Thursday, December 23, 2010

Diversity Thursday

Instead of a snarky rant - let's have a serious DivThu post today.
It might help explain why otherwise smart, well meaning people find themselves at the end of the day executing a discriminatory policy in pursuit of anti-discrimination.

This was going to be a post about education with some title such as "The NEA - national security threat ..." or sump'n.

Let's touch on a bit of that before wandering into the Diversity swamp. Since the Federal Guv'munt went ear deep in the education system with the gift President Carter gave to the teacher's unions in the creation of the Department of Education - has education in this nation improved or declined?

As the teacher's unions gain more and more control - are things better or worse?

Can we call the education system they have created in the last two generations a national security issue?
Sure, if the latest results from the ASVAB are any reading.
Nearly one-fourth of the students who try to join the U.S. Army fail its entrance exam, painting a grim picture of an education system that produces graduates who can't answer basic math, science and reading questions, according to a new study released Tuesday.

The report by The Education Trust bolsters a growing worry among military and education leaders that the pool of young people qualified for military service will grow too small.

"Too many of our high school students are not graduating ready to begin college or a career - and many are not eligible to serve in our armed forces," U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan told the AP. "I am deeply troubled by the national security burden created by America's underperforming education system."
All my kids are in private schools for a reason. This is no shock.

Now to get back to the Diversity angle. As we have been told over and over from the CNO on down - senior leadership wants the Navy officer corps to "look like America." Yes, a simple minded, retrograde, and racist view of things - but these people are not really racist even though they promote racist programs - right?

Why then do we find a system wormed-through with different race-based programs, standards, and performance expectations? Simple - it is all numbers. The tyranny of math. You think an organization of engineers would accept that - but somethings are harder than numbers.

If all groups performed close to each other on objective criteria, then a fair and honest effort to recruit equally among our nation's people should get your numbers close to whatever bean counting program you use. If it didn't, then you may have a problem. Same raw material gives you the chance to create the same result.

That isn't the reality though. The fact is that different groups are performing at different levels. As a result, you cannot get the same result at the end - you are working with different raw materials. To get a constant % at the end of the process when you have widely different % raw material at the start, for lower performing groups you have a very smaller percentage of equally qualified people to recruit from at the top-level. Some do - but not enough.
The study shows wide disparities in scores among white and minority students, similar to racial gaps on other standardized tests. Nearly 40 percent of black students and 30 percent of Hispanics don't pass, compared with 16 percent of whites. The average score for blacks is 38 and for Hispanics is 44, compared to whites' average score of 55.

Even those passing muster on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, or ASVAB, usually aren't getting scores high enough to snag the best jobs.
There you go. You can't get there from here without doing one of two things - or both of them; you can lower standards, or discriminate against whites (and some asian groups (Chinese, Japanese, Korean), as other standard testing systems have those asians scoring higher than whites). That is just math.

If you have a fair system based on opportunity and meritocracy founded on objective criteria - today you cannot achieve a face that looks like the USA.

If you want to do that - you need to fix our public education system first. That is hard to do. It is easier to discriminate because it is easier to tear down than to build up.

People are people, but for a variety of cultural, economic, and educational reasons - they are not performing at the same % breakout. That isn't the fault of the Navy - and the Navy should not besmirch its honor by lying, cheating, and stealing opportunity from others simply to make the end result "look right."

The Navy is not full of racists - just the opposite. We should stop acting like one in order to prove to a select group of rabble-rousers that we are not. Bad logic, bad policy - and a habit that creates a culture of deception and conflict.

Ask why our education system cannot educate its children equally - then you will be on the right path.


Grumpy Old Ham said...

The DoE and the other DoE...two legacies from that useless peanut farmer which secure his place as the worst (or second worst) President.

Salty Gator said...

I hate to say that it is all about politics, but it is.  IF you are a conservative American, you believe that we are "One Nation Under God," not a 'system of systems', then it doesn't matter to you what race or ethnicity your best candidate is.  But if you are a liberal, you believe that we are "many diverse nations in America," you lament perceived inequities in statistics, and instead of ensuring that best candidates have equal opportunity despite their race, you seek to ensure that each race is equally represented despite the best candidates.  Sigh.  I grow more and more concerned each day that a serious, serious reckoning is on the horizon.

