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Education Stats

Houston's Gifted Education Program Biased Against Blacks and Latinos 445

tiberus sends an NPR report investigating the fairness of gifted and talented programs in Houston schools. Analysts believe black and hispanic students are at put at a disadvantage because of the way in which the program is run. Quoting: Donna Ford, at Vanderbilt University, thinks that put Isaac at a disadvantage. She's been researching gifted education for decades, and when it comes to Houston's program she says, "I think it's a clear case of segregation, gifted education being segregated by race and income." Houston school leaders asked Ford to take a close look at their enrollment in the program, and she gave it a failing grade. "Racial bias has to be operating, inequities are rampant. Discrimination does exist whether intentional or unintentional," she told the school board in May of this year. Ford found that both Hispanic and black students are underrepresented in gifted programs and that black students are missing out the most. She also found that about half the seats in those programs go to higher-income students, even though the majority of the district is poor.
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Houston's Gifted Education Program Biased Against Blacks and Latinos

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  • Bias? Or reality? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mveloso ( 325617 ) on Wednesday September 30, 2015 @01:24PM (#50628983)

    If the tests are too easy, the kids aren't "gifted."

    If they don't pass the test, then they aren't "gifted."

    If the test uses words they don't understand, then what words would the researcher suggest the tests use that aren't "culturally biased?" Using three letter words well isn't a sign of ability.

    • by Etherwalk ( 681268 ) on Wednesday September 30, 2015 @01:36PM (#50629091)

      If the tests are too easy, the kids aren't "gifted."

      If they don't pass the test, then they aren't "gifted."

      If the test uses words they don't understand, then what words would the researcher suggest the tests use that aren't "culturally biased?" Using three letter words well isn't a sign of ability.

      A lot depends on how you're testing for giftedness.

      Unfortunately if you don't have money or education yourself, your kids are much less likely to, so someone from a poverty-stricken background or with parents who aren't formally educated are on average going to do much worse on tests. They may also tend to be non-white. That's not racism, but it does create a systemic bias where you place people based on the money and education of their parents.

      What we really need is enrichment programs designed to counteract that starting from a young age. A giftedness program isn't that unless we *make* it that.

      But if we do use a giftedness program for that, we should be explicit about it--state whether the goal is to be representative of the population or to take the highest-scorers, for example.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        If you have a gifted child, one that is naturally smart, but can't pass these tests it probably shows a lack a parental involvement. Throwing them in a gifted program without that same support structure of the family would be pointless.
        • by Wycliffe ( 116160 ) on Wednesday September 30, 2015 @02:05PM (#50629403) Homepage

          If you have a gifted child, one that is naturally smart, but can't pass these tests it probably shows a lack a parental involvement. Throwing them in a gifted program without that same support structure of the family would be pointless.

          It's more than just support structure. Most gifted tests are biased but that's not necessarily bad. I have twin boys. One excels in math, the other excels in reading. Same parental involvement. The one who excels in logic/math scored higher on the IQ test and therefore got into the gifted program while his twin brother who is a better reader and probably more knowledgeable didn't. In the program's defence, although probably not completely intentional, my experience is that the ones who excel in math need gifted services more as they usually have poorer social skills than someone gifted in reading.
          There are lots of reasons that someone doesn't make the cut. My son who didn't make the cut is also more hyperactive and therefore doesn't do as good on tests. He's also much less interested in puzzles than his brother, etc... This is in one family and even if I don't agree with it, I can clearly see why it happened. For poor families, the number of differences are greatly different. When I was in the gifted program, probably less than 10% of the class were from a "poor" family but again, intelligence is hereditary and if you're smart then there is a higher probability that your parents were successful.

        • If you have a gifted child, one that is naturally smart, but can't pass these tests it probably shows a lack a parental involvement.

          Have you done similar tests so you know what to prepare your child for?

          Do you have other parents in your peer group encouraging and advising you?

          Are the tutors/practice tests a small portion of your income?

          etc, the answers to all those questions depend a lot on race and income.

          For a gifted kid from poor minority parents it usually takes exceptionally dedicated parents.

          For a gifted kid from rich white parents it usually takes mildly dedicated parents.

          That's how institutional racism works, it's not that it's

          • by jedidiah ( 1196 ) on Wednesday September 30, 2015 @03:38PM (#50630461) Homepage

            > For a gifted kid from poor minority parents it usually takes exceptionally dedicated parents.
            >For a gifted kid from rich white parents it usually takes mildly dedicated parents.
            > That's how institutional racism works,

            THAT is not "racism". That's bleeding hearts making excuses for people and ultimately robbing them of any pride or free will.

            Pretending that these people are somehow "incapable" for whatever lame ass reason. THAT's racism.

      • by unrtst ( 777550 )

        Just stop considering and naming it "gifted".

