Here's a short part of my new 3000 word VDARE.com column:
By Steve Sailer
January 01, 2008
In the grand tradition of Ebenezer Scrooge, economist James J. Heckman, a Nobel Laureate and 2002 Statistician of the Year, says "Bah! Humbug!" to the happy-clappy statistics the federal government has been feeding us on a key omen of America's future: high school dropout rates.
In an important paper with the bland title of The American High School Graduation Rate: Trends and Levels, [PDF] Heckman of the U. of Chicago and co-author Paul A. LaFontaine of the American Bar Association report:
"The true high school graduation rate is substantially lower than the official rate issued by the National Center for Educational Statistics."
The Department of Education's NCES claims that the graduation rate has been rising since back in the late 1960s, when it stood at 80 percent…
According to the feds, as cited by Heckman and LaFontaine:
"U.S. schools now graduate nearly 88 percent of students and black graduation rates have converged to those of non-Hispanic whites over the past four decades."
But in fact Heckman and LaFontaine's exhaustive study of the widest array of data sources consulted to date finds that the high school dropout rate isn't 12 percent, but about twice that. And the racial gaps have been steady since the early 1970s.
Moreover, although the high school dropout rate improved consistently through the middle of the 20th Century, falling from 75 percent in the early 1920s to 20 percent in the late 1960s, it has worsened, by up to one-fourth, since then.
Dropout rates have gotten slightly worse for all three big ethnic groups, but I estimate that the majority of the deterioration for the country as a whole is simply because Hispanics and blacks make up a larger share of the population than they did 35 years ago.
In contrast to the federal propaganda, H&L find that the dropout rate is around 35 percent for both African-Americans and for those more assimilated Hispanics who either were born in America or have been here at least a decade.
In fact, despite somewhat higher test scores than blacks, these Americanized Hispanics still appear to leave school early at a somewhat greater rate than blacks.
H&L report that the dropout rate for all Hispanics, including recent immigrants, is significantly worse because
"… almost half of Hispanics in this [18-24] age group immigrated within the last ten years. These recent Hispanic immigrants are primarily low-skilled Mexican workers … The migration of workers with low levels of education has increased substantially over the past 40 years.…"
One of H&L's crucial findings: the ethnic gaps are not getting better:
"In fact, we find no evidence of convergence in minority-majority graduation rates over the past 35 years."
… This intractability of racial differences is something that is constantly assumed away by popular pundits who demonize anyone who suggests that these gaps might have genetic origins. "All we have to do is change the environment!"
Perhaps. But, despite 35 years of rapid changes in the social environment, nothing has happened to the dropout disparities. The only difference is that there are now far more low-performing minorities than in 1972.
With racial gaps, this is a common pattern seen across many different measures. Relative quality differences among the races languish virtually unchanged from decade to decade. But, primarily through immigration policy, we allow relative quantity to change relentlessly—in inevitably unfavorable directions.
I go on to suggest a number of ways to improve the situation.