Charley A. said...

From my personal observations of behavior and culture:  My girlfriend is an American of Chinese decent.  Her older sister is a MD, she is an attorney, and her younger brother is computer engineer.  All went to public schools outside NYC and DC.  If you have ever witnessed the dynamics of an Asian family, you can understand why Asians tend to score high on standardized tests, and tend to be successful citizens:  there is intense parental pressure to do well, and a healthy dose of rivalry between the siblings.

The best assistant I ever had was an black woman who graduated from The University (UVa).  Her father was a career Army NCO who took her all over the world, thereby allowing her experiences thank I frankly envy.  From her accounts, he was involved in her rearing in a positive way, and at least partially responsible for her success.  

In my professional life, I come in contact with all sorts of people from widely varying backgrounds and ethnicity.  Particularly in Baltimore, I have seen firsthand the environment and societal pressures that destroy ambition and the futures of otherwise bright kids (mostly black, but some whites and Asians.)  It is nothing new: drugs, peer pressure, absent (or addicted) parents, low expectations, etc., and my favorite peeve: rap/gangsta attitude.  It is unbelievably difficult for a child to succeed under these circumstances, yet some do.  Although public education and educators deserve some blame for poor outcomes in Baltimore, the real culprit is a culture that accepts or even celebrates bad behavior, and punishes those who strive to achieve.  

QSPN said...

Disintegration of the family unit is a primary culprit in this fiasco.

Stu said...

I can assure you that the mathmatical fact that "you can't get there from here" regarding the Navy's diversity fetish was pointed out to the establishment at least once five years ago.  They may not be racists for continuing the same course, but I would be interested in how we classify such a mentality. 

Minority Sailor said...


I agree - we need to fix education in America! Also agree we should not lower standards. No argument from me. So on that note, if you were in charge - how would you fix the public school system with the limited resources we have?

John said...

This is an old fashioned concept.  But I see a common thread in the successful children that my children go to school with:  All of them have one parent who does not work outside the house.  

90% of being a parent is being there - day in and day out.  We always chose to have less money, a smaller house, and fewer vacations, so that we could have a tight family.  The kids can count on us being there.

Also, we refuse to do their homework.  We can "advise and assist" but it is their own work.  We let them get stuff wrong.  If a parent is removing all the grammar and spelling errors from an essay for their kid, they are neither helping the kid nor the teacher.  

My kids attend a very racially diverse high school in Northern San Diego.  And the competition is fierce from the Pacific Rim Asian kids.   I see that as great.  My kids see that if you want to get ahead, you have to work hard.  

Stu said...

Resources aren't the issue.  We spend tons of money.  It's the approach we take. 

The final straw for me in pulling my kids of the government educational system was a request from the school to send in bandaids.  Aside from the growing list of items that teachers asked for at the beginning of the school year, this really perplexed me so I went to discuss it with the school principal.  When asked why the school infirmary didn't have adequte first-aid supplies, her response that it was either buy those things or computers for the kids (it was an elementary school).  Clearly the priorities were screwed up as this school was chasing the educational "trinkets" instead of focusings on the basics.  Kids don't computers and other fancy stuff to learn.  They need books, pencils and paper and teachers who simply want to teach the basics.   

I do need to reitierate that I was having other issues with the school but this was the end of the line.  We now happily home school all of our children and will never go back to government education. 

LT B said...

I have said it before on here, you have to address diversity way down at the child level and you must educate properly. Recruit kids by being in the school system leadership by example imbuing patriotism and crushing the meme that to be educated removes you from the race and makes you white. I think we can not mention Baltimore, drugs, and education without talking The Wire. Fiction but very true to life. The DOE is horrible

Grumpy Old Ham said...

In fact, there would seem to be an inverse relationship between school funding and student performance.  Performance continues to decline despite the expenditure of
nearly four times as much per student now than we did 45+ years ago.

Some old saying about "when you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop digging" comes to mind.

DC said...

