Posts Tagged ‘education’

Judith Curry resigns from Georgia Tech

Thursday, January 5th, 2017

The world of Climate research lost a great academic figure as Judith Curry resigns her tenured faculty position at Georgia Tech.

She has figured largely in the climate debate as a skeptic in global warming.

I have retired from Georgia Tech, and I have no intention of seeking another academic or administrative position in a university or government agency. However, I most certainly am not retiring from professional life.

Why did I resign my tenured faculty position?

I’m ‘cashing out’ with 186 published journal articles and two books. The superficial reason is that I want to do other things, and no longer need my university salary. This opens up an opportunity for Georgia Tech to make a new hire (see advert).

The deeper reasons have to do with my growing disenchantment with universities, the academic field of climate science and scientists.

She has endured considerable abuse from the alarmist side. She is called a “heretic” in the alarmist circles.

over the past year or so she has become better known for something that annoys, even infuriates, many of her scientific colleagues. Curry has been engaging actively with the climate change skeptic community, largely by participating on outsider blogs such as Climate Audit, the Air Vent and the Black¬board. Along the way, she has come to question how climatologists react to those who question the science, no matter how well established it is. Although many of the skeptics recycle critiques that have long since been disproved, others, she believes, bring up valid points

So, she might have a point. However:

(more…)

What the black college students are rioting about.

Monday, November 16th, 2015

Ithaca

Power line has a post today that seems to me to be right on the topic of what these students want, which is freedom from accountability. They are afraid they are overmatched against white colleagues. They can’t hack it and want a pass. It is called “Mismatch.”

The biggest change since Grutter, though, has nothing to do with Court membership. It is the mounting empirical evidence that race preferences are doing more harm than good?—even for their supposed beneficiaries. If this evidence is correct, we now have fewer African-American physicians, scientists, and engineers than we would have had using race-neutral admissions policies. We have fewer college professors and lawyers, too. Put more bluntly, affirmative action has backfired.

Why is this ? We know that the normal distribution of IQ is a standard deviation lower for blacks than whites.

NormalCurveSmall

This is the over all curve with the distribution around an average of 100, by definition.

IQ_Bladk_White

The curve for blacks has a peak at IQ about 80. White peak at 100 to 104. Asians peak at around 106. What this means is that the average IQ is lower for blacks but this does not mean that all blacks are less intelligent than whites. At an IQ of 110 there is a large difference but the number of blacks who will do well in certain academic fields like Medicine is still significant. It would seem important to identify those blacks who will do well in fields requiring higher than average intelligence but the present system of affirmative action ignores this truth.

(more…)

The Closing of the American Mind.

Saturday, September 26th, 2015

Some years ago, when it came out, I read Allan Bloom’s “The Closing of the American Mind.” It struck me as a profound commentary on the weakening of the college education and changes that I did not like in college students since I was one myself.

It seems to be getting worse now, according to this essay in Psychology Today.

Dan Jones, past president of the Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors, seems to agree with this assessment. In an interview for the Chronicle of Higher Education article, he said: “[Students] haven’t developed skills in how to soothe themselves, because their parents have solved all their problems and removed the obstacles. They don’t seem to have as much grit as previous generations.”

In my next essay in this series I’ll examine the research evidence suggesting that so-called “helicopter parenting” really is at the core of the problem. But I don’t blame parents, or certainly not just parents. Parents are in some ways victims of larger forces in the society—victims of the continuous exhortations from “experts” about the dangers of letting kids be, victims of the increased power of the school system and the schooling mentality that says kids develop best when carefully guided and supervised by adults, and victims of increased legal and social sanctions for allowing kids into public spaces without adult accompaniment. We have become, unfortunately, a “helicopter society.”

I think this is exceedingly dangerous and is behind the war on college age men. Some this can be seen in the hysteria of “Rape Culture” and various hoaxes perpetrated by magazines and by the Obama Administration’s Department of Education and its “Dear Colleague” letters.

