An on-line journal of articles and musings forbidden by the mainstream media.
Wednesday, May 24, 2006
October Surprise, Part II: “Dr. Spin” Flips the Rand Report By Nicholas Stix November 3, 2000
George W. Bush's “Texas Miracle” in education is a “myth.” We know that, because Dr. Stephen P. Klein said so. Dr. Klein is the lead researcher of the report, “What Do Test Scores in Texas Tell Us?,” released on October 24 by the prestigious, "nonpartisan" Rand Corporation.
Meanwhile, the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, ABC News, and a host of other prestigious, "nonpartisan" news organizations, have repeated Klein's charges.
Stephen Klein's Rand report examines dramatic claims made by Texas education officials and Gov. George W. Bush. The Texans had reported that on the Texas Assessment of Academic Skills (TAAS), public school children showed gains in reading and math that were triple the gains made by their peers nationally. During the period in question, 1994-98, nationally the racial gap, whereby black and Hispanic children lagged far behind their white peers, widened. According to Texas officials, however, their state's gap was narrower to begin with, and black and Hispanic Texas children had come close to erasing it altogether.
In the October 25 Los Angeles Times, reporter Duke Helfand quoted Stephen Klein as charging that, “The soaring test scores in Texas do not reflect real improvement in students' ability to read and do math. Texas is doing better than the rest of the country in some areas, but nowhere near the miracle. It's a myth.”
Duke Helfand wrote further, that “The findings [from the National Assessment of Educational Progress] led the analysts to suggest that the widely ballyhooed gains on Texas' own tests may have been the result of extensive test preparation, a low standard for passing and some cheating prompted by pressure the system puts on teachers and administrators.”
Based on the press accounts and my own experience as an educator, I was tempted to believe Klein. But then I read and re-read his report, which made a disbeliever out of me.
Many education reporters don't seem to read the reports they write about. Apparently, they read only the press releases, and talk to the reports' authors and PR flacks. In other words, they consent to being used by spin campaigns. I've found that the actual reports often fail to prove, and at times even contradict the claims made by the press releases, “spokespersons,” and even the authors themselves. The Klein report is no exception.
Keep in mind, that while the Klein report never uses the phrase “test fraud,” the report has no point, except as an extended (if unfounded) allegation of massive test fraud in Texas.
For a point of reference, let's consider another recent case in which test fraud was alleged. Last December, New York City Board of Education Special Commissioner Edward Stancik published a report, “Cheating the Children: Educator Misconduct on Standardized Tests,” charging that conspiracies of teachers, administrators, and staffers in 32 public schools all over the city had been engaging in massive test fraud.
The tests in question were high-stakes, standardized exams, just like the Texas Assessment of Academic Skills (TAAS). The phrase “high-stakes” means that students' promotions and graduation, and educators' careers depend on the results.
The most popular method was for teachers to have children write their answers on scrap paper. The teachers would then correct the children, before having them write their "final" answers in their test booklets. Some teachers and administrators would “prompt” pupils, telling them, “That's wrong.” Others would “explain” questions, while some would simply tell the children the proper answers, or distribute typed “cheat sheets.” One teacher wrote the conclusion to a student's essay. An ambitious Manhattan teacher, Dennis Rej, made wholesale erasures on his students' examination “bubble sheets,” and entered the correct answers. Some enterprising educators managed to procure the actual exams in advance, which they then used to prep their students.
One teacher from Queens, Robin Smith, told investigators, “everyone does this and I never had a problem with it before.”
The investigation resulted in fifty-two New York City teachers and administrators being suspended for test fraud.
The 66-page Stancik report was full of smoking guns. Enjoying the cooperation of outraged teachers in the affected schools, the investigators had gotten eyewitness testimony, and gathered (and published photographs of) physical evidence such as “bubble sheets” full of erasures, essays in which a child's handwriting gave way to an adult's, and “cheat sheets.”
I searched Stephen Klein's report for smoking guns, but found only smoke and mirrors. No cheat sheets, no sheets full of erasures, no advance copies of exams, no eyewitness testimony, no cooperating educators.
Dr. Stephen Klein turns out to be a spin-doctor.
