November 14, 2011

The Obama Touch

I wanted to call attention to this article from last month's LA Times because it provides an interesting example of the Obama Administration's preferred mode of operation: the fix-is-in. Barack Obama doesn't particularly like confrontation. What he likes is exemplified by this pseudo-confrontation over "civil rights," where both sides, the feds and the L.A. school district, were already in agreement that the taxpayers should pony up a lot more money for blacks and the children of illegal aliens, but neither side wanted to scare taxpayers by yet putting a dollar value on their deal, the bill for which will come later:
LAUSD agrees to revise how English learners, blacks are taught 
Officials say the accord, which settles a federal civil rights probe, could be a national model. The district is not accused of intentional bias, and deciding how to make changes will be done locally. 
October 11, 2011|By Howard Blume, Los Angeles Times 
The Los Angeles Unified School District has agreed to sweeping revisions in the way it teaches students learning English, as well as black youngsters, settling a federal civil rights investigation that examined whether the district was denying the students a quality education. 
The settlement closes what was the Obama administration's first civil rights investigation launched by the Department of Education, and officials said Tuesday that it would serve as a model for other school districts around the country. 
"What happens in L.A. really does set trends for across the nation. More and more school districts are dealing with this challenge," said Russlynn Ali, the assistant secretary of education for civil rights. 
The agreement poses a potential financial problem for the school district, which has faced multimillion-dollar budget cuts and layoffs over the last few years. 
The Education Department launched the probe last year, at first to determine if students who entered school speaking limited English, most of whom are Latino, were receiving adequate instruction. The nation's second-largest school system has more students learning English, about 195,000, than any other in the United States — about 29% of the district's overall enrollment. Later, at the urging of local activists, investigators widened the probe to include black students, who make up about 10% of the district's enrollment. 
Federal authorities do not accuse the district of intentional discrimination. But the settlement requires a top-to-bottom revision of the district's Master Plan for English Learners, which is already well underway. The goal is to let the district develop the details, under continuing oversight from the Office for Civil Rights, a branch of the Education Department. 
Under the settlement, the district for the first time will focus on the academic progress of students judged to have adequately learned English. Many of these students subsequently flounder academically.

The reporter is messing up the issue, which almost nobody understands: there are a lot of young people in L.A. who are from Spanish-speaking homes, but who, with Ron Unz's 1998 initiative stifling bilingual education, now speak English like Moon-Unit Zappa. But many of these English speakers remain officially classified as English Learners because they can't pass written tests. Year after year goes by, and these kids who have passed the spoken English test continue to fail the written English test, just as they continue to fail their math and science tests.

How come? Because they aren't very bright.

But you can't say that, so everybody pretends that they must be victims of discrimination who are having their civil rights violated.
The district will also concentrate efforts on students who have reached high school without mastering the English skills necessary to enroll in a college-preparatory curriculum and who may be at risk of dropping out. 
L.A. Unified also agreed to provide students learning English and black students with more effective teachers. Improved teaching would result from "ongoing and sustained" training, among other potential efforts, Ali said. 
The decision on how to improve instruction will be a local one. The district will be judged in large measure by student performance data. The ultimate sanction for not living up to the agreement would be withholding or withdrawing federal funds, Ali said. 
L.A. Unified was selected for the investigation in large measure because it is an epicenter for the challenge of educating students whose native language is not English. For years, district officials insisted that L.A. Unified performed as well as or better than nearly all other school systems with this population. 
Federal officials did not challenge this record. Instead, they emphasized that past efforts simply haven't succeeded as well as they must. District officials, in fact, have echoed this rhetoric. Former board member Yolie Flores consistently criticized the district's performance with English learners. 
Under federal law, discrimination can exist even when it is not intentional, based on the levels of opportunity afforded students through even well-meaning policies and practices.

So, this seemingly confrontational but actually conspiratorial process has resulted in an agreement that everybody participating wanted. Of course, no representatives of the taxpayers were invited to the talks. But, the taxpayers haven't been told yet how much this binding agreement will cost them ultimately, so almost zero attention has been focused on this scam among the general public.

32 comments:

Whiskey said...

The kicker is that Whites are slowly or maybe rapidly moving out of the school system. "My Teacher is an App" ran one WSJ headline on internet-based learning. The Khan Academy (khanacademy.org) offers more lectures done better than your local HS teacher could ever manage. All without say 45 semi-literate Mexican kids screaming and acting out in the classroom. Color that the Great Courses model of learning.

When schools are just for Blacks and Mexicans, they will die. The Middle Class cannot and will not support it in sustained hard times. That's the flaw in the Obama model. It does not account for fight instead of flight. Taxpayers can simply refuse to pay, one way or another. How'd that reforming work out in Prohibition? The US is not Chicago, you can't move to the suburbs.

edgy gurl said...

