Study Directly Links Progressivism To Racial Achievement Gaps

Study Directly Links Progressivism To Racial Achievement Gaps By Hans Bader via CNS News

Progressive policies are directly linked to the racial achievement gaps that progressives spend so much time lamenting.

That’s the conclusion of Minnesota lawyer and think tank president John Hinderaker, based on recent educational research. He cites a report from Brightbeam, “The Secret Shame: How America’s Most Progressive Cities Betray Their Commitment to Educational Opportunity For All.” Brightbeam describes itself as “a network of education activists demanding a better education and a brighter future for every child.”

The report is authored by Chris Stewart, a liberal activist from Minnesota. He studied why the progressive public schools in Minneapolis’s biggest cities have among the country’s worst achievement gaps between white and black students.

Stewart compared achievement by race in various cities classified as progressive or conservative. Conservative cities (as ranked by political scientists) consistently did a more effective job of shrinking student achievement gaps–occasionally, to zero–than progressive cities. The figure below summarizes the findings:

(Photo credit: Brightbeam)

Brightbeam looked at a number of variables that it thought might help to explain these findings. It concluded that “of all the factors we looked at, progressivism is the greatest predictor [of educational gaps].”

The Brightbeam study did not attempt to explain which particular progressive policies are linked to these disparities. But it did call on progressive school districts to rethink their assumptions. At Bacon’s Rebellion, the longtime journalist James A. Bacon, suggests some likely causes:

“* Agency. By blaming racism and discrimination for the woes afflicting minority communities, progressives deprive minority students of agency — the sense that they control their own destinies and that their efforts will make a difference. If minority students see themselves as victims of systemic racism, why bother working hard and ‘acting white’?

* Discipline. Progressives have implemented ‘social justice’ approaches to school and classroom discipline on the grounds that suspensions and other punishments disproportionately affect minorities. The resulting breakdown in classroom discipline has the perverse effect of disproportionately harming the minority students whose classes are being disrupted.

* Lower standards. As an offshoot of the ‘self esteem’ movement, progressive educators don’t want to damage the self-esteem of minority students. Accordingly, they have lower expectations and set lower standards for minorities to offset the advantages that white students have from ‘white privilege.’”

Research supports Bacon’s theory that breakdowns in classroom discipline resulting from progressive policies worsen the racial achievement gap. In New York City, suspensions were curbed by progressive school officials. The result? Minority students suffered most, as classroom disruption increased at the expense of their ability to learn. Manhattan Institute researcher Max Eden found that “schools where more than 90% of students were minorities experienced the worst” effects on school climate and safety due to restrictions on suspensions. It is predominantly-minority schools that are most often plagued by chronically disruptive students who make it difficult for their classmates to learn.

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