NC’s ‘alarming’ disparity of black student arrests among worst in country

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In North Carolina, black students are nearly six times more likely to be arrested at school and school activities than white students, according to recently released federal data analyzed by WRAL News. That disparity is among the worst in the country.

Law enforcement arrested more than 600 North Carolina students on public school grounds, during off-campus school activities or on school transportation during the 2015-16 school year, according to the latest data from the U.S. Department of Education.

In North Carolina, 9.2 out of every 10,000 black students were arrested, compared to 1.6 white students. Only three other states – West Virginia, Iowa and Rhode Island – had a higher disparity between the arrest rates of black and white students.

About 147 out of every 1,000 black students were suspended from North Carolina schools in 2015-16. That’s compared to about 44 white students out of every 1,000.

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AP analysis: Blacks largely left out of high-paying jobs

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Jonathan Garland’s fascination with architecture started early: He spent much of his childhood designing Lego houses and gazing at Boston buildings on rides with his father away from their largely minority neighborhood.

AP analysis: Blacks largely left out of high-paying jobs

Image: AP Photo/Charles Krupa

But when Garland looked around at his architectural college, he didn’t see many who looked like him — there were few black faces in classroom seats, and fewer teaching skills or giving lectures.

“If you do something simple like Google ‘architects’ and you go to the images tab, you’re primarily going to see white males,” said Garland, 35, who’s worked at Boston and New York architectural firms. “That’s the image, that’s the brand, that’s the look of an architect.”

An Associated Press analysis of government data has found that black workers are chronically underrepresented compared with whites in high-salary jobs in technology, business, life sciences, and architecture and engineering, among other areas. Instead, many black workers find jobs in low-wage, less-prestigious fields where they’re overrepresented, such as food service or preparation, building maintenance and office work, the AP analysis found.

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Conservatives Just Don’t Understand That Racism Runs Deep in American Education Behind the push to roll back school discipline protections lies a dangerous dismissal of bias in classrooms.

