Patterico's Pontifications

3/14/2021

Constitutional Vanguard: The Georgetown Law Professor Race Kerfuffle

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 1:07 pm



Today’s missive is about 2,600 words on the controversy over the Georgetown law professors who discussed, in what they thought was a private conversation, their “angst” at the fact that a disproportionate number of black students kept ending up at the bottom of their grading curves. You can imagine what happened next.

A teaser:

Namely, institutions of higher learning, especially prestigious ones like Georgetown, admit some black applicants with academic credentials that would be insufficient for admission if the candidate were not a racial minority. This is not really a debatable point. Given that we know that happens, it is really so surprising that these professors find some level of disparity in which races have the toughest time with their courses? You can’t have racial preferences in the admissions process — and the Georgetown admissions process, like that of most institutions of higher learning, does indeed employ racial preferences — and not have that race-conscious decisionmaking affect students’ academic achievement.

As Thomas Sowell has convincingly explained, preferential policies create academic failure.

This is the sort of topic I often reserved for paid members, in part because of the apparent danger of writing publicly about such things. I put it out there to all and sundry today in the hopes that some of you will take the leap and subscribe as paid members. I have also recorded another podcast, a sort of “Ask Me Anything” episode, that I may (may!) release to the general public on Tuesday, as another example of what paid members get on a regular basis.

If you have not joined the ranks of the elite, you can easily accomplish it by clicking here.

UPDATE: Link fixed. Thanks to Nic.

46 Responses to “Constitutional Vanguard: The Georgetown Law Professor Race Kerfuffle”

  1. Fun to get back to longer form writing.

    Patterico (e349ce)

  2. (psst, your link does not link)

    Nic (896fdf)

  3. Great article. Sad one, as are they all as lives are destroyed.

    I have to mention in re mismatch an article by Caitlin Flanagan about her time as a teacher at a very posh high school. It seems obvious to me, as it did to her, that kids who are intelligent, AA kids, who go to less rigorous high schools are years behind the kids who do from day one at Harvard. And this compounds the problems in mismatch. A kid who went to Dalton is at least two years ahead of the kid who went to Santa Ana H.S. because of its advanced work. So the mismatch is not intelligence but preparation. She was in favor of mentoring prospective students but her school said no. And continue to do so. https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2021/04/private-schools-are-indefensible/618078/

    patricia (ab3094)

  4. Yes, that link is broken — some text there instead of a URL in the href.

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  5. In the meantime, Widener University in Chester, Pennsylvania, has apologized for the private remarks of two nursing professors. At least as far as I can tell from The Philadelphia Inquirer article, there were no racially based comments made, but simply general assessments of their students.

    In the video, two members of the nursing faculty at Widener University are discussing their students’ academic progress in blunt terms.

    “They’re going to bomb this next test,” one said to the other, who responds, “I think so, too.”

    “I don’t care though. Let ‘em fail.” the first one said.

    The conversation was meant to be private, according to the university, but the professors mistakenly shared it with their nursing class, causing conversation on social media accounts and outrage among some students, parents and alumni in the Widener community. . . . .

    “They do not know anatomy at all,” Francis says on the video, expressing concern that students would “move on” and not “represent the school well.” Marquis said she got so mad at students last year before the pandemic hit that she decided to make her “heart failure” questions harder.

    I’m just an evil reich-wing conservative, but it seems to me that when a nursing professor assesses that her students “do not know anatomy at all,” that’s not being mean and cruel and vicious, but a real assessment on something nurses are supposed to know. That statement isn’t one for which the University should apologize, but one which should concern the school about how poorly the students are doing.

    If a waitress messes up an order, a customer might not get the food he wanted. If an accountant makes a mistake, the books won’t balance. But if a registered nurse makes a mistake, a patient can die! Depending upon specialty, a nurse has to be able to accurately administer chemotherapy, which is basically the administration of poison into the body in a dose designed to kill cancer cells but not quite kill the patient. A nurse has to be able to accurately assess a patient. A nurse has to be able to read orders and spot errors that a tired doctor might have made.

    But now, the most important educational concern is that the school not hurt someone’s precious little feelings. That’s far more important than actually educating students, and granting degrees only to those who have learned the material.

    The Dana in Kentucky (fa23a0)

  6. I got mine in my email, because I subscribe, so there.

    Kevin M2 hr ago
    So, both professors were adjuncts, without tenure. I wonder how this would play out with tenured faculty.

