Here We Go Again: US News & World Report On "Race to the Top"—Obama's Version Of "No Child Left Behind"

[Previously by Richard Hoste: Ron Paul's The Revolution And Libertarianism's Fatal Flaw]

We're informed that President Obama has set aside at least $4.3 billion of the $787 billion stimulus for his "Race to the Top" initiative—which looks like his version of George W. Bush's disastrous No Child Left Behind legislation.

"Will School Reform Fail?" asked the January 2010 cover of US News & World Report.

Well, that's one way of framing it. We should probably applaud such pessimism from the Establishment. 

The main article is The Extreme School Makeover by Kim Clark. [VDARE.COM note: Richard Hoste is referring to the treezine—if some titles appear differently in their web versions, it's not our fault, it's a subtle plot by the editors of US News & World Report to drive our editorial staff crazy.] On the page before the text begins is a smiling Obama mingling with a diverse set of students. Education Secretary Arne Duncan is in the background. We're informed that President Obama has set aside at least $4.3 billion of the $787 billion stimulus for his "Race to the Top" initiative.

In general, it's obvious that the best thing that anyone can do for American K-12 education is—limit immigration. As Jared Taylor has shown, Hispanics have the highest drop out rate of any demographic and do poorly on standardized tests.

Right now, this group makes up 14 percent of the US population. The Census Bureau estimates that they will make up somewhere between 21 and 31 percent by 2050. In 2007, 8.8 percent of all 16-24-year-old Americans had dropped out of high school, compared to 21.4 percent of Hispanics. Not considering age structure of each population, a Hispanic increase of 17 percent alone will push the high school drop out rate up by about 25%.

Let's look at what 93,800,000 Hispanics in the country—the Census Bureau's 2025 high migration scenario—would do from another perspective. The IQ of this heterogeneous group seems to be around 90. America will get about 34,700,000 people capable of at least doing basic college work (IQ 105+), but 34,6000,000 who can expect to at best work at fast food restaurants if they're employable at all (IQ 85-, see below), and of whom 8.5 million will be retarded.

Good luck, America!

Unsurprisingly, sealing the border isn't part of the Obama Administration's agenda and is therefore unmentioned by US News. The Obama panacea: The US is going to get to the top by doing things like training better teachers.

But to be trainable one must be intelligent. And, as I've shown, the average primary or secondary school instructor in the US has an IQ of 107—less intelligent than a third of her (white) students.

That's because the average teacher earns $52,000 a year or $5,000 less than the typical holder of a BA degree. Smart people are becoming doctors, lawyers and engineers. While the Obama administration wants to link teacher pay to student performance, there simply isn't enough money to make the profession lucrative to a person with an IQ over 115. 

For example, in Hillsborough County, Florida, teachers who agree to get special certification and teach in inner city schools get a bonus of $4,500. But that's hardly enough to attract someone who is in the top decile of IQ to change what he's doing with his life. [States Compete for Obama School Reform Funds, By Kim Clark, Posted December 9, 2009]

In their 2008 book SuperFreakonomics (which I reviewed here) Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner make the convincing case that Women's Liberation drew smart women away from the teaching profession into higher paying fields, helping to bring down the American education system.

Considering the ethos of the opinion-making class, rolling back this change won't be part of any reform either.

The other bright idea is "raising standards". A moment's thought will show how silly this is. If a bachelorette is unable to find an adequate husband, she needs to, if anything, lower her standards.

In the same US News issue, a column by Zach Miners, The New Challenge to Find a New Standard, tells us that the 2002 No Child Left Behind Act required that 100 percent (yes, they meant it literally) of primary and secondary public school students meet state standards in reading and math by 2014. Schools get funding based on how well they do. But the Federal Government somehow forgot to actually spell out what standards for each grade should be, and the states were left to define their own. A sort of "race to the bottom" was the result. According to Obama Education Secretary Arne Duncan: "The biggest problem with NCLB is that it doesn't encourage high learning standards". [Press Release, September 24, 2009]

The government is looking to fix that. But what exactly are "high" or "low" standards?

Let's say you were going to put the entire country on a workout regime. You decide that all men are going to improve their bench press. How do you determine what the minimum goal—which 100 percent of healthy males of a certain age will be expected to meet, should be?

Maybe take a random sample of the population and put them on a training regime. Whatever the bare minimum the skinniest group of men are able to lift at the end of the program is should be seen as your "basic standard".

But imagine that, instead of doing that, those setting the fitness goals chose the national standards by whatever was thought fair by a group of bodybuilders, who hadn't looked into any research on what a person is capable of who is below average in propensity to put on muscle.