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Betsy DeVos and company are at it again. The DeVos-led Department of Education is currently cooking up ways to get rid of the 2014 Obama-era guidelines for K-12 public school discipline, which was aimed at ameliorating discrepancies based on race, class and disability when it comes to how students are punished in school.
In November, conservative think tanks Center of the American Experiment and the Fordham Institute helped coordinate a meeting at the Department of Educationwherein teachers critical of the 2014 guidelines testified about their experiences with violent students in their schools. Such testimony is being collected by conservatives to argue that the guidelines represent not only a sort of governmental “PC police” but that they are also actively making U.S. schools more unsafe by muzzling how teachers are able to discipline their students.
“For a time, education reform used to be a bipartisan or nonpartisan enterprise for improving student achievement,” writeRobert Pondiscio and Max Eden of the Fordham and Manhattan Institutes, respectively, in an op-ed for the New York Daily News. “But much of the movement has morphed into an arm of the social-justice industrial complex, dedicated to causes du jour from the travel ban to transgender bathrooms.”
In addition to disparaging the humanity of immigrant families and transgender people as if their lives are no more than a liberal fad, Pondiscio and Eden go on to reference the school-to-prison pipelinein scare quotes, arguing that education reform activists’ concern about racism in schools is a “refus[al] to admit the possibility that differences in poverty and family structure play a role.” This type of argument is a shorthand for the “culture of poverty” argument expounded in the infamous Moynihan Report during the 1960s, which controversially explained black poverty and family instability as in large part a cultural defect of the black family structure, found in the figure of the overbearing black mother in particular.
Conservatives’ latching onto such an explanation allows them to gloss over black oppression as the logical historical outcome of being enslaved, denied intergenerational wealth-building opportunities through that enslavement (and on the contrary, growing the wealth of white families through forced and unpaid labor), disenfranchised from jobs and housing, and exposed to manifold other forms of violent anti-black terrorismthat have punctuated black life in America since black people were brought to this nation’s shores against their wills.
Pitting education reformers against teachers, Pondiscio and Eden claim in a false dichotomy that “[s]ocial justice reformers … limi[t] teachers’ subjective disciplinary judgment … blind[ing] themselves to reality as a school spirals dangerously out of control.”
In contrast, Dan Losen, director of the Center for Civil Rights Remedies at UCLA and a former teacher for a decade, tells AlterNet that the 2014 guidelines are crucial for addressing the implicit bias that exists in schools, even among well-meaning teachers, just as such bias exists throughout society.
“Stereotypes are in the air we breathe,” says Losen. “Not because we want [them] to [be], but because in every depiction [in media], we have not escaped the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow, and after that, the criminalization of black youth and the negative characterization of black males.
“What we find from research is that these negative stereotypes permeate our thinking in ways we’re just not aware of. And that’s not to blame teachers or slander them… it’s to acknowledge that the playing field is not level.”
Derek Black, professor of law at the University of South Carolina, voices a similar position, saying, “School suspension rates have skyrocketed over the past four decades and the lion’s share of the increase has been on the backs of poor and minority children.
“In most districts across the nation,” explains Black, “African American students are suspended and expelled at anywhere from two to six times the rate of white students. And it is not because they misbehave so much more. Studies consistently show that even when engaging in the exact same type of misbehavior, minorities are more likely to punished, and punished more severely, than white students.”
These types of inequalities are what the Obama-era guidelines sought to remedy as a response to the reality of systemic racism, classism, and ableism, systems of oppression that conservative ideologues attempt to downplay or outright attack in their arguments against the guidelines.
Addressing the conservative claim that investigating the disproportionate punishment of students with disabilities and students of color will turn schools into dens of violence, Curtis L. Decker, executive director of the National Disability Rights Network, wrote recently, “[T]he [Obama-era] guidance … does not inform school districts that they must refrain from suspending students who behave in a dangerous manner toward students, staff, or themselves.” According to Decker, “It does not dictate to states or schools how they should structure their programming. Schools may choose to implement the recommendations found in the guidance or not.”

“What it does do,” argues Decker, “is support schools in their efforts to create and maintain safe and orderly educational environments that allow all our nation’s students to learn and thrive.”
Losen has come to a similar conclusion, saying that in Los Angeles, “teachers were not complaining [about] the change in policy; they were complaining that they weren’t getting enough training in restorative justice. They wanted more of the change, not less of the change.”
Such teachers, according to Losen, are more interested in shifting existing school resources, especially those related to professional development and classroom management.
Many conservative researchers’ refusal to recognize the reality of the unequal playing field for students of color, says Losen, “informs their take on any kind of research,” with the result being that they often rely on cherry-picked evidence to support their claims. The Obama-era guidelines are in fact supported by major research studies, such as a 2016 Yale study that found that black male children are more likely, as early as preschool, to be closely observed by teachers in the expectation they will misbehave.
Such constant and disproportionate monitoring from the beginning of one’s life, Losen says, “can erode trust in the institution if you’re a black male and you start to pick up on the fact that you’re being watched all the time and being profiled all the time.
“Eventually as you become a young adult you’ll become more aware [of the discrimination], and that will breed resentment and mistrust.”
The notion that schools are “spiraling out of control” due to dangerous students too often functions as part of the assumption of black male criminality, a pattern that has been documented in the field of education. Ann Arnett Ferguson, in her 2001 book Bad Boys: Public Schools in the Making of Black Masculinity, refers to this process as “adultification,” whereby “black children’s … transgressions are made to take on a sinister, intentional, fully conscious tone that is stripped of any element of childish naïveté.
“The discourse of childhood as an unfolding developmental stage in the life cycle is displaced in this mode of framing school trouble,” Ferguson writes. In other words, young black students, especially boys, are seen as being on the same level as adult criminals. Ferguson gives as an example a white teacher who—shortly after the 1992 LA riots in response to the acquittal of the four LAPD officers who beat Rodney King—called black students “looters” after they failed to return books she loaned them and described the situation as “just like the looting in Los Angeles.”
History has shown time and time again, from Emmett Till to Tamir Rice, that this adultification of black boys can have fatal consequences. Yet black children—including girls, who, according to a 2017 study by Georgetown Law’s Center on Poverty, are perceived by adults as “less innocent and more adult-like” than white girls starting at age 5—deserve to learn, feel safe and thrive in educational environments where they won’t be punished at higher rates than their white peers due to racist assumptions about their lack of innocence and predilections for criminality.
At the core of conservative attacks on the 2014 guidelines is an attack on the reality of the implicit bias that continues to permeate classrooms across the country, and it must be vociferously challenged at every turn.
In the end, says Losen, “If you know there’s a better way to do something, and you know what you’re doing is fundamentally unsound, it behooves the district to change those policies.
“Anything else is immoral.”