What he engaged in, was a textbook, three-step spin-doctoring campaign. What he didn't engage in, was research.
Klein sought to create an atmosphere of doubt about the Texas Miracle; exploit that atmosphere to rationalize undertaking what was not a research report at all, but in the words of Bush campaign communications director Karen Hughes, a “14-page opinion paper … [that] directly contradicts every credible, nonpartisan scientific evaluation, including Rand's own official study”; and then, confident that few prominent reporters would read his “report,” go in for the kill, as if his claims had actually been proven.
Step one: In a major Washington Post story in April, Klein suggested that the TAAS was fraudulent. He claimed that this was based on his research, but according to Rand's current story, Klein had just begun his research on TAAS in the spring.
Since Washington Post reporter John Mintz was writing an anti-Bush story, he didn't demand any proof of Klein's insinuations. And in getting a lengthy story published in one of the most influential newspapers in America, Klein could rest assured that most major media outlets would assimilate his claims.
Step two: In Klein's “report,” he observes that, “For example, the media have reported concerns about excessive teaching to the test,” as justification for his study. He neglected to reveal to the reader that HE WAS THE SOURCE of the media reports. (Disguising one's own previous statements as independent corroboration is a basic form of scholarly and journalistic fraud.)
As John Mintz reported in the April 21 Washington Post, six months before the Klein report's release, “‘We knew something strange was going on,’ Klein said. He believes that, without meaning to, Texas officials design TAAS tests so they're vulnerable to Texas teachers' coaching.”
Step three: The moment the “report” was released, Klein again spoke to reporters at major news organizations. Playing off the momentum he had built up in steps one and two, he denounced the Texas Miracle as a “myth.”
We cannot discount the help that mainstream media organizations gave Stephen Klein. In July, the Rand Corporation had published a major, 250-page study, by a team led by David W. Grissmer, Improving Student Achievement: What NAEP State Scores Tell Us, that supported Texas officials' claims.
As thorough and well-documented as the Grissmer study was, Rand released it four months before the election, but somehow it didn't get much coverage. Conversely, Rand released the Klein paper exactly two weeks before the election, and it got tremendous play.
As we'll see tomorrow, the structure of the Klein “report” is much like that of the Klein spin campaign. In lieu of evidence, Stephen Klein uses suggestion and innuendo, and then, acting as if he had proved that which he only insinuated, he piles on ever more dramatic suggestions and innuendoes. Another favored technique has him equivocate in his use of terms such as “coaching,” “cramming,” and “test preparation,” so that they mutate from innocent, even positive words into euphemisms for “cheating.”
Sandra Stotsky, a veteran researcher at the Harvard School of Education (but don't hold that against her!), is the Deputy Commissioner of Academic Affairs and Planning of the Massachusetts Department of Education. She is the author of, among other works, Losing Our Language: How Multicultural Classroom Instruction is Undermining Our Children's Ability to Read, Write, and Reason.
Arguably the foremost scholar of “K-12” reading curricula, Dr. Stotsky had earlier been commissioned to perform her own study of TAAS' reading component, and found it wanting. Stotsky said that since her study, the TAAS reading component had reportedly been reformed.
Of Klein's Rand study, Sandra Stotsky remarked, “There are various groups attacking Bush, because it's Bush. It's a political thing. … [The Klein report] destroyed their academic reputation. They shot their own person [David W. Grissmer]. It made Rand look terrible.”
Unfortunately, Stephen Klein is more interested in manipulating reality, than in discovering and describing it. That's why I call him, “Dr. Spin.”
October Surprise? The Texas Testing Controversy By Nicholas Stix October 31, 2000
(Just before the 2000 presidential election, the socialist MSM, which was willing to do anything to help get Democrat candidate and then-Vice President Al Gore elected pressident, sprung two traps -- "October Surprises" -- on Gov. George W. Bush, the Republican candidate. The SMSM first published and broadcast reports that Bush had been arrested for driving while intoxicated over twenty years earlier, and then, on October 24, promoted a new "report" that insinuated that the "Texas Miracle" (Bush's phrase) in education was due to massive, institutionalized test fraud.)
Was George W. Bush caught cheating in school?