They may decide that all males who are 16 should be able to bench 150 pounds after six months, or that all males at age 25 should be able to bench 180 after a year. Any number, age, and time of training that they picked would probably be achievable for the muscle-bound men who designed the initiative—but completely unrealistic as a standard that the entire population has to meet.

As The Bell Curve showed, America is an extremely meritocratic society. When that is combined with freedom of movement, people split up geographically by cognitive abilities and they become very isolated.

Someone who is making policy at high levels in Washington probably has an extremely high IQ. And, since he didn't major in math or a hard science, he's never pushed himself to the limit. Everything a very intelligent person who studied only the social sciences has run into in his life has been doable.

In the example above, what if all of our bodybuilders trained and lived only amongst themselves before they started coming up with schemes to train the rest of us? They would get a skewed idea of what the average person, or the ninety pound weaklings they never see, is capable of.

Meritocracy and social separation have helped make the ruling elite completely delusional. US News writes that, by the time Obama is done, all high school seniors may have to answer questions like "If there are 8 x 10^12 hydrogen molecules in a volume of 4 X 10^4 cubic centimeters, what is the average number of hydrogen molecules per cubic centimeter?"

Yeah—seeing that in front of them every day will make poor Mexicans want to stay in school!

What are fair standards? I don't know. But the hard truth is that there is a significant part of the population unable to learn any skills that will help them do anything beyond manual labor.

For some, the prospects are even worse. Linda Gottfredson has used psychometric research to come to the conclusion that a person with an IQ of around 85 can expect to at best be an assembly line worker or in food service. [Why g Matters: The Complexity of Everyday Life, (PDF)] No less than 50% percent of blacks, and 16% of whites, fall into that category—or below. In a conventional academic setting such children will always be "left behind".  

The late Dan Seligman once recounted an event he attended in 2005 at the Teacher's College of Columbia University's which brought together around 550 members of the educational establishment elite. The president of the institution informed the audience that all of his college's resources were going to be used to close the gap between "the most and least advantaged groups in this country".

Seligman also brought to our attention Harvard's Achievement Gap Initiative. He called educators' crusades to equalize everyone "gapology". [Gapology 101, Forbes, December 12, 2005]

In 2010, the "gapology" faith is still going strong. US News commissioned four big shots in the education business to provide a short article each on Learning From No Child Left Behind. Every single one mentioned, within the first two paragraphs, the importance the law placed on Closing Gaps. Thus Michael Cohen, who was a senior education official in the Clinton administration, says that 

"The law's greatest achievement was insisting that data on student achievement be broken down and reported by subgroups, focusing the attention of educators and policymakers right where it belongs: on the troubling and persistent gaps in achievement among the poor, minority, English-language learning, and special-needs students."[States Must Take Lead on Improving No Child Left Behind By Michael Cohen Posted January 12, 2010]

Why this should be a priority is never stated; that it's achievable never questioned.

Margaret Spelling, the Secretary of Education during Bush's second term, also raves about NCLB requiring "accountability":

"Accountability also makes people uncomfortable. We no longer are able to hide from the facts, which say that only half our minority students stand a chance of graduating from high school on time. The discomfort this has created shows the power of accountability that is at the core of the No Child law. We would be loath to go back to the days when we tested students every few years and averaged their scores together to mask the staggering achievement gap that plagues our country."[5 Lessons From No Child Left Behind By Margaret Spellings Posted January 12, 2010]

Indeed. What's interesting is that one could take those first three sentences and use them as a prelude to a talk about racial differences in intelligence. But, by the last sentence, it's clear that the former Education Secretary thinks that documenting racial and class differences in achievement is the first step towards ending them. Good luck with Part Two of that plan!

Spelling comes across as a member of a strange cult that is so brainwashed by ideology that it has lost touch with reality.

If there's anything that should give us optimism from the January 2010 issue of US News & World Report, it's that full-scale federal government tracking of racial and class differences in achievement started only seven years ago with NCLB.

Give our best and brightest at least a few decades and they'll figure out with any drunk redneck will tell you!

Sigmund Freud once said that, though reason's voice may be small, it's persistent. Ideologies come and go and America's demographics may change. But no matter what, reality will always be with us.

Once we face it, there won't be a single issue that doesn't cry out for patriotic immigration reform.

Richard Hoste (email him) writes prolifically on race, immigration, political correctness and modern conservatism.  His articles have appeared at The Occidental Observer, The Occidental Quarterly and TakiMag among other places.  His blog is HBD Books, where he regularly reviews classic and modern works on these topics.