By Shannon Weber/AlterNet

Posted by The NON-Conformist

60 years after Brown v. Board of Education, how racially balanced are America’s public schools?

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’s been more than 60 years since the Supreme Court, in Brown v. Board of Education, ruled “separate but equal” schools unconstitutional. In that time, school populations have diversified, thanks in large part to an increase in the numbers of Hispanic and Asian students attending U.S. schools.

But how closely do America’s traditional public and charter schools look like the communities they serve? And if schools’ student bodies don’t reflect their neighborhoods’ racial makeup, how come?

In “Balancing Act: Schools, Neighborhoods, and Racial Imbalance” (PDF), Grover J. “Russ” Whitehurst, Richard V. Reeves, Nathan Joo, and Pete Rodrigue examine the share of white, black, and Hispanic students at 86,109 public schools—both traditional and charters—across the country and identify schools whose racial imbalance with respect to their surrounding neighborhoods makes them ‘outliers’ within their states.

The analysis finds that though most schools are relatively similar to their surrounding neighborhoods in terms of racial makeup for white, black, and Hispanic students, there’s a lot of variation between school districts and states. Charter schools, in particular, display greater racial imbalances than traditional public schools and are on average 6 percent more black than their neighborhoods. When compared to traditional public schools, charter schools are on average approximately 14 percent more black, 22 percent less white, and 8 percent more Hispanic.

Want to see how your school compares to other schools within your district? Search for it in a new interactive, or read on for more top-level findings.

Most schools look like their neighborhoods

The authors find that many schools are similar, in terms of their racial composition, to the neighborhoods in which they are located. The average U.S. public school (including charter and magnet schools) is 2.6 percent less white, 1.8 percent more black, and 0.9 percent more Hispanic than its surrounding neighborhood.

More schools are “outliers” in terms of black student representation

Though most schools are similar to their surrounding neighborhoods, approximately one-third are outliers. Further, schools that qualify as outliers tend to have either an overrepresentation of black and Hispanic students, or an underrepresentation of white students.

To better understand what it means to be an outlier, it helps to understand more about the methodology. First, the authors match school to neighborhoods like this:

racial-imbalance-methodology

Then they determined whether a school is an outlier for each racial category (white, black, Hispanic) based on the degree to which the racial imbalance between a school and its neighborhood is substantially outside its own state’s pattern of school-neighborhood differences, assuming a normal distribution.

This means there are some schools—in Washington, D.C. or Mississippi, for instance—where the black or white student populations are underrepresented or overrepresented by as much as 30 percent compared to their neighborhoods, but aren’t classified as an outlier. That’s because the threshold for determining outliers varies by state, and some states or districts—like D.C. or Mississippi—have higher thresholds because the state’s range of imbalance scores is wider.

Charters show more racial imbalance, especially in terms of their black student populations. But why?

Charter schools tend to have an overrepresentation of black students compared to their surrounding neighborhoods. In contrast, Hispanics are underrepresented in charter schools. So why is this? The most obvious explanation is that charters allow students to attend schools outside of their neighborhoods. But as the authors argue, it’s a bit more complicated than that.