    It never would have had. Tenured or tenure-track, i.e. “career educators”, would never had had this conversation in the first place. They would have already known all the things they were discussing, and known better than to discuss them. They would not have even whispered it into a hole in the ground for fear the river reeds would repeat it when shaken by the wind.

    nk (1d9030)

  7. Agree with #3. It’s sad as neither professor seems racist as that term would have been understood even 10 years ago. It’s also sad as GU law students will no longer get the benefit of the skills and experience of the two professors who, it seems clear, wanted all their students to do well.

    Prescribing what needs to happen for the academic achievement of any racial or ethnic group of students to improve is way beyond me, but pretending there is no problem is not helpful. Talk about shooting the messenger!

    However, maybe there’s something useful from another item in the news this weekend, the NY Times story about how the Army is under pressure to revise its physical fitness standards because its new assessment test, which sets the same standards for males and females, has resulted in much higher failure rates for women than men. One of the soldiers quoted in the story is a woman, Capt. Griem, who was of the first two females ever to graduate from the Army Ranger school. She does not favor changing the standards and pointed out in a related piece that she had failed to meet some of the Ranger standards when she first tried, but kept trying and was finally able to excel. I’m not articulating this very well, but perhaps there’s a comparable way for “mismatched” minority students at these upper-tier institutions who may fail at first to be allowed to keep trying (without ruinous financial penalties or being stigmatized as failures) even if that means they don’t complete the program in the usual three years or whatever it is supposed to be. Whatever the solution is, my guess is it won’t come either from leftist ideologues complaining about systemic racism or rightist ideologues yapping about indoctrinated coddled snowflakes.

    RL formerly in Glendale (fda61c)

  8. Our Windy City barrister wrote:

    So, both professors were adjuncts, without tenure. I wonder how this would play out with tenured faculty.

    It never would have had. Tenured or tenure-track, i.e. “career educators”, would never had had this conversation in the first place. They would have already known all the things they were discussing, and known better than to discuss them. They would not have even whispered it into a hole in the ground for fear the river reeds would repeat it when shaken by the wind.

    Well, yeah, you’d think that, but never underestimate what two colleagues might say to each other when they think they are alone.

    By having this conversation electronically, they were whispering it into holes in the ground, and the wind-blown river reeds did whisper it. But they could have been recorded while speaking in person, at a restaurant table, by someone looking to catch someone else saying the wrong thing.

    The Dana in Kentucky (fa23a0)

  9. (psst, your link does not link)

    Thank you. Fixed.

    Patterico (e349ce)

  10. On the elephant in the room

    Namely, institutions of higher learning, especially prestigious ones like Georgetown, admit some black applicants with academic credentials that would be insufficient for admission if the candidate were not a racial minority.
    ….
    As Thomas Sowell has convincingly explained, preferential policies create academic failure.

    Academic success in only important to academics.

    Professional success is up to the individual after he’s put the paper chase behind him. If those kids graduate, pass the bar exam, hang up their shingle, and make a ton of money, it won’t matter where they ranked in relation to Trump’s daughter.

    But they have to get the paper first. And Georgetown is giving them the chance to. As best as I remember, at my law school graduation, we were called up for our diplomas alphabetically and not by class rank.

    So, like, you know, I’m okay with that.

    nk (1d9030)

  11. There might have been context and the coworker might have handled it better, but it looks to me like the prof was looking at her demographics and being concerned about it. What do they expect a professor to do about an issue they have noticed if they can’t consult with a colleague about it? I’m going to say, we do talk about demographics and why some results have happened they way they’ve happened. The prof doesn’t appear to have been overly diplomatic about it, but I can’t say why they thought her colleague should’ve reported her. What was he supposed to say? “Hey, Prof Sellers was concerned she might have unconscious bias and planned to keep an eye on that. I just wanted you to know I’m concerned?” They’d be laughed out of the department chair’s office. They are probably dealing with that one prof who keeps saying the N word at parties, drunk-in-class Dr. JOhnson, and Dr. B who everyone is pretty sure that gets his students to sleep with him for As. I’d bet that a prof trying to fix her own demographics problems (even one who is complaining about it) is NOT a high priority.