That's what four researchers at the prestigious Rand Corporation, a non-profit, education research organization based in Santa Monica, California, are claiming. In a report released on October 24, "What Do Test Scores in Texas Tell Us?," Stephen P. Klein, Laura S. Hamilton, Daniel F. McCaffrey and Brian M. Stecher suggest that there's something rotten in the state of Texas, and that the "Texas miracle" of educational progress, is really so much Texas bull.
Based on 1990-98 testing figures, Texas education officials had reported gains in reading, writing, and math among Texas public school children that tripled those made in the same subjects by children across the nation. And unlike the rest of the U.S., in which the racial educational gap between whites on the one hand, and blacks and Hispanics on the other, has in recent years been growing, in Texas it was shrinking.
Texas Gov. George Bush dubbed the reported gains "the Texas miracle," and made them a pillar of his Presidential candidacy.
(The national figures I referred to above were those of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), the closest thing we have to a uniform, national educational exam, which is given in 44 states. The Texas figures were from the Texas Assessment of Academic Skills (TAAS), which is unique to Texas.)
Immediately, one thinks: My, what a coincidence, just two weeks before Election Day. And only three months after a different team at the same Rand Corporation had published a major study, which wholeheartedly praised and endorsed Texas' educational progress.
Suspicious coincidences aside, the question is, Did Texas educators cheat, and fudge the results of the Texas Assessment of Academic Skills (TAAS)? My initial judgement was that beyond partisan politics, we might never know the truth. But it didn't look good.
But accompanying the report, before it could even be criticized, Rand President James Thomson issued a combative press release insisting, "We don't produce findings for political reasons, we don't distribute them for political reasons, and we don't sit on them for political reasons. This is a scrupulously nonpartisan institution. He did protest too much.
As I read the report, I searched for evidence of cheating, of fraud, of misconduct ... and found none. Not one shred. What I found instead were loads of speculation, innuendo, and language weasely enough to fertilize all the onion fields in southern California.
And then I examined the orchestration of the media attacks on George W. Bush's education record going back months before the report's release, led by, among others, the "lead researcher" of the October 24 report, Stephen Klein, and I realized that there was no "aside" beyond the "coincidences." George W. Bush was the recipient of a political hit, pure and simple.
The guilty parties are, first and foremost, Rand Corporation "researchers" Stephen P. Klein, Laura S. Hamilton, Daniel F. McCaffrey and Brian M. Stecher, and Rand President James Thomson.
But they had help. Help came from, among others, Walt Haney, a Boston College professor of education, researchers Linda McNeil of Rice University and Angela Valenzuela of the University of Texas, and Washington Post reporter John Mintz, who provided the aforementioned players with the platform from which they initially attacked the TAAS. (Mintz, however, is the most morally ambiguous figure here, because he is a hero, too. Information he provided was crucial to this story.)
Walt Haney is a leader of the cabal of anti-testing ideologues among the radical professors who control virtually all of the nation's major teacher education programs, and which is now making inroads in independent testing and research organizations. Linda McNeil and Angela Valenzuela are likewise members of the "test bashing" cabal, in the phrase coined by education critic Richard Phelps. Politically, these professors are what is euphemistically referred to as "liberal" in some circles, "multicultural" in others, and what I call "racial socialist," since they combine socialism and racialism.
As we shall see, A) the "research" claiming to disprove the Texas Miracle is laughably incompetent and biased; B) the new report is contradicted by a much more thoroughly researched Rand report that was published just three months earlier, and whose lead author, David W. Grissmer has sharply criticized Klein & Co.; C) Rand Corporation President James Thomson's statement in defense of Klein, et al., has all of the credibility of New York Yankees manager Joe Torre's defenses of his pitcher, Roger Clemens,' attempts to maim the New York Mets' Mike Piazza; D) the leaders of academia's anti-testing subculture, e.g., Walt Haney, in Richard Phelps' words, "never met a test they liked"; E) and finally, we shall see the context of this "research"; a campaign — itself characterized by contradictory and outrageous statements — by anti-testing zealots to discredit George W. Bush's Presidential candidacy, and win the election for Vice-President Al Gore.
