Charles Murray tells us the real problem with American schools. It’s not that they’re underfunded or overcrowded or fraught with inequality, but that some kids are just too dumb to learn.
One word is missing from these discussions: intelligence. Hardly anyone will admit it, but education’s role in causing or solving any problem cannot be evaluated without considering the underlying intellectual ability of the people being educated. Today and over the next two days, I will put the case for three simple truths about the mediating role of intelligence that should bear on the way we think about education and the nation’s future.
Today’s simple truth: Half of all children are below average in intelligence. We do not live in Lake Wobegon.
Our ability to improve the academic accomplishment of students in the lower half of the distribution of intelligence is severely limited. It is a matter of ceilings. Suppose a girl in the 99th percentile of intelligence, corresponding to an IQ of 135, is getting a C in English. She is underachieving, and someone who sets out to raise her performance might be able to get a spectacular result. Now suppose the boy sitting behind her is getting a D, but his IQ is a bit below 100, at the 49th percentile.
We can hope to raise his grade. But teaching him more vocabulary words or drilling him on the parts of speech will not open up new vistas for him. It is not within his power to learn to follow an exposition written beyond a limited level of complexity, any more than it is within my power to follow a proof in the American Journal of Mathematics. In both cases, the problem is not that we have not been taught enough, but that we are not smart enough.
Why on Earth would anyone publish this horseshit? This whole article seems to be based on the bizarre notion that there’s a direct correlation between percentile intelligence (which is dubious on its own) and grades. It roughly follows, using Murray’s retarded logic, that those in the 90th percentile are the ones capable of making A’s (80th, B’s, etc.), therefore only the smartest 40% of kids are even capable of passing grades. The bell curve is adjusted a bit to get more kids to pass, but in the end, subjects like basic math, science, and English are just too hard for the dumb kids.
I cannot imagine a more simple-minded approach to education than the one laid out in this article and it’s the same arrogant junk science that Charles Murray has spent the last dozen years pushing. Some people are just “inferior” so we shouldn’t waste our time trying to help them. It’s a bullshit idea regardless of where you try to apply it and it’s especially heinous when applied to public education. The idea that the best way to fix our public schools is to stop trying to teach the kids who need our help the most is as immoral and ass-backwards as having a healthcare system that makes the sick fend for themselves. Then again, that’s pretty much how things work now…