The authors find no substantial correlation between the quality of statewide charter school laws and racial imbalance. At the same time, they don’t find anything beyond a modest correlational relationship between the degree to which charter schools may act as substitutes to traditional public schools (based off of geographic proximity) and charter school racial imbalance.

Schools in some states show more racial imbalance than others

There is also significant state-level variation in the racial imbalance of schools. In the regions with higher minority concentration, the South (for black Americans) and the West (for Hispanic Americans), the chances of seeing larger racial imbalances in public schools increases.

ES_20171117_Racial_Imbalances_By_State

The authors aren’t able to conclude whether this is because more minority density translates into more opportunity for minority populations to freely form more homogenous schools or because it translates into increased propensity for white-flight from the school system.

School district boundaries divide some communities along racial lines

For some school districts across the country, the way district lines have been drawn masks the extent to which schools don’t look like their surrounding neighborhoods in terms of race.

In Long Island, for example, school districts are quite small (the island is 1,400 square miles and has 125 districts, with the typical district having only one high school). When the authors relax the boundaries of their analysis and ignore district lines (incorporating schools outside of the school district, but within the 2-mile neighborhood radius), they find the racial imbalance in some of these “gerrymandered” school districts grows dramatically.

For more on how gerrymandered districts affect the racial makeup of some U.S. schools, read more on the Social Mobility Memos blog.

Conclusion

School-level data on racial imbalances can be valuable for a number of reasons, especially for local policymakers trying to understand the effect their policies may have on the racial makeup of local schools. Many localities such as Wake County, Boston, Charlotte, and Seattle have ended or substantially curtailed their efforts at K-12 school integration. Since 2000, at least 71 communities across the country have attempted to create new, smaller school districts (47 have been successful). Some fear such action could lead to greater segregation in public schools.

The authors emphasize caution, however, against drawing overly broad conclusions. The fact a school is more black than its surrounding neighborhood may be the result of intentional policy and is not necessarily good or bad. And when it comes to charters, the authors find it’s equally likely that they could lead to a deepening of segregation (in part by allowing for black students and white students to choose schools in which students of their race dominate enrollment) or they could reduce it and lead to greater equity (by loosening the connection between neighborhood and school).

The authors conclude that though recent history has seen a decrease in policy to encourage integration, it’s still possible to increase school diversity.

“The variation in the racial composition of schools across different districts shows that it is possible to increase integration. But it is important to be aware that this will be challenging given such high levels (still) of residential racial segregation, area based attendance policies, and a natural preference of many parents to send their children to a nearby school. Schools make the degree of residential segregation highly visible. School segregation is a symptom of residential segregation; which lies outside the scope of this paper.”

Read the full paper to learn more (PDF).

By Grover J. “Russ” Whitehurst, Richard V. Reeves, Nathan Joo, and Edward Rodrigue

Posted by The NON-Conformist

DeVos Appoints Former Governor Engler as Chair of NAEP Governing Board

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Betsy DeVos apointed her friend and ally in the school choice movement, former Governor of Michigan John Engler, as chair of the National Assessment Governing Board, which administers the National Assessment of Educational Progress.

Engler is a charter member of the “schools-are-failing” club. He recently retired as president of the Business Roundtable, an association representing some of the nation’s leading businesses, and before that was head of the National Association of Manufacturers.

Expect every release of NAEP scores to be a dire warning about how terrible our public schools are, how we are no longer globally competitive, and why we need drastic steps (school choice?) to close the achievement gaps.

via DeVos Appoints Former Governor Engler as Chair of NAEP Governing Board — Diane Ravitch’s blog

Posted by Libergirl

Opinion: UNC Center for Civil Rights vote diminishes university’s history

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The UNC Board of Governors really deserves a more accurate name. One that fits is the UNC Board of Political Meddlers.