    @Dana@6 and @nk@7 Sometimes when educators are in a frustrated mood or have had a bad day with students, they absolutely sometimes say negative or frustrated things about their students (or their students parents) to their colleagues. Like anyone else, teachers and other educators sometimes have bad days and need to talk about things, and occasionally they aren’t diplomatic about it. It isn’t a new thing. It also isn’t a new thing that students and parents are likely to become angry if they happen to hear those conversations where the gloves have come off. I don’t exist on the internet under my name. I never will. And if, by chance or I suddenly went crazy, Istarted using my name, everything I put out there would be more processed than velveta cheese product.

    Nic (896fdf)

  12. Honestly, this just reinforces my opinion that colleges and universities actually “teach” very little; that they only provide the structure within which the students teach themselves; that the relative ranking of the schools themselves depends almost entirely on the selectivity of their admissions process and not on the quality of the instruction and resources they provide; and that apprenticeships and novitiates would better serve “higher education”, in just about every discipline, from the hard sciences to Middle English literature.

    I mean, really, you got these professors and they dole out the same bowlful of educational gruel to every student and they think they’ve done their job. Well, no, professor, it doesn’t really work that way, and you know that it doesn’t because you see it for yourself, some of your students will need a little extra help to learn the things that you are ostensibly trying to teach them, so why don’t you provide it, instead of crocodile tears that some are not learning as well as others?

    nk (1d9030)

  13. Well, no, professor, it doesn’t really work that way, and you know that it doesn’t because you see it for yourself, some of your students will need a little extra help to learn the things that you are ostensibly trying to teach them, so why don’t you provide it, instead of crocodile tears that some are not learning as well as others?

    I can confidently say that in 20 years, I have never refused help to a student who asked for it.

    The difficulty is getting them to ask.

    Dave (1bb933)

  14. Trying to make up for past discrimination is difficult. see the movies hidden figures among others like grease lighting about not giving wendell scott the race car trophy when he won. Liberals try to make up for the past ;but many times fail as they lack the ruthlessness of radical left to achieve their goals. I was watch lincoln on cnn and he kept trying halfway solutions that failed. While the radical abolitionists kept saying free the slaves and punish the insurrectionists.

    asset (691195)

  15. And I confidently believe you, Dave, but indifference to individual help has been institutionalized in some places because

    if academic counseling [is] available to all students, those at the top of the class, who are always hungry for any source of an edge, might monopolize the time of the academic support faculty at the expense of the more evasive students at the bottom of the class who are more in need of such counseling. [Yeah, right! — ed]
    https://ecollections.law.fiu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi? referer=https://www.google.com/&httpsredir=1&article=1221&context=faculty_publications

    nk (1d9030)

  16. Link fixed.

    nk (1d9030)

  17. Higher education has become a profit-making machine, like most other businesses. Expecting professors to tailor their material to different learning levels of their students is ludicrous. They have side hustles to attend to and their institutions don’t care as long as they get students willing to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for their sheepskin.

    Hoi Polloi (093fb9)

  18. I think Sellers is guilty of having an incomplete conversation and allowing other individuals to infer her conclusions. Certainly she could be implying that blacks are just less intelligent or inherently lazy as a group, but in this day and age, I think it’s a low probability that she means this. I rather think she is getting at mismatch and affirmative action bringing in less-qualified students who then struggle to compete. Now, for some, this is still a grievous sin that requires ex-communication because, it is reasoned, how else do elite institutions achieve critical mass and an environment where diversity can flourish without aggressively reaching out to under-represented communities? This can then quickly be turned around as to why Sellers…fairly or unfairly…isn’t doing more to help those low-performing students do better? Is it because of their race? It really becomes an unwinnable situation where Sellers must prove the unprovable fact that she is not a racist or that her unconscious biases aren’t contributing to her observations.

    Part of the problem is that we can’t even honestly talk about mismatch and handicapping some minority students in order to create the appearance of a critical mass. It was probably not smart of Sellers bringing it up in a forum where the discussion could not be thoroughly examined in good faith….and where there was any possibility of comments getting leaked out of context. Sellers comments seem to be a bit out of exasperation and ones that she would desperately like to recall. I think discussions about the admissions process are of course reasonable….but in this day and age, I sense that with the pressure to achieve diversity, there is more interest in finding ways to assist those that might not be as well prepared as there is in excluding them (tutoring, lightening the load to graduate a bit later, prep-classes, etc.). Really, this isn’t as much about race as it is about first-generation college students understanding the habits and experiences required to be successful. If we think about it in those terms, race becomes quite secondary.

