NEW YORK TIMES (8/17/94): The Republicans who maintain that President Clinton's stalled crime bill is loaded with excessive social spending often point to a provision for midnight basketball as a prime example of waste.Mr. Bush named the program his 124th point of light, the Times noted. And the paper quoted more of Bushs 1991 statement: "Here, everybody wins. Everybody gets a better shot at life."
What they may not know is that the idea of midnight basketball was promoted by George Bush when he was President. In fact, Mr. Bush, a Republican, was so impressed with a midnight basketball program in Maryland that he named it as one of his Thousand Points of Light.
"The last thing midnight basketball is about is basketball," Mr. Bush said when he visited the program in 1991 in Glenarden, Md., home of the first midnight basketball program in the nation.
Representative Steny H. Hoyer, a Democrat who represents that district, quoted the former President's remarks on the House floor today.
TOUGH (11/26/06): When Hart and Risley then addressed the question of just what caused those variations, the answer they arrived at was startling. By comparing the vocabulary scores with their observations of each child's home life, they were able to conclude that the size of each child's vocabulary correlated most closely to one simple factor: the number of words the parents spoke to the child. That varied greatly across the homes they visited, and again, it varied by class. In the professional homes, parents directed an average of 487 ''utterances'—anything from a one-word command to a full soliloquy—to their children each hour. In welfare homes, the children heard 178 utterances per hour.But was anyone startled when they read that answer—when they read that low-income kids have smaller vocabularies because theyre spoken to so much less often? This article is very much worth reading—but we did have to chuckle at that.
TOUGH: One well-publicized evaluation of those questions has come from the Education Trust, a policy group in Washington that has issued a series of reports making the case that there are plenty of what they call ''high flying'' schools, which they define as high-poverty or high-minority schools whose students score in the top third of all schools in their state. The group's landmark report, published in December 2001, identified 1,320 ''high flying'' schools nationwide that were both high-poverty and high minority. This was a big number, and it had a powerful effect on the debate over the achievement gap.Wow! There were 1320 high-flying low-income schools, the Trusts report had said! The pessimists...were dealt a serious blow, Tough continues. If the report's figures held up, it meant that high achievement for poor minority kids was not some one-in-a-million occurrence; it was happening all the time, all around us. But sadly, the Trusts figures didnt hold up. Tough continues—and speaks rather softly. No fair talking tough to Big Players!
TOUGH: But in the years since the report's release, its conclusions have been challenged by scholars and analysts who have argued that the Education Trust made it too easy to be included on their list. To be counted as a high-flier, a school needed to receive a high score in only one subject in one grade in one year. If your school had a good fourth-grade reading score, it was on the list, even if all its other scores were mediocre. To many researchers, that was an unconvincing standard of academic success.But was that standard just unconvincing? And did it really take the years since the reports release for many researchers—not all—to argue this claim? Our question: Who wouldnt have seen, in the first thirty seconds, that this was an utterly laughable standard? Tough explains what became of the Education Trusts figures when people stopped playing the fool:
TOUGH: Douglas Harris, a professor of education and economics at Florida State University, pored over Education Trust's data, trying to ascertain how many of the high-flying schools were able to register consistently good numbers. When he tightened the definition of success to include only schools that had high scores in two subjects in two different grades over two different years, Harris could find only 23 high-poverty, high-minority schools in the Education Trust's database, a long way down from 1,320.Oops! It wasnt 1320 schools—it was just 23! But so what? Thats close enough for urban educational work—if youre the kind of weak sob-sister who wants to churn feel-good data about urban schools even at the cost of gross misdirection. The Education Trust should be laughed out of town for gimmicking up such syrupy data. We were disappointed to see Tough go soft as he told this instructive tale.
TOUGH: When the law took effect, at the beginning of 2002, official Washington was preoccupied with foreign affairs, and many people in government, and many outside it too, including the educators most affected by the legislation, seemed slow to take notice of its most revolutionary provision: a pledge to eliminate, in just 12 years, the achievement gap between black and white students, and the one between poor and middle-class students. By 2014, the president vowed, African-American, Hispanic and poor children, all of whom were at the time scoring well below their white counterparts and those in the middle class on standardized tests, would not only catch up with the rest of the nation; they would also reach 100 percent proficiency in both math and reading. It was a startling commitment, and it made the promise in the law's title a literal one: the federal government would not allow a single American child to be educated to less than that high standard.By 2014, all American kids—including all minority children—would achieve proficiency in reading and math! Politely, Tough calls this a revolutionary provision and a startling commitment. In fact, this commitment was startling only because it so plainly came straight from the cuckoos nest. Tough notes the extremely minimal progress that has been made toward this ludicrous goal—after failing to offer tough talk about the sheer absurdity of Bushs commitment. Like the presidents mission in Iraq, No Child was always based on oddly delusional thinking. Simply put, it was wrong from the start.