        There needs to be multiple paths of learning, so that those that are advancing faster can continue to advance. Why they're advancing doesn't matter in the context of a need for such a path. Some may be from wealthy families that have hired tutors for home and really focus on education and push their kids, regardless of their capacity, and at cost to other parts of their lives. Some may have a knack or natural passion for certain subjects. Some may have higher IQ'

        • The problem with this approach, is that it is information age approach, while we have people kicking and screaming to hold onto Industrial (factory) schools. These people view everything in a "one size fits all" formula for schooling our children, because it is much easier to place blame on bad teachers, not enough money, racism, poverty and everything else when kids don't get educated.

          The actual problem is the system itself, because it wants equal outcome for all. We pour huge amounts of resources into edu

    • by VorpalRodent ( 964940 ) on Wednesday September 30, 2015 @01:42PM (#50629173)

      The article gives little indication on how the program is run, other than that it is "point based", and that tutorials and testing materials are available online for purchase.

      This, unfortunately, biases the program towards those who have the resources available to spend on their child, regardless of race. There's mention of some sort of "selection criteria" prior to being tested, so some bias could definitely be introduced there, but in the end, the tests themselves (provided they're valid and administered properly) should provide valid results.

      That being said, the kid in the story is 8 years old. At that age, kids will show up all over the place on testing depending on how things are going at home. It mentioned that his dad never gets to see him because he's always either working or finishing his degree. It's unfortunate, but it's a catch-22 - the father sounds for all intents and purposes like he's doing a great job improving things for his family, but this is bound to have an impact in the short term on the kid.

      I realize I'm a horrible human being for saying so, but perhaps this isn't so much a sign that the Gifted and Talented program is biased, but rather that a program intended to nurture talented individuals will, by necessity, be biased towards those individuals who by virtue of their environment are allowed to develop more talents.

      We have a separate program where we take kids who have the potential to have talents but haven't yet realized them and attempt to nurture them into actual's called school.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by ColdWetDog ( 752185 )

        Those who have resources tend to do better than those that don't.

        Minority students tend to have less resources than white students.

        None of the 'tests' look at innate ability because that is almost impossible to test for in an unbiased way. They look at learned and studied tasks. They do this through standardized testing regimens that are a learned behavior in and of itself.

        The only way to change this is to give disadvantaged students the resources that the non disadvantage students have. Unfortunately, t

        • by Archangel Michael ( 180766 ) on Wednesday September 30, 2015 @02:19PM (#50629585) Journal

          Please explain to me, how 50 years after the Great Society, and all the special programs for all the minorities, how they are still disadvantaged by our society?

          And While we are talking about this, how do blacks/Hispanics do worse, even generationally, than people not born in the country (Asia for example)?

          Here is my take, there is bias in the system, but it isn't whites. IT is the people (parents) and cultures that do not value education as high, don't do as well. You can blame it on white people all you want, but when people come here from other countries and do so much better than people who are born and raise here, you can no longer point to the system or society in general.

          And knowing what I know, the greatest predictor to success in school is the parents (or lack thereof). DO the parents value education or is school just a place to send kids for babysitting services? You want to fix the education system, fix the broken homes. (or is that racist?)

          • Please explain to me, how 50 years after the Great Society, and all the special programs for all the minorities, how they are still disadvantaged by our society?

            Pretty simple really, wealth tends to perpetuate. The greatest indicator for success in life is the affluence of your parents. This has little to do with race. The great society did little to actually level the playing field wealth wise.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              Poor Immigrants from Asia tend to counter your argument.

              Great society was the "war on poverty", and we have more poor people now than we did then (percentage wise). I guess another failed war on _______.

              This doesn't have anything to do with race, it has to to with liberal policies that have destroyed the family, and disenfranchised women into being single parents, and children raised by other wolf cubs rather than by successful people mentoring them.

              The problems are very much compounded by each other, but n

    • Re:Bias? Or reality? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by BZ ( 40346 ) on Wednesday September 30, 2015 @01:50PM (#50629255)

      A lot of gifted programs, and this one is no exception, only partially rely on a test for selection decisions. They also rely on teacher recommendations to a large extent. And while I'm sympathetic to the view that you have to be able to pass the test if it's reasonable, I would be shocked if there were no bias in the teacher recommendation process.

      • A lot of gifted programs, and this one is no exception, only partially rely on a test for selection decisions. They also rely on teacher recommendations to a large extent. And while I'm sympathetic to the view that you have to be able to pass the test if it's reasonable, I would be shocked if there were no bias in the teacher recommendation process.

        As somebody who was in such a gifted program: Yes, there are indeed teacher biases, but they've got nothing (directly) to do with race. They selected for those who had some flavor of behavioral issues--if you were smart nobody gave a damn what race you were, because every smart kid that the school could keep would help raise averages, and that was what mattered to the staff overall. The tolerance for misbehavior tended to go up the more desperate the school was for the impact of the smart kid's scores on

    • Talented & Gifted programs are specifically high-IQ (as they're based on the same rules that set up special education classes for low-IQ students).

