Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Diversity is more better

While the US may represent the educational doldroms of the developed world, at least our textbooks are the most ethnically and culturally progressive:

To facilitate state approval and school-district purchasing of their texts, publishers set numerical targets for showing minorities and the disabled. In recent years, the quest to meet these targets has ratcheted to a higher level as technological improvements enable publishers to customize books for individual states, and as photos and illustrations take up more textbook space.

Although publishers describe these numbers as guidelines, many people familiar with educational publishing say they are strict quotas that must be adhered to. Moreover, in filling these quotas, publishers screen out a wide range of images they deem stereotypical, from Asian math students to barefoot African children.
So progressive, in fact, that we leave reality in the dust. Let the scamps in India and China waste their time studying the real world with all its inegalitarian nonsense. We'll convey to our children a world that transcends such ugliness. Nevermind the fact that Asian American students average the highest score of any racial group on the NAEP math tests, a few points higher even than their white neighbors, who are too busy keeping down the brown and black man to subjugate the Oriental effectively. Nevermind that the African poverty rate, at 44%, is significantly higher than that of any other continent in the world. The most important thing we can impute to our children is a vision of the world as it should be, irrespective of reality.

Urban giants largely set the standards for the rest of the country, as they have the greatest bulk buying power. Textbook publishers set quotas to insure sales to these school districts:
Under McGraw-Hill Co. guidelines for elementary and high school texts, 40% of people depicted should be white, 30% Hispanic, 20% African-American, 7% Asian and 3% Native American, says Thomas Stanton, a spokesman for the publisher. Of the total, 5% should be disabled, and 5% over the age of 55. Elementary texts from the Harcourt Education unit of Reed Elsevier PLC should show about 50% whites, 22% African-Americans, 20% Hispanics, 5% Asians and 5% Native Americans.
So McGraw represents blacks at 155% of reality, Hispanics at 243%, Native Americans at 341%, and Asians at about 150%. All this made possible by the shafting of non-Hispanic whites, who are shown at a rate of 59% of reality. Although no official religious quotas exist, textbook companies strive to represent all faiths as equally as possible. That is, numerical parity, not proportional representation mirroring reality. Your kids' textbooks are showing them as many Buddhists (about one-third of one percent of Americans) as Christians (about 85% of Americans). Still, it is clear that Mahayana believers are being maliciously underserved. You can bet McGraw will be hearing from me.

Of course, the same argument can be made for McGraw that is made for the megabanks, megaretailers, and politicians that increasingly cater to Hispanics--they are anticipating the future demographic composition of America. Nationally, the average citizen suffers from increased crime and disease, lower educational attainment, greater wealth disparities, more tax revenue diverted to providing goods and services to the destitute, higher poverty rates, cultural balkinzation, and so on, but for the individual entities the benefit is in tapping into this market. McGraw's textbooks are provided for school kids, where whites represent less than 60% of the population. For children under five, they represent about half. McGraw is positioning itself for the future.

So much for assimilation:
"It's a real benefit for minority children to be able to see their own ethnicity in a position of responsibility or in a historical perspective," says Cheryl McConaughey, assistant superintendent for Lamont school district in California, which is 92% Hispanic. "I remember the delight with which my seventh-grade students encountered pictures of Roberto Clemente and César Chávez in their textbooks." Ms. McConaughey says percentage targets for minority images "are needed to assure diversity. If we don't quantify them, they get lost."
I suspect her memories are bunk, as my recollection of my junior high days is fresh enough to inform me that seventh graders rarely experience delight from pictures in textbooks. Poor Hispanic students (96% of Lamont students are at or below the poverty line) are even less likely to become elated by classroom material. But I do remember my excitement when I learned that Nathaneal Greene and Henry Knox were both autodidacts and that this played a major part in forming their strong friendship. Problem is, I learned that this week while reading on my own. Nevermind the daring Knox displayed that allowed for the colonists to take the Dorchester Heights. In thirteen years of k-12 public education I never studied a single US military battle. How sick is it that I know more about Harriet Tubman and Dred Scott than John Adams or John Jay?