The current ASVAB problem is not new. I was recruiting in the mid 80's in Oakland/Alameda. I had about a fifty percent non-qual rate from low scorers. We used to laughingly call them "Rocks With Lips". But the real problem is that these people were scoring low thirties and even less. The numbers situation got so bad that I was actually able to get a young lady into RM "A" school and she scored a 37. 

By the way, it was not an ethno-centric problem. One of my minority recruits scored a 72, they treated him like a Rock Star at MEPS.

I went to the same schools in Oakland as my recruits and I cut an 86, even as a tenth grade dropout. So I can't completely blame the school systems in the East Bay.

LT B said...

I mentioned DC earlier as an example. Lots of money crap performance. Then they kill the voucher system because it's efficacy threatened the teacher's union. Crush the union and go back to basics. Single parenting and crap families is a whole other nut to crack.

CDR Salamander said...

Funding is not the issue.  Review the per-pupil spending of western nations. We are consistently in the top 5; #3 now.

The teachers union heads have stated over and over that they are not concerned with educating children.  Children don't pay dues.  First we need to break the back of the teachers union so you can get rid of bad teachers and have more flexible hiring policy.  While that is going on - remove the Federal govt from the education of our children.  It is best handled at the local level where there is actual accountability.  At the school level - there needs to be a drive to get rid of fads and distractions.  Cut staff and the busy work requirements that demand them.  Get rid of social promotion.  Give administrators an ability to dicipline students and a place for problem students to go.

Benchmark the programs of the most successful nation's programs.  That is a start to the conversation.  Let different school districts experiment and find the best way that fits their needs.  Wyoming will have different challenges than DC.

Priorities and focus, as usual, is the key - not money.  That is how my kids private schools work.  That is how the public schools my parents went to worked.

NAnonymous said...

"<span>If you want to do that - you need to fix our public education system first. That is hard to do. It is easier to discriminate because it is easier to tear down than to build up."</span>

This has long been my contention with my peers on the subject of the diversity directives (and for that matter, any affirmative action policy).  The leaders of this Navy (and country) want the easy fix for racial disparity, in the manner of quotas, figures, and diversity directives (at the expense of those who have worked hard to succeed). 

To achieve any manner of racial equality, we need to start at the beginning.  Some people, no matter how poor the quality of their education, will teach their children to succeed.  Conversely, some people are simply incapable of teaching their children how to make it in life.  Some may say that is the way things are--the strong survive and the weak falter.  However, it should be our government's job to teach these people what their parents have not; how to learn, how to work hard, and how to contribute something to society.  Letting those that are failing (i.e. those who cannot pass the ASVAB, for one) fall by the wayside will only contribute to the downfall of American society.  I am not talking about a program of handouts; I believe that our educational system needs to be revamped from the ground up to teach people how to support themselves and be positive members of society.  I do not have a solution as to exactly how this should be done, but it's going to be expensive and its going to be painstaking.  It may require higher taxes and sacrifices (see military and foreign support (handouts) for our "Allies") on many fronts, because (news flash) our country is spending itself into oblivion.  It is in our country's best interest to reexamine it's overseas obligations and decide whether they are more important than ensuring the long term survival of our society.

FDNF'er said...

CDR - great post.  Well thought out and articulated.  The education failure is yet another VERY serious conversation our country needs to have along with those on Social Secuirity, medical spending, our role in the world for the rest of this century, etc.  We need some serious people to start these conversations and build the compromises we need to address these issues.  Where are they?

Stu said...

Eliminate the Department of Education.

QSPN said...

Although this discussion paints with a broad brush, it generally comports with my observations while living in a number of states.

Many ethnic groups do exceptionally well in American schools and society: Chinese, Iranian, Japanese, Jewish, and Korean, to name a few. Each of these groups believes strongly in education, hard work, and a tight-knit family unit--it's a cultural thing.

These ethnic groups believe education begins (and continues) at home. They also believe that education is about excellence, not minimum standards. Additionally, they don't use a bad school (public or private) as an excuse for poor performance. Instead, they believe in personal accountability, so they don't let the bad school's standards become their standards.