You know, as much as I hate, hate, hate the Mexican invasion, I can't say that classrooms full of Mexicans at any age were ever that rowdy. Mexicans also tend towards the pragmatic which gives them strong motivation to pursue vocational tracks.

Some judicious tracking in jr high while touting the benefits of it to the parents should work miracles in most communities. Unlike blacks, working class hispanics don't compete with whites. I'm also not certain if the constant drive for equal outcomes in education comes more from elites or ambitious working class blacks. I suspect it's the former.

Anonymous said...

You notice how this catch-all vaguely defined notion of 'civil rights' (which I presume was originally supposed to mean the denial of voting rights to blacks in the American south decades ago), has take on a life of its own to symbolize imagined greviances in themselves - and is always presumed to a public good since it is couched in those terms.
Basically 'civil rights' can mean whatever the professional tribal activists ensconced in government want it to mean.If the group they favor aren't getting what the government tribal advocates think they shoul be getting, then its automatically a 'civil rights' issue.
The term 'civil rights' still has some sense of underdog cachet.

Nadaav said...

I didn't understand the Moon-Unit reference at first. After thinking about it, I figured you were referring to her little monologue in Frank Zappa's song "Valleygirl", where she speaks like, well, a valleygirl. Just want to confirm that's what you meant, and that you weren't just using Moon Zappa as an example of somebody with a normal Midwestern accent (which is what she really has).

Maya said...

When will the whole thing implode? At some point the government will have to make good on its threats and cut the funding/close the schools when the demanded results aren't produced. Then what? Will they bus the inner city kids to the suburbs? Will more magnet schools with merit-based admissions spring up all over the country creating a 2 tier tracking system? Will everyone with a half way intelligent, non-violent kid resort to non-traditional schooling causing ALL the public schools to become failing schools? At some point it will have to be acknowledged that everything that could be done has been done. I'm genuinely excited to see how this will play out. Can't wait till cameras are mandated into classrooms. Hilarity will occur.

Anonymous said...


Moon Unit Zappa Valley Girl

eh said...

...who are from Spanish-speaking homes...

It's difficult for me to get interested in, much less show any enthusiasm for, solving the problems -- learning problems, whatever -- of people who shouldn't even be here in the first place. And whose long-term presence, in such huge numbers, will do the country great harm.

Anonymous said...

It does not account for fight instead of flight.


t99 - pretty much agree w/ everything you just wrote, but i think you meant to say:

It does not account for fLight instead of fight.

Mitch said...

At some point the government will have to make good on its threats and cut the funding/close the schools when the demanded results aren't produced.

Don't be silly. They don't want to actually fix things. They want the issue, so that all sorts of identity activists have an issue they can complain about.

But I'm not sure this will actually cost money. The district will ignore it now that they've agreed to it. The affected parents don't care one way or another, and the white parents will care very much if their kids are affected. So it will just go on that way for a while, giving the identity activists more fodder to complain.

If it had happened 10-15 years ago, they might waste millions or billions, like in KC (or California with the small class size idiocy). But not any more, I'm thinking.

What amused me--the last minute entry of blacks into the pool when the "local activists" heard what was going on.

And also this:

For years, district officials insisted that L.A. Unified performed as well as or better than nearly all other school systems with this population. Federal officials did not challenge this record. Instead, they emphasized that past efforts simply haven't succeeded as well as they must.

Of course, the reporter has drunk the Koolaid,but you think there could have been a challenge or two to this idiotic thinking.

There's not actually a problem, guys, compared to everywhere else, but you're the biggest district so we're going to make an example of you because we know everyone else will fall in line.

Mr. Anon said...

"edgy gurl said...

Unlike blacks, working class hispanics don't compete with whites."

That's horse-s**t. Of course they do. They compete with working-class whites.

Illegals and their children shouldn't be here. Period.

Anonymous said...

edgy gurl said:

Mexicans also tend towards the pragmatic which gives them strong motivation to pursue vocational tracks.


You mean like prostitution and drug dealing?

Anonymous said...

"Under federal law, discrimination can exist even when it is not intentional, based on the levels of opportunity afforded students through even well-meaning policies and practices."

Yeah, it's called affirmative action against whites.

Thrasymachus said...

Liberal creationism goes back to William Jennings Bryant. Evolution is bad because it implies Darwinism. Darwinism means people aren't the same and may be unequal, and that can't be true for liberalism to work.

Anonymous said...

Nobody spoke about the "great challenges" of educating German, Dutch, or other European children, whose language was not English, in times past.

Anonymous said...

