Knowing the Score on Common Core

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan reportedly said on Friday that some of the opposition to the controversial Common Core State Standards is derived from wealthy white mothers upset to learn their children are not as bright as they thought.

According to the Washington Post, Duncan told a group of state schools superintendents he found it “fascinating” opposition comes from “white suburban moms who — all of a sudden — [find] heir child isn’t as brilliant as they thought they were and their school isn’t as good as they thought they were.”

Common Core State Standards were designed to better the education system and has been adopted by 45 states and the District of Columbia.

Nonetheless, the standards have ignited controversy, with many critical they actually harm the education system.

Last week, A Tennessee high school senior spoke out against the Common Core standards at a school board meeting.  A video of the meeting went viral, enjoying over one-million views as of publication.

A study of 54 towns throughout New Jersey, classed by students SAT scores, shows that wealthy Garden State mothers have nothing to complain about in their students’ test scores.  While they didn’t score, on average, in the 700s, New Jersey’s highest scoring students came in with a respectable 622 in Math and 538 in Verbal.  Admittedly, the 538 is a bit low, but considering the number of Asians who’ve come to live in these towns (they represent 16.31 percent of the towns studied), it’s no surprise the verbal is lower.

Duncan makes quite a misstatement in claiming that the opposition comes from “white suburban who – all of a sudden – [find] their child isn’t as brilliant as they thought they were and their school isn’t as good as they thought they were.”

Since the 1970s, SAT scores have been on the decline nationwide.  In 1975, the average verbal score was 512 and has been declining ever since.  At that time, the national verbal score was higher than the Math score, which was 498.  In the ensuing years, the scores have reversed themselves, so that the national average for the Math portion is 514 and the Verbal is 496.

The state with the highest mean Verbal score (603) is Iowa; the state with the highest mean Math score (616) is Illinois.  The national average is Verbal, 496; Math, 514 more or less what it was in 1975.  The New Jersey average is Verbal, 495; Math, 517.

The Wealthy White Mom districts have nothing to complain about statistically, then.  If the highest mean scores in Verbal are 603 and the Math, 616, then the Wealthy White Moms’ kids are doing okay in their Math (622), though they need to work on their Verbal abilities (538).  The 622 is only a middle, or average score.  That means about half the students who took the Math test scored higher, in the 650 range and above.

The Wealthy White Mom section of the Garden State boasts of a Median Household Income of $131,565.  The cost per pupil for public schooling is $17,877, compared with New Jersey’s Big Ten cities, who spend $22,699.  The next highest-scoring group, a conglomeration of first-ring cities and exurb outposts boasts scores of 520(M) and 496(V), with a cost per pupil of $16,729.

The lowest spending group, the parents with the most to lose if Common Core is fully implemented, pays an average Cost Per Pupil of $17,638.  Their students scored 516 (M) and 504 (V), higher than their neighbors.  Of all the groups studied, they paid the highest median teacher’s salaries ($64,827).

Now, as you might expect, the SAT scores are pretty well tied to household income.  The Wealthy White Mom towns had the highest household incomes and their Wealthy White Children had the highest scores.  But it’s what you call the “Tea Party Towns” who came in with the next highest incomes and highest scores.  These are the towns above the waist in New Jersey’s Passaic County.  Some towns are wealthier and score higher than others, but on average, they do pretty well statistically.

The cities, predictably, do miserably on all counts – with the exception of Cost Per Pupil, $22,699.  They’re lowest on SAT scores – 401 (M), 381 (V).  They have the greatest crime rates – 238 murders, 20,072 thefts, and 70 gangs.  The Median HHI is $34,873.  Hispanics make up the greatest population, 47.1 percent. The poverty level is an unfortunate 24.8 percent and the official unemployment rate is 12.8 percent.

So it would seem Education Secretary Duncan is right.  His studies tell him that we lag behind the rest of the world in education because of our individual selfishness and that collectivism will make all the difference in the world.

But hang on a minute.  Let’s take a look at one of those poor urban centers – Atlantic City.  Atlantic City High School is the city’s only high school.  The average cost per pupil in Atlantic City is far above the average:  $25,561.  The school’s SAT scores stand at 449 (M) and 434 (V), somewhat higher than its sister blighted cities.  The median HHI in the city is $30,237 and in an unusual statistic, its Median Family Income is even lower $20,069.

Atlantic City High has a graduate rate of 69.7 percent, which is above the average for the Big Cities.  However, AC High is a receiving district.  Atlantic City is on a barrier island.  Its nearest barrier island neighbors send their children to Atlantic City High because their populations are too small for their own high schools.

We always think in terms of a city or town’s high school rate and how many make it to college, but we never stop to consider how many students never make it to high school.  In Atlantic City, 29.1 percent of the population never made it past the 8th grade.  The high school graduation rate for residents is a little better – 34.4 percent, but from there, the numbers plummet:  only 11.1 percent graduated from college, only 3.3 percent attained a master’s degree, and 1.1 percent a doctorate or professional degree (that must be the highly paid administrator and staff who make $138,000 and $93,916, respectively, in a city where the family income is $10,000 lower than the Median HHI).