And yet with all that said, Gov. George W. Bush is not going to come out of this debacle smelling like the yellow rose of Texas, either. As we shall see, the TAAS is not without thorns. So pay attention, because there will be a test — on November 7th!
“Do this! Do that! Hurry up!... There’s just no good help any more.”
Imagine you could go through life surrounded by indentured servants on whom you depended, yet to whom you never had to say “Please” or “Thank you.”
In the cartoon series, The Backyardigans, five imaginative little children turn a backyard into exotic locales. In “The Secret of the Nile,” set in ancient Egypt, “Princess Tasha” sings “I love being a princess,” because her “servants” (slaves) must be at her beck and call. As the servants tell us, in asides, “Princess Tasha never says ‘Please’ … or ‘Thank you.’”
When the Nile suddenly dries up, the Sphinx teaches Princess Tasha the secret of the Nile: You must always say “Please” and “Thank you.” When the princess finally shows gratitude to her servants, the Nile is replenished.
America today has millions of real-life Princess Tashas – but they haven’t been enlightened by the Sphinx. (Enlightened by the Sphinx?! Oh, well.) One wealthy seven-year-old tells his illegal immigrant nanny, “You are our slave!” A privileged six-year-old, herself a Chinese-born adoptee, tells her immigrant nanny, “I’m going to tell my mommy to fire you!”
The Princess Tashas have picked up the attitude of their employer-criminal parents, who have come to believe that they are above the law.
Although you’d never know it from the feds’ refusal to enforce the law, knowingly hiring illegal immigrants is a crime. The parents of the princes and princesses are also guilty of tax evasion, for not withholding taxes for their illegal employees and not paying their portion of the employees’ taxes.
If the government collected outstanding back taxes, fined, arrested and prosecuted such employer-criminals, our illegal immigrant problem would be reduced to manageable levels, with most of the unemployed illegals heading home – to the nations to whom they are loyal.
Many journalists and editors are longtime members of the employer-criminal class. They rely on illegal immigrants to clean their homes, raise their children (they consider child-rearing beneath them), cook their meals, mow their lawns, and walk their dogs. No wonder media folk choose not to report honestly on immigration, and seek to demonize those who respect America’s laws as “racists,” “nativists,” and “xenophobes.”
America’s upper classes – Left and Right alike – have used illegal immigrants to wage class war on the rest of America.
The employer-criminals not only economically displace American workers, enrich themselves by paying illegals below-market wages and engaging in tax evasion, and pick working Americans’ pockets by forcing them to pay the cost of educating, giving medical treatment to, and jailing their illegal employees and the latter’s families, but the employer-criminals add insult to injury by demonizing the very people they are disenfranchising.
Indeed, in a social world in which one must always worry about being denounced for “racism,” white, working-class Americans constitute just about the only group that upper-middle and upper-class American criminals can disparage without worrying about who might overhear them.
Oddly enough, millions of illegals have themselves become Princess Tashas, imitating their lawless employers. Across America, between late March and early May, over one million illegals marched, some of them several times, demanding citizenship while hoisting high Mexican flags, and turning American flags upside down, or burning them, and viciously assaulting Americans who disagreed with them. While announcing that their loyalty will always be to Mexico, they said that they are the “real” Americans, and that as part of their revanchist Reconquista, they will expel all white Americans.
And why shouldn’t illegals be arrogant? After all, their most powerful supporter dishonestly refers to them as “citizens.”
Mexico has a zero tolerance policy towards illegal immigrants; is America any less of a nation, or less deserving of respect?
Illegal immigration propagandists insist that the economy will collapse without illegals, but in fact it is only the criminal economy of employers of illegals that would collapse. Were the law enforced, employers would have to pay the sort of wages that they paid before they decided to cut them by half or more and disenfranchise the American working class. Americans would then return to those jobs.
The Federation of American Immigration Reform calculated that an amnesty and guest worker program would cost state and local governments $61.5 billion more per year in social services by 2010, bankrupting many of them. And that was before President Bush presented, in his May 15 speech, his amnesty/guest worker plan, which would, according to an analysis by the staff of Sen. Jeff Sessions (R, AL), let in over 200 million legal immigrants – several times more than FAIR had countenanced – over the next twenty years alone. And that’s still not counting the next tidal wave of illegals that Bush’s plan will encourage, if it is enacted.