    AJ_Liberty (a4ff25)

  19. If those kids graduate, pass the bar exam, hang up their shingle, and make a ton of money, it won’t matter where they ranked in relation to Trump’s daughter.

    Success in various occupations may not track with academic grades much at all, and who ends up richer depends on many factors apart from who got the best grades in school, or even who works the hardest. Assertive people and risk-takers, e.g., may have been disinclined to put in a lot of effort in class. But if one person consistently gets top grades in math class while another struggles to get a C, there is likely to be a difference in how the two perform as engineers or doctors.

    Academic grades don’t measure everything, but they do measure something.

    Radegunda (f4d5c0)

  20. I think Sellers is guilty of having an incomplete conversation and allowing other individuals to infer her conclusions. Certainly she could be implying that blacks are just less intelligent or inherently lazy as a group, but in this day and age, I think it’s a low probability that she means this. I rather think she is getting at mismatch and affirmative action bringing in less-qualified students who then struggle to compete. Now, for some, this is still a grievous sin that requires ex-communication because, it is reasoned, how else do elite institutions achieve critical mass and an environment where diversity can flourish without aggressively reaching out to under-represented communities? This can then quickly be turned around as to why Sellers…fairly or unfairly…isn’t doing more to help those low-performing students do better? Is it because of their race? It really becomes an unwinnable situation where Sellers must prove the unprovable fact that she is not a racist or that her unconscious biases aren’t contributing to her observations.

    What I thought she was saying was that she and the listener both knew the black kids weren’t as competent as the white kids. There are ways to say that which are clearly offensive and ways to say that which are completely sterile. I think she came across as more offensive then sterile. In this day and age that will be exaggerated, likely to her detriment well beyond what’s likely appropriate.

    Time123 (52fb0e)

  21. “both knew the black kids weren’t as competent as the white kids”

    But it leaves open the question “why”? Do they not work as hard? Are they not as quick? Were they not as well prepared for they need to do in this course? Is it because of their race? It also begs the question of whether they need more tutoring and whether those professors are willing to do that….and if not, why not. Again, it’s a touchy issue that academics should be able to discuss without sanction…but this is the worst-case situation….in a cancel culture.

    AJ_Liberty (a4ff25)

  22. “both knew the black kids weren’t as competent as the white kids”

    But it leaves open the question “why”? Do they not work as hard? Are they not as quick? Were they not as well prepared for they need to do in this course? Is it because of their race? It also begs the question of whether they need more tutoring and whether those professors are willing to do that….and if not, why not. Again, it’s a touchy issue that academics should be able to discuss without sanction…but this is the worst-case situation….in a cancel culture.

    AJ_Liberty (a4ff25) — 3/15/2021 @ 8:48 am

    This video isn’t complete so we didn’t get to see them get into that. It’s an important question. But as patterico pointed out in the original post the way things are said can matter.

    Time123 (80b471)

  23. @16:

    That is the kind of nonsensical argument that seems to pervade these issues. Those that strive to learn are monopolizing instructor’s time, those that don’t are victims of neglect.

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  24. BTW, if these two had been talking about Appalachian whites, with the same elitist vibes, would it be less objectionable?

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  25. BTW, if these two had been talking about Appalachian whites, with the same elitist vibes, would it be less objectionable?

    Kevin M (ab1c11) — 3/15/2021 @ 9:06 am

    No. But it would have changed the discussion.

    The people defending them would be attacking them as liberal elite.
    The people attacking them would likely not care at all.

    Time123 (80b471)

  26. AJ_Liberty (a4ff25) — 3/15/2021 @ 8:12 am

    I rather think she is getting at mismatch and affirmative action bringing in less-qualified students who then struggle to compete.

    Thomas Sowell I think said that and was cited or the idea was cited by Justice Scaiia.

    The higher prestige schools don’t teach. The historically black colleges actually teach.

    Of course liberals are in denial about differences between students, especially when carried over statistical groups, but of course it is true that, if some knowledge is assumed that isn’t there, the student is soon not going to understand anything at all.

    They could still benefit from the experience especially if they were allowed to drop back without financial or other penalty because then they’d have an idea of what they need to know.

    I know someone who attended one school of nursing where the only thing she got out of it was the videos and then went to another school where she graduated from.