      IQ tests have been shown to be culturally biased (and thus indirectly racially biased), as there's an assumption that people will have certain cultural knowledge & norms.

      Take for instance the question "What are the four seasons?". For someone in Alaska, when they hear 'seasons' they might not think about the winter/spring/summer/autumn cycle, but might i

      • Questions about place settings at a dinner table (eg, cup & saucer) might be easier for someone from a higher socio-economic group than for someone who is food-insecure.

        Well, I didn't grow up wealthy by any means, and I wouldn't say I was "food insecure" ... at least not in terms of how I'd really think of that term ... but if at any point in my life someone had used place settings at a dinner table as a measure of IQ, I'd be forced to conclude the test was bullshit.

        The ability to know which fork goes w

        • I actually seem to remember some controversy about this a couple of decades ago, and one actual example they gave about a standardized test was a question about a regatta. Anyone who knows nothing about boats will have no idea what a regatta is. Most kids today probably have no idea, and a lot of adults too.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        But real IQ tests (not some goofy "online IQ test") just test kids with abstract tasks like organizing larger shapes out of smaller shapes, or predicting the next step in a pattern. It's all abstract. The language doesn't even matter, never mind "cultural knowledge".

      • Obviously all the questions you posed are culturally biased because they all ask for knowledge (partially even of cultural norms).
        IQ test do not ask for knowledge but the ability to process knowledge. I.e. they normally provide all the information you need. See e.g. [] .

        Surely, one can train to be good at such test (simply doing them once or twice will probably enormously help as one then has some basic understanding on how they work). So there will be a bias towards parents w

      • A concerto composed by Antonio Vivaldi. Bonus points if you can actually play it.

        And if you ask Ben Carson, it isn't about race so much as the foresight and will of the parent(s).

      • It's true that this can happen, but well-designed IQ tests try to avoid questions dependent on any specific cultural context, or don't score based on the answer itself, but how the answer is thought through.

        A properly scored IQ test that did ask "what are the four seasons?" could actually give full credit to a response that involved hunting seasons. In that case, the person administering the test would be looking for whether the child understood why there were different hunting seasons and what that impl

      • IQ tests have been shown to be culturally biased (and thus indirectly racially biased), as there's an assumption that people will have certain cultural knowledge & norms.

        Perhaps those tests which rely on questions that require some cultural knowledge (which seem to be more of a test of how well you know a culture than general learning ability, but I digress), but please tell me how something like Raven's progressive matrices [] is culturally or racially biased.

    • Re:Bias? Or reality? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Austerity Empowers ( 669817 ) on Wednesday September 30, 2015 @04:18PM (#50630891)

      If the tests are too easy, the kids aren't "gifted."

      If they don't pass the test, then they aren't "gifted."

      If the test uses words they don't understand, then what words would the researcher suggest the tests use that aren't "culturally biased?" Using three letter words well isn't a sign of ability.

      No the entire program is bullshit designed to reduce funding and weed out people, all while being couched in terms of "special education". I am going to assume that Houston's school district is similar to where I live elsewhere in Texas, but possibly less well funded. First, to get your kid in "TAG" requires him to be "identified", this means a teacher or a parent must first request him to be tested. A teacher will almost never do this, almost every person who worked with my son, except his teacher told us about the program and said we need to get him in it, but his teachers never said a word, all while they were saying his math and reading were so high they could not "max him out". So as a parent you must get involved and make it happen, easier for me as a relatively high income person with a flexible job. Not easy if you have to work fixed hours.

      Then, you have to know the TAG testing schedule, at least where I am that's November, meaning if you have a Kindergarten student you want in. It's not frequently well advertised and you have to know that "TAG" means "Talented and Gifted", which is not always as well known. If you miss the deadline your child is apparently not gifted. Then you have some questions to fill out, of the free-form variety, where you describe the ways in which your child is gifted. You have to use the proper words, taken from the paperwork, most of which consists of terms I am fairly certain psychology ditched decades ago. You see they want a "gifted child" not merely a child who "is hard working". You have to make it clear your child is gifted, even though, as far as I'm concerned if your hard working child looks and acts the same as a gifted one, what's the biggie? Also, by the way, once your child is in the program he IS in fact going to be put (after 2nd grade) on an accelerated program for Math & Science that will culminate in him being far ahead of his peers, and will have considerable extra project load some of which will involve parental involvement, so honestly he better be willing to work and stick to it. But hey, this is all just funding pillow talk baby, let's play the game. You must write free form prose, not so hard for well educated people, but it might be really hard if your own education is poor, definitely this favors those who work in certain environments or get lots of practice writing lengthy essays.

