The Corner

Stale Notions

Oy oy oy. Doesn’t anybody pay attention to anything? Is wishful thinking really such a mighty power in the land?

Reader A:

Mr. Derbyshire — How can you say we don’t know how to close the school achievement gap? We’ve never really tried, not with real resources.

[Me] False. The idea that you can close the gaps by spending oodles of money was tested to destruction in Kansas City, 1977-97. Vast sums of money were spent. The achievement gap didn’t budge, though several Kansas City education bureaucrats got modestly rich. Anyone — including any presidential candidate! — arguing that we can equalize school achievement by spending more money, should be confronted with the Kansas City case. (Which the Left has done its best to bury. There is, for instance, no reference to it on Wikipedia — unless you count this — because Wikipedia takes a strictly Left line on social and racial issues.)

Reader B:

Mr. Derbyshire — Isn’t it really just a matter of class, not race?

[Me] No. It is so much not a matter of class, not race, that the fact has a name: “the Shaker Heights Effect.” Here’s a book about it. Here’s Tom Sowell’s take.

Look, I don’t know what the answer to the achievement gap is, nor even whether there is one. If anyone’s got any fresh ideas, I’d be delighted to hear them. I live in this country too, and so do my kids. However, “Let’s spend more money!” and “It’s not race, it’s class!” are not fresh ideas, they are stale and discredited ideas. If you want to talk about this topic, inform yourself.

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