In order to assist recipients, which include school districts, colleges, and universities (hereinafter “schools” or “recipients”) in meeting these obligations, this letter1 explains that the requirements of Title IX pertaining to sexual harassment also cover sexual violence, and lays out the specific Title IX requirements applicable to sexual violence.2 Sexual violence, as that term is used in this letter, refers to physical sexual acts perpetrated against a person’s will or where a person is incapable of giving consent due to the victim’s use of drugs or alcohol. An individual also may be unable to give consent due to an intellectual or other disability. A number of different acts fall into the category of sexual violence, including rape,

Those acts include many that an earlier generation would consider harmless and part of the normal male-female relationship.

From one reader review of Bloom’s book written years after its publication:

Bloom begins with the problem of liberal education at the end of the 20th century – in a world where students are taught from childhood that “values” are relative and that tolerance is the first virtue, too many students arrive at college without knowing what it means to really believe in anything. They think they are open-minded but their minds are closed to the one thing that really matters: the possibility of absolute truth, of absolute right and wrong. In explaining where we are and how we got here, Bloom presents a devastating critique of modern American education and its students, an intellectual history of the United States and its unique foundation in Enlightenment philosophy, and an assesment of the project of liberal education.

We are well past that stage of the deterioration of American culture.

(more…)

The Dissolution of the Modern World.

Wednesday, August 19th, 2015

bernieTrump

Richard Fernandez, as usual, has an excellent post on how the modern society we inhabit is wearing out.

One of the arguments for the impossibility of an event is lack of previous failure. “It never failed before and thus can never fail ever”. The Washington Post’s editorial board invokes a variant of this logic to refute Donald Trump’s border policy, arguing there are so many illegal immigrants it is too expensive to deport them all, leaving no alternative but to accept more.

Naturally, the WaPo is certain they know what could happen.

A useful case study is California, whose economy accounts for about 13 percent of U.S. gross domestic product and whose 2.6 million undocumented workers include almost a tenth of the state’s workforce.

For starters, the state’s farms and orchards, where a third to a half of agricultural workers are undocumented, would be crippled.

The state of California has already devastated the state’s farms and orchards by shutting off irrigation water to save a bait fish in the Sacramento Delta.

The Golden State’s agricultural industry has suffered dramatically under the drought, which cost the industry $1.5 billion in 2014, according to a University of California Davis study. Last year alone, farmers idled more than 400,000 acres of farmland amid abnormally dry conditions, the study added. Farmers primarily rely on the state’s snowpack to irrigate their crops, and it has been reduced to just 8 percent of its historic average.

The drought is one that California sees every decade or so but the state has not added any water conservation systems as its population doubled the past 30 years. Instead the governor is pushing a high speed rail system that goes nowhere important and will cost, in an early and inadequate estimate, $65 billion. How many desalination plants could that build ?

California is in the midst of a crippling four-year-old drought. Yet the state has built almost no major northern or central mountain reservoirs since the New Melones Dam of 1979. That added nearly 3 million acre-feet to the state’s storage reserves – a critical project that was almost canceled by endless environmental lawsuits and protests.

Although California has almost doubled in population since the dam’s construction, the state’s politicians apparently decided that completing more northern and Sierra Nevada water projects was passé. So the parched state now prays for rain and snow rather than building reservoirs to ensure that the next drought won’t shut us down.

The open borders lobby can see no problem in importing 10% of Mexico and the least educated 10% at that. I spent ten years reviewing workers’ compensation claims. About half of those claims were for Hispanics and about half of them were Mexican born and almost certainly illegal. They generally claimed to have completed second grade in Mexico and most were illiterate in Spanish, let alone English.

Social engineers are running this country these days and Fernandez is not impressed.

Social engineers are members of the first school of thought and are typically surprised by unprecedented events viewing them as perverse. For example the Washington Post notes the shock of rising and virulent xenophobia in Germany, something heretofore thought to be extinct since the end of the Second World War. ”Germany unnerved by scores of xenophobic attacks against refugees.” The past should continue indefinitely. Failure can be due only to wreckers.