Certainly that new title was earned Tuesday when a committee of the board voted 5-1, with one abstention, to strip the UNC Center for Civil Rights of its ability to file lawsuits on behalf of its clients, primarily low-income people. The center’s work focuses on education, housing and community development, economic justice and voting rights. The full board is likely to vote on the issue at its September meeting. It is expected to approve the ban on lawsuits by the center or any other UNC academic center.

The committee vote represents not just an attack on the center, but a rejection of the founding principles of the university itself. The University of North Carolina was created to give the public the power of knowledge, not only with regard to its students, but also with regard to those whom its students, faculty and graduates would assist. This vote seeks to cut that vital service.

Steve Long, a 56-year-old Raleigh tax attorney and member of the UNC Board of Governors, is the driving force behind the ban. He says, “The university should not be, in my opinion, hiring full-time lawyers to sue anybody.”

Posted by Libergirl

 

 

 

Multiracial adolescents show no test score gap with whites

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The stark, stubborn race gaps in educational achievement undermine the American promise of equal opportunity. In particular, the divide between the test scores of white and black students reflects and reinforces unequal life chances.

MULTIRACIAL STUDENTS: A NEGLECTED RESEARCH SUBJECT

But not all students fall into single racial category. As Bill Frey shows in his book Diversity Explosion, there has been a rapid increase in the numbers of multiracial couples and children. In 1980, only 3.2 percent of U.S. marriages were between races; by 2010, that number had grown to 8.4 percent, including 15 percent of new marriages in 2015, according to Frey. A sizable and increasing share of U.S. children will think of themselves as multiracial over the next several decades.

Despite the growing number of multiracial students, almost no attention has been given to their educational outcomes. But gaining a better understanding of how multiracial students perform may cast useful light on the causes of race gaps more generally. My analysis shows that:

  1. Students of multiracial identity are from families with lower socioeconomic status than whites;
  2. They attend schools that are far more integrated with whites and Asians compared to blacks, Hispanics, American Indians, and Pacific Islanders;
  3. Multiracial students have the same average test scores as whites on math, science, and writing;
  4. For reading tests, multiracial students outperform other groups, including Asians; and
  5. These results contradict the controversial hypothesis that between group differences in IQ result from genetic differences between races.

These findings suggest that the race gaps in academic achievement in the United States are the result of inequality, especially in terms of access to educational opportunities, and therefore could be closed under fairer political, social, and economic arrangements.

MULTIRACIAL STUDENTS ARE MORE LIKELY TO COME FROM POORER FAMILIES THAN SINGLE RACE STUDENTS

Compared to mothers and parents of single-race non-Hispanic children, the mothers of multiracial non-Hispanic children are less likely to have a college degree, less likely to be married, take-in lower family incomes and were more likely to have been teenagers when they gave birth to their multiracial child. The percentage of children with at least one parent with a bachelor’s degree is lower. Fathers are also less likely to be present.

Not surprisingly, the family social status of multiracial children tends to fall somewhere in between that of single race non-Hispanic whites and blacks on each of these measures. I limit the analysis to non-Hispanics for the simple reason that Hispanic test score data are reported separately from every other group—including multiracial children, since Hispanic is considered an ethnicity rather than a racial group.

Table 1. Family characteristics of non-Hispanic multiracial and non-Hispanic single-race students aged 15 to 18 who live with at least one parent
Parents of white children Parents of black children Parents of multiracial children Parents of single-race children Difference mixed-race & single race
Median family income $118,107 $58,686 $72,800 $80,700 -$7,900**
Mother is single 24.2% 59.0% 38.6% 29.8% 8.8%**
Mother was teenager during pregnancy 4.7% 12.7% 7.5% 6.0% 1.5%**
Maternal bachelor’s degree attainment rate 40.8% 23.3% 35.4% 38.0% -2.6%**
At least one parent in household has a bachelor’s degree 49.3% 26.4% 43.2% 45.6% -2.4%**
No father in household 18.0% 54.4% 31.9% 24.1% 7.8%**
Source: Analysis of IPUMS-USA, 2015 American Community Survey. Notes: ** indicates significant at 99% confidence intervals. Sample is restricted to non-Hispanic population because test score data groups all Hispanic children together regardless of race and does not count them as multiracial if they identify as Hispanic. Sample is also restricted to children who are currently enrolled, live with at least one parent and are between the ages of 15 and 18 and drops a small number of observations in which the likely parent was identified as less than 25 years old (implying 7 to 10 at birth of child). Teen mom identified if mother is less than or equal to 35 years old, implying age 16 to 19 at pregnancy.

