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Another Fine Theory Mugged by Facts

Thomas Sowell’s most recent exercise in throwing reality into the face of liberals relates to the frequently espoused dogma of the Left that race plays an important role in the quality of education as measured by the resultant outcomes of that education…regardless of any other factors.

The issue at hand:  blacks in America score lower on test scores than do whites, and obviously it’s because their race faces such extreme discrimination in their educational opportunities that it must be due to racist whites in control of that education, etc., etc.

Then comes reality from Britain (emphases added):

The November 9th-15th issue of the distinguished British magazine "The Economist" reports that, among children who are eligible for free meals in England’s schools, black children of immigrants from Africa meet the standards of school tests nearly 60 percent of the time — as do immigrant children from Bangladesh and Pakistan. Black children of immigrants from the Caribbean meet the standards less than 50 percent of the time.

At the bottom, among those children who are all from families with low enough incomes to receive free meals at school, are white English children, who meet the standards 30 percent of the time.

"The Economist" points out that, in one borough of London, white students scored lower than black students in any London borough.

White students are consistently doing worse than blacks children?  As Dr. Sowell notes:

These white students in England come from the same race that produced Shakespeare and the great scientist Sir Isaac Newton, among other world class intellects over the centuries. But today many young whites in England are barely literate, and have trouble with simple arithmetic. Nor are these white students the victims of racial discrimination, much less the descendants of slaves.

So what is going on?  Might the Left be incorrect in their conclusions regarding the causes of the grade disparity?  Again, Dr. Sowell makes an observation from the facts at hand:

What do low-income whites in England and ghetto blacks in the United States have in common? It cannot be simply low incomes, because children from other groups in the same low-income brackets outperform whites in England and outperform blacks in America.

What low-income whites in England and ghetto blacks in the United States have in common is a generations-long indoctrination in victimhood. The political left in both countries has, for more than half a century, maintained a steady and loud drumbeat of claims that the deck is stacked against those at the bottom.

The American left uses race and the British left uses class, but the British left has been at it longer. In both countries, immigrants who have not been in the country as long have not been so distracted by such ideology into a blind resentment and lashing out at other people.

And this little tidbit:

We in America have gotten used to vast gaps between blacks and whites on test scores. But this was not always the case, in places where there was anything like comparable education.

Back in the 1940s, before the vast expansion of the welfare state and the ideology of victimhood used to justify it, there was no such gap on test scores between black schools in Harlem and white, working class schools on New York’s lower east side.

Dr. Sowell’s closing statement is really quite poignant; when you sow ideological falsehoods, you do not reap reality:

You can find the data on pages 40-41 of an article of mine in the Fall 1981 issue of "Teachers College Record," a journal published by Columbia University — that is, if you think facts matter more than rhetoric or social visions.

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  1. CW
    5 Dec 2013 at 8:00 PM

    Unfortunately the facts don’t usually go along with the liberal agenda, which must be pursued at any cost to society.

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