By contrast, physical engineers — unlike their social counterparts — are not the slightest bit surprised when structures which have stood for a long time suddenly collapse.

He provides the example of the Minneapolis bridge that collapsed a few years ago, “unexpectedly” in spite of years of inspections that ranked it as dangerous.

(more…)

White Privilege.

Thursday, July 2nd, 2015

microaggression

The subject of “white privilege” is very much in the news there days.

Administration officials at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University have reached an agreement with student activists to force “mandatory power and privilege training” on incoming students during orientation.

The group, which calls itself “HKS Speaks Out,” will have a meeting this week with the dean of the Kennedy School, David T. Ellwood, to discuss the funding for the compulsory training and to “make sure this training is institutionalized” throughout the school, reports Campus Reform.

Who is this group behind the “white privilege” training session ? Well, they are disgruntled students.

The movement, called HKS Speaks Out, began in October after students expressed having “really negative classroom experiences,” according to Reetu D. Mody, a first year Master in Public Policy student and an organizer of the movement. She said the group has amassed about 300 student signatures, or about a fourth of the school’s student population, on a petition that calls for mandatory privilege and power training.

Reetu

She can’t breathe. She is a Congressional staffer but I can’t find out whose staff. Democrat if not Bernie Sanders.

Steve Sailor is not impressed.

Harvard U. is full of people who clawed their way into Harvard, so it’s not surprising that they often can’t stand each other. Fortunately, 21st Century Harvard students have a vocabulary of whom to blame for any and all frustrations they feel. From the Harvard Crimson:

Kennedy School Students Call for Training To Combat Privilege in Classroom

Whiteness !

(more…)

A Tribute to Lee Kwan Yew

Tuesday, March 24th, 2015

Thomas Sowell has a fine tribute to the leader of Singapore who died yesterday.

It is not often that the leader of a small city-state — in this case, Singapore — gets an international reputation. But no one deserved it more than Lee Kuan Yew, the founder of Singapore as an independent country in 1959, and its prime minister from 1959 to 1990. With his death, he leaves behind a legacy valuable not only to Singapore but to the world.

Born in Singapore in 1923, when it was a British colony, Lee Kuan Yew studied at Cambridge University after World War II, and was much impressed by the orderly, law-abiding England of that day. It was a great contrast with the poverty-stricken and crime-ridden Singapore of that era.

Today Singapore has a per capita Gross Domestic Product more than 50 percent higher than that of the United Kingdom and a crime rate a small fraction of that in England. A 2010 study showed more patents and patent applications from the small city-state of Singapore than from Russia. Few places in the world can match Singapore for cleanliness and orderliness.

Mr Lee had an impressive life story, himself.

Lee graduated from Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge University, with a double starred-first-class honours in law. In 1950, he became a barrister of the Middle Temple and practised law until 1959. He co-founded and was the first secretary-general of the People’s Action Party (PAP), leading it to eight consecutive victories. He campaigned for merger with Malaysia, a move deemed crucial to persuading Britain to relinquish its colonial rule in 1963; but racial strife and political tensions led to Singapore’s separation from the Federation two years later. Leading a newly independent Singapore from 1965, with overwhelming parliamentary control, Lee oversaw the nation’s transformation from a relatively underdeveloped colonial outpost with no natural resources into an Asian Tiger economy. In the process, he forged a widely admired system of meritocratic, clean, self-reliant and efficient government and civil service, much of which is now taught at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy.

He was a great man and his legacy is being maintained in spite of faint praise from the NY Times.

Pragmatic even about death and averse to a cult of personality, Mr. Lee, who died Monday at age 91, said the house would cost too much to maintain and would become a shambles when “people trudge through.”

There was no wrecking ball on Mr. Lee’s quiet street on Tuesday, and the official memorial does not begin until the public viewing of his coffin in Parliament on Wednesday.

