Mainstream columnist says blacks and Hispanics are failing in school because they don’t have the ability to do academic work

(Update: In a follow-up entry, readers argue that I have overstated the importance of Goodwin’s column. While there is something to their pont, the main factor causing misunderstanding is that in this present entry I did not pinpoint the passages where Goodwin, in the midst of generous dollops of the usual covering language about family disorder and the toxic culture, said that black and Hispanic pupils simply lack the ability to do the intellectual work that is expected of them under the current egalitarian system, and therefore the current “no one left behind” system must dropped and replaced by a system that includes vocational schools for young people who lack academic abilities and aspirations.)

The struggle to raise the educational performance of black and nonwhite Hispanic pupils to equal that of whites has been a central and ever-increasing obsession of our society for decades, and no one—no one, that is, outside the realm of race realists, no one who expects to keep his name and reputation in respectable circles, including respectable “conservative” circles—ever questions it. Until now.

In his column today in the New York Post, Michael Goodwin, a centrist, mildly conservative opinion writer (who by the way voted for Obama, from which he later recanted), says a couple of utterly simple and true things I had given up hope of ever seeing in a mainstream outlet.

He says that black and Hispanic students are incapable of performing to the standards that the educationists have set for them. He says that they lack the ability to do academic work and that we should return to vocational high schools designed for people without academic ability.

It is so simple, so commonsensical. And yet, in our insane society, so revolutionary.

Goodwin puts most of his un-PC ideas in the mouth of an unidentified friend, but he endorses everything his friend says.

By the way, even Heather MacDonald, the best known mainstream conservative journalist on race-related issues, who has punctured various liberal lies about black behavior and race relations, has never said that the reason blacks and Hispanics fail in school is that they lack the intellectual ability to do academic work. It took the unprepossessing Michael Goodwin to say that.

Here’s the column:

Mike gets schooled in failure
June 1, 2011

After reading my reports from New York teachers who say they are forced to raise grades and pass failing students, a friend has questions. He writes: “If nine years of mayoral control, all sorts of experimentation and extra billions spent on incentives and other approaches leave the school system no better off, isn’t it right to assume that the students—for whatever mix of reasons—are incapable of performing to reasonable standards in a mass education setting? And if that’s the case, what are the implications?”

That is the heart of the matter. Notwithstanding union obstruction, state laws or other obstacles, the Bloomberg years have been a fair test of what can be achieved in a school system flush with cash, political control and determination.

The first mayor to achieve control after the Board of Education was abolished, Bloomberg set out to become “the education mayor.” He pledged it would define his mayoralty, much as crime reduction defined Rudy Giuliani’s.

It hasn’t worked out that way. The mayor’s clumsy handling of the replacement of Joel Klein merely crystallized growing public disenchantment, captured in a recent Quinnipiac poll. By a whopping 64-25 percent, voters don’t like Bloomy’s management of the schools. Among parents, only 20 percent approve, while 78 percent disapprove.

Overall, by 57 to 23 percent, New Yorkers say his takeover of the schools has been a failure.

Public opinion can be fickle, but it’s hard to argue with such a lopsided finding, especially when it is driven by parents. There is wide disappointment and a sense of fatigue with endless churning, especially as the budget squeeze forces educrats to do with slightly less money.

But the elephant in the room is student achievement. While there have been some gains, as a whole, it remains mediocre. Only about half of students in grades 3 through 8 read or do math at grade level.

That’s simply not good enough, and the numbers will drop further if state officials raise standards again, as they promised.

Yet broad statistics from 1,700 schools conceal as much as they reveal. There are pockets of true excellence, with schools like Stuyvesant and Bronx Science among the best in the nation. With Asians making up about 70 percent of their students, these schools are glorious proof the American dream lives.

Many neighborhood schools are fine, if not spectacular. Most teachers and principals are dedicated professionals, and parents of middle-class means and values provide the key link between home and classroom.

Then there’s the bottom, a tier that one official candidly said makes up as many as a third of all schools. The children are overwhelmingly black and Hispanic, most are from homes headed by single mothers, and the disorder in their lives often overwhelms the benefits of education.

These children are failing in fact, if not in official reports.

Indeed, startling accusations from high-school teachers that principals demand they pass as many as 80 percent of all students, regardless of grades and attendance, get to the heart of concealed failure. It is social promotion without end, a system that routinely passes along 95 percent of students, regardless of merit. It is a sham with lifelong consequences. These kids are unprepared to succeed in the world because they never had to confront their failure.

My friend argues for a return to vocational and commercial education for those with no academic interest or ability. “Teach them how to read, add and subtract and write a letter in English,” he says. “They’ll learn because the rest of the time they’ll be learning something useful and interesting.”

“But that’s getting ahead of the story,” he adds. The first step is for city leaders “to recognize that they can’t do what they’re trying to do now. The students can’t or won’t learn what they’re being taught and the parents don’t help.”

I agree. The mayor and Chancellor Dennis Walcott need to take a timeout, one where they face the ugly facts about student achievement.

But I doubt they will. My fear is they are so invested in their claims of success that they cannot admit the truth of failure.

- end of initial entry -

Robert Weissberg writes:

That mysterious friend may be me. About six months ago I was in contact with Goodwin about the possibility of writing a guest column making exactly these points. I offered a brief summary and he certainly could have read my book for all the dreary details.

But, conversation stopped dead. Zero response back. I assumed that he Googled me and discovered that I was radioactive despite being a well-published professor. Now, however, with his memory of me fading he has discovered my views. Perhaps he honestly believes that they are original.

We’ll see what happens. Start a betting pool that he will be forced to retract his statements.

