The Black/White SAT Gap

The academic achievement gap between black and white students in the United States comes up regularly in the press and in political debates. It is a deeply rooted and intractable thing, and I have long since given up on thinking that it is within our meager human powers to do anything substantial and efficacious about it. However, I also believe that it is important to have a firm grasp of the phenomenon, if only to understand what the noise is about and justify the only appropriate response: A summary dismissal of the latest wasteful education fad that will come along and be touted as The Remedy That Will Finally Work, Dammit.

This chart is the best way I can think of to put the black/white achievement gap in perspective, focusing on SAT scores.

Black-White SAT Score Gap

To put some of this in words: SAT scores rise as family income rises, across all races. However, children of the richest black families ($200,000+ annual income) have SAT scores that are, on average, virtually equal to those of children of the poorest white families (sub-$20,000 annual income). Those same sub-$20k white children outscore, by 35 points, children of black families in the second-highest income bracket ($160k-$200k), and they outscore children of comparable poor black families (sub-$20k) by 180 points. For each income bracket, the black/white gap is around 150-180 points, or 1.5+ standard deviations. In sum, the lowest white group pretty much picks up where the highest black group leaves off, and achievement diverges from there.  Source: JBHE.

To put it in starker terms, the average child of a black family with demonstrably everything — a $200k+ annual income can buy you every possible educational advantage — pulls barely even with the average white child who has virtually nothing — a <$20k annual income doesn’t go very far even in West Virginia. There must be a whole lot of magic pixie dust in that poor white kid’s invisible knapsack to outweigh the after-school activities, European vacation and private SAT tutors that the rich black kid can afford!

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Freedom of Buggery

The Governess of Alabama, Kay Ivey, signed a bill Wednesday protecting the rights of private, faith-based adoption agencies to turn away gay couples. She did so after the bill passed by overwhelming margins in the houses of the state legislature.

Naturally, the goodthinking left-leaning press is very displeased with this result, blathering on about the evils of state-sanctioned discrimination and all that.

But it’s funny, when you think about it, how the left’s message of “tolerance” has evolved from something like:

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Months of Truce

They’re nearly over

I did some research when preparing my recent Holiday Greetings post. Yes, I’m that detail oriented. Laugh if you must, but what I found out has shed some light on a question that’s been nagging me for a few weeks.

Keen observers may note that the pace of Irish misbehavior in Europe and the United States has subsided somewhat in recent months. It has not gone away entirely — the rather ineffective lone-wolf bombings in New York and the solo Minnesota Mall Rampage both took place on the same weekend in September, and a lone “Hispanic” gunman shot several people dead in a Washington state mall the week after.  But we’ve seen nothing recent that has been as spectacular as the July “drunk-driving” incident in Nice, France, or the “NRA-inspired” gay disco kerfuffle which took place in June in Orlando, Florida, or the San Bernardino office party contretemps which took place back in December 2015.

I don’t think this is entirely a coincidence.

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On the Inherent Power of Objects; or, The Fetishism of the Left

I withdraw today, a bit, from the endless flow of current events. Diverting as they are, my interest is tempered by my knowledge of the iron law of newspaper journalism: There will always be 126 column inches on a page, and there will always be printed as many pages as are needed to run all the ads sold for that day, even as the quality and importance of the journalistic material available to fill said pages varies.  Corollary: Headlines vary in true importance from day to day, and not strictly in proportion to the size of their typeface; or, newspaper editors are fundamentally in the business of selling cars, furniture, TVs and clothes — only incidentally are they in the business of enlightenment, so don’t rely on them for it.

So I take the opportunity to reflect on some timeless topics that are close to my heart: the left’s endless faith in the inherent power of objects, and housing policy.  Trust me, there is a connection.

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