But Singaporeans are asking the same questions about the larger house that Lee Kuan Yew built — modern Singapore and the vaunted “Singapore model.” Will it survive him, or has the sleek Asian financial hub outgrown his father-knows-best style of government?

Among members of the country’s increasingly assertive and demanding electorate, there are calls for a new social contract, a more consultative government and participatory rule-making.

They may be ready for democracy now but there was no question about it then.

Rape Culture

Thursday, March 20th, 2014

trapeculture-thumb-250x219-896

The college scene is all agog about rape culture. How do we know if it is a problem ?

It’s a phrase you hear a lot. But, what exactly does it mean? Is there one general definition? Not necessarily. In many ways the phrase evokes the famous Supreme Court comment about obscenity from Potter Stewart, “I know it when I see it.”

And, you don’t have to look far to see examples of rape culture these days. Whether it’s advertising, movies, music videos or social media — images, words, concepts — it’s all out there illustrating men dominating women.

So, now we know the problem. It is men.

Popular movies are strewn with plots of men with the sole purpose of having sex. In the movie “American Pie,” the entire plot of the film revolves around teenage boys wanting to throw a party so they can get girls drunk and have sex with them.

That movie was when ? Well, it was 1999. That was 15 years ago, wasn’t it ? How old were these activists then ?

It’s also been stated by writer Adam Herz that the title also refers to the quest of losing your virginity in high school, which is as “American as apple pie.” So, it wasn’t just about girls losing virginity ?

How about porn star/student, Belle Knox ?

Despite the ordeal, Knox said she plans to continue both her porn work and her classes at Duke. In interviews, she frequently mentions working to increase the rights of sex workers.

“I really want to break down barriers,” Knox said. “I want to change peoples views on sex work. … I mean, I was the first porn star to go on ‘The View.’ This is really exciting for me.

She complains about the publicity and the reaction of others but “This is really exciting for me.” Feminism 2014 version. Another porn star success story.

Ph.D. program in sociology at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. She does cam work, some porn, stripping, and some fetish work. Unlike Knox and L., Parreira is out about her sex work. “The department seems to be a sort of hub for sex workers and sex work research, so it has been a non-issue,” Well, that’s a relief.

Now, back to rape culture. Maybe it’s a tiny bit exaggerated ?

An early sign of an obsession with “rape culture” on campus occurred at Duke during the lacrosse case. In April 2006, in a 2000-plus word statement that declined to mention the presumption of innocence, Duke president Richard Brodhead created a “Campus Culture Initiative,” to explicate and “confirm [emphasis added] the existence of a dominant culture among Duke undergraduates.” There was, of course, no rape, but the CCI proceeded along as if there were, operating under the Orwellian slogan that “diversity makes a more excellent university.”

The Duke LaCrosse team case is a horrible example of leftist agitation in action. The whole story is here. Briefly, a hysteria descended on the Duke University campus after a stripper, later convicted of murder, accused the La Crosse team of a gang rape. The young men of the team were immediate demonized by the usual suspects of campus radicals. Fortunately, the boys came from families that could afford good lawyers.

The immediate frenzy followed the usual script.

(more…)

Medicine and Evolution.

Friday, February 7th, 2014

A Final Word: I went by that site today to see what additional comments might have been posted after I left. Here is what remained:

I was referring to your claiming that people were being dishonest in their claims not to be YECs. It’s not that you disagreed with the values expressed by their self-identification, it’s that you didn’t accept that they were who they claimed they were. This makes productive conversation much more challenging.

Does that make sense?

I didn’t claim that people were secret YEC members. I commented that I was astounded at the vehemence of people who described themselves as “non-creationist Christians,” at attacking a person who supports and thinks evolution will be important in medicine in the next 50 years. Read some of the comments in italics below to see if I am overstating this.

I am very concerned, after this, at the role of Fundamentalist Christians in the GOP. They are far less tolerant of other opinion and resemble the global warming alarmists in the unwillingness to allow dissent.

Update #4: I am saving some of the material from the thread to remember what Ricochet is like.