Graphics that might actually pull students away from their IPods for a moment are deemed too 'offensive' to print:
In its 2005 adoption of history and social science texts, for instance, California required compact disc publisher Decision Development Corp. to revise or delete "stereotypical and demeaning" caricatures in magazines submitted as supplementary material. One drawing it found offensive illustrated the 18th century European rivalry for the Indian subcontinent by depicting an Indian in a loincloth and turban tugged in opposite directions by arms wearing the English and French flags.
I'm reminded of my favorite Simpsons episode where Principal Skinners orders Groundskeeper Willie to remove all colored chalk from the classrooms in response to two separate independent thoughts by students on the same day that gave the teachers great alarm. The words of Soren Kierkegaard also come to mind: "People demand freedom of speech as a compensation for the freedom of thought which they seldom use."

Note the consequences multiculturalism wreaks on those who exercise free thought. Theo Van Gogh was murdered for it. Denmark was boycotted and European embassies in the Middle East were burned for it. Professor Andrew Fraser was suspended for it. George Allen's presidential aspirations have been seriously damaged because of it. Paul Brelien, editor of the courageous Brussels Journal, was forced to remove an op/ed because the piece called for the legalization of self-defense items after a Belgian teenager was murdered by two central Asians. Lawrence Summers was excoriated and eventually fled from Harvard because of it. Perspicacious geniuses must produce anonymously in fear of it. Arthur Brooks gets global recognition for an idea that was filched from Steve Sailer (Brooks called it the "Fertility Gap", Steve called it the "Baby Gap") because of it. Brooks made the WSJ op/ed pages because he left immigration and race out of the equation, even though by doing so he diluted the explanatory power of fertility and inanely predicted that California will swing to the right in the coming years. The list goes on and on.

McGraw, in the business of making money, not of deciphering reality, has taken measures to prevent itself from falling into the bottomless pit that is free thought:
To forestall such trouble, McGraw-Hill's 2004 guidelines for artwork and photos say Asians should not be portrayed "with glasses, bowl-shaped haircuts, or as intellectuals"; African-Americans should be shown "in positions of power, not just in service industries"; elderly people should be "active members of society," not "infirm"; and disabled people should be shown as independent rather than receiving help.
Orwellian. Because Asians are smart, they must not be portrayed as intelligent. Because blacks have little power in the corporate world, they must be portrayed as having lots of it. I'll add a few more: Because interracial crime in the US overwhelmingly involves a black perpetrator and a white victim, whites must be portrayed as perpetrators and blacks as victims. Because Hispanic immigrants are overrepresented in certain service industries like landscaping and meat packing, they mustn't be portrayed as landscapers or meat packers. Because African Americans dominate the sports world, they must be portrayed as unathletic dweebs.

Further, it is not who people are that matters, but who they appear to be in the eyes of others:
Marjorie Cotera, studio manager for Texas photographer Robert Daemmrich, who takes photos for textbooks, says "facial features" of some Asians resemble Native Indian [with epicanthic eyefolds and other similar features from a shared lineage] tribes from Mexico. "There are some times where you can flip-flop." On the other hand, Ms. Cotera says, blond and blue-eyed Hispanics "might not work" toward that group's quota because their background would not be apparent to readers.
What messages does this send to American children? Why do we subject our future to this garbage?

Historian David McCullough describes an obscure eighteenth century British rebel thus: "Seeing things as they were, and not as he would wish them to be, was one of [Washington's] greatest strengths."

Who was this George Washington? Didn't he work for Bessie Coleman?



JSBolton said...

Practices like the above cause me to wish that the government schools would get privatized, and draw out a lot of corruption of culture with them.
Progressive retardation is a phrase that comes to mind.

JSBolton said...

It all fits with the liberal substitution of anti-discrimination for ethics, and specifically of politics as the ethics of aggression.
Morals get thrown out the window, and anyone who doesn't like it must be trying to get away with mass murder on a racial or ethnic basis; on this liberal fool's trap.
They would have to state explicitly and support their premise that using offcial aggression in support of antidiscrimination, is itself moral, which they can't do.
That leaves only the unreason of slippery slope, false dilemma and ad hominem.

crush41 said...

The argument is often made that privatization will bring inner-city kids into suburban schools. But a privatized educational system would allow for those suburban schools to set admission requirements or raise prices beyond voucher levels (although vouchers are not a prerequisite for privatization) to keep the troublemakers they are legitimately concerned about away.

It is also argued that privatization wouldn't drastically increase test scores, etc. No, although it would have a moderate benefit, and would most trenchantly be felt among the gifted (IQs +130) that are basically left to wallow in unchallenging classrooms.

And of course, inefficiencies and corruption would be removed with privatization. I agree with you entirely, John.