09 September 2005

And Now Even Fewer Black People Are in Kentucky

There has been a sharp drop in enrollment of black students at UK, as the Lexington-Herald reports:

The number of black freshmen at the University of Kentucky has dropped this year by 40 percent -- a stark reversal from UK's 20 percent increase in black freshmen a year ago.

The drop can be attributed to UK's slight increase in the minimum score on the ACT entrance exam, he said.

Forty percent?

Higher standards or more black students: what a painful choice. Education is so important, especially for those who come from lower socioeconomic backgrounds. It is the path to opportunity.

The black community needs a leader who will bring this issue to the forefront of national dialogue, not just for blacks, but for all Americans. The educational system is being gutted by corporate economics, and as a result, opportunity is being closed off for Americans of lower socioeconomic backgrounds. To acquire political and economic power, they must value education and emphasize it as a critical part of a person's character and worth.

But I won't hold my breath. If someone asked me the best way to make yourself employable for the future, I would say learn Chinese and Hindi.


The Dean of Cincinnati said...

Whenever poor people start to do well on standardized tests, they make the tests harder.

The Ohio Proficiency morphed into the more difficult Ohio Graduation Test.

The SAT is changing.

WestEnder said...

I'm not sure that it's anything as conspiratorial as that; almost all of the standardized tests at every level have undergone revision in recent years.

Also, the last time the SAT was changed, it was changed to make it EASIER (allowing calculators, changing the scoring system). The most recent change (just this year) added essays because educators think writing is important.

I am more ready to believe an essay component was added because writing is a crucial skill, rather than a way to weed out poor people who can't write well.

With that being said, there have been studies on standardized tests, and it has been found that the thing they correlate most closely with is not academic achievement, but parents' socioeconomic background.

I don't think standardized tests are really the problem themselves; I think they reflect a more fundamental problem, which is the poor quality of the educational system, especially in poor neighborhoods.

Of course, this could all change if Ohio changed the property tax system of funding schools, which has been found unconstitutional FOUR times.

The Dean of Cincinnati said...

Without implying a conspiracy, just consider these facts, listed in chronological order:

Ohio starts proficiency testing in 1990s.

Gradually, more and more people start passing the proficiency tests.

In 2005, Ohio replaces proficiencies with more difficult OGT.

WestEnder said...

If more and more people began to pass the proficiency test, could that not indicate that the schools were producing brighter* students?

And if the standards are raised, could that not mean that in due course, more and more people will begin to pass the new test, thereby producing even brighter students and reflecting continuing success of the schools?

I don't have a beef with the tests so much as with the lack of attention to providing quality education to all students.

I do have a concern that the tests would be used to insidiously shift resources away from public schools and towards private schools.

(* or more precisely, people who test better)

The Dean of Cincinnati said...

Sure... You could say that... If you believed that schools were something other than a social engineering mechanism for maintaining the basic structure of our class system.

WestEnder said...

I don't think they're a mechanism for social engineering, I think schools are a positive thing that is being gutted by the corporatocracy to preserve and increase its own power and control.

In other words, rather than being a tool of the "overclass", I think schools are a social equalizer that have been rendered impotent by the overclass.

I think this is the case because students today do not learn critical thinking, and that's important because thinking and consumerism are inversely related.

But of course there is no satiety to corruption, so the next step would indeed be to use them as a tool to maintain the corporate status quo.

The Dean of Cincinnati said...

Do you know a big obstacle to teaching critical thinking skills at the high school level? Standardized testing.

Teaching to the skill set that passes reading comprehension trick questions on the OGT works counter to the type of thinking skills necessary in training critical thoughts.

I mention reading comprehension because I think few high school classes allow for true exercises in critical thinking. Mainly English and History. An arguement can be made for the Sciences and Math, but the emphasis now is on computing and performance for data collection.

History is getting reduced to fact memorizing -- and memorization is a low order thinking skill. Besides, people can become critical thinkers without being excellent memorizers. The traits are different.

English allows for more due to the nature (in some schools) of discussing literature. But the five paragraph essay (a standard for passing OGT writing tests and even AP tests or SAT writing tests) is the opposite of developing critical thought.

I mention all of this to agree with you. And based on your last post, it seems you agree with my assessment that school is a social engineering project. Maybe you believe it was invented in honest while I think it was this way from the beginning, at least in America.

Visit johntaylorgatto.com for more.

WestEnder said...

You are absolutely right about standardized testing. It is a decent idea gone horribly bad.

I can understand the value of having some sort of objective assessment, because there has to be some way to compare Joe from Van Wert high school to Jane from Exeter, but playing the numbers game is ruining education.

The only idea I can think of is to introduce competition into the mix and have competing standardized tests. After all, there are 8-10 accepted types of intelligences, so why not have tests for all of them, instead of just one type?

But if the problem is schools being an instrument of social engineering as you say, what can be done about it?

Oh, I guess I should see the web site first.

The Dean of Cincinnati said...

What can be done?

We overschool our children. Cut back, don't add.

Make more schools like this one: http://www.sudval.org/

WestEnder said...

Well, I definitely wouldn't accuse that school of overschooling, that's for sure.