Saturday, 8 November 2014

Thomas Sowell- 'Black rednecks & White Liberals'

In the 1830's William Gladstone opposed free education for the children of recently enfranchised West Indian slaves. Meanwhile, his father was scheming to bring in Indian and Chinese 'coolies' to man the plantations. Gladstone's objection arose out of a Religious scruple- it wasn't politically practical for the Anglican Church to monopolize education for ex-slaves and thus it was better for their souls for them to have no education at all.
Had Gladstone not been such an almighty fuckwit the British Empire would have been increasingly staffed at it's factory-floor, so to speak, by educated West Indian blacks.
Incidentally, it is worth speculating as to whether the Islamic Caste system would have been ameliorated had a 'Hashbi' dynasty succeeded in holding onto power. I may mention, it was an American black who gave Gandhi his first break in Pretoria- he got him into a perfectly respectable 'white' rooming house and thus secured him a racial laissez passer in that tiny town which his Gujerati hosts couldn't have procured for him.
A British Empire manned by educated Blacks would have been a great boon for India. For one thing, this 'Aryan' nonsense would have been knocked on the head.
For another- and here I'm making a generalization from my own fond memories of my Nairobi primary School- blacks just out perform Whites and Asians. Moreover, older kids look after younger ones, smarter kids help their slower class-mates- education ceases to be about cut-throat competition and consists in fostering esprit de corps and the ability to work together.
How is it that a lot of people nowadays think Black males are less rather than more likely to do well at School?
The Economist, Thomas Sowell, who had to struggle out of poverty same as Milton Friedman and Ken Arrow and so on, has answered this question in his book 'Black rednecks & White Liberals'.

Here are a couple of extracts-
High-Performance Schools
In 1899, there were four academic public high schools in Washington, D.C.—one black and
three white. In standardized test given that year, students in the black high school averaged
higher test scores than students in two of the three white high schools. Today, more than a
century later, it would be considered Utopian even to set that as a goal, much less expect it to
actually happen. Yet what happened back in 1899 was no isolated fluke. That same school
repeatedly equaled or exceeded national norms on standardized tests in the 1930s, 1940s, and
early 1950s. Back in the 1890s, it was called the M Street School and in 1916 it was renamed
Dunbar High School.
When this information on Dunbar High School was first published in the 1970s, those few
educators who responded at all dismissed the relevance of these findings by saying that these
were "middle class" children and therefore their experience was not "relevant" to the
education of low-income minority children. Those who said this had no factual data on the
incomes or occupations of the parents of these children—and the data that existed said just the
opposite. The problem, however, was not that these dismissive educators did not have
evidence. The more fundamental problem was that they saw no need for evidence. According
to their doctrines, children who did well on standardized tests were middle class. These
children did well on such tests, so therefore they must be middle class.
It so happens that there was evidence on the occupations of the parents of the children at
this school as far back as the early 1890s. As of academic year 1892-93, of the known
occupations of these parents, there were 51 laborers, 25 messengers, 12 janitors, and one
doctor. That hardly seems middle class. Over the years, a significant black middle class did
develop in Washington and most of them may well have sent their children to the M Street
School or to Dunbar High School, as it was later called. But that is wholly different from saying
that most of the children at that school came from middle-class homes.