LA replies:

Would you like me to post this?

Robert Weissberg replies:

You can post it. But it should be clear that I am not accusing anybody of stealing my ideas. When you think about it, the truth is so obvious, and so well documented scientifically, that the very idea of intellectual theft in this area is preposterous. This is the equivalent of saying that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. Remember what Orwell said about true freedom: standing before an audience and saying that 2 plus 2 equals 4.

June 2

Jeremy G. writes:

There was a race realistic article in the New York Times in 2007 that went even further than this weeks Michael Goodwin column in the New York Post in attributing the education gap to biological race differences. That rare, yet frank admission, went nowhere. There was no follow up. There was no change in liberals’ outlook. I suspect the same will be true of the New York Post article. In order for liberals to change their beliefs they would need to possess a great deal of intellectual integrity. They would need to value truth. They simply don’t possess these values.

Here in its entirety is a VFR entry you e-mailed me on November 15, 2007:

Race realism enters the liberal mainstream!

by Lawrence Auster at View from the right, “the right blog for the right”

With all due respect to the author of the Book of Ecclesiastes, today, November 10, 2007, there is something new under the sun: the New York Times has virtually admitted that there are inherited racial differences in intellectual abilities. As a result of the steady increase of information about DNA, even to the point of individuals being able to trace through their DNA what continent their ancestors came from, the genetic reality of racial differences beyond skin color is becoming more and more broadly accepted. The author of the article, Amy Harmon, says these accepted differences do not yet definitively include differences of intelligence, yet her language all but concedes that such differences exist and that society is already grappling with the challenge of how to deal with them. Thus she writes:

The [James Watson] incident has added to uneasiness about whether society is prepared to handle the consequences of science that may eventually reveal appreciable differences between races in the genes that influence socially important traits. [Emphasis added.]

New genetic information, some liberal critics say, could become the latest rallying point for a conservative political camp that objects to social policies like affirmative action, as happened with “The Bell Curve,” the controversial 1994 book that examined the relationship between race and I.Q.

Yet even some self-described liberals argue that accepting that there may be genetic differences between races is important in preparing to address them politically.

First, note how Harmon is strongly implying that these things about race are true, but that we just haven’t gotten to the point of formally saying that they are true. Second, to see how radical her concessions are, note the similarity between her phrase which I’ve emphasized above and the concluding words of my article on race and intelligence, that “there are intrinsic racial differences in civilizational abilities.” [Emphasis added.]

That statement was, by the way, the apparent reason David Horowitz told David Mills that I had “racist” positions and expelled me from FrontPage Magazine. Will Horowitz now declare that the New York Times also has—or is getting very close to having—racist positions?

Returning to Harmon’s article, its headline, “In DNA Era, Worries About Revival of Prejudice,” sums up the piece’s main thrust. However, the kinds of renewed prejudices that the liberals profess to fear are red herrings. For example,

“If I were to believe the “facts” in this post, what should I do?” one reader responded on Half Sigma [a blog where genetically based race differences were discussed]. “Should I advocate discrimination against blacks because they are less smart? Should I not hire them to my company because odds are I could find a smarter white person? Stop trying to prove that one group of people are genetically inferior to your group. Just stop.”

“Should I advocate discrimination against blacks? Should I not hire them to my company?” I call these red herrings because there is no reason to suppose that whites will arbitrarily discriminate against qualified black persons because of differences in average racial IQ, especially given the laws against discrimination. The real problem for liberalism is not that the recognition of race differences in intelligence would lead to renewed irrational white prejudice; the real problem for liberalism is that the recognition of race differences would destroy the liberal belief that all races should have equal intellectual and economic outcomes, which in turn would lead to the demise of the liberal indictment of supposed white racism as the supposed cause of those inequalities.

Of course, liberals will say (and they are quoted saying it in the article), that even if there are inherited differences of intelligence between the races, that only obligates society to spend twice as much on blacks in order to close the gap. That, however, is a very different argument from saying that the racial gap is due to white racism, white stereotypes, white cultural dominance, or white anything.

We live in strange times. On one hand, the modern liberal race orthodoxy is more aggressive and tyrannical than ever, as seen in recent incidents such as the Watson affair. On the other hand, the core premises of the modern liberal race orthodoxy are breaking down before our very eyes.

[end of entry.]

LA replies to Jeremy G.:

You are quite right to send that 2007 entry, which shows me probably overstating the larger societal impact of the Times article, just as I may have overstated the importance of the Goodwin column. But understand where I’m coming from. When one is living inside a false, ruinous, and totalistic orthodoxy such as America’s orthodoxy on black inadequacies (the races are equal in innate abilities, so any racial differences in demonstrated abilities and socioeconomic outcomes must be society’s fault and must be fixed by society), any article in a mainstream venue that seems to break with that orthodoxy is a big deal. If the orthodoxy is ever going to break down, it will break down at least partly as a result of people writing such articles as Amy Harmon’s and Michael Goodwin’s. At the same time, as you point out, an isolated article here and there makes no difference. There must a response to it, and it must have an effect in changing the discourse. But this did not happen in the case of Harmon’s article, and (as can be seen by looking at the four clueless and pathetic comments following Goodwin’s article) it will not happen in the case of Goodwin’s article. But I can’t know that at the time I am responding to such an article. If I see a hopeful sign, all I can do is point to it, underscore its positive meaning, and hope for the best. Since what I stand for is a change in the mainstream orthodoxy, how can I not applaud the rare mainstream article that breaks with the orthodoxy? We should always believe (with realistic qualifications) in the possibility of good, unlike those who make a profession of touting certain doom.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at June 01, 2011 06:08 PM | Send

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