Phi Beta Cons

Re: Are American Students Behind?

I assume that there is support for what Robert and others have said, that America’s overall educational standings are depressed in worldwide comparison because of the lagging educational performance of minorities. The problem of that lagging performance is treated even more comprehensively in Robert Weissberg’s new book, Bad Students, Not Bad Schools. But there is also something of an anomaly.

Blacks from Africa, the Caribbean, and other places, and their native-born offspring, do better in the U.S. than native blacks and their offspring, and are often the recipients of the affirmative action that was supposed to ameliorate the condition of American-born blacks descended from the slavery and Jim Crow eras. Perhaps that is attributable to the residue of colonial education in these places — more disciplined, more focused on basics, more content-rich, and probably less given to ed-school follies. I have noticed this in students I have had from Jamaica and similar places. Another factor may be the immigrant mentality that is more oriented to success and finds little resonance in ghetto culture.

Regarding America lagging in math scores, though, couldn’t that have something to do with the decline in science and math education in our country? I remember a few years back when Austrian university graduates were recruited to teach math in New York City public schools. I’m assuming that was because of a shortage of Americans to do the teaching. Moreover, one of the young Austrians commented that back in Austria certain of his American students would not have been expected to take advanced math at all, which suggests that other countries might group more capable students into more demanding courses.

Most Popular

White House

Democrats in Peril

I will just make a prediction and try to keep out of the swamp of Trump-obsession as the weeks unfold. The anti-Trump movement is now in inexorable decline; it is a little like the Nixon defense forces after the Saturday Night drama in October 1973, with the departure of the attorney general, his deputy, and ... Read More
World

Canada Is Attacked Again

Media coverage of yesterday’s monstrous van attack in Toronto, which as of this writing is responsible for ten deaths and more than a dozen other casualties, was punctuated by political press conferences of the sort that are now an inescapable part of the dark theater of public tragedies. At his first ... Read More
World

Trump and the North Korean Tipping Point

The world has been stunned by North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un’s announcement last week that he was suspending his country’s nuclear tests in preparation for the impending meeting with President Trump. Even critics have had to concede that Trump’s bellicose rhetoric since last summer regarding the North ... Read More
Politics & Policy

E Pluribus . . . Gridlock

A mantra we hear everywhere these days is that diversity is a good thing. And no doubt, it is. Diversity facilitates an exchange of ideas and opinions, and it promotes economic growth. Moreover, the alternative to diversity is to suppress the views and opinions of some subset of citizens, which is completely ... Read More
Economy & Business

Trade Misunderstandings

I was distracted by other policy topics last week but not enough not to notice Peter Navarro’s article in the Wall Street Journal, headlined “China’s Faux Comparative Advantage.” Considering Navarro’s position in the White House, it is unfortunate that it demonstrates some serious misunderstandings ... Read More