Bear Stearns economists Robert Justich and Betty Ng (who, by the way, support illegal immigration) have estimated that illegal immigration may already be costing the tax base $65 billion annually. And since most amnestied immigrants would be low-wage workers, they would ultimately pay no federal taxes or even get refunds via the Earned Income Tax Credit.
Are the Mets on Strike Against Their Fans? By Nicholas Stix
During tonight’s otherwise inspiring, 4-3 victory over the Yankees, a development caused concern in this observer. When Carlos Delgado hit a three-run homer in the fourth inning, to turn a 2-0 deficit into a 3-2 Mets lead, the Mets faithful (there were thousands of Yankees fans who had also managed to sneak in) at Shea Stadium gave the lefthanded-hitting first baseman a long ovation, seeking a curtain call from Delgado. And yet, Delgado ignored the fans.
The next batter, David Wright, also hit a home run, but the fans did not clamor for a curtain call from him.
In years past, when the fans clamored for a curtain call, the Mets always obliged them. Always.
And so it remained, until April 6. That night, Carlos Beltran hit a big home run, to break an 0-for-9 beginning to his second season with the Mets, after signing the biggest free agent contract ($119 million for seven seasons) to join the team in 2005, and being a bust. He was paid $17 million per season to bat third, knock in 110 or more runs, and score 110 or more runs, as per his career stats. Instead, he knocked in only 78 runs and scored only 83, numbers that might justify a $2 million contract in today’s inflated major league baseball market. Beltran is lucky he wasn’t arrested and tried for grand larceny.
The fans had booed Beltran mercilessly at the beginning of the season, and reportedly had begun booing him late last season. But if you want the big bucks and the cheers when you produce, you have to accept the boos when you don’t.
Beltran evidently doesn’t see it that way. The camera caught him glowering as he walked in the dugout immediately following the home run, shaking his head that he would not give the fans a curtain call. The camera then caught 47-year-old player-monument-unofficial coach Julio Franco go to Beltran and talk to him once, twice, and even a third time, before Beltran would deign to quickly wave a helmetless hand to the fans from the dugout, to another huge round of cheers.
Since then, although the Mets’ MLB.com Web site has frequently featured one of Beltran’s rare smiles (perhaps from last year?), a scowl has been almost frozen on his face.
Beltran’s hostility, and Delgado’s snub of the fans bring back an issue that keeps coming up with Latin players – which team are they playing on? The team whose uniform they wear, or some invisible Latin Nation team of players who are paid by different organizations in different cities? You see it when Hispanic players flagrantly violate age-old rules against fraternization with opposing players and coaches on the field before games, when they set themselves up as a team-within-the-team (e.g., Manny Ramirez and Pedro Martinez in Boston) and when they snub their own non-Latin teammates for Latin players from opposing teams after the game.
The most obscene case I know of Latin chauvinism (so far) came three years ago, when Sammy Sosa’s corked bat exploded in a game when he hit a ground ball, and exposed Sosa to all the world as a cheater. Sosa was suspended for eight games, but rather than take his punishment like a man, he lied about the cheating, claiming that the corked bat was one he usually used to entertain the fans during batting practice, and then appealed his sentence, getting it reduced to seven games. At the time I wrote,
Sammy Sosa's two most vociferous defenders have been retired, Cuban-born slugger Jose Canseco, and Dominican superstar pitcher Pedro Martinez of the Boston Red Sox. Imitating the style of black race hustlers, Canseco and Martinez have attacked American whites as "racist" for criticizing Sosa's cheating.
Canseco is engaging in a form of racial demagoguery that is increasingly common among white Hispanics, who are notorious for priding themselves – among other Hispanics, in Spanish – on their whiteness. However, in public, the same proudly white Hispanics declare themselves "persons of color," and shamelessly race-bait non-Hispanic whites.
Martinez, who is brown, has been Sosa's most aggressive defender, suggesting that he would assault a writer critical of Sosa, and demanding that baseball apologize to Sosa.
