Keeping up with the Comments, 6/5
Handle on surveillance; Roger Sweeny on CRT in schools
Concerning surveillance, Handle writes,
It is no exaggeration to say that in our system state power is held by those who enjoy the privilege of secrecy regarding its exercise, and a radical rejiggering of transparency requirements is thus in effect akin to Constitutional amendment, which is institutional revolution by definition.
In David Brin’s The Transparent Society, there are no Peeping Toms. Although window shades fail to work, there are also no bushes to hide in. And because nobody wants to be caught being a Peeping Tom, the lack of bushes deters the practice.
But what if Big Tech and/or Big Government is as determined to find bushes to hide in as it is to see through your window shades? I think that is what Handle wants us to worry about.
My hope is for an audit agency with the will and the means to observe the activities of the organizations doing the spying and to do something to stop abuses. That is not a solution in which I have the greatest confidence, but I have not heard of a better one.
Roger Sweeny writes about the attraction of CRT to public school teachers.
"the gap"--the fact that black students do substantially worse than white students. For more than 60 years, people in the ed schools have been coming up with ways to reduce or eliminate "the gap". But nothing has worked! It is pretty much as big now as it was then.
I cannot exaggerate how galling, how frustrating that is to people in the business. There is a desperate search for explanation--with only one constraint on any possible explanation. It must not "blame the victim". It must not "punch down".
So, if you’re a teacher and you can’t close the gap and you refuse to blame genes or culture within the black population, you have to blame the culture at large. Hence you embrace CRT.
I am a bit less cynical than that. I note that CRT is most popular among teacher-adjacent personnel—administrators or union leaders. Classroom teachers themselves are not as enthusiastic (although younger teachers do tend to embrace it.)
The failure to close the gap is a corollary of The Null Hypothesis. In the long run, different methods of schooling make little difference in outcomes.
We are now being barraged with stories that young people have suffered severe educational setbacks because of school closures. If the Null Hypothesis is correct, these setbacks should not persist. If in fact within a few years student performance has caught up, you can bet that a lot more people will be saying that teachers did a great job than will be saying that the Null Hypothesis has once again been validated.
I am worried that the Null Hypothesis may not be correct in this case. That is, I worry that students who fell behind while schools were closed will not catch up. Keeping fingers crossed.
In the UK the ‘gap’ was between white working class children and white middle class children (since we do not have the same racial demographics or history as USA). The villain was ‘poverty’. So despite education being free to all at the point of delivery and both working class and middle class attending the same State-run, ‘mixed-ability’ schools, ‘poverty’ just HAD to be the explanation, because children from ‘poor’ families did worse overall than children from ‘better off’ families - and correlation is a wonderful thing isn’t it?
The solution was to make exams easier, lower grade marking and fix it so 50% of school leavers went to university to study soft subjects like history of lesbian dance.
Now instead of leaving school at 16 and getting on the employment ladder working in a hamburger restaurant, young people leave ‘uni’ age 24 and get on the employment ladder working in a hamburger restaurant.
It has been an unqualified success however as the ‘gap’ has virtually been eliminated - ‘better off’ children now are just as dumb as ‘poor’ children. Result!
Three comments: All those metrics about falling behind in school are about being less adapted to school. They are about students who have had a long break from the 'school' environment not being as shaped by it. They have nothing to do with any hypothesis about performance outside the school environment.
Second: Becoming an administrator is about having a broader and less personal reach and is generally considered a promotion from teaching. The most talented organizational climbers and the most ambitious ideologues climb the fastest away from the work of personal engagement.
Third: I have zero faith in a global federal audit agency function. The audit agency will be more open to regulatory capture than almost any other. At best it will be a powerless shrill voice like many other agencies given that kind of function: OPM on the topic of workforce management, for example. More likely, it will become an advocate for the worst practices as personnel move back and forth. At worst it will become a group of party commissars and its own inquisition for a new, shadow government. A true balance of power requires greater separation, stronger motivation, and a greater distinction in the fundamental logic of the operations.