      Then in January, children whose parents properly jumped hoops get to take a 4-day long test which allegedly assesses the child's giftedness in a way that can't be prepared for. Of course they don't really believe that either, so they don't tell you what test he will be taking, nor do you get to help prepare your possibly very gifted but also possibly immature child for a long ordeal. So now you send your little 5-yo in for a "nationally normed" standardized test which allegeldy assesses his IQ based on these topics: Math, Science, Reading/English & Social Studies. Now as far as I know, ones IQ is independent of academic subjects, but this is what they say the test will divine. Did I mention that there are private programs available for people with money to prepare kids for this test? There are, if you can afford it.

      Then there is the selection phase. So you've done all this work, your child has taken a test whose results you never saw, and they decide whether to admit him or not. Good News: there are only X spots available per grade level, so while your child may be certifiably gifted there may not be enough space for him and thus he is not gifted anymore because he can't also be gifted along with the other gifted kids. He doesn't get in? Good news, you can take the test again every 2 years, because giftedness c

  • Barf (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 30, 2015 @01:26PM (#50629013)

    In other words she is so full of crap. Maybe the kids that are in the program are better than other kids because of things like their parents care enough to insure the kid is doing their homework, is responsible etc.

    This whole institutional racism crap is just that crap. If she had evidence that a school or teacher blatantly excluded kids of a minority group that would be different but what she is spouting is SJW at its finest.

  • Donna Ford (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Major Blud ( 789630 ) on Wednesday September 30, 2015 @01:28PM (#50629025) Homepage

    I think all one needs to do is read up on the person quoted in the article. I'm sure she doesn't have an agenda: []

    • Constable Savage, would I be correct in assuming that Ms. Ford is a coloured lady?

    • She certainly makes a lot of claims but supplies no examples. Somehow she insinuates that higher income parents have some way of knowing the tests are coming that the other parents don't have. She insinuates rich parents may be using expensive aids to prepare their kids but shows no proof that is happening, not even a specific example.

      Finding those talented kids among the disadvantaged is important, but the default mode of blaming systemic bias as the cause of all our problems only ensures we'll keep bic
    • The article shows this referenced professor uses the same type of reasoning used to "find" bias in police arrests -- that because the gifted/arrested distribution differs from the local populace, racial bias must be taking place.

      Her arguments boil down to this:
      1) The tests used to find gifted kids are culturally biased. (Without explaining what this means.)
      2) Teacher recommendations are also used, and teachers are racially biased. (Without giving the racial composition of the teachers.)
      3) The parents of r

    • It's obvious that the criminal justice system is prejudiced against them. Therefore enough men should be released from the prisons until equality is achieved!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 30, 2015 @01:28PM (#50629027)

    There is no way coming from a higher income home that can provide a healthy environment and extracurricular education tools and opportunites could have a bearing on the ability of the child to rate higher than those coming from poor households.

    How is it unfair or racist by default if you only look at the demographic data. Only the test scores should matter.

    • by alvinrod ( 889928 ) on Wednesday September 30, 2015 @01:41PM (#50629151)
      You'd simply want to control for those factors, not dismiss them outright. If after controlling for socioeconomic status, family/home situation, etc. you find that there is still a large gap along racial lines, then there is probably some racial bias in existence.

      However, in most cases when you do this, the difference comes out to be much smaller. A good example is the supposed wage gap where women only earn ~77% as much as men. It's just a case of bad statistics, and when you control for various factors (occupation, overtime, years working, etc.) you tend to arrive at a much smaller gap (usually 3-7%) that no longer allows for such sensational claims, so people stick to parroting the statistic that makes their cause look best.
      • They did not seem to do this at all in this very short and unsourced article. They didn't even establish if Isaac, the kid in the story, is in fact gifted!

        You can't just take the percentage of kids in the gifted program by race and say "not enough type X. Racism." Like you said, control for other factors. I'm willing to bet it's more about poverty than it is about race.

        And as for your wage gap stat, the 77% number (or is it 73%? I forget) is real, just misapplied. If you add up every dollar earned by a woma

        • A few years ago, I realized that I had been valuing other people and myself on a flawed scale. In an nutshell I had placed more value on intelligence than compassion and kindness. I started deliberately trying to think of the world I perceive through a new perspective and it changed me.

          This emphasis on income is every bit as invalid. People seem to care a lot about making sure wages are equal, but they don't ask "how worthwhile is the work" when comparing the work of women to men. Women are more likely to b

        • They didn't even establish if Isaac, the kid in the story, is in fact gifted!

          how do we know "issac" is even real? after the rolling stone article im skeptical of all these emotion based articles

    • Correct ... could not at all been because of this ...

      Aguilar is stretched thin between his job building servers for a software company and finishing his college degree in statistics. So, getting to spend time alone with Isaac is really special, but finding time to get involved with his son's school is difficult. Aguilar knows the gifted and talented program exists at Herrera Elementary, though he wasn't aware the school was testing Isaac.

      Best example NPR could find?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 30, 2015 @01:30PM (#50629045)

    Odd that the bias didn't extend to Asians or Indians or other minority groups. I wonder what can explain that?