Nearly half (46 percent) of multiracial students aged 15 to 18 report having black ancestry, and black-white combinations are the most frequent inter-racial origin of multiracial children in this age group. Still, white combinations with other races are also common, and 9 percent of multiracial students report having no white ancestry. I estimate that the average U.S. multiracial child 15 to 18 years old is roughly 45 percent white, 23 percent black, and 18 percent Asian, with further ancestral contributions from American Indians or Pacific Islanders. These patterns do not play out evenly across mothers and fathers. Multiracial children are about twice as likely to have a black father as they are to have a black mother, whereas Asian women are much more likely to parent multiracial children compared to Asian men. White women are only slightly more likely to parent a multiracial child compared to white men.

Table 2. The most prevalent ancestral groups for multiracial students aged 15 to 18
Estimated share of ancestry
White 45%
Black 23%
Asian 18%
American Indian or Alaskan Native 12%
Pacific Islander 3%
Source: Analysis of IPUMS-USA, 2015 American Community Survey. Sample is restricted to non-Hispanic population because test score data groups all Hispanic children together regardless of race and does not count them as multiracial if they identify as Hispanic. Sample is also restricted to children who are currently enrolled, live with at least one parent and are between the ages of 15 and 18. Shares are calculated by dividing mentions of each of five possible racial groups by the total number of racial groups indicated by the individual. The “other” racial group is excluded from the numerator and denominator. I also estimated these contributions using parental data, but that is limited to cases where both mothers and fathers were surveyed by the census. In such cases, blacks remain the second largest ancestral group (with 16 percent), but the contribution from non-Chinese or Japanese Asian and pacific Islanders becomes larger, roughly 10.5 percent.

MULTIRACIAL CHILDREN ATTEND HIGHLY INTEGRATED INTO SCHOOLS WITH WHITES AND ASIANS

What kind of schools do multiracial students attend? The short answer is: those with high proportions of white or Asian students. At the average public high school attended by a multiracial student in the 2014-2015 school year, 60 percent of the students are white or Asian, which is comparable to the national share of white and Asian students of 57 percent. By contrast, at the average high school attended by black students only 33 percent of students are white or Asian and 32 percent for Hispanic students. American Indians are also segregated from whites and Asians, with only 44 percent of their classmates coming from those groups on average.

Table 3. Degree of racial isolation and integration in U.S. public high schools by student race and Hispanic ethnicity, 2014-2015
Average share of students at school attended Share of total U.S. public school student population Share of students who are white or Asian
Multiracial 5.1% 2.6% 59.9%
Pacific Islander 17.4% 0.4% 47.2%
Asian 20.6% 4.9% 59.9%
American Indian 29.9% 1.1% 44.1%
Black 46.2% 15.7% 32.8%
Hispanic 52.3% 23.3% 32.4%
White 71.5% 52.1% 75.2%
Source: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Elementary and Secondary Information System, 2014-2015 school year; universe of schools restricted to those with at least one 12th grade student, to proxy for high schools.