These ethnic groups traditionally do so well that they are "defined out" of minority status. Otherwise, it becomes harder to pretend that minorities are helpless victims of the educational system.

I agree with a previous writer that the ethnic groups that don't traditionally do well need a new culture. The real question is whether that's even possible in our society.

QSPN said...

I saw a TV show several months ago discussing the respective graduation rates of white and black MALE high school students in New York City public schools (whites about 75%, blacks about 50%). The commentators were espousing the need for a new educational approach (along with a lot of money) to keep the black high school students interested in school.

First, I was shocked that they seemed to be holding up the white graduation rate as a goal. 75% is terrible, particularly given the low standards at many schools.

Second, the show studiously avoided mentioning the graduation rates of FEMALE high school students in New York City public schools. My guess is that the female rates are higher for both groups and that the gap between the two is much narrower (I have no statistics to back that up but, based on personal experience, girls are much better students in high school than boys). If so, the problem is not black students graduation rates so much as it is black MALE student graduation rates. To fix such a problem wouldn't require either a new educational approach or a lot of money, but it would require a cultural change.

Minority Sailor said...

OK - that's a start.  Let's look at the the DC school system.  Rhee - gone.  She in my opinion was making progress.  However, I think she needed national support but local politics got in the way.  Now - we will have a ton of kids still left behind.  If we won't fix the problem in the schools, then we will pay double to take care of them as unproductive adults (either in prison or socila welfare nets). 

So .... why not have national bench marks?  Your schools meet this level or your state can not receive ANY federal funds?  Now that would be a pwoerful incentive.  The power of the purse would make local authorities play hard ball with teacher unions.


OldRetSWO said...

First of all, do NOT believe the constant droning about how the US system is so very bad compared to yada yada other countries.  Look at who is authoring the studies and/or who pays for them to see the motivation for the results shown.  Secondly, talk to college professors who teach US and internhational students. . . My wife is one and she says that the US students (hers include many underprivledged) are far better prepared than the foreign students.

Can the US system be improved. . . ABSOLUTELY.  I'm actually not against a federal STANDARD so that each and every district in the nation is not teaching to differnt goals or levels.  When I was in school, what was taught and expected in my system was very very different than the same NAMED subjects in the neighboring district.  When I got to USNA, I saw how poorly prepared I was compared to others who had taken the (allegedly) same courses but had gone through very different curricula

QSPN said...

LT B, DC can't help itself. After all, it's not like they have any model educational programs nearby to emulate. Okay, Fairfax County is one, but they're all the way across the Potomac River. And Montgomery County is another, but you almost have to cross the Beltway to get there. And besides, those two counties actually care about education.

The Usual Suspect said...

Restore local control of schools to the local school boards for starters.  As others have noted, end social promotion and remove behavioral problems from the classroom.  Something that I notice that is missing since I was in the public school system is the existance of a two track education - not everybody is going to college or should.  Our secondary schools work on the assumption that they are preparing everybody for college.  About the 10th grade, there needs to be an option for entering a vocational focused program that produces carpenters, electricians, control board operators (refineries, foundries, chemical palnts, etc), plumbers, loggers, machinists and the list goes on.  This type of system would provide a hands on skill for those leaving the schools with which to provide a living for themselves and be productive contributing members of society. If you are not college bound and do not like the idea of going to another four years of school studying the same type of subject matter, this works.  Quite a few of the folks I went to school with are prefessionals in the various trades and have done quite well by any standards. 

The Usual Suspect said...

<span>Restore local control of schools to the local school boards for starters.  As others have noted, end social promotion and remove behavioral problems from the classroom.  Something that I notice that is missing since I was in the public school system is the existence of a two track education - not everybody is going to college or should.  Our secondary schools work on the assumption that they are preparing everybody for college.  About the 10th grade, there needs to be an option for entering a vocational focused program that produces carpenters, electricians, control board operators (refineries, foundries, chemical plants, etc), plumbers, loggers, machinists and the list goes on.  This type of system would provide a hands on skill for those leaving the schools with which to provide a living for themselves and be productive contributing members of society. If you are not college bound and do not like the idea of going to another four years of school studying the same type of subject matter, this works.  Quite a few of the folks I went to school with are prefessionals in the various trades and have done quite well by any standards. </span>

C-dore 14 said...