  • >>>"Racial bias has to be operating, inequities are rampant. Discrimination does exist whether intentional or unintentional"

    What if discrimination is genetic? That is, there are more gifted kids born to high-status high-income parents. If you want to re-define gifted to be more affirmative, then you will have to use different definitions of 'gifted' for each socioeconomic class.

    Darwin taught us about selection for traits, why are we failing to notice obvious here?
    • by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Wednesday September 30, 2015 @01:43PM (#50629183) Homepage

      What if discrimination is genetic? That is, there are more gifted kids born to high-status high-income parents.

      Hmmm ... kind of by definition that's not "genetic", but socioeconomic.

      Basically it becomes the circular argument of we define "gifted" as the children of parents who can afford to give these children early advantages and exhibit the traits being measured ... and then you can't claim those children who have had additional advantages are "gifted", but "lucky enough to come from privileged backgrounds".

      The selection of traits is one thing, the ability to afford to cause the conditions for those traits isn't natural selection.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 30, 2015 @01:36PM (#50629089)

    Donna Ford immediately leaps to the conclusion that the issue is racism. More probing would probably indicate that the majority of the minority households in that area are probably single parent households, possibly with parents working low paying jobs, and\or working more than one job to make ends meet. This means that the parent is not fully invested in the upbringing of their child - probably not for lack of caring, but for lack of time or understanding about what education means to advancing yourself in society. The result is that the kid spends more time with friends and is heavily influenced by the dumb-assed decisions that all kids make.

    • The kid identified in the article demonstrated the issue well. His dad was working while going to school and didn't realize his kid was even being tested until right before it happened. A parent of higher socioeconomic status probably would have been asking about gifted testing before the kid was even signed up for Kindergarten. It's not that the dad didn't care, he probably just didn't know to ask.
      • I've always wondered what it would be like to grow up in a household where family traditions haven't been passed down. Just think, your parents learned from your grandparents who learned get the picture. Then you come to the AA subset of the populations, where Africans were taken forcibly hundreds of years ago, families broken apart, and lived doing manual labor with no true family until slavery was abolished, destroying family traditions. I'm not talking about traditions like a Sunday dinner,

        • This issue is now a legacy of the "war on poverty/great society", not of slavery, nor of racism. Entire books have been written on the evidence proving that. See "Conquest and Cultures" (or many free online columns) by Thomas Sowell, raised by a single mother housemaid, yet a non-affirmative action Harvard graduate in 1958.

          The murder rate among blacks in 1960 was half of what is was in 1980. In 1960 the vast majority of black children were raised in two-parent households. By 1990 the majority were being rai

  • by Mycroft-X ( 11435 ) on Wednesday September 30, 2015 @01:39PM (#50629127)

    The underlying assumption of this, and of "tech employee representation" being that any given subgroup retains all the demographics and characteristics of the larger group and any deviation from that is an anomaly.

    Get back to me when there is outrage that men are only 10% of the population in teaching and nursing careers. Why aren't we channeling funding to make teaching and nursing careers appealing to male students? Oh, because male students get to choose careers while minorities and female students are weak and unable to pursue the repressed interests that statistics say they must secretly harbor.

    • The population there is overwhelmingly male, so it's obvious there is a serious gender bias in the criminal justice system. Release enough male prisoners until there's equality of numbers...
  • "the local school tested Isaac in kindergarten for the gifted and talented program, he didn't qualify."

    How are these tests carried out. Do the examination markers know the genetic background of the pupils. Who verifies the results?
  • by MobyDisk ( 75490 ) on Wednesday September 30, 2015 @01:44PM (#50629193) Homepage

    The article does not provide sufficient information to support meaningful discussion or criticism. The article does not provide justification or data, only high-level conclusions. Those conclusions only apply to a particular implementation of a program in a particular state, so no generalizations are made. It does not provide any links to information about he program or the research. Unless someone wants to do that research and provide it in the summary, there is simply nothing to see here.

  • Pre School (Score:4, Informative)

    by unixcorn ( 120825 ) on Wednesday September 30, 2015 @01:47PM (#50629221)

    If we back away from simply looking at gifted programs and look at the entire school experience, including English Language Learners (where English is a second language) or supplemental reading programs and even free and reduced price lunches, we find that all kids are getting their fair share of unbiased attention. Also, being in a gifted program is tough. Kids will shy away from the tough classes if they are concerned that it will negatively affect their GPA and possibly a scholarship. As a school board member, I just had a debate with middle and high school students about this very issue. GPA is king at college admissions and risking it just to say you were in a gifted class doesn't appeal to many students.

    • That's weird, way back when I went to college, they didn't give a shit what my high school GPA was, they only cared about my SAT scores. My SAT scores were really high, so I got accepted nearly anywhere I applied, even though I certainly wasn't valedictorian or even close.