    And professors should not be penalized for not being good philosophers especially when speaking informally.

    Sammy Finkelman (e5fb44)

  27. Nic wrote:

    And if, by chance or I suddenly went crazy, Istarted using my name, everything I put out there would be more processed than velveta cheese product.

    Objection! Assumes facts not in evidence, namely that Velveeta is actually a “cheese product.”

    Not that it matters: I think all cheese is vile.

    The Dana in Kentucky (fa23a0)

  28. Nic wrote:

    And if, by chance or I suddenly went crazy, Istarted using my name, everything I put out there would be more processed than velveta cheese product.

    Objection! Assumes facts not in evidence, namely that Velveeta is actually a “cheese product.”

    Not that it matters: I think all cheese is vile.

    The Dana in Kentucky (fa23a0) — 3/15/2021 @ 12:26 pm

    How can you both so wrong and soooo right in the same comment.

    Cheese is wonderful, Velveeta is not cheese.

    Time123 (52fb0e)

  29. Mr Liberty wrote:

    “both knew the black kids weren’t as competent as the white kids”

    But it leaves open the question “why”? Do they not work as hard? Are they not as quick? Were they not as well prepared for they need to do in this course? Is it because of their race? It also begs the question of whether they need more tutoring and whether those professors are willing to do that….and if not, why not. Again, it’s a touchy issue that academics should be able to discuss without sanction…but this is the worst-case situation….in a cancel culture.

    Surely you realize that you cannot ask such questions. Black students do not do as well because of the legacy of slavery and the racism of whites. Any other answer is automatically invalid and will get you canceled.

    Now, since I’m retired and thus have no job from which to be fired, I will answer the questions. Yes, it is because of their race!

    Why? Because black Americans, especially those in urban environments, suffer from an internal culture which devalues education as “acting white,” and which leads to a higher drop-out rate. Academic success is not as highly valued, and, among their peers, can actually bear a stigma.

    What is the most important thing to teenaged boys? Simple: teenaged girls! But when you have a culture in which the teenaged girls are more likely to reward the bad boys with sex than they do the nerds, you’re going to get more bad boys. Even the smart ones who decide to give up the thug culture and start to make something of themselves academically have put themselves behind, and catching up is very, very difficult.

    In the aggregate, all of this weighs down black achievement. While we can always point to very successful individuals, when we are talking about group achievement, the greater percentage of laggards among blacks brings the aggregate down.

    The Dana in Kentucky (fa23a0)

  30. One of the lovely Lori Loughlin’s constituents wrote:

    But they have to get the paper first. And Georgetown is giving them the chance to. As best as I remember, at my law school graduation, we were called up for our diplomas alphabetically and not by class rank.

    So, like, you know, I’m okay with that.

    I have no problem with Affirmative Action, when practiced by private institutions. My problem arises when the government, including state universities, start discriminating on the basis of race.

    The abominable Grutter v Bollinger decision came with a 25-year time limit. This, Supreme Court approval of Affirmative Action by state universities should expire on June 23, 2028.

    The Dana in Kentucky (fa23a0)

  31. Damn! I meant Lori Lightfoot!

    The Dana in Kentucky (fa23a0)

  32. @30, that’s a terribly shallow answer to a complicated problem that puts all of the blame on the people caught in the problem. The way you phrase it also gives the impression that you don’t like black people.

    Time123 (306531)

  33. Mr 123 wrote:

    @30, that’s a terribly shallow answer to a complicated problem that puts all of the blame on the people caught in the problem. The way you phrase it also gives the impression that you don’t like black people.

    Our football team got a new locker room my senior year. It was long and narrow, and for some reason, all of the black players had their self-chosen lockers in a row, along the south wall and half way up the west wall. It was unbroken save by one white player, me, when I had my locker in the corner. Why? Most of the white players would f(ornicate) with other players’ equipment, but they never messed with the black players’ stuff, and my locker being in the middle of the black players’ lockers kept it immune from the practical jokes. “Atomic Balm” put in someone’s jock strap was a common prank, but it never happened to me!

    I don’t have any problem with blacks, as individuals, but that doesn’t mean that I cannot see that there are significant cultural problems there. The City of Brotherly Love had a near-record 499 homicides in 2021, with 87% of the victims being black, though blacks make up only 41.5% of Philly’s population. Something is causing that tremendously high murder rate — Philly’s 31.6 per 100,000 population was higher than Chicago’s, even though we hear a lot more about nk’s home town — and if you believe that the internal urban black culture isn’t the problem, then I most certainly invite you to suggest another answer.

