... The five-story school building, which houses Grades eight and nine in a central district of Shanghai, is rather nondescript. Students wear rumpled school uniforms, classrooms are crowded and lunch is bused in every afternoon. But the school, which operates from 8:20 a.m. to 4 p.m. on most days, is considered one of the city’s best middle schools.
... poor black students are suspended at three times the rate of whites, a disparity not fully explained by differences in income or behavior. On March 8, the education secretary, Arne Duncan, lamented “schools that seem to suspend and discipline only young African-American boys” as he pledged stronger efforts to ensure racial equality in schooling.
Thus, the enormous emphasis in the conventional wisdom today on how we must use value-added statistics to identify good teachers and fire bad teachers: because disparate impact lawsuits undermine institutional support for discipline, we're down to needing to find teachers who can maintain order in their classrooms through sheer force of personality.
For example, Teach for America's model for who will make a good teacher is A) got into an exclusive college (i.e., smart), B) got good grades there (i.e., hard-working), and C) has a demonstrated track record of leadership accomplishment (i.e., charismatic alpha personality).
For example, it would be nice to be able to hire a person who both A) cares deeply about making The Great Gatsby come alive for today's youth and B) lives to put young punks in their places. Sometimes, you can find a person who is outstanding at both. Most of the time, however, it's easier to hire two people, one to teach English and the other to be Assistant Dean of Discipline and Offensive Line Coach, and then have them specialize in what they do best. But, that puts school districts in jeopardy of violating disparate impact norms. Hence, the current emphasis on finding Superman teachers and firing the non-Supermen.
In contrast, Pat Buchanan's new column takes a more realistic approach to what the PISA scores tell us:
Among the OECD members, the most developed 34 nations on earth, Mexico, principal feeder nation for U.S. schools, came in dead last in reading.Steve Sailer of VDARE.com got the full list of 65 nations, broke down U.S. reading scores by race, then measured Americans with the countries and continents whence their families originated. What he found was surprising. [PISA Scores Show Demography Is Destiny In Education Too—But Washington Doesn’t Want You To Know, December 19, 2010]Asian-Americans outperform all Asian students except for Shanghai-Chinese.
White Americans outperform students from all 37 predominantly white nations except Finns, and U.S. Hispanics outperformed the students of all eight Latin American countries that participated in the tests.African-American kids would have outscored the students of any sub-Saharan African country that took the test (none did) and did outperform the only black country to participate, Trinidad and Tobago, by 25 points.America's public schools, then, are not abject failures.They are educating immigrants and their descendants to outperform the kinfolk their parents or ancestors left behind when they came to America. America's schools are improving the academic performance of all Americans above what it would have been had they not come to America.