• Bringing up race isn’t racist
    April 21,2014
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    Bringing up

    race isn’t racist

    A high school teacher of mine had a motto: “Facts, not fluff.” I would like politicians in this country to adopt a similar motto: “Facts, not vilification, obfuscation, or bald-faced lies.”

    A Newport city representative, Duncan Kilmartin, was recently accused of being racist when he cited statistics comparing student achievement in Vermont and Texas. He said that when controlled for race, the scores for Texas were better. I am heartily annoyed that another representative (Jean O’Sullivan) used this as an opportunity for name-calling instead of engaging in a discussion of the facts. Hey, people: It is not racist to mention race.

    Was Kilmartin trying to promote the bogus old narrative of school “failure,” or was he simply trying to caution us not to rest on apples-to-oranges laurels? Either way, it was wrong for O’Sullivan to vilify him.

    The fact is, Kilmartin was right. White students in Texas do slightly outperform Vermont students on the NAEP test and high school graduation rates. On the other hand, Vermont does a better job educating poor students than Texas does; we are near the top of the nation in our ability to teach children of poverty. So who’s the winner here? Do we even need one? More important than either of these facts is that both Texas and Vermont are improving. Educators spend their time trying to learn from each other, not compete with each other, and the result is better outcomes for all.

    I’d like to see a worldwide democracy test. In addition to measuring voter participation, each nation’s politicians would be judged based on measurable outcomes such as the economic, physical and mental health of its citizens. Pay for politicians would be adjusted based upon these outcomes, as well as on such observable qualities as ability to listen to and understand opponents, number of lies told, number of lies believed, etc. Talk about failure — something tells me the U.S. would be on the bottom of the heap.


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