    Philly closed out the weekend with an even 100 homicides this year, 32% above the 76 homicides at the end of the same day last year. Looks like they’ve taken missing the all time record of 500 by just one dead body as a personal challenge!

    Murder in Philly is so common that The Philadelphia Inquirer hardly even mentions it anymore, unless the victim is a ‘somebody’ or a cute little white girl. With an even 100 homicides as of the end of Sunday, the Inquirer’s website main page doesn’t even mention it, or at least it didn’t when I pulled it up at 4:38 PM EDT.

    Does my answer put “all of the blame on the people caught in the problem”? Yes, in a way, it does, because that’s where the problem lays. White people cannot solve the black community’s problems; only the people in that community can do that.

    The Dana in Kentucky (fa23a0)

  34. Mr 123 wrote:

    How can you both so wrong and soooo right in the same comment.

    Cheese is wonderful, Velveeta is not cheese.

    Do you know how they make cheese?

    You take a gallon jug of milk, and put it out on the table. In August. Then you let it sit there for three weeks. After it has clabbered, if you pour it out and stir it twice, you get cottage cheese. Pour off the watery layer, then stir the remainder, and you get ricotta cheese. Dump the white layers out, shoot it with a shotgun, and you get Swiss cheese. Let it sit out for another three weeks and you get blue cheese.

    I call it rotten, sour, clabbered milk for a very good reason.

    The Dana in Kentucky (fa23a0)

  35. Dana in Kentucky, I think you’re inadvertently trying to explain education performance solely on stereotypical characteristics of one subset of African Americans….mainly those economically and socially disadvantaged in inner cities. I’ve heard a rumor that not all blacks live in ghettos, are members of gangs, and get knocked up before 17…..and very few of those are applying to Harvard, Cal Tech, or Georgetown. I think the bigger determinants across the board are (1) are you the first in your family to go to college, (2) what habits you adopted in high school, and (3) the size of your vocabulary….none of which categorically stops you from succeeding…but certainly can make some majors and some competitive institutions a bad fit. Students with high SATs, high grades, and exposure to Honors and AP programs can be any color. Sometimes kids are not in a competitive environment and do not know to take advantage of certain opportunities….again not a function of race. We just shouldn’t over generalize.

    AJ_Liberty (a4ff25)

  36. Mr Liberty: stereotypes exist for a reason, that they represent a realistic segment of part of the stereotyped population.

    Perhaps I was unclear. It’s obvious that there’s a great variation in ability between individuals, but if you have a sizable group which falls into economic and academically unfavorable behavior, it will have a downward effect on the demographic as a whole.

    I’ve heard a rumor that not all blacks live in ghettos, are members of gangs, and get knocked up before 17…..and very few of those are applying to Harvard, Cal Tech, or Georgetown.

    That’s true enough, but a larger percentage of them do than is the case with white Americans. That has a depressing effect on the aggregate numbers.

    Living in eastern Kentucky, I can see similarly poor economic behavior here, just among white people. (Eastern Kentucky is over 95% white.) Our problems are lack of economic opportunity as the coal industry has died, and far too widespread use of drugs. We have a too high out-of-wedlock birth rate, and a too high dropout rate. You don’t hear much about that in the media, because poor white people aren’t nearly as interesting.

    Our violent crime rate is significantly lower for (at least) one major reason: the population aren’t packed in so tightly. There are a lot of guns here, but when the guy at whom you are angry lives 12 miles away in a different holler, it’s both more difficult to get to him and you have more time to think to yourself, “Do I really want to wind up in Eddyville?”

    The Dana in Kentucky (fa23a0)

  37. Nic,

    Why and how do professors get their grading reports broken out according to racial demographics? Do they also show the students’ gender, sexual orientation, religion, age, economic background, and other factors?

    DRJ (aede82)

  38. @38 I can’t tell you for sure about professors, but I can tell you abt public schools.

    We can break grading reports down by most demographical factors that we collect, and often we do, usually school wide rather than teacher by teacher, but sometimes by teacher. So basically I can look at grades or attendance or discipline or standardized test scores based on grade, race, ethnic group (in CA Latino is an ethnic group so you can be a black Latino or a white Latino or an indigenous Latino, etc), gender, economic background, parent education, number of schools attended, and a few other things. We don’t collect info on sexual orientation or religion. The database program most schools use gets the data for us and spits it onto an excel spreadsheet so we can sort it or use it however we want.