  • I have a very simple question. Is the selection in any way race based. Or is it that the merit based results end up segregated. If a critical step involves interviews or some such where otherwise high performing blacks are eliminated then this is very very bad. But if even slightly race identifying aspects such as name and school are anonymised during the selection process then I am 100% fine with whatever outcome results. The key is that they don't ruin the superior nature of the school by artificially pro
  • Sigh (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 30, 2015 @01:50PM (#50629251)

    This might be a controversial opinion, and I work in education so that's dangerous, but it's a purely mathematical one.

    What if, the percentage of blacks, hispanics, and rich-kids that are able to achieve a particular set criteria (not based on anything but particular achievements to rigorously tested levels) is less than that of other groups?

    Seriously. It doesn't have to be racism to show such a trend. In fact, the "rich-kid" portion is immensely telling in itself. Rich-kids are more likely to have a higher level of education than the average than poor kids? Really? Gosh, I'm shocked to my very core.

    Now, I see nothing to suggest that any race is biologically intellectually inferior to any other, given the same set of circumstances (income, family support, encouragement from peers, etc.). If you draw a line, therefore, and the criteria aren't directly based on income, for example, the people who passed met a fair criteria and those that didn't couldn't meet that criteria. That there's a disproportionality in race, gender, sexual orientation, height, obesity or anything else doesn't warrant lowering the criteria piecemeal or case-by-case - if anything, it's a perfect social indicator of exactly what's going on.

    But a program for gifted students WILL NOT reflect the perfect statistical averages that you desire. It won't. Nor will a driving test, or a test for astronauts ("Oh, no, we have had disproportionally less Chinese astronauts than Soviet, therefore we must be being racist! Quick, let's change the test so it doesn't matter if you spend your life throwing up in space, so long as the percentages are right!")/ It'll reflect those that are classed as - literally - above their peer average. That may only coincide with a perfect subsection through society in a completely perfect society.

    Now, you could argue that we should adjust the gifted-program to take account of this. But that takes a specific set of levelled tests, not inherently biased against those groups, and modifies it based on the politics and economics of the day. It's that kind of shit that leads to immense watering down of qualifications. "Oh, because you had a cold on the exam day, you should be given higher marks than the guy who's better than you but didn't" - extreme exaggeration but that's basically the implication at play. Personally, I find "Oh, you are classed as gifted because although you did less well than this guy, you're black so we have to take that into account" INCREDIBLY offensive, to everyone and to common sense.

    Or you could, you know, invest in programs specifically designed to get black, hispanic, poor, whatever kids the same quality of education and support as enjoyed by their peers. That's the goal, and that's what happens already, and that's the way forward. Not to single out groups and say "Aw, diddums, did we not pass the test? Okay, never mind, what's your skin colour, medical history, and all possible mitigating factors? We just fiddle the criteria so they don't apply to YOU."

    If you set a fair criteria and someone doesn't meet it, you don't change the criteria, you identify the source problem (which may be as simple as economic disadvantage) and solve that instead if you want proportionality.

    It's incredibly offensive to suggest that the next five presidents should be of Asian descent, or female, just because there haven't been any of those yet so we're "misrepresenting". No. You put it to a vote and the person with the most votes wins. No matter their colour. But if none of the CANDIDATES are Asian, say, you don't take that as inherent racism... maybe no Asian people applied! Through chance, or not being eligible or whatever other reason.

    I hate FORCED equality. It's reverse racism and that doesn't make it right either. "Sorry, you couldn't get this job because we HAVE to hire X amount of disabled people and you're not disabled." That's NOT how you put society on an equal footing.

    You want to fix the problem - find out why kids from thos

  • Considerations (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tnk1 ( 899206 ) on Wednesday September 30, 2015 @01:54PM (#50629295)

    One of the biggest issues in education is always going to be how to characterize the educational potential for the children who go into the program. There are challenges for every gifted program:

    *Are the tests written in such a way that there is a cultural bias?
    *Are parents able to truly critically assess their children's intelligence or learning capacity *relative to the child's peers'?
    *Is the program supposed to be about advanced training for children who meet certain standards, or is its supposed to be a program that is supposed to confer equal opportunity by conferring special programs on children.

    Let's take Johnny. He's a smart kid, probably has the neurochemical make-up to be some sort of a genius. The problem is, he's retained less knowledge that can be used to adequately assess his raw intelligence through a common battery of questions. Why? He has no books or educational material. His parents aren't home enough to read to him or attend to his learning. They don't have money to ensure that he attends schools. How does someone test him fairly?

    Let's take Suzie, she's not necessarily at the same level as Johnny, but her parents have been able to ensure that she has obtained skills and knowledge that are considered to be desirable. It is not a requirement for Suzie's parent's to be rich or white or asian, but those backgrounds make it a lot easier for Suzie to be exposed to knowledge that will be on that test because there is a higher overall income for those families. The parents have better jobs, they can spend money and time on their kids, on average. In some cases, there is also a huge cultural value placed on education.