MULTIRACIAL CHILDREN ARE TESTING AS WELL AS WHITES

As of 2015, there is no test score gap between white and multiracial high school students; an important fact that, to my knowledge, has never been documented. My analysis is of data for 12th grade students from the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP). This is the largest nationally representative sample of cognitive performance in the United States, with approximately, 47,000 students (1.5 percent of all students) in public and private schools taking the exam. Of test-takers, about 2 percent(roughly 1000 students) are multiracial.[1]

There is no statistically significant difference between whites and multiracial students on tests in science, math, and writing. For reading, multiracial students slightly outperformed both white and Asian students, becoming the highest-performing racial or ethnic group with reported data by a small but statistically significant margin:

CCF_20170717_Rothwell_1

What’s more, my estimates suggest that multiracial students outperform the combined scores for single-race students on all subjects, despite coming from less advantaged families. Since the NAEP Data Explorer does not report precise sample sizes, these estimates are only rough and rely on a weighted average that applies demographic distributions from other Department of Education data sources—namely public high school students, where multiracial students comprised 2.6 percent of the total population.

A limitation of the analysis of socioeconomic status is that the data on family characteristics reported in Table 1 are from the American Community Survey, while the test score data are from the Department of Education’s NAEP. Both are meant to be representative of the U.S. population, but sampling issues may over- or under-state the true population values for test scores or socio-economic status.

As a check on these sampling issues, I compared the multiracial versus white test score gap from the NAEP to test score gaps from the 2016 California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress, which was taken by approximately 3.2 million public school students. From grades 3 to 11, mean test score gaps between multiracial and white students on both language and math were less than 0.1 standard deviations (and negative for 5th and 6th grade language), which I estimate to be well within the margin of error.[2] Consistent with the Census data, multiracial students are also 6 to 9 percentage points more likely to be classified by the state of California as “economically disadvantaged,” meaning their parents are either poor, migrants, or lack a high school diploma, when compared to white students.

A REVIVAL OF HEREDITARIAN THEORY IN THE TRUMP ERA

A group of academic psychologists and behavior genetics researchers subscribe to the view that racial differences in social status and cognitive performance have a substantial genetic component, in addition to environmental factors. Charles Murray’s infamous book with Richard Hernstein, The Bell Curve, popularized this view, known as hereditarian theory in the psychology literature.

There has never been any direct evidence in support of the idea that racial differences in cognitive performance are the result of genetic differences. At the individual level, twin studies suggest that genetics has some role to play in cognitive performance (40 percent is the mean estimate for hereditability across studies of U.S. residents), but the methodology of extracting hereditability estimates from twin studies suffers from many problems that likely inflate this number. Even with decades of research on twins, very little is actually known about the precise mechanisms through which genetic factors influence educational attainment and cognitive performance, or to what extent. Thus far, molecular biologists have been able to explain only 3.2 percent of variation in educational attainment and cognitive performance with genomic data, even in large sample sizes, though it is believed this figure will increase to as much as 20 percent as samples get larger.

At the group level, racial categories based on continental ancestral origins seem to have little if any genetic relevance. The hereditarians that Hernstein and Murray referenced never attempted to produce a coherent theory for group differences that are consistent with what is known about human evolution and population genetics. More recently, Nicholas Wade, a science journalist, has taken a stab at developing such a theory, but his ideas were not well received by population genetics and scholars of human evolution.

Nonetheless, the idea that group differences in themselves provide indirect evidence for genetic differences seems to retain popular support around the world, particularly among the so-called “alt-right.” It is not clear how one could reconcile theories of racial differences in genes for intelligence with the findings here that multiracial children score no lower than groups who are supposed to be genetically advantaged, even though they are born into families with lower socio-economic status—which hereditiarians argue is itself indicative of lower IQ.

RACE AND EDUCATION: MULTIRACIAL STUDENTS POINT THE WAY FORWARD

In the recent past of the Jim Crow era, there were few multiracial children, and so group outcomes were hard to study. But multiracial Americans are rising in numbers and growing in prominence: producing, in Barack Obama, our 44th President, to give one example. The academic success of multiracial students bodes well for the future, demonstrating how the integration of schools and of broader society can eliminate achievement gaps between groups of children, regardless of their race, or indeed their races.

By Jonathan Rothwell/Brookings

Posted by The NON-Conformist

 

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