The pseudo sympathy: Mike, frankly, you never had them straight in the first place. The entire thread, you thought you were fending off attacks from a group of Young Earth Creationists, but there was only one YEC among them. The rest of them were believers in one form of evolution of another, and just upset with your attitude.

Attitude !

Do you bear any of the blame for making this thread so unpleasant? I’m perfectly willing to have a discussion with you, and I’m semi-sympathetic to your viewpoint. I’m definitely not a YEC. But I can’t understand why you are being so flippant.
Flippancy is the problem !

No, you’re not. You might try reading the thread. I’ve been listing all the insults over on my own blog as a study of how this happens.

“Mike, I am personally not a young-earth creationist, but I think you are confusing two concepts here. ”

I’m always the one confused. Explained by the Ivy League.

This: “Or would he create a universe that showed millions of millennia of age, even though it was only seconds old?”

Led to this: “It’s nice that you all believe this. Good luck. Let’s hope your doctor doesn’t.”

Now that was my mortal sin to the crowd here. From that the following resulted:

“You are very flippant in dismal of my case for faith. Once again I have no problem believing that someone who believes that God put together the world in 6 days .”can also understand the significance of mitochondria. ”

I doubt that. Instead: “I have a far greater trust of a doctor who believes in God and lives it in his own life rather than one who is merely technically competent and sees the universe, and my life, as a happenstance of evolutionary doctrine.”

Now, the folks who are denying this is about creationism and is about my “attitude” seem to ignore those parts.

“Well that’s a glowing example of inability to actually argue the point. When you encounter indications that people disagree with your conflating micro and macro evolution, imply that anybody who doesn’t believe in the warm puddle or whatever the popular origin of life theory is this week is incompetent. ”

Now there’s a thoughtful statement.

” If I’m just an expression of evolutionary pressures, he might want to trim it up. (Has the advantage of being supported by all the various eugenics of recent history, including the ongoing slaughter of those unborn suspected of having genetic illnesses.)”

So now abortion has been dragged into it.

“You slander many very good doctors with your dismissive remarks.”

And I’m the problem.

“But what followed was a long-winded series of examples that do not make a case that any student of what evolution teaches must believe any of the paleo-biology tall tales about the long long ago history of this and that.”

More friendly repartee.

“In my opinion, the whole argument is silly. Humans simply don’t have the intellectual capacity to comprehend the creation. It’s like a dog trying to understand how a television works;”

More brilliance. My tolerance for this is less than yours or you didn’t read it.

“Mike has argued that we should (or, at least, he would) place professional barriers before those who disagree with his creation myths ”

Another mis-statement of what I wrote. I only mentioned my own letter writing which was not a barrier the last time I checked admission requirements.

“You are the one who said that you would keep Creationists out of med school.”

More mis-statement.

“Believing that the paleo- fields have very badly miscalculated the age of the earth has nothing at all to do with the ability of a doctor to conduct medicine. ”

I guess you agree. I don’t.

I then gave up. This colony of creationists, even those who deny they are “YEC,” wore me out.

UPDATE #3: The attacks continue and it has been several days !

I am also a Christian who doesn’t hold to a YEC point of view. (I would also add, although I hate to flaunt credentials, that I am a more recently trained physician than you, Ivy-League-trained, and hold a faculty position at a medical center that’s a bit fancier than yours.)

So there ! I have decided that I am a Libertarian and not a conservative, if that is what this is about.

UPDATE #2 The pushback has finally succeeded in making me a villain.

(Yes, I know the things I cited don’t make him right about YEC, necessarily. My point is that he’s been successful despite Mike K insisting that people like him should be prevented from being doctors.) ·

This followed a long list of accomplishments by a supposed acquaintance who had had a successful career as, as best I can tell, a pediatrician. This all began with my comment that, aside from not being willing to recommend a student who did not believe in evolution for medical school, I was neutral. I think I am no longer neutral. The “Young Earth Creationist” community seems to have a determination to oppose any evolutionary thinking by anyone. They also seem to have an very convoluted way of explaining why obvious facts are not as they appear.

