I love a healthy debate, and invite more.
In the case of Howler001 (whoever the hell that is), I found “its” (can’t tell whether Howler is a he or she, so best to stick with “it” to be safe) commentary on the piece quite interesting, given that the whole point "it" was trying to make seemed to be that Wake County Public Schools didn’t do such a bang-up job with black students to begin with, and diversity didn’t do a whole heck of a lot to prove that it did!
If that was the point Howler001 was trying to make (and I do emphasize “trying” in an otherwise weak, snarky and unworthy diatribe), I can answer that with a flick of my finger.
But first, for those who missed it, let's hold our noses, and re-read Howler001's attempt at relevancy, shall we?:
Wow! Cash Roc readers felt a familiar glow; 80 percent of Wake County black kids scored at grade level on 2005 end of grade tests!
But here’s what Michaels didn’t tell you—across the state of North Carolina, 77 percent of all black kids scored at grade level on those same tests! That’s right; Michaels devotes this entire blog posting to a three-point difference in passing rates—a three-point difference in passing rates on tests almost everyone passes!
So you can grasp the grinding illiteracy found in Cash Michaels, let’s make sure you understand how these numbers work. For example, how well did Wake County black fifth-graders do on 2005's end of grade reading test? According to the state’s official results, 88 percent of Wake’s black students tested “proficient” on the state test. But then, 83 of black fifth graders tested “proficient” on this same test statewide! In short, the large majority of fifth-graders—black, white and brown—tested “proficient” all over the state! But you never learn that in Michaels' piece. Instead, you get a warm, fuzzy feeling about Wake’s score gains—score gains which Michaels attributes to a particular aspect of Wake’s educational program.
Did Wake’s black passing rates doubled in the decade from 1995-2005? Almost—but then, the same thing has happened all over the state! Did 80 percent of Wake’s black kids pass in 2005? Yes—but so did black kids all over the state! In short, Michaels is the latest illiterate making a joke of our educational discourse. If we actually care about school kids, he and his editor won’t be allowed within a hundred miles of this topic again.
Michaels' piece has an obvious sub-text. Wake County was busing to achieve economic integration during McNeal's tenure—and that was producing big score gains. But these Wake Country test scores provide little evidence of big pay-offs in minority achievement if you enact such a program. Yes, Wake had shown good score gains during McNeal's tenure (most likely on easier tests)—but so did schools all over the state! How can Wake’s program account for gains which are happening in all the state’s districts?
Yes, the gains were occurring all over the state. But apparently, Michaels didn’t want you to know that. As good pseudo-liberals have endlessly done, he just wanted you feeling real good about a type of program he favors. As good pseudo-liberals have shamelessly done, he wanted you thinking something bogus and cruel: When it comes to the education of poor black children, success is right there for the taking. In various ways, pseudo-liberals have pimped this feel-good pap over the past forty years.
THE DETAILS: As Michaels' noted, 80 percent of Wake County black kids (grades 3-8) passed the state tests in 2005 in both reading and math. But uh-oh! Statewide, 76 percent of blacks kids passed the reading test; 78 percent passed in math.
But then, you can do the math yourselves! North Carolina has an excellent web site which lets you check all the relevant data, county by county, back to 1994. The info is very easy to access—unless you’re a Gotham illiterate.
Here’s the page with the “background” information: http://report.ncsu.edu/ncpublicschools/AutoForward.do?forward=eog.pagedef. Here’s the page from which you can access all info about Wake and the state as a whole: http://report.ncsu.edu/ncpublicschools/AutoForward.do?forward=table.pagedef.
MORE DETAILS: this time about those ten-year gains in reading. In 1994-95, 52 percent of Wake’s black kids passed the statewide reading tests (grades 3-8). By 2005, that had jumped to 80 percent. But uh-oh! The same thing has happened all over the state! In 1994-95, 47 percent of all black kids passed the reading test statewide. By 2005, that number had jumped to 76 percent. Michaels only mentions Wake’s gains—and attributes the gains to Wake’s program.
How effective is this busing program? If you enact it in one district, scores rise all over the state!
Gee, Howler001 called me “illiterate.” That means I hurt it's feelings in my piece, and the only way that could happen is if the truth was so obvious, Howler (or “it,” take your pick), felt compelled to find some way to spin it against black students.
In short, if my facts were wrong, "it" would have nailed me, but couldn't.
Boy, this person must have a lot invested in school resegregation.
Or be just a typical racist, right-wing nut (same thing).
