Date: Nov 15, 2012 8:01 PM
Author: Paul A. Tanner III
Subject: Re: The Education Mafia Speaks

On Thu, Nov 15, 2012 at 7:15 AM, Haim <> wrote:
>>But nearly 30 years after the alarming federal report "A
>>Nation at Risk," not one major urban district has been
>>turned around.

> So, Columbia University Teachers College is the single most destructive institution in the U.S. Arthur Levine was its president for twelve years. Upon retirement, he famously wrote an essay asserting that the EdD, a degree he invented and whose laureates now infest public education, is not worth the paper it is printed on. His essay in the WSJ, below, is a masterpiece of misdirection and propaganda.
> In short, Mr. Levine argues that American public education is failing us, he blames parents and, based on a fictional story (the movie, "Won't Back Down"), he strongly recommends a course of action that cannot possibly work. In other words, Arthur Levine's essay is a highly sophisticated argument for exculpating the guilty, blaming the victim, and continuing the status quo.
> Honestly, does any sentient person in this forum not think putting this man in jail would serve a higher justice?
> Haim
> No representation without taxation
> - ------------------------
> Arthur Levine: The Suburban Education Gap
> The U.S. economy could be $1 trillion a year stronger if Americans only performed at Canada's level in math.
> Parents nationwide are familiar with the wide academic achievement gaps separating American students of different races, family incomes and ZIP Codes. But a second crucial achievement gap receives far less attention. It is the disparity between children in America's top suburban schools and their peers in the highest-performing school systems elsewhere in the world.
> Of the 70 countries tested by the widely used Program for International Student Assessment, the United States falls in the middle of the pack. This is the case even for relatively well-off American students: Of American 15-year-olds with at least one college-educated parent, only 42% are proficient in math, according to a Harvard University study of the PISA results. That is compared with 75% proficiency for all 15-year-olds in Shanghai and 50% for those in Canada.
> Compared with big urban centers, America's affluent suburbs have roughly four times as many students performing at the academic level of their international peers in math. But when American suburbs are compared with two of the top school systems in the world?in Finland and Singapore?very few, such as Evanston, Ill., and Scarsdale, N.Y., outperform the international competition. Most of the other major suburban areas underperform the international competition. That includes the likes of Grosse Point, Mich., Montgomery County, Md., and Greenwich, Conn. And most underperform substantially, according to the Global Report Card database of the George W. Bush Presidential Center.
> The problem America faces, then, is that its urban school districts perform inadequately compared with their suburban counterparts, and its suburban districts generally perform inadequately compared with their international counterparts. The domestic achievement gap means that the floor for student performance in America is too low, and the international achievement gap signals that the same is true of the ceiling. America's weakest school districts are failing their students and the nation, and so are many of America's strongest.
> The domestic gap means that too many poor, urban and rural youngsters of color lack the education necessary to obtain jobs that can support a family in an information economy in which low-end jobs are disappearing. This hurts the U.S. economically, exacerbates social divisions, and endangers our democratic society by leaving citizens without the requisite knowledge to participate effectively.
> The international gap, meanwhile, hurts the ability of American children to obtain the best jobs in a global economy requiring higher levels of skills and knowledge. This economy prizes expertise in math, science, engineering, technology, language and critical thinking.
> The children in America's suburban schools are competing for these jobs not only against each other and their inner-city and rural neighbors, but against peers in Finland and Singapore, where students are better-prepared. The international achievement gap makes the U.S. less competitive and constitutes a threat to national strength and security. Stanford economist Eric Hanushek has estimated that America would add $1 trillion annually to its economy if it performed at Canada's level in math.
> So what do Americans do? We talk a great deal about the achievement gap. We write books and reports about it. We wring our hands at its existence. We adopt a revolving door of short-term reforms in response. But nearly 30 years after the alarming federal report "A Nation at Risk," not one major urban district has been turned around. Many of our suburban school districts are losing ground. We have settled on a path of global mediocrity for students attending our most affluent schools and national marginality for those attending failing inner-city schools.
> A Hollywood drama released in September, "Won't Back Down," offered an alternative. It told the story of two parents (one a teacher) determined to transform their children's failing school in the face of opposition from administrators, teachers and unions. The protagonists faced apathy and intransigence at every turn.
> Hollywood caricatures aside, the movie correctly conveyed that parents are the key. Parents need to say that they won't stand for these intolerable achievement gaps. The first step is for parents to learn what quality education is and how it is achieved.
> This isn't a game for amateurs. Parents need to use every resource at their disposal?demanding changes in schools and in district offices; using existing tools such as "parent-trigger" laws and charter schools; organizing their communities; cultivating the media and staging newsworthy events; telling politicians and officeholders that their votes will go to candidates who support improvement; even going to the courts. If parents want change, they have the capacity to make it happen, but it isn't easy.
> At the same time, it is critical to recognize that school districts can't perform miracles. They can't overcome the tolls of poverty and poor housing, but they can close gaps. They can raise the floor and the ceiling of student academic achievement. Some schools in high-need districts and suburbs are already doing this. There is no excuse not to?and, if we hope to compete globally, there is no time to lose.
> Mr. Levine, a former president of Columbia University's Teachers College, is president of the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation.

