Archive for May, 2011

U.S. school kids improving in math and reading, especially African American and Hispanic students

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

(Ethnicmajority) Conventional wisdom (and the media) would lead you to believe that the quality of American schools is bad and getting worse. According to data analyzed by the Huffington Post from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), test scores in math and reading have actually improved from 1971 to 2008. On the 0-500 scale the NAEP uses, 9-year-olds improved by 24 points in math, 12 points in reading. 13-year-olds gained 15 points in math, 5 points in reading, while 17-year-olds gained only 2 points in math, 1 point in reading.

More interesting is the improvement by African American and Hispanic students. While the reading score for white 17-year-olds increased only 4 points, the increase was 28 points for African Americans, and 17 points for Hispanics. For all three age groups, African, Asian, and Hispanic American students improved more than the average.

While this all seems like good news, the article doesn’t address some key questions. First, it doesn’t say what the base scores were in 1971. According to the NAEP website, in 1971 the base reading score for 9-year-old whites was 214 vs. 170 for blacks, a gap of 44. In 2008, whites were at 228 and blacks at 204, so while the gap had narrowed to 24, it still is a significant gap.

And second, this is a national test, and hasn’t been administered in other countries. Recent rankings put American schools near the bottom in comparison to all other developed countries. So while it is good to see minority students narrowing the achievement gap, there is clearly still plenty of room for improvement.

Congress to discuss use of Geronimo’s name in Bin Laden mission

Wednesday, May 4th, 2011

(Los Angeles Times) A congressional oversight hearing originally scheduled to discuss, among other things, how indigenous-themed sports mascots have negatively influenced the perception of Native Americans, will now also address the linking of the name Geronimo to Osama bin Laden.

“Geronimo” was the code name for the mission where 24 Navy SEALs raided Bin Laden’s three-story million-dollar compound in Abbotabad, Pakistan; “Geronimo” was also the code the SEALs used to alert their commanders that they identified their target; and finally “Geronimo-E KIA” was the coded message to confirm that they had killed Bin Laden.

The Senate Indian Affairs committee, chaired by Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-HI), will host the hearing titled “Stolen Identities: The Impact of Racist Stereotypes on Indigenous People,” which will be webcast live at 2:15 p.m. ET.

“The hearing was scheduled well before the Osama bin Laden operation became news, but the concerns over the linking of the name of Geronimo, one of the greatest Native American heroes, with the most hated enemies of the United States is an example of the kinds of issues we intended to address at Thursday’s hearing,” Loretta Tuell, the committee’s chief counsel, said in a statement.

Full story…

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