Prior to the 2005 season, New York magazine published a puff piece on the Mets by feature writer Chris Smith, “Los Mets,” claiming that it was now a Latin team. “How Omar Minaya ensnared players like Pedro Martinez and Carlos Beltran to create a new Latin dream team.”
At the time, Smith’s claim was bogus. The team had only two Latin starting position players, shortstop Jose Reyes and newly signed centerfielder, Carlos Beltran. Its starting first baseman (Doug Mientkewicz), third baseman (David Wright), and catcher (Mike Piazza) were all white. Its starting second baseman (Kaz Matsui) was Japanese. Its leftfielder (Cliff Floyd) and rightfielder (Mike Cameron) were both black. Its starting rotation had two Hispanic pitchers, newly signed free agent Pedro Martinez and Victor Zambrano, the latter for whom they had traded late in the previous season, but the above-named players certainly did not make them a “Latin” team. The New York magazine writer, Smith, was clearly guilty of Hispandering.
This year, however, with Minaya’s acquisitions of slugging starting first baseman Carlos Delgado, starting right fielder Xavier Nady, and relief pitchers Duaner Sanchez and Jorge Julio, and manager Willie Randolph’s decision to start the since-injured Anderson Hernandez at second base, the team opened the season with a majority-Latin starting lineup. Minaya also signed several Latin bench players -- Julio Franco, Jose Valentin, and Endy Chavez this year, in addition to Ramon Castro, whom he signed last year. (Last year he also signed second baseman Miguel Cairo, who this year returned to the Yankees.)
Minaya has put together a good team; it would be an even better one, if its starting rotation could stay healthy. But is he biased against non-Latin players, and is the team he put together hostile towards its predominantly white fan base? Is Omar, like so many decision-makers in today’s America, looking to elect a new, non-white base? Things are not looking good for Minaya, in either case.
Although Carlos Delgado is an American by birth, he had long snubbed the playing of “God Bless America” during ballgames, by refusing to stand for the song. He claimed it was due to his opposition to the War in Iraq, a claim that the socialist MSM has let him get away with. In fact, the singing of “God Bless America” didn’t begin with the War in Iraq; it began with the first game played after 911 had caused the 2001 baseball season to be temporarily suspended.
(Delgado is from Puerto Rico, and was opposed to the U.S. Navy using the island of Vieques for live ammo naval maneuvers, a practice that was ended, to the detriment of the nation’s military readiness. However, Delgado has never opposed the millions of dollars in show-no jobs that Puerto Ricans continue to make from the now useless U.S. Navy base in Vieques.)
One of the reasons why Hispanic players feel emboldened to insult the people who pay them tens of millions of dollars to play a boy’s game, is due to politically correct whites who encourage Hispanic racism and anti-Americanism, in order to insult American whites who love their country.
One such white enabler is Dave Zirin, a columnist at The Nation magazine.
Carlos Delgado’s acceptance of the fact that Fred Wilpon is the Mets owner and thus that Wilpon, who loves his country, gets to determine team policy, upset to no end Zirin, who had wanted to politically exploit Delgado. In the same editorial in which Zirin recounted how Delgado suffered no consequences from his previous corporate masters when he snubbed the playing of the song, Zirin complained that Delgado was now giving in to his corporate masters. (No logic, please, we’re leftists.)
Zirin desperately insults Fred Wilpon’s son as “baby-boy,” the Wilpons as “little more than mosquitoes,” and conscripts Roberto Clemente for his jihad. He takes for granted that Fred Wilpon should pay Carlos Delgado $13.5 million this season, while letting his new player humiliate him and his country before millions of fans watching the game on TV.
(It is hardly surprising, then, that Zirin would seek to cut Babe Ruth down to size, in order to try and inject Barry Bonds with humanity.)
Zirin claimed, histrionically, that the necessity of Delgado sticking it to his boss and the New York fans was a matter of democracy, social justice, and freedom of speech. I am not aware of him ever defending the right of employees of leftwing enterprises (including universities and public schools) to dissenting “freedom of speech,” “democracy,” and “social justice.”
If the Mets don’t get some sense in a hurry, and start treating their fans with some respect, it might be curtains for the team from Flushing. After all, the local Latin population is not exactly stampeding to buy Mets tickets.