    Why? Informational purposes and ways to target curriculum supports and sometimes ways to see if there are weird patterns anywhere. Frex at some point someone looked at white kids from struggling socio-economic background whose parents didn’t have much education and noticed that they had a similar school success patterns as 1st gen EL kids and started applying some of the EL teaching strategies to those white kids and got good results. Sometimes you unfortunately discover that Coach Jones has way more black kids than white kids getting in trouble and that those same kids don’t get into trouble in any other classes and that the other PE Coaches don’t have similar issues, including with those same kids in different semesters. Sometimes you discover that Mrs. B’s kids get much worse scores on the district tests than any of the other teacher’s kids, regardless of demographics.

    It’s data. We look at it.

    Nic (896fdf)

  39. Why not sexual orientation and religion? If the other criteria result in meaningful data, why isn’t that relevant, too?

    By the way, do Coach Jones and Mrs B get to respond or is the data too damning on its face?

    DRJ (aede82)

  40. Am I reading you correctly that parents’ education levels are part of the dataset, too?

    DRJ (aede82)

  41. @DRJ@40 We don’t collect data on religion, so we can’t sort by religion. Religion is a mushy category, it changes a lot, and many people don’t agree on categories, also there are people who were raised culturally one way, raise their kids culturally the way they were raised, and claim something else. For example, my Uncle says he’s atheist. He was technically Methodist as a child because my g’father was Methodist, but my grandfather died when they were young and my g’mother was a non-practicing Euro-Catholic. So he was a former Methodist Atheist who was raised culturally Catholic who raised his kids theoretically atheist but celebrated the main Catholic holidays and they say they are “non-religious”.

    We don’t collect data on sexual orientation because kids don’t know who they are yet.

    @DRJ@41 Yes. It’s on the registration forms, if the parents fill out that category it goes into the computer and we use it.

    I should say, though, that the regular teacher can’t always see all of this data and can’t necessarily sort things this way. Socio-economic data, for example, is not available to the regular classroom teacher, permissions differ as to who has access to what info.

    For students who are being tested for special education, they also collect information from parents on family history of learning disability and mental illness and some medical history about the child.

    Nic (896fdf)

  42. We don’t collect data on sexual orientation because kids don’t know who they are yet.

    I knew I liked girls at the same time I realized what girls were. It was only when I came into contact with the pederasty, and I don’t mean pedagogy, of the American educational establishment that I was told that girls had cooties and that I was not supposed to like them.

    nk (1d9030)

  43. DRJ asked:

    Why not (collect data on) sexual orientation and religion? If the other criteria result in meaningful data, why isn’t that relevant, too?

    Race is pretty obvious, visually, and it’s a protected classification. Religion is not always visually obvious.

    Sexual orientation? The CDC estimated that 96.6% of adults are strictly heterosexual, 1.6% are homosexual and 0.7% are bisexual. Assuming those numbers translate to teenagers as well, simply one homosexual or bisexual victim of whatever will greatly skew the statistics, in ways which would make them virtually useless.

    If ten guys get beaten up in school, and one is a ‘sexual minority,’ then shazamm! that sexual minority will be judged to have been targeted because of his sexual orientation. But if ten guys get beaten up in school, and none of them are a ‘sexual minority,’ no one will judge that hey, there’s no violence at all toward ‘sexual minorities.’

    The Dana in Kentucky (fa23a0)

  44. The collector of knives wrote:

    I knew I liked girls at the same time I realized what girls were. It was only when I came into contact with the pederasty, and I don’t mean pedagogy, of the American educational establishment that I was told that girls had cooties and that I was not supposed to like them.

    It was the educational establishment which told you this? At least for me, my peers were the ones who told me that girls were ick . . . until they decided themselves that hey, girls weren’t so ick after all. 🙂

    The Dana in Kentucky (fa23a0)

  45. We don’t collect data on religion, so we can’t sort by religion. Religion is a mushy category, it changes a lot, and many people don’t agree on categories, also there are people who were raised culturally one way, raise their kids culturally the way they were raised, and claim something else.

    You could say the same for race.

    DRJ (aede82)


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