MS, I just read an article by Michele Rhee where she talks about the "hostility to excellence" that is evident at all levels of the public education system.  Nothing new here and one of the reasons that both of our daughters attended private school.

Retired Now said...

Three goals for Education (and only 3):

1.  Teach that LEARNING is fun and should always continue throughout life.   This is a teacher's job #1.  Hook the kids and get them enthusiastic, about any and all subjects.

2. Knowledge is obtained by quiet, concentrated study - doing homework every night quietly at home no radio, no TV, etc.   Learning requires repetition.  Many reviews.  Done by the students.  At home.   Never plan on doing all your learning while at school.    Classrooms are for focusing the lessons, resolving some misunderstanding, motivating, and also, measuring the progress of students  (quiz, test, grades).   Not to mention job #1:   motivating kids to just LOVE to learn and obtain knowledge.

3.  Take pride in your school work.   Being a student is your full time job.  Dress neatly.  Work neatly.  do your best and act seriously at school.   Learn self control now, before you graduate and show up at your first employer.     There is a direct Correlation between dressing neatly and acting soberly and seriously at school, and doing neat homework.   And maturing.

My nephew graduated from High School and not only learned nothing about math or spanish, but had absolutely no study habits whatsoever.   His attitude was that learning in a structured school setting inside a classroom was the only way he would ever learn anything.   Wrong !    He should have graduated with the attitude and confidence that he could master any subject at all, by applying himself intensely and repeatedly, even if not inside a formal classroom.    

By high school,   Students should LOVE to learn.   and WANT to learn.  And have the self confidence (from experience) that they CAN learn.     Sure, they will forget most of the details they learned in high school, but they need lifelong skills to know they CAN learn, essentially on their own, without always having spoon feeding by formal classrooms settings.   

OK,  a typical THINKING question,  math class:    convert 800 miles per hour into leagues per week, and then into light years per second.    Provide a very long list of necessary as well as distracting equalities to review as they work this.   

Charley A. said...

The Old Guard in DC threw out Mayor Fenty and along with him went Rhee.  Too bad: she was tough on the DCPS and its bloated bureaucracy, and ineffective teachers.  Had Fenty beed reelected, perhaps the changes that she started to implement could have turned the school system around.

LT B said...

Problem with fed standard is that like no child left behind, teachers just teach to the exam rather than teaching the subject in it's entirety.

James said...

I acted like a Dumba$$ in the last years of highschool after i went to a new city.

I was given a choice of nothing but school 12 hrs a day and 800 dollars a month or dropout and get my GED. We didnt have the money so i did.

I remember the teacher in the classroom telling me i would have no problems with the test. I didnt. I sucked at the mathamatics part but then......i've always sucked at it. Did fine or better everywhere else. My teacher was talking to me and said that some of those people had been in their for months if not years and failed multiple times.

The bad part....The majority of students who pass high school cant pass the GED. Our education system from top to bottom is on a crash course.

Man and this is off topic but there was a Asian (japanese i believe) chick in their who looked and walked like a stripper. Do you know how HARD (wink, wink) it is to consentrate when she walked by...i cant even type thinking about her!

Down skippy!

NAnonymous said...

I think that teaching a child to enjoy learning is one of the most imporant gifts they could ever receive.  My cousin's son is a very curious boy who has been diagnosed with a learning disability.  They realized that he was more than capable of doing all of the work and solving problems; he just needed a little extra time to find his way to a solution.  He is now 9 years old, and it would be very easy for him to get frustrated and give up.  I am very thankful, however, that my cousin and my family have helped him learn to enjoy learning, even though it may be difficult.  I am convinced that he will surpass his disadvantage and do something amazing one day because he loves to learn something new.  When a kid gets frustrated to the point where they do not want to learn or do not take pleasure in learning, there is little hope that they will be successful in schooling.

QSPN said...

One of my teachers preferred calculating the speed of a snail in furlongs per fortnight.