UPDATE: The pushback from creationists surprised me a bit. I guess it shouldn’t have. I expected “We will just have to agree to disagree” sort of thing. Instead I got an interesting series of attacks on me.

Is it impossible for the Creator to have built all the evidences of age into His new creation? The reality of natural selection isn’t necessarily required to have a long and indefinite period of activity to apply today.

and

Well that’s a glowing example of inability to actually argue the point. When you encounter indications that people disagree with your conflating micro and macro evolution, imply that anybody who doesn’t believe in the warm puddle or whatever the popular origin of life theory is this week is incompetent.

and

There are plenty of good Christian doctors and biologists who are well-versed in cell biology and in how mutations happen and in natural selection processes that affect microbes and higher organisms.

This all reminds me of the epicycles, which were used to explain why Ptolmeic astronomy could not explain certain phenomena like the movement of planets. It took Kepler’s discovery of the elliptical orbits to resolve the matter finally.

The creationists seem determined to ignore the implications of molecular biology about evolution and maintain “Young Earth Creation” in the face of the evidence of ancient biology.

But what followed was a long-winded series of examples that do not make a case that any student of what evolution teaches must believe any of the paleo-biology tall tales about the long long ago history of this and that.

Even Copernicus wanted to learn why the planets did not follow the rules of Ptolmeic astronomy. Today, that is considered rude. I may have to reevaluate my opinion of creationists. I have considered them harmless ill educated religious fundamentalists. They are far more aggressive than I had believed in attacking any disagreement.

I accidentally got into a debate about evolution at another site today. I didn’t want to get into this as I know there are many people, many of whom share my political affiliation, who are adamant about creationism, as the left often refers to it. Still, I have posted my opinions here in the past. I think molecular medicine is going to become even more important in the future and I do not understand how a physician can understand molecular medicine without molecular biology. There are many examples of evolution that must be understood to appreciate certain areas of medicine.

I think a physician can practice as a GP and not believe in evolution. I know a few. They are not likely to understand the future of medicine but they are my age and will not be practicing for long, if they are not yet retired.

(more…)

Where health care may be going.

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013

Titanic; Vancouver; 1912

I couldn’t resist this graphic. It’s so appropriate for the moment.

I have watched the failed rollout of Obamacare this past three weeks and wondered where it was going. I have some suspicions. There is a lot of talk about delaying the individual mandate, as Obama did with the employer mandate. Megan McArdle has a post on this today. I think it is too late to fix or delay Obamacare.

With Nov. 1 storming toward us and the health insurance exchanges still not working, we face the daunting possibility that people may not be able to sign up for January, or maybe even for 2014. The possibility of a total breakdown — the dreaded insurance death spiral — is heading straight for us. The “wait and see if they can’t get it together” option no longer seems viable; we have to acknowledge that these problems are much more than little glitches, and figure out what to do about them.

She has already described the insurance death spiral. I think it is here.

Am I exaggerating? I know it sounds apocalyptic, but really, I’m not. As Yuval Levin has pointed out, what we’re experiencing now is the worst-case scenario for the insurance markets: It is not impossible to buy insurance, but merely very difficult. If it were impossible, then we could all just agree to move to Plan B. And if it were as easy as everyone expected, well, we’d see if the whole thing worked. But what we have now is a situation where only the extremely persistent can successfully complete an application. And who is likely to be extremely persistent?

Very sick people.

People between 55 and 65, the age band at which insurance is quite expensive. (I was surprised to find out that turning 40 doesn’t increase your premiums that much; the big boosts are in the 50s and 60s.)
Very poor people, who will be shunted to Medicaid (if their state has expanded it) or will probably go without insurance.

Levin points out: It is now increasingly obvious to them that this is simply not how things work, that building a website like this is a matter of exceedingly complex programming and not “design,” and that the problems that plague the federal exchanges (and some state exchanges) are much more severe and fundamental than anything they imagined possible. That doesn’t mean they can’t be fixed, of course, and perhaps even fixed relatively quickly, but it means that at the very least the opening weeks (and quite possibly months) of the Obamacare exchanges will be very different from what either the administration or its critics expected.

