STUDY: Minority Kids Perform Better in Conservative School Districts

The bus stops here. (Image by Wokandapix from Pixabay.)

There’s a new study showing a depressing “achievement gap” between white and minority students, and that the gap is much wider in progressive-run cities than it is in conservative ones.

In a Martin Luther King Day-themed op-ed for the Minneapolis Tribune, civil rights attorney Nekima Levy Armstrong addresses the “open secret” that in the Twin Cities, “black and brown children are being left behind within the public school system.” Armstrong says that “One might expect that politically progressive cities would be leading the way in closing the opportunity gap in education,” but a new study from brightbeam, a nonprofit education advocacy organization, shows that conservative-run cities enjoy a much smaller education gap. According to brightbeam, “conservative cities have gaps in math and reading that are on average 15 and 13 percentage points smaller than those in progressive cities,” she notes.

The numbers must be shocking to our oh-so-caring progressive friends:

In three of the most conservative cities — Anaheim, Fort Worth and Virginia Beach, researchers found that leaders have either closed or eliminated opportunity gaps in either reading, math or high school graduation rates.

Meanwhile, in our own “progressive” city of Minneapolis, the report showed that the shameful gap in math achievement between black and white students in K-12 is 53 percentage points, while the gap in math between brown and white students is 45 points.

Similarly, in reading, the gap between black and white Minneapolis students is 53, while the gap between brown and white students is 47.

Compare that with “conservative” Jacksonville, Fla., where the reading gap between black and white students is 30; and the math gap is 27.

When Florida Man does a better job than you do of educating kids, maybe it’s time for some serious self-reflection.

Chris Stewart, CEO of brightbeam, notes in his letter at the top of the report, “From Seattle to Minneapolis, and Oakland to D.C., there are construction cranes everywhere, condominiums going up, immense wealth growing, but in the shadows of prosperity there are children who will never truly experience the first-world lifestyles of the cities they live in.” Which is truly sad.

(Chart courtesy of brightbeam.)

Digging a little deeper, blue areas tend to spend much more per pupil, while getting worse results. New York City public schools spent $24,109 per pupil in 2016, and yet “72% Not Proficient in Reading, 72% Not Proficient in Math.” Washington, D.C., “spent $19,159 per pupil” that year, but “according to the NAEP results, 79 percent of eighth graders were not proficient in reading in 2017 and 80 percent were not proficient in math.” The most recent figure I could find for Minneapolis was for 2014, when the city spent $14,131 per student, with similarly tragic results for minority kids.

My town of Colorado Springs is listed in the report as the fourth most conservative city by brightbeam’s metrics. The city’s massive School District 11 is less white than the state average, and spends less per pupil than the national average. And yet its proficiency gap in math and reading between white and minority kids is about half that of much more lavishly funded schools in progressive cities like Minneapolis.

So why the disparity, even with all that spending?

brightbeam’s report notes that “of all the factors we looked at, progressivism is the greatest predictor” of an education gap. There are tons of numbers to dig through in the report, but the conclusion is damning:

The scope of this report does not allow us to say what drives the correlation between progressive cities and underperformance of minority students. We did not consider any policy or practice as a cause for the larger achievement gaps between racial subgroups. But our results demonstrate that there is a negative difference between our most progressive and most conservative cities, and it can’t be explained away by factors such as city size, racial demographics, spending, poverty or income inequality. In cities where most of the residents identify as political progressives, educational outcomes for marginalized children lag at a greater rate than other cities.

brightbeam concludes its report with a long list of suggested fixes, calling them “an opportunity to lean into their progressive values and work collectively towards an educational system that truly meets the high ideals of opportunity and social responsibility that progressivism represents.”

But I have a much simpler suggestion: Vote the progressive bastards out.

For the children™.