    The reality is: poor kids are not always going to fail to be seen as gifted, but there are huge challenges. Kids are tested young for their intelligence, and so parental involvement is huge at that point. It doesn't matter if I have Einstein's brain if that brain potential is underdeveloped. Brains aren't CPUs that you can hook up a hard drive to and then they produce at their capability.

    In other words, if you want to run a program for children seen as gifted, you have to define what gifted *is*, and then test for that. If you're testing children who are more advanced in their skills at a certain point, the fact is, you're going to have more rich and racial privileged kids in there. And you're *not* going to be able to change that by simply being more "inclusive". You need to raise the level of skills of the less skilled kids. And the only way to do that is extra work.

    On the other hand, if you want to find people who have pure, raw potential, irrespective of background, you're probably going to have to start testing brain chemistry, even looking at DNA. That may work, insofar as ensuring that there is a purely "potential" based criteria. But even then, if you want those children to actually retain skills and knowledge, you're going to need to make up for their lack of opportunity in the home for extra learning and discipline.

    • by gstovall ( 22014 )

      Personal anecdote, YMMV.

      We were an upper middle class family in a large, racially mixed Texas city in the late 1990s. Older two children had tested gifted. Came time for child #3 to be tested. The tester, a woman who seemed rather unpleasant, took our child away, then came back with the pronouncement that our child was not very responsive, and so was not gifted. Then she said, "If your child were brown, she would have made the cutoff." Anyway, that's not the point -- just an interesting statement. Aft

    • I think you're right to point out that there's difficulty in measuring "potential", but I think you've underestimated just how deep the problem is.

      On the very surface level, you have problems like what you've referenced. Johnny has potential, but not the right environment to realize it. Suzie has less potential, but a better environment. Suzie may test higher on tests. And yes, that's one view of the problem.

      But then there's also this: Maybe Niquanda is just as gifted as Johnny, but she's black and sp

  • I find myself objecting to the word "gifted" as applied to students (or anyone). It seems to me the level of skill has less to do with the innate genetic makeup or god-given gifts than the advantages of the learning environment.

    I didn't always feel this way: My daughter went to Montessori school and was always in the advanced or gifted programs in Public High School. I'm now convinced that she acquired these "gifts" as a result of hard work, great teachers, and good parental coaching and encouragement.

    I als

    • by Jaime2 ( 824950 )
      So... should there be gifted programs that are designed to develop natural gifts, or should the programs provide an accelerated learning path for students that earn their way in? The latter is what seems to be happening now, but an argument can certainly be made for the former.
  • Keep in mind that Houston, TX is the most diverse city in the nation []!!!

    The problem isn't racial, it's cultural all that it entails in raising children to reach their maximum potential. Now you can argue that certain groups of poor and underclass people are generationally stuck in a vicious circle, sure. But, it's not like certain people far abstracted from the individual are going "hmm gee, that person is black, and that person is hispanic...denied!!!" No, it doesn't work that way. It's all metric driven; a

  • The program is likely more accelerated or "deep diving" into subjects than "gifted" for students that would otherwise get bored in a program because it is going too slowly. The problem is likely less to do with the program and more to do with the children's home life and parents. If you have parents that have a generally higher education, or interact more with their children at a younger age.... then the child is likely to be more likely to be suited for the accelerated programs later. Therefore target
  • The amount of those scholarships shows clearly that intelligence is not evenly distributed among the human races. Some are more intelligent than others.

  • by stabiesoft ( 733417 ) on Wednesday September 30, 2015 @02:08PM (#50629439) Homepage
    There is another factor which is completely left out, the parents and their culture. Note the article says whites and asians. I would argue a white or asian parent is more likely to push their kids towards getting good grades. My parents were pretty low income and yet we were expected to bring home good grades. No excuses. I certainly see higher incomes as having an advantage, but cultural norms are a factor as well. I don't know how you would fix cultural norms except by taking the kids away from the parents and adopt them into families with high educational expectations.
    • i have no idea about the program in question, but many moons ago when I was in school there was a "gifted" program that I was disappointed that I did not get into. Although I was not "disadvantaged" in the way most people here are discussing, my father was not the "right kind of person" and when I saw who was admitted into the program it immediately became clear that it was for the *parents* and not the children (who saw little, if any, benefit from being in the program).

      Personally I think "gifted" programs

    • It is cultural to some degree. Japanese children are pushed really severely to excel in education and they do! Yet there are minority races in the US in which a father may punish a son for being weird and reading a book. Parents are often a child's worst enemy.
  • by NotDrWho ( 3543773 ) on Wednesday September 30, 2015 @02:10PM (#50629463)

    Ford found that both Hispanic and black students are underrepresented in gifted programs and that black students are missing out the most.

    That is NOT the same as saying the program is "biased against Hispanic and black students" or discriminatory.