The insurance industry is already reacting to Obamacare and this will quickly become irreversible. This article is from September.

IBM, Time Warner, and now Walgreens have made headlines over the past two weeks by announcing that they plan to move retirees (IBM, Time Warner) and current employees (Walgreens) into private health insurance exchanges with defined contributions from employers.

The article calls it “maybe a good thing” but that supposes the exchanges will function. What if they don’t for a year or more ? What will health care look like in November 2014 ?

What happens next — as we’ve seen in states such as New York that have guaranteed issue, no ability to price to the customer’s health, and a generous mandated-benefits package — is that when the price increases hit, some of those who did buy insurance the first year reluctantly decide to drop it. Usually, those are the healthiest people. Which means that the average cost of treatment for the people remaining in the pool rises, because the average person in that pool is now sicker. So premiums go up again . . . until it’s so expensive to buy insurance that almost no one does.

Will that be apparent a year from now ? I’m sure the administration, and the Democrats, will do almost anything to avoid that. What can they do ? They’ve already ignored the law to delay the employer mandates. It’s too late to delay the individual mandate because individual policies are being cancelled right now.

(more…)

Teaching in a majority black high school.

Saturday, July 6th, 2013

This essay has been around for a while but I saw it for the first time today. It is powerful but depressing. I wonder how applicable it is to the Chicago school system? I have a nephew who has a step daughter in a public school that is about half black. Her mother has to go to the school about once a week to complain about bullying. Catholic schools’ tuition is far higher than it was when I lived there.

Here it is.

A few excerpts: Until recently I taught at a predominantly black high school in a southeastern state.

The mainstream press gives a hint of what conditions are like in black schools, but only a hint. Expressions journalists use like “chaotic” or “poor learning environment” or “lack of discipline” do not capture what really happens. There is nothing like the day-to-day experience of teaching black children and that is what I will try to convey.

Most whites simply do not know what black people are like in large numbers, and the first encounter can be a shock.

One of the most immediately striking things about my students was that they were loud. They had little conception of ordinary decorum. It was not unusual for five blacks to be screaming at me at once. Instead of calming down and waiting for a lull in the din to make their point — something that occurs to even the dimmest white students — blacks just tried to yell over each other.

This must be an impossible place to try to teach. Are there any kids who want to learn?

Black women love to dance — in a way white people might call gyrating. So many black girls dance in the hall, in the classroom, on the chairs, next to the chairs, under the chairs, everywhere. Once I took a call on my cell phone and had to step outside of class. I was away about two minutes but when I got back the black girls had lined up at the front of the classroom and were convulsing to the delight of the boys.

Many black people, especially black women, are enormously fat. Some are so fat I had to arrange special seating to accommodate their bulk. I am not saying there are no fat white students — there are — but it is a matter of numbers and attitudes. Many black girls simply do not care that they are fat. There are plenty of white anorexics, but I have never met or heard of a black anorexic.

“Black women be big Mr. Jackson,” my students would explain.

“Is it okay in the black community to be a little overweight?” I ask. Two obese black girls in front of my desk begin to dance, “You know dem boys lak juicy fruit, Mr. Jackson.” “Juicy” is a colorful black expression for the buttocks.

The attitude toward learning is totally negative. That is “Acting white.”

“Once I needed to send a student to the office to deliver a message. I asked for volunteers, and suddenly you would think my classroom was a bastion of civic engagement. Thirty dark hands shot into the air. My students loved to leave the classroom and slack off, even if just for a few minutes, away from the eye of white authority. I picked a light-skinned boy to deliver the message. One very black student was indignant: “You pick da half-breed.” And immediately other blacks take up the cry, and half a dozen mouths are screaming, “He half-breed.”

