Patterico's Pontifications

5/6/2014

Confirming What A Lot Of Us Have Long Believed

Filed under: General — Dana @ 10:09 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Guess what? Hard work, high expectations and commitment pay off.

We find that the Asian-American educational advantage over whites is attributable mainly to Asian students exerting greater academic effort and not to advantages in tested cognitive abilities or socio-demographics.

Also, no matter their economic background or the educational levels of their families, Asian American students typically surpass their white counterparts by the time they reach fifth grade.

“What accounts for Asians’ greater academic effort than whites?” asked study authors Amy Hsin of Queens College in New York and Yu Xie of the University of Michigan.

“Asian and Asian American youth are harder working because of cultural beliefs that emphasize the strong connection between effort and achievement,” the authors wrote. Studies show that Asian and Asian American students tend to view cognitive abilities as qualities that can be developed through effort, whereas white Americans tend to view cognitive abilities as qualities that are inborn.”

It appears that the standard historical explanations are now being challenged as well,

Previous explanations for this phenomenon have included family socio-demographic characteristics, natural cognitive skills and academic effort.

The authors wrote that family wealth was not a factor in performance.

Similarly, there was no convincing evidence that the reason was genetic.

The answer, the authors wrote, appeared to be a matter of motivation and work ethic.

“Qualities such as attentiveness, self-control, motivation and persistence may be as important as cognitive abilities in positively affecting academic performance,” the authors wrote. “Asian American parents may engage in parenting practices that better cultivate these qualities that, in turn, enable their children’s academic success.”

Here’s a wild idea: If this success is not just a possibility, but a reality for Asian American families, surely it can become a reality for any family willing to take ownership of parental responsibilities, put the time in and do the required hard work – no matter their ethnicity, their level of income, or their station in life. Equal opportunity success!

–Dana

Her ‘Special Memory’

Filed under: General — Dana @ 8:05 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Twenty-five year old Emily Letts is an abortion counselor in New Jersey. She discovered she was pregnant and opted to have an abortion. Untold numbers of abortions happen every day in this country, but what makes Emily’s story particularly horrifying is that she decided to have her abortion filmed for a video competition through Abortion Care Network’s Stigma Busting video competition (which she won). The film is not graphic and presents the abortion procedure as far less stressful than having a cavity filled.

I’ll let Emily Letts explain her motives,

I found out I was pregnant in November. I had been working at the clinic for about a year. It was my first pregnancy, and, full disclosure, I hadn’t been using any kind of birth control, which is crazy, I know. I’m a sex educator, and I love talking about birth control. Before this experience, hormonal birth control scared me because of complications I’d heard about from friends — gaining weight, depression, etc. So I tracked my ovulation cycle, and I didn’t have any long-term partners. I thought I was OK. But, you know, things happen. I wound up pregnant.

Once I caught my breath, I knew immediately I was going to have an abortion.

At first I was just going to write a blog. Then my administrator introduced me to a woman on YouTube who goes by Angie AntiTheist. She filmed herself having a medical abortion — after taking the pill RU486 — to show everyone that she was fine, that it’s not scary, it doesn’t hurt, and that she was confident in her decision to do it.

Everyone at the clinic was really supportive of filming it. At first they wanted to sit down and talk about the real consequences of this. There are a lot of politics involved. We knew we could have hundreds of protesters at our door; we could have bomb threats. Working at an abortion clinic, every once in awhile it feels like you’re working in a war zone.

But I said, “Bring it,” and they were on board.

I knew the cameras were in the room during the procedure, but I forgot about them almost immediately. I was focused on staying positive and feeling the love from everyone in the room. I am so lucky that I knew everyone involved, and I was so supported. I remember breathing and humming through it like I was giving birth. I know that sounds weird, but to me, this was as birth-like as it could be. It will always be a special memory for me. I still have my sonogram, and if my apartment were to catch fire, it would be the first thing I’d grab.

This is what we are, this is what we have become: The gift of life reduced to nothing more than a crass opportunity to take an obscene selfie during a birth-like moment – a moment that is anything but “birth-like”.

Emily Letts: So young, so dumb, so clueless, and so unable to understand – yet – that more than one soul died that day in the abortion clinic.

I’ll say it again: This is what we are, this is what we have become.

–Dana

Wait Until You See What the L.A. Times Thinks “Multiple Credible Sources” Are

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:46 am

Let’s hear from the L.A. Times:

The Rialto Unified School District has decided not to ask its eighth-grade students to argue whether the Holocaust happened after the assignment came under fire.

The decision to revise the assignment came Monday after it drew criticism from the Anti-Defamation League and the Simon Wiesenthal Center, which called it “grotesque” in a statement issued that same day.

Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Los Angeles-based center, said the district’s “assignment mistakenly provides moral equivalency between history and bigotry.”

School administrators planned to “assure that any references to the Holocaust ‘not occurring’ would be stricken from any research assignment,” KTLA-TV reported, citing a district statement.

Students were asked to research and write an argumentative essay about whether the Holocaust actually occurred or if it was “merely a political scheme created to influence public emotion and gain wealth.”

They were required to analyze information from multiple, credible sources.

That is rich. Wait until you read, in a story from local news station KTLA, what those “multiple, credible sources” are.

The 18-page assignment instructions included three sources that students were told to use, including one that stated gassings in concentration camps were a “hoax” and that no evidence has shown Jews died in gas chambers.

“With all this money at stake for Israel, it is easy to comprehend why this Holocaust hoax is so secretly guarded,” states the source, which is a attributed to a webpage on biblebelievers.org.au. “In whatever way you can, please help shatter this profitable myth. It is time we stop sacrificing America’s welfare for the sake of Israel and spend our hard-earned dollars on Americans.”

The other sources were from the websites history.com and about.com.

Ladies and gentlemen, I think we just discovered the root of the journalistic problem at the Los Angeles Times. When they base one of their stories on “multiple credible sources” they mean a collection of crackpots and random generalist Internet sites, including ones that rely one sites editable by anyone.

As Ed Morrissey aptly notes: “Really? Why not add Wikipedia in there, too? If the school wanted to teach critical thinking, why not start by teaching students to look for primary sources?”

Unlike many, I have mixed feelings about this assignment. In an ideal world of school competition, no subject should be off-limits for critical thinking — and, done correctly, this could be a smashing assignment. You get students to look at these sites, write their essays, and then hit them over the head with the facts. As Instapundit notes:

[W]hen then-Gen. Eisenhower liberated Europe from the Nazis, he very deliberately ordered their concentration camps to be filmed and otherwise thoroughly documented, lest such staggering atrocities become attributed to “propaganda.”

Yup. So what you do is, you let the kids do their research and write their papers. Then you tell them in no uncertain terms that this happened. That it was well documented. That the documentation was done for a reason: because we knew there would always be crackpots like that Internet page we showed you.

It would teach kids about the dangers of relying on random bullshit from the Internet. And that is an absolutely critical skill these days. One that L.A. Times reporters have not absorbed.

Here’s the problem. In a world where we get to choose our children’s schools, I could get behind an assignment like that, because I could have control over whether it’s done right — and if it’s not, I can go to the competition.

But I don’t trust government-run schools, with their allegiance to Common Core and all the rest, to do it right. And this story shows why.


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