So it must be the school system that fails it students.  However, we must take into account the Barrier Island students from Brigantine, Longport, Margate City, and Ventnor City.  Almost entirely white – Ventnor City has a white population of 75.83 percent and the concurrent crime rate:  12 assaults, the only robberies (8), 114 burglaries and 235 thefts.  But that’s nothing to Atlantic City’s 2,261 thefts and 13 murders.

The Barrier Islands have twice the income of Atlantic City, five times the Median Family Income.  But as AC has fallen on hard times, they have a declining population.  Still, statistics for the Barrier Islands show that 21.3 percent have college degrees, 8.3 percent have masters, and 7.2 percent have professional or doctorate degrees.  Longport boasts the highest post-high school numbers:  13.1 percent have professional or doctorate degrees.  That’s higher than the average for the White Wealthy suburbs (12.4%).  Yet their kids go to Atlantic City High.

Speaking of the White Wealthy Suburbs, the fancy-shmancy SAT Towns, 12.4 percent is only an average for them.  Not surprisingly, in Princeton, 23.4 percent of residents hold a doctorate or professional degree.  Millburn has 19.3 percent, Tenafly, 16.6 percent.  Little bitty Alpine, which sends its students to high-ranking Tenafly High has the highest Cost Per Pupil.  But the town with the highest SAT scores has a fairly low Cost Per Pupil:  $16,964.

Teachers’ salaries are above the ordinary at West Windsor-Plainsboro High, with a North and South Campus.   The South Campus scored the highest in Math (640) with its Northern sister only two points below at 638.  The median teacher’s salary is $82,950.  The highest paying school district was Edison.

Edison is a curious study in itself, for it has two high schools:  J.P. Stevens, which ranked as one of the ten highest high schools in New Jersey in SAT scores, and Edison High School, which did not.  For reasons of studying education, Edison was ranked in among the wealthier school districts, although it obviously has a much lower Median HHI of $86,724, compared to Alpine at $172,054.  What can you make of a poor city ranking in among the White Wealthy Mom suburbs?

Well, it seems Edison has the highest population of Asian-Indian Americans of any city in the United States.  All the wealthiest, SAT suburbs do have a significant portion of Asian-Americans.  That would account for Arne Duncan’s sneer at suburban Americans, whose wife counts Mao Tse-Tung as one of her heroes.

The increasing Asian population has helped pull up the Math scores on the SATs, it’s true; this is no secret to other Americans.  But, along with the Hispanic immigrants and the growing number of Blacks, the Asians, Indian, Chinese and otherwise, have helped pull the verbal SAT scores down.

They are also responsible for an increase in gang activity in the most unusual places, such as Princeton, which has an astounding 11 gangs roaming the streets.  West Windsor has 3; Plainsboro has one gang, totaling 15 gangs for “Wealthy White Women” territory.

None of this has anything to do with Common Core.  What’s more, Common Core will not only not improve the situation, but will drive the Verbal scores to new record lows.  One of the goals of Common Core is to decimate the Western canon of literature.  Gone will be the likes of Moby Dick, Great Expectations, A Tale of Two Cities, Huckleberry Finn and Mark Twain, War and Peace, Black Beauty, Brave New World, Pride and Prejudice, and Jane Eyre.

What’s wrong with all these literary greats?  To begin with, all but the last two were written by men.  White men.  Dead white men.  Pride and Prejudice (the film versions of which are highly popular) depict women in the situation of having to seek out wealthy men in order to survive.  Jane Eyre is filled cover to cover with references to the Bible, a book that has already been expunged from public school libraries.

Students may be encouraged to read Plato’s The Republic, since it aligns with Common Core’s agenda.  But they certainly won’t be reading the Gulag Archipelago, Pilgrim’s Progress, The Scarlett Letter, or The Scarlett Pimpernel.

Even in the Math department, American students will be left two grades behind the rest of the world, thanks to Common Core.

Americans, old enough to know, realize that American education has been plummeting since the 1930s, when teachers were unionized and brought into the collective fold of Communism.  By the 1960s, children were being encouraged to read short stories by authors such as Theodore Dreiser, Ralph Ellison, and Ring Lardner Jr.  What awful stuff it was.  No wonder children didn’t want to read.  We never read or studied Mark Twain, Black Beauty, Anne of the Green Gables, Ivanhoe, Treasure Island, or The Wizard of Oz.  We never read Shakespeare in high school.

Common Core will bring students back to the Communist basics (indeed, if they ever left).  The playing field will indeed be leveled, and Arne Duncan will sneer, and his wife will flick her tongue at American exceptionalism.  American students, hypnotized by television, bored by Communist-inspired literature, and empowered to think they rule the schoolroom will be fit for nothing greater than flipping burgers or checking out merchandise at the local big box store.

It’s not that our children aren’t bright; it’s that they’ve been dulled, deliberately, by a corrupt educational system with a decidedly radical agenda.  The trouble with looking at average scores is you miss the half of the students who are better than average, and thinking “average” is the height, only look down and not up.

If Common Core succeeds, the only thing “average” American students will have in common is failure and will have nowhere to go but down.  If you don’t believe it, take a look at the Chicago school system.

Arne Duncan was the CEO of the Chicago Public School System.

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Published in: on November 18, 2013 at 2:38 pm  Comments (7)  

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