I have been teaching medical students for about twelve years. About 1/3 to 1/2 are black, most of them are foreign born, either Africa or the West Indies. Most are more dark than the average American born black but some, as those from Ethiopia, may be quite light skinned. The foreign born blacks have a totally different attitude than the American blacks. Of course, with medical students, I am seeing the highest achievers.

Even so, I have met college students who are from Africa. One, I remember quite well, was attending Dartmouth in the mid-ninties. He worked the night shift in the dining hall, which was open 24 hours at the time. He could not understand white students who would come to the dining hall at 3 AM drunk. What were they doing at such a prestigious and rigorous college ?

I also examine recruits for the military in Los Angeles. I talk to these kids and about 1/4 are black. Hispanics seem to be about twice their share in recruits but both groups are highly motivated. Some of the blacks are foreign born and I have spent some time talking to them. They show none of the social pathology I see in this article but, of course, it would be hopeless for such kids to try to join the military even if they wanted to. One young man I talked to last month is 25 and has 17 half-siblings. He said he never wanted to see any of them again. He is drug free and trying to improve his life. He was raised mostly in foster care and, I suspect, was luckier than most in his situation to had that upbringing.

Most of the blacks I taught simply had no interest in academic subjects. I taught history, and students would often say they didn’t want to do an assignment or they didn’t like history because it was all about white people. Of course, this was “diversity” history, in which every cowboy’s black cook got a special page on how he contributed to winning the West, but black children still found it inadequate. So I would throw up my hands and assign them a project on a real, historical black person. My favorite was Marcus Garvey. They had never heard of him, and I would tell them to research him, but they never did. They didn’t care and they didn’t want to do any work.

Anyone who teaches blacks soon learns that they have a completely different view of government from whites. Once I decided to fill 25 minutes by having students write about one thing the government should do to improve America. I gave this question to three classes totaling about 100 students, approximately 80 of whom were black. My few white students came back with generally “conservative” ideas. “We need to cut off people who don’t work,” was the most common suggestion. Nearly every black gave a variation on the theme of “We need more government services.”

My students had only the vaguest notion of who pays for government services. For them, it was like a magical piggy bank that never goes empty. One black girl was exhorting the class on the need for more social services and I kept trying to explain that people, real live people, are taxed for the money to pay for those services. “Yeah, it come from whites,” she finally said. “They stingy anyway.”

Is there any hope for these people ?

My department head once asked all the teachers to get a response from all students to the following question: “Do you think it is okay to break the law if it will benefit you greatly?” By then, I had been teaching for a while and was not surprised by answers that left a young, liberal, white woman colleague aghast. “Yeah” was the favorite answer. As one student explained, “Get dat green.”

There is a level of conformity among blacks that whites would find hard to believe. They like one kind of music: rap. They will vote for one political party: Democrat. They dance one way, speak one way, are loud the same way, and fail their exams in the same way. Of course, there are exceptions but they are rare.

Whites are different. Some like country music, others heavy metal, some prefer pop, and still others, God forbid, enjoy rap music. They have different associations, groups, almost ideologies. There are jocks, nerds, preppies, and hunters. Blacks are all — well — black, and they are quick to let other blacks know when they deviate from the norm.

Reading this essay, and I recommend it, has made me a little more comfortable with the concept of amnesty for illegal aliens.

My black students had nothing but contempt for Hispanic immigrants. They would vent their feelings so crudely that our department strongly advised us never to talk about immigration in class in case the principal or some outsider might overhear.

Whites were “racis’,” of course, but they thought of us at least as Americans. Not the Mexicans. Blacks have a certain, not necessarily hostile understanding of white people. They know how whites act, and it is clear they believe whites are smart and are good at organizing things. At the same time, they probably suspect whites are just putting on an act when they talk about equality, as if it is all a sham that makes it easier for whites to control blacks. Blacks want a bigger piece of the American pie. I’m convinced that if it were up to them they would give whites a considerably smaller piece than whites get now, but they would give us something. They wouldn’t give Mexicans anything.

We live in interesting times.