Black which is not surprising given the patronage demands in the majority Black school district. The Black staff that ran the schools knew well, their kids could not meet aggregate test score goals in No Child Left Behind mandates. Nor earlier, Georgia State goals, mandated by the Legislature. So they cheated. Hispanic kids just fail at a lower rate.
No one has been able to make either group, Black or Hispanic, consistently match Whites. For whatever reason, it cannot be done. Meanwhile, as Sailer reports a new federal study shows unsurprisingly, Blacks and Hispanics get disproportionate amounts of disciplinary referrals and suspensions and expulsions, compared to Whites (and Asians). This is not shocking. Nor is the obvious conclusion that when Education Secretary Arne Duncan says he will team up with Attorney General Eric (“My People”) Holder to “go after” school districts with a pattern of racial disparities in disciplinary action, what he means is more zero tolerance to expel some hapless White kid who brought a paring knife to school to eat an apple along with a Black kid who beat another kid’s head in, during a fight.
Zero Tolerance is just a way to expel White kids to make the numbers look good, race-wise. For the feds, for various grievance groups like the ACLU, NAACP, LULAC, etc.
With all that, why send your kid to public school? Why aren’t there busing fights? With parents “stuck” in houses they cannot sell, and job markets frozen? Because either they already sent them to private school, or they are looking at things like the the Khan Academy. Nope, its not the training ground for Captain Kirk’s arch-enemy, it is an online, free site providing lots of lessons on almost anything a high schooler could want.
Eventually private school at home will be even more affordable, just have an internet connection, a computer, and watch videos of lectures, do downloaded problem sets/practice, and use online tools for help, tutoring, corrections, and test-taking to measure progress. Drilling for AP tests has never been easier, let alone SAT/ACT. Princeton Review, Kaplan, the Great Courses, are all likely to expand into this space with the money of course being in reduced expenses (no bricks/mortar spaces with heavy staff costs) and piecework test correction, assistance, tutoring, etc. Go at your own pace, avoid ugly peer interaction, learn anything, from Latin to Greek to French, regardless of what the school down the street offers. Avoid Black/Hispanic acting out and learning-lagging, let alone racial harassment, for White and Asian kids.
Indeed, the whole “rating” thing allows kids and parents to pick tutors with high ratings/results, like the Amazon rating system in the Marketplace, or Ebay’s rating system, or Yelp!. Wouldn’t you like to pick your kids French tutor than just “go along” with whatever is out there at the public school? Yes of course younger kids have to be watched, but work at home schedules can accomplish this. It is more pleasant than sending them off to school every day. Itself quite expensive in public schools if any Extra-curricular activities are included:
Budget shortfalls have prompted Medina Senior High to impose fees on students who enroll in many academic classes and extracurricular activities. The Dombis had to pay to register their children for basic courses such as Spanish I and Earth Sciences, to get them into graded electives such as band, and to allow them to run cross-country and track. The family’s total tab for a year of public education: $4,446.50.
“I’m wondering, am I going to be paying for my parking spot at the school? Because you’re making me pay for just about everything else,” says Ms. Dombi, a parent in this middle-class community in northern Ohio.
With that sort of charges, kids can participate in athletics, music, and other things on a per-sport basis just as easily, in private clubs, the way kids in Europe often do. A plus, as Steve Sailer notes, it keeps daughters healthy, active, and away from bad boys like Levi Johnson, no Bristol Palin pregnant at 16 risks, by filtering out by income levels those kids with single moms, but a bad boy attitude with athletic ability picked up by victory hungry coaches/athletic departments (did I mention, no Levi Johnsons?) That sort of thing keeps boys from getting into fights too much, or becoming overly aggressive or too fearful, or picking up bad habits (smoking weed, not studying) found among say, greatly gifted but poor students on the Football, or Track, or Basketball teams.
It is not just limited to K-12 either. Michael Barone thinks higher ed will burst as a bubble as well. California’s UC system is “broke” but is doubling down on diversity, hiring more diversity bureaucrats during the budget crisis. Meanwhile as noted, Jerry Brown signed into law mandating K-12 educators teach “This Day in Gay” about Gay culture and contributions to history. Not only is the law stupid, it takes up valuable and limited time for gay propagandizing at the expense of math and science.
The Great Opt Out has begun. Sooner or later (and it might come sooner due to cash-strapped parents looking to save money on education), various private groups will offer a complete package, and exam-certified results. Your kid can study at home, at his own time, on his own pace, knowing exactly where he stands, in passing various exams to get his diploma, and certification/college credit for Advanced Placement, as well as pushing up his SAT/ACT scores by drilling without enduring acting-out, or simply time constraints of being one of 45 kids in a class.
The internet allows easy delivery, at far lower cost, of the best lecturers on a subject. The internet allows easy, interactive, and very low cost (compared to the public or private bricks and mortar school) delivery of tutoring, exam-correction, drilling, and the like. Mavis Beacon can teach you to type by computer a lot easier than say, a bored Mrs. Diffle struggling to control thirty sugar zonked 12 year olds. Boring drills with the computer can be spiced up a bit by game play, or what have you, motivating kids who struggle. Unlike a teacher with a class full of kids, the computer can slow down or speed up to give a student just the right amount of drill, in Latin, biology, or Calculus he or she needs.