You wrote recently, "I may continue corresponding to
Math-Teach....But, if I continue writing, I would do so with the clear
and present knowledge that, as a practical matter, it is a complete
waste of time."

On your continuing to correspond to Math-Teach being a complete waste
of time: You are right.

One reason this is true is because the person you cite is actually not
up to speed on so many facts, like those many facts I present below
that show that the US public school system is actually doing as well
or better than just about any public school system in the world when
we adjust for demographics, as well as when we look at opportunities
for the whole population with respect to advanced math in high school:

Fact: When we correct for demographics, we see that US white students
score as well or better on international tests like TIMSS and PISA
than the white students of just about every other country on the
planet, US black students score as well or better on international
tests like TIMSS and PISA than the black students of just about every
other country on the planet, and so on. The reason the overall scores
are not as high on these tests as they could be in comparison to some
other countries is because in all countries, the scores by each
segment of non East-Asian non-white students are significantly lower
and because the percentage of the US student population of this much
lower scoring overall population segment is much higher than it is in
those countries that have overall higher scores than the US.

Fact: Because of the success of advanced math education in the US
public school system, the US now has roughly 5% of its entire high
school senior aged population (and this includes all those not in
school or in vocational schools or whatever) take *and* pass a
national AP calculus exam covering an entire year of high school
calculus. Very few countries on the entire planet - regardless of the
ethnic demographic of the country's student population - could say
that they have an advanced math education system that yields this high
a percentage of the its entire high school senior aged population that
could take *and* pass a national calculus exam covering an entire year
of high school calculus. And when we look at only those US high school
students that actually completed calculus classes that actually were
certified by the AP Calculus testing body to follow the AP Calculus
guidelines, we see these students scoring very much higher on advanced
international tests than those advanced students of all other
countries taking the tests.

Fact: In roughly 30 years, this percentage of the entire high school
senior aged population of the US that has taken *and* passed a
national calculus exam has increased from roughly 0.5% to the present
roughly 5%, an entire order of magnitude increase.

We need to look beneath the surface to be fair, to see what is really
happening in the US, to see that, again, the US pubic school system in
some measurable ways is doing as well or better than just about any
other country in the world not only for its whole population but for
its advanced students. (This does not mean of course that the system
could not do better.)

See what this conservative economist (Post-Doc at the University of
Chicago and a Research Fellow at the Institute of Industrial
Economics) has to say about what is actually going on with these
international comparisons:

"The amazing truth about PISA scores: USA beats Western Europe, ties with Asia."