  • by nealric ( 3647765 ) on Wednesday September 30, 2015 @02:11PM (#50629481)

    I attended elementary school in HISD and middle/high in SBISD. The article doesn't quite get to the root of the issue. The issue is that the programs tend to be targeted towards long time residents with a lot of cultural and political capital. These are the people that can make or break the career of a school administrator, so they get deference. This can happen because information about the programs are not publicized much. It's also expensive to run GT programs and the system doesn't want too many kids qualifying. As a result, the kids who end up in GT programs are those whose parents know all about the program (from knowing other parents with kids in the program) and have the wherewithal to lobby teachers to recommend their kids for testing and advocate that the kid get put in the appropriate program.

    To illustrate how this works: my parents were not from Houston, but settled in the town shortly before I was born. They knew to get me tested, and I scored at a level that qualified me for any of HISD's gifted programs. However, what my parents were not told (and what could not easily be found out in a pre-internet age), was that there were actually multiple levels of gifted program. While I qualified for the higher tier program, nobody told my parents about it, and I ended up in the lower-tier program by default. My local school wanted it that way because I was a guaranteed pass on state standardized tests and the higher-tier program would have involved a transfer to a gifted magnet school. By the time my parents figured it out, we were moving to a nearby district that had a completely different system.

    As far as the test being biased, it may be, but only to the extent IQ tests are biased. As far as I know, they are still using a version of an IQ test for selection, with certain additional diversity points available for kids on the margin. For a young child, providing some familiarity with the test could be helpful, so there's probably some benefit to savvy parents prepping. But I doubt any tweaks to testing procedures would make up for the cultural capital factor.

    • To add to my prior post. Without wading too much into racial politics, I think the whiteness of the program is mostly because white residents tend to have the cultural and political capital, not because anybody is trying to discriminate against non-white kids.
  • If you want a quick science-based tour of the same issues, but with some pointers to actual studies, and written by a very smart woman, then I recommend this: []

  • by prisoner-of-enigma ( 535770 ) on Wednesday September 30, 2015 @02:25PM (#50629645) Homepage

    Look up Donna Ford's bio at Vanderbilt and you get this as her "Research Area":

    Gifted with emphasis on minority children and youth; recruitment and retention of diverse students in gifted education; underachievement among diverse students; equity issues in testing and assessment; multicultural education; issues in urban education.

    So basically Ford's entire area of expertise depends on FINDING bias in these programs. Perhaps she should acquaint herself with Confirmation Bias []. If you look hard enough for anything, you'll find it whether it's there or not.

    Further, the bias is explained by Ford as a fault of the gifted program, but she completely neglects CULTURAL FACTORS that also bias gifted involvement. There is, generally speaking, a cultural bias in the black community AGAINST academic excellence. It even has a name: "acting white." Blacks who use proper spelling and grammar are called "Oreo's," a derogatory term indicating they're "black on the outside but white on the inside." This is especially bad in poorer neighborhoods where "leaving the hood" is considered akin to being a racial traitor. Act like a thug, dress like a thug, eschew education in favor of "hanging out" and you're accepted. Anything else and you're ostracized.

    Don't believe it? Ask around. It's common knowledge. Nobody wants to say it but everyone knows it's going on.

  • Build the wall and kick the undocumented immigrant kids out that will free up some slots.

  • So black culture makes sure its members know that getting an education and trying to do well in school is "acting white" and should be frowned upon and it's the gifted student program that's racist. That makes perfect sense.
  • The days for finding the real genius in the ruff at an early age has circum to political and social pressure to the point where "gifted" is the code word for extra play time. And some how this extra play time is an adjunct that is suppose to heal the ills of mass poverty, social injustice, correct parental neglect, boost nutrition, and foster the ability to and desire to learn from those within the gifted program. So as such, every child must be entered into this holy of institutions else be doomed to the r
  • What problem does the so-called "gifted" solve?

    Without knowing the exact problem, it is hard to tell whether the solution is working, right?

    A problem exists when either:
    1. there is a discrepancy between what you want and what you get, or

    2. there is an opportunity being missed and something desirable is not being acquired/achieved.

    Now, in my little universe, I operate under a few assumptions:

    DATA is everywhere
    DATA classified becomes INFORMATION
    INFORMATION that describes how the world works becomes KNOWLEDGE

  • by samantha ( 68231 ) * on Wednesday September 30, 2015 @09:59PM (#50632951) Homepage

    If it really is a meritocracy based program, say on IQ scores or some other marker of brighter than your average bear students, then unless the measures of brightness are not applied evenly or the measures themselves are somehow racist the complaint has no basis. It is not at all correct to claim that because fewer Caucasian than Asian folks on average have a particular GPA or because some Jewish sub-population has on average a 15 points greater IQ that the measure itself is racist. There is nothing in reality that says all particular groups should have a proportionally exactly the same incidence of gifted students. So to simply count percentages of different groups present and claim racism and bias if they aren't perfect by the general population is absurd.

Brain off-line, please wait.