It has not happened yet, because people still think of education as something that happens because of “Miracle Teachers” who look like Mr. Hand, or Edward James Olmos, or Robin Williams. Interspersed with “magical” things like football games, or Quidditch, homecoming, and all the rest. In a word, nostalgia. From the High School settings of the start of “Smallville” and “Buffy” to Harry Potter, that model of delivering education has a lot of power and romance. But …
A wise band once said, “Give me convenience or give me death.” The Dead Kennedys were right, too. Vinyl, film pictures, the cassette tape and Walkman, all had their charm, defenders (the film “High Fidelity” with the tiresome John Cusack) and some technical advantages (for vinyl/tape, a more accurate if hissy capturing of the analog sound waves). But like everything else in life, convenience won out. It was cheaper and easier to take digital pictures and store them on your computer. Cheaper and easier to buy first CDs, then MP3 downloads, and put them on your Ipod. It is cheaper and easier to use Netflix than Blockbuster. It is cheaper and easier to use e-books than trot out to Borders and buy a physical book. And it is cheaper and easier, and also more effective, to have your kid educated at home by “the best” online company offering a comprehensive catalog of the “best lectures” by the best teachers, all rated and reviewed. Than hauling them off to be babysat every day by bored and under-trained and often patronage-chosen-only teachers.
This means, of course, that a White middle or even working class taxpayer base is not going to spring for heavy school taxes. White guilt save a few SWPL yuppies is played out. The White Middle Class is not staging a revolution, they already walked out on life. They walked out on Borders, and the shopping malls. Too many hassles, of living among non-White majorities with basically little enforcement of laws regarding harassment or worse, among those favored with the “correct” ethnicity/race. Whites opted out of the book offerings, opting for e-books that have little PC barriers, one way or another. It could be women’s porn, the romance novels, easily read without shame on a Kindle. Or something else, a ripping tale of adventure offered cheap. White middle and working class men opted out of television, save televised sports, long ago. There’s been nothing but opting out.
The great untold story is the simple writing off of most post-War American institutions by White Middle/Working class people. Marriage, the nuclear family, monogamy, Party Identification, mass media consumption, century old technologies, television, all of it written off largely by a population opting out, and using the internet to move around old ways of doing things. Some of this is pretty awful — Ashley Madison, the various other “cheating” sites and raising kids in what amounts to a parade of guys through Mom’s bedroom. Some of this is sad, the death of network TV, newspapers, film photography, vinyl, cassette tapes, the VCR. And some of this is revolutionary — the process of abandoning public schools for private online education. [Including, inevitably, a cry for credential by examination instead of by purchasing a degree in Chicano Studies from Yale.] Glenn Reynolds noted that poor bar pass rates by Blacks and Hispanics will create a huge amount of pressure to make sure they pass by lowering the exam standards.
But on the reverse, the mass of White middle and working class kids educated online will want a true meritocracy, grading by tough standards that makes their exam pass rates the equal or better of a degree in Chicano Studies from Yale. If you have a degree, say online from Texas Tech in Petroleum Engineering (one of the top ten schools) and pass the federal certification, with top honors, it ought to make you (and everyone doing that will want this) the equal of a guy from Yale who barely passed. This is more the Chinese model, except that the twist is delivery online of studying and lectures. Indeed the delivery could be global, with results and reputations built hour-by-hour the way Amazon rankings, or Ebay rankings, or Yelp reviews do for various merchants or professionals.
Needless to say, the White middle and working class will do their very best to kill alternatives, like Public Education and particularly K-12, and University education, since their kids won’t go there. And desire to take down tony private schools, from Philips Exeter to Yale, by taking federal money away from the latter and larding on taxes on brick and mortar schools. Call it the reverse Amazon tax.
In a sense, public education is already dead, it just doesn’t know it yet. It has become a dumping ground for Black and Hispanic permanent underachievers, mostly. [Yes it is true there will be a few exceptionally talented Black and Hispanic kids. In terms of numbers however, their impact will be akin to the Sturmgewehr 44 and the Me 262 Jet for the Germans on either front — too little and too late. Or one can compare it to the total failure of US White basketball players to compete much in the NBA, despite their numerical advantage.]
A K-12 system that produces only patronage for non-Whites, and poor results, and pushes White middle and working class families towards internet opt-out, will get no votes for taxes. Yes the Hispanic voting juggernaut will come, real soon now. Or not. In the meantime, voting is done by those who show up. People whose kids don’t and won’t ever go to the local public schools don’t tax themselves to school their demographic replacements.
And by the same token, Yale and Harvard are riding for a fall. Yes they are old, established brands, with lots of rich alumni. But they have powerful enemies, who wish to see them broken upon the wheel. Federal funding is probably going to be yanked at some point. And all sorts of penalties for credentials based on school rep, instead of standardized, merit-based tests cooked up. Its easy populism, and while the Ivies may run Wall Street and Hollywood, no one actually likes them. Voting is a popularity contest. They’ll still be around, so is the University of Milan. Or the University of Paris. Even Oxford and Cambridge and Humboldt Universities are around. But while they still have cachet, they are not what they once were. Universities are more than just a place for rich kids to hang out before they work at Greenpeace in Paris for a year, and then settle on a fake “respectable” career playing at work. Much of that will move online too, because its cheaper, free-er, and easier.
Give Me Convenience or Give Me Death indeed.