Quote: "Once we correct (even crudely) for demography in the 2009 PISA
scores, American students outperform Western Europe by significant
margins and tie with Asian students."

In addition, note that PISA tests 15 year olds that may already be in
high schools in Europe, and if they are not, they immediately or
almost immediately go into high school. But in Europe, depending on
the country, fully half to two thirds of the student population goes
not into academic high schools but into vocational high schools,
depending on the country. All of US students go into academic high
schools. If fully half to two thirds of those European students taking
PISA are not in or going into vocational high schools, then the
distribution of those representing those countries are unfairly skewed
toward their top one half to one third of their student populations,
which is an unfair comparison to those representing the US, which
represent the entire US student population and is not skewed toward
the top one half to one third of the US student population.

The conservative Heritage Foundation points out that the US public
school system is doing a good job educating roughly 60% of the US
student population, this 60% measures third best in the world in
reading on PISA:


"If white American students were counted as a separate group, their
PISA reading score would rank them third in the world."

[3] U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education
Statistics, "PISA 2009," Tables R1 and R3,
at (April 1, 2011). The U.S.
as a whole is not included when ranking each American ethnic group.

[Note: Non-Hispanic white students make up about 60% of the US student

"TIMSS Results Place Massachusetts Among World Leaders in Math and Science"


"In math, the state's eighth graders scored 547, ranking sixth behind
Chinese Taipei (598), Republic of Korea (597), Singapore (593), Hong
Kong SAR (572), and Japan (570).

"Massachusetts has a long history of success with education reform and
the academic achievement of students," said Education Secretary Paul
Reville. "Our students have consistently performed at the highest
levels on many national measures and now we have confirmation that
many are prepared according to an international measure. Our task now
is to transform our public education system so that all students
receive the education, support and guidance they need to improve their
achievement and acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to prepare
them for higher education and an ever-evolving workforce."


Other findings include:

* Massachusetts 8th graders made significant gains in math and science
performance on TIMSS between 1999 and 2007. In math, the state's 8th
graders improved by 34 points, from 513 in 1999 to 547 in 2007. In
science, 8th graders scored 23 points higher in 2007 (556) than in
1999 (533). There are no trend results for the state's 4th graders.
* In grade 8 science, 20% of Massachusetts students met the Advanced
Benchmark, behind Singapore (32%) and Chinese Taipei (25%). In math,
16% of the state's 8th graders scored Advanced, behind Chinese Taipei
(45%), the Republic of Korea (40%), Singapore (40%), Hong Kong SAR
(31%), and Japan (26%)."

And see this:

"Highlights From TIMSS 2007:
Mathematics and Science Achievement of U.S. Fourth-
and Eighth-Grade Students in an International Context"

See Table E-14 for the mean 4th and 8th grade mathematics scores of
the non-Hispanic white students from the US:

For 4th grade: It is 550. This is higher than the mean score of every
last non-East-Asian country in the world that took TIMSS in 2007.

For 8th grade: It is 533. This is higher than the mean score of every
last non-East-Asian country in the world that took TIMSS in 2007.

See Table E-33 for the mean 4th and 8th grade science scores of the
non-Hispanic white students from the US:

For 4th grade: It is 567. This is higher than the mean score of every
last non-East-Asian country in the world that took TIMSS in 2007.

For 8th grade: It is 551. This is higher than the mean score of every
last non-East-Asian country in the world that took TIMSS in 2007.

Finally, consider the research study I keep citing published in 2000.
They found that even those of students who completed an AP Calculus
course certified by the College Board who failed their AP Calculus
test are getting as much or better training in advanced math than
those advanced math students in all those countries that took the
TIMSS Advanced math test in both 1995 and 2008, including the highest
scoring countries:

"How Well Do Advanced Placement Students Perform on the TIMSS Advanced
Mathematics and Physics Tests?"