This is such bullshit. I want to be able to send my kids to the neighborhood school. It's right down the street. I can't, cause in a 90% white town my local public school is 50% nonwhite and growing. Like edgygurl says, the browns are docile, but you know who isn't docile? MY WHITE SON. I don't want him stuck in a room being compared to a lot of conformist girls who are not as smart as he is, and being fed a line of propaganda intended to demonstrate that people who look like him are responsible for people who look like them having smaller apartments and larger car payments than we do. So, I homeschool, and other white people either homeschool or put their kids on the bus for an hour in the morning to go to the white school. THIS IS BULLSHIT.

Anonymous said...

Will everyone with a half way intelligent, non-violent kid resort to non-traditional schooling causing ALL the public schools to become failing schools?

You people are so incredibly dumb. "Traditional schooling" is primarily childcare. Who is going to be responsible for these "halfway intelligent, nonviolent" kids? Taking them out of traditional schools means one adult for every child (or sibling group) is out of the workforce. Have you looked at the illegitimacy stats lately? Have you thought about what the extension of the Mexican invasion further and further from the borders and centers of Mexican population mean? People are *totally on their own* raising kids, churches do very very little for you unless you're Mormon, there is nothing to support people raising kids except the schools. You childless people in your 20s probably imagine some kind of homeschool co-op is going to solve all of this but for all your internet racism you are failing to get what the demographics mean. People can't form babysitting co-ops or share homeschooling materials or any of this with people they are culturally alien to. We don't HAVE cultures anymore; people move too far away from each other and there isn't enough marriage. The schools replace a community's lost ability to selforganize and allow parents to *do something else* besides incessant childcare. *Very few people* are going to choose a lifestyle that means hauling your kids around to every dentist appointment, every oil change, every grocery shopping expedition, getting it shoved in their face at every turn that society takes no responsibility for your children and feels no obligation to make space for them or help you out.

Giving up on the schools is giving up on American civilization. There isn't any way forward that doesn't go through the schools because there aren't any other institutions or social organizations that give two shits about parents or future generations. Schools don't care MUCH; their concern is mostly an excuse to run their jobs project; but no one else in the US cares AT ALL.

"Nontraditional education" is going to remain limited to unusually dedicated parents; crazy people; people with kids with special needs; and people with a household income high enough to cover regular, reliable childcare.

For so many reasons the altright is a nonstarter but the consistent refusal to take childrearing and education seriously is the real clincher. Stop retreating and take back the schools.

Maya said...

I don't think most people realize the extent to which these programs, revisions and plans are completely and utterly bullshit. I was an ESL student, and I grew up in a district where about half of the kids came from non English speaking homes. The truth is that school aged children learn the language of their new country by default. It just happens. I remember my own ESL education fondly for providing us with nice smiling teachers who were there to help us with routine school procedures and paperwork, offering fun relaxing activities like cookie decorating contests and catching us up on American culture by showing us all the important kids' movies. The language just comes. Some of my former classmates are now almost doctors while other work in a grocery store, but everyone could communicate without a problem and understand everything on TV within a year. When I worked in Korea, I saw children of the missionaries and kids of the Mongolian factory workers experience the same thing. They'd start the school year linguistically isolated, only able to follow the teacher's hand signs, but they were usually playing and chatting with the other kids before the year was over, without any special KSL support.

Since achieving the ability to freely communicate in a foreign language requires so much effort when attempted in a regular classroom environment, people tend to believe that the ESL students in America have an enormous obstacle to tackle and that they require a lot of special help while they courageously undertake this monumental task. No. Stop it. Learning a foreign language while living in one's home country and learning the language of the new country as a child (or young adult) immigrant are not the same experience; not even close. The former is like trying to master advanced ballet while the latter is more like learning to walk upright. If children fail to do that which most other children achieve naturally, it's either a sign of some horrific environmental obstacles (like being raped every day or locked in a closet for years) or something is off about those children.

ELVISNIXON.com said...

Nadaav

When you read "Moon Unit Zappa" think Megan McCain

Anonymous said...

The President's aversion to confronation--to direct , vigorous but rational disputation--is what
in Freudian metaphor would be a symptom of a massive "castration complex". Whatever it be, it is not part of the evolved charcteristics of normal human males. On a more prosaic level, one of the first consequences in vigorous disputation is to reveal to onlookers what your own intellectual "weight class" actually is. That he has a prestigious law degree but has not been "in the ring" is but another of the many biographical anomolies of the President.

Anonymous said...

Steve Sailer said:

"The reporter is messing up the issue, which almost nobody understands: there are a lot of young people in L.A. who are from Spanish-speaking homes, but who, with Ron Unz's 1998 initiative stifling bilingual education, now speak English like Moon-Unit Zappa. But many of these English speakers remain officially classified as English Learners because they can't pass written tests. Year after year goes by, and these kids who have passed the spoken English test continue to fail the written English test, just as they continue to fail their math and science tests.