Why did Dunbar High School do so well?
The kids were poor. Black kids got a worse return on an Academic qualification. Economic theory says they should have had high absenteeism and dropout rates. No doubt they did. But there was another factor in play. Good teaching can itself reduce absenteeism. But good teaching is correlated to commitment and high academic standards. It appears that low returns on Black education trapped highly educated blacks in teaching- a typical 're-switching' type phenomena which confounds expectations and has revolutionary potential-
'Among those early principals (of Dunbar High School) was the first black woman to receive a college degree in the
United States—Mary Jane Patterson from Oberlin College, class of 1862. At that time, Oberlin
had different academic curriculum requirements for women and men. Latin, Greek and
mathematics were required in the "the gentlemen's course," as it was called, but not in the
curriculum for ladies. Miss Patterson, however, insisted on taking Latin, Greek, and
mathematics anyway. We can only imagine what fortitude and sense of purpose that must have
taken, at a time when no black woman had ever gotten a college degree in the entire history of
the country, and when most members of her race were still slaves in the South. Not
surprisingly, in her later 12 years as principal of the black high school in Washington during its
formative period, Mary Jane Patterson was noted for "a strong forceful personality," for
thoroughness, and for being an "indefatigable worker." Having this kind of person shaping the
standards and traditions of the school in its early years undoubtedly had something to do with
its later success. Other early principals included the first black man to graduate from Harvard,
class of 1870. Three of the school's first ten principals had graduated for Oberlin, two from
Harvard, and one each from Amherst and Dartmouth. Because of restricted academic
opportunities for blacks, Dunbar could get teachers with very high qualifications, and even had
Ph.D.s among its teachers in the 1920s. Mary Gibson Hundley pointed out, in her history of
Dunbar High School: "Federal standards providing equal salaries for all teachers, regardless of
sex or race, attracted to Washington the best trained colored college graduates from Northern
and Western colleges in the early days, and later from local colleges as well."
By the early years of the Twentieth Century, top Colleges stopped asking Dunbar students to take entrance exams. Half of all Black PhD holders, in 1970, were Dunbar alumni.
'The first black man to graduate from Annapolis came from Dunbar. The first black enlisted 
man in the army to rise to become a commissioned officer also came from this same institution. 
So did the first black woman to receive a Ph.D. from an American university. So did the first 
black full professor at a major American university (Allison Davis at the University of Chicago). 
So did the first black federal judge, the first black general, the first black Cabinet member, the 
first black senator elected since Reconstruction and, among other notables, the doctor who 
pioneered the use of blood plasma, historian Carter G. Woodson, author and poet Sterling 
Brown, and Duke Ellington, who studied music at Dunbar. During World War II, when black 
military officers were rare, there were among this school's graduates "many captains and 
lieutenants, nearly a score of majors, nine colonels and lieutenant colonels, and one brigadier 
general."

What happened to Dunbar? 
'The landmark racial desegregation case of Brown v. Board of Education initially led to a 
strong resistance to school desegregation in many white communities, including that in 
Washington, D.C. Ultimately a political compromise was worked out in the District of Columbia: 
In order to comply with the Supreme Court decision, without having a massive shift of students, 
the D.C. school officials decided to turn all public schools into neighborhood schools. By this 
time, the neighborhood around Dunbar High School was rundown and there was a local saying 
that children who lived near Dunbar didn't go to Dunbar. This had not affected the school's 
academic standards, however, because black students from all the rest of the city went to 
Dunbar.
'When Dunbar became a neighborhood school, however, the whole character of its student 
body changed radically—as did the character of its teaching staff. In the past, many Dunbar 
teachers continued to teach for years after they were eligible for retirement because it was 
such a fulfilling experience. Now, as inadequately educated, inadequately motivated, and 
disruptive students flooded into the school, teachers began retiring, some as early as 55 years 
of age. Dunbar quickly became just another failing ghetto school, with all the problems that 
such schools have, all across the country. Eighty-five years of achievement simply vanished into 
thin air.'

By 1993, a smaller proportion of Blacks at Dunbar went to College than in 1933- at the height of the Depression.
A great victory for White Liberals indeed because, after all, only Black 'elitism' had been crushed.

2 comments:

  1. 'The profession was also harmed by the campaign for racial integration, which closed all-black schools and threw thousands of experienced African-American teachers out of work. Those teachers had often achieved much within black school systems and then found themselves without jobs. By 1980, Texas Monthly published an award-winning article showing that public school teachers in Houston and Dallas scored lower on reading and math tests than the average sixteen-year-old in nearby suburbs did. It also reported that students of teacher education at Southwest Texas State University—where future president Lyndon Johnson received his teaching degree—were functionally illiterate. Teacher preparation, the article concluded, was “a hoax and an educational disgrace.”

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