See pages 11 and 15. It shows that even those AP Calculus students in
that study who failed their AP Calculus exam with only a score of 1 or
2 still had a higher scaled score on this retake of the TIMSS Advanced
math test than even the highest scoring country in either the 1995 or
2008 TIMSS Advanced math test. These US students in that study who
failed their AP Calculus exam with only a 1 or 2 still had such high
levels of advanced mathematics knowledge and understanding and skill
that they scored 565 on that TIMSS Advanced math test. The students
who took the test for France in 1995 had the highest score in 1995 on
the TIMSS Advanced Math test with a score of 557, and the students who
took the test for Russia in 2008 had the highest score in 2008 on the
TIMSS Advanced Math test with a score of 561. Here is the proof of
this fact that even those who failed their AP Calculus exams were
still so well educated in advanced math:

Exhibit 5: Average Achievement of AP Calculus Students in Advanced
Mathematics by Results AP Calculus Examinations:

Less than 3 on AP Calculus AB 565 (TIMSS Advanced math average score)
3 or better on AP Calculus AB 586 (TIMSS Advanced math average score)
Less than 3 on AP Calculus BC 564 (TIMSS Advanced math average score)
3 or better on AP Calculus BC 633 (TIMSS Advanced math average score)

That is, the AP Calculus students in this study who failed their AP
Calculus exams had slightly better math knowledge and understanding
and skill than the average advanced math student that took either the
1995 or 2008 advanced math test from even the highest scoring country.
Those who passed their AP Calculus exams scored very much higher. This
is VERY significant in terms of how well educated those US AP Calculus
students who complete certified AP courses and take the AP Calculus
tests are educated in advanced math.

Here are some more facts, to address those false claims that 40 years
ago or before were "the good old days" of superior education in the

Fact: The average high school graduate of say, forty years ago knew
less algebra than the average high school graduate today. This is
because of the fact that most students back then did not take even
just Algebra I before getting a high school diploma - now it is
required to get a diploma.

Fact: And on top of that, they forty years ago did not even have a
standardized test you had to pass to get that diploma - having an exit
exam only started in the 1980s or later in most states, and these exit
exams have just been getting tougher over time. This exit exam is just
now changed into a series of end-of-course tests that will very soon
include even Algebra II. Compare that to the exit exams of the 80s and
90s that had no algebra on them at all. See my posts that prove this
such as:

Fact: The vast majority of the Algebra I and Algebra II courses are
tougher now than back then. Back then the typical Algebra II course
(based on such textbooks I talked about here before where the
quadratic formula was introduced only toward the end of Algebra II)
were not an adequate preparation for calculus - one had to take
another and more advanced pre-algebra course covering such as analytic
trigonometry before taking calculus.

And on citing China as "superior" in terms of *public* education:
Guess again. In my post

"Re: Discussion: Do US Math Teachers Suck?"

I expose the falsity. Here is a quote:

"If there exists another country in the world outside of possibly
those four East Asian countries of Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and
Singapore that would do better than this in terms of how large a
percentage of the entire population of that age that would score this
well on such tests like TIMSS Advanced or especially an AP Calculus
exam, then name that country. Note: That country would not be China,
since at least half of that country still lives in third world
conditions. Those who are from China in those international tests for
[for 8th graders] TIMSS and [for 15 year olds] PISA are cherry picked
from the best school districts in the country, Hong Kong and Shanghai.
But note that performance for these Chinese students falls off for
even the next best school district, Macau, on these international
tests - but we never hear about that. In addition, after the very high
results from Shanghai on PISA, President Hu Jintao said that the world
should not expect the same high results as more and more of China is
represented on these tests. By all the above data, if the US were
allowed to cherry pick like this, the US would be very much in the
very top rank at the top of the world.)"


Yes, Haim's so-called "Education Mafia" of the US speaks, but not as
Haim's false claims say: The speaking is in the form of doing better
*per the above* than just about any other country on the planet.