How come? Because they aren't very bright."


This is representative of why Steve Sailer is a national treasure. If I didn't read him, I'd likely be as blind as the rest of the addle-brained masses.

anony-mouse said...

Given how terrible (apart from the weather) LA seems to be (from reading this website) the only conclusion I can draw is that LA is full of masochists.

And what's wrong with raising taxes on masochists?

Win-Win?

Anonymous said...

Under federal law, discrimination can exist even when it is not intentional, based on the levels of opportunity afforded students through even well-meaning policies and practices.


LOL, you can't make this stuff up!

Under federal law?

Well, let's just change the law. Problem solved!!

Captain Jack Aubrey said...

"That's the flaw in the Obama model. It does not account for f[l]ight instead of f[]ight. Taxpayers can simply refuse to pay, one way or another."

Didn't a federal judge hand down a similar decree in Kansas City two decades ago, and basically order the whole state of Missouri to pay for improving the KS school system?

Consulting my Encylcopedia Derbyshiria (that would be page 105 of his book We Are Doomed) I note the answer is "yes." Judge Russell Clark, a Carter appointee, ordered the State of Missouri to pony up $2 billion to Kansas City schools. They got tv stations, planetariums, olympic-sized swimming pools, ad nauseum - and declining performance.

There is no such thing as flight anymore. LA NAMs won't be paying for it - European and Asian California, and then ultimately the USA, will be.

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:08 am

"Stop retreating and take back the schools."

On target, but by my experience, easier said than done.

We need to de-federalize the schools, and leave education completely up to state and local entities.

And smash the neo-Marxist teachers unions that ruthlessly cram their Orwellian curricula into every local school district.

Anonymous said...

"The decision on how to improve instruction will be a local one. The district will be judged in large measure by student performance data."

What could possibly go wrong using this standard? LA should hire the former superintendent from the Atlanta public school system to oversee this project.

Maya said...

"And smash the neo-Marxist teachers unions that ruthlessly cram their Orwellian curricula into every local school district."

The unions set the curricula? That's news to me. I teach in a district where we aren't required to join the union, so I didn't join mostly because the older teachers told me that the union just took their money and did nothing when they were penalized for jury duty or when a student with a hefty criminal record threatened to kill them. Our students are performing atrociously, by the way, but I don't think it has anything to do with the strength of our union. I don't think the unions have anything at all to do with the student performance. Are you seriously suggesting that all the multi-culti, PC crap originates from the teacher's unions of America? Oh, and you do realize that when your kid comes home and tells you that the teacher told the class that school is no place for Christmas and that the unit on the Greeks and Romans will be replaced with an in depth study of the underground railroad, she didn't actually make those decisions and is following orders under a threat of being fired, right?

Charlotte said...

Unlike blacks, working class hispanics don't compete with whites."

That's horse-s**t. Of course they do. They compete with working-class whites.

whoever thinks they don't compete with whites is obviously in a job profession with few "hispanics." Medieval history perhaps? Editing? Oceanography?

Anonymous said...

Yeah Maya's right. This is not a top-down issue. The teachers *believe* this crap.

Maya said...

"Yeah Maya's right. This is not a top-down issue. The teachers *believe* this crap."

I hope you are being sarcastic. The teachers actually have to come face to face with the dysfunctional kids and their families. Most teachers who work in nice middle class schools had started out in the inner city, so they know the score, and they will parrot ANYTHING to keep their current jobs. I've talked to several teachers who were recently able to switch from our district to the schools in expensive suburbs. Every single one of them went on and on about how drastically their lives had changed for the better. Apparently, they got their health back, their marriages are no longer headed for divorce, their fine lines are smoothing out, and they now can have other things in life besides work. I can see why these people would happily toe the line rather than be thrown back into the torture chamber. I guess someone lucky enough to start their teaching career in a pleasant middle class school COULD really believe the PC crap. Everyone else is trying to pay off their college debt and keep their heads above water. Pardon me, I've encountered another breed as well: those who are shooting for the cushy, lucrative career of an upper administrator. There is a special place in hell for this type of sociopath.

Anonymous said...

Oh wow Maya. I just realized something. I've only ever known the sociopaths. I'm not being sarcastic. I'm actually a little freaked out and need to go lie down in a dark room.

Maya said...

"Oh wow Maya. I just realized something. I've only ever known the sociopaths. I'm not being sarcastic. I'm actually a little freaked out and need to go lie down in a dark room."

The only people you've ever met are teachers in pursuit of the district office and board of education careers? Jebus! Are you one of their experiment subjects? From where are you posting?

Anonymous said...

You-oo-'ve got the magic negro touch (woo-oo)
It makes me blow so much (oo-woo-oo)
It casts a spell, it rings a bell
The magic negro touch