So let’s respond, shall we?
From 2000 until now, socioeconomic diversity (SED) in Wake County Public Schools created healthy schools that allowed students from all walks of life, and every race and income level, to have access to quality teachers and instruction, in addition to adequate resources for learning in relatively safe environments.
Between 2000 and 2005, SED make Wake an extremely successful public school system, ranked by Forbes Magazine as the third best in the nation at the time.
Apparently Howler001 and others who think like “it” aren’t impressed with the Forbes ranking. Such a pity. Thanks to Forbes, the New York Times and other national publications, thousands of families, looking for a solid public school system, DID THEIR HOMEWORK AND RESEARCH (after all, they were moving here) and THEN decided that Wake County, NOT Mecklenburg, NOT Forsyth, and NOT Guilford, but Wake, had the high caliber of education their children deserved.
I invoke the names of other counties because Howler001 seems invested in this idea that Wake really didn’t accomplish much with its black students, given that, per “it”, other counties did almost as well.
A couple of points as to why, in an effort to be disparaging, Howler001 is all too transparent in “its” zeal to throw false crap on Wake’s past accomplishments.
First, you’ll notice, H-001 doesn’t deny Wake’s achievement between 2000 - 2005 (in fact, he selectively ONLY focuses on 2005, though Wake attained 91.5% overall proficiency, and 81% for black and Hispanic students, starting in 2003 before the numbers plateaued going into 2006), just tries to diminish it by saying the state EOG tests were too easy, and many other counties did equally well.
Here’s the problem - in comparison to those other counties at the time, Wake was getting better results in terms of academic achievement, with far, far less money than Charlotte-Mecklenburg, Forsyth, or most of the other counties.
Let’s put this another way - Other counties were spending upwards of $10,000 per student more, just to come in, on average, 3-6 points behind Wake County. So Wake, whose funding in comparison was near the bottom of the list, but whose growth was exploding, was doing a much, much better job of academically educating ALL of its students, than any of the other counties, who were literally wasting dollars trying to catch up.
Hell, in 2006, Wake Superior Court Judge Howard Manning Jr., a conservative Republican charged with managing the Leandro case ruling, accused Charlotte-Mecklenburg Public Schools of committing "academic genocide" against the systems black students, and threatened to close some of the CMS schools down if they didn't shape up.
CMS' budget was $60 million more than Wake's at the time. Now Howler001, want to jot down some thoughts about THAT, sweetheart?
That means between 2000-2005 when Wake’s diversity policy was full-out and winning, the school system was kicking the teeth out of big spending bullies. I don’t know about Howler001, but taxpayers absolutely LOVE it when government can deliver excellent results, especially in education, at far, far less money that other local governments.
But wait a minute, H-001 says the EOC tests at the time were “easy.”
I won’t deny that, but if that was absolutely the case (and the tests were re-normed in 2005 and 2007), then why was Wake Number One several years in a row?
Let me put this another way - if diversity was so inconsequential, and high poverty/neighborhood schools were the most effective way to teach kids, then why couldn’t those other better funded NC school systems smoke Wake County in the statewide tests? They had the artillery to do it with!
Seems to me that David (Wake) conquered several Goliaths here - in fact the other 114 school districts - in the best way possible.
INEXPENSIVELY compared to the competition.
That tells me that Bill McNeal and company knew what they were doing, with less.
Certainly more so than the other school districts.
Now Howler000 (had to deduct a point) has accused me of not telling everybody about other schools systems at the time, as if I were trying to deliberately hide them from everybody.
Nonsense, and I’ll prove it.
Quick, off the top of your head, tell me in what order of votes after “The King’s Speech” did the other nine titles nominated for Best Picture come last Sunday at the Oscars?
We don’t know because they didn’t tell us, and they didn’t tell us because no one cares. No one else came in Number One, no matter how close the voting was.
In life, you focus on the winner and how he did it, NOT the losers and how close they came!
The remarkable story of how Wake County Public Schools beat out 114 other schools systems across the state - many, if not most of whom were getting far more money per pupil than Wake - is the story Forbes wanted to hear, is the story the NY Times wanted to hear, and most importantly, is the story tens of thousands of families since 2000 (according to the latest US Census figures) wanted to hear when they moved to Wake County because of a public school system that did its job better than any other in the state for several years in a row.
So pardon me and my readers, Howler, if we not only have a “familiar glow,” but are enjoying it immensely, as we recall the good old days of WCPSS high achievement.