Immigration and US Educational Performance
Here's a set of comments that prof bug left earlier today at a good libertarian site, The Marginal Revolution, about the variation in American educational performance, viewed comparatively, in international exams --- especially the PISA for 15 year olds administered every three years in science and math --- across 30 industrial countries and several others not in the OECD.
Remember, prof bug is not a libertarian and has criticized its transformation of free-market capitalism into an all-encompassing ideology. As today's comments will show, he is severely critical of this view even though he is equally hard on politically correct radical/liberal ideology.
The subject? Illegal immigration out of Mexico and Central America, and to an extent even legal immigration from that region . . . which is, in his view, laying the base of a new, ever larger underclass of poorly educated people, with to boot (as marks an underclass) 50% now of Hispanic births illegitimate and all the expected consequences in gang-banging, violence, and hatred of women that follow from single mother-headed, poorly educated families.
What To Do about Illegal Immigration?
We have as a country benefitted enormously from it in the past . . . including in the 19th and very early 20th century poorly educated immigrants out of Europe (and to an extent Pacific Asia) when the US had a labor shortage and tens of millions entered here freely . . . as did, observe, several hundred thousand African Americans who came here out of the Caribbean islands then and later. Since then, our economy has been drastically transformed. In particular, as we have shifted from an industrial manufacturing country ---40% of the US labor force in mfg. industry in 1950 and now about 9% ---to a knowledge-based economy in which at a minimum a good high-school diploma is needed for a half-way decent job, and the gap between college-educated and other Americans grows ever larger, we clearly require a far different kind of immigration policy that takes into account the ever greater need for a well-educated work-force. It's no giant intellectual challenge. Our neighbor to the north, Canada, has been using a skill-based immigration quota policy for decades now, without any harm to their educational standards.
No, Not a Perfect Policy, Canada's
We can do even better. It's a matter of adjusting all legal immigration to skill-based needs, whether the qualifying immigrants are out of Latin America, Asia, Europe, or the Middle East. As for illegal immigration, fortunately --- for the time being --- the thrust in all political circles has been to toughen up border controls and, if we're lucky, to penalize firms that hire them.
The Marginal Revolution Post by Its Head: Tyler Cowan, a Professor of Economics at George Mason
The subtitle of this excellent book, by Daniel Koretz, is What Educational Testing Really Tells Us. Here is one excerpt:
"The distressingly large achievement differences among racial/ethnic groups and socioeconomic groups in the United States lead many people to assume that American students must vary more in educational performance than others. Some observers have even said that the horse race -- simple comparisons of mean scores among countries -- is misleading for this reason. The international studies address this question, albeit with one caveat: the estimation of variability in the international surveys is much weaker than the estimation of averages."
". . .We are limited to more general conclusions, along the lines of "the standard deviations in the United States and Japan are quite similar."
Which they are. In fact, the variability of student performance is fairly similar across most countries, regardless of size, culture, economic development, and average student performance. I was shocked to read this but the book is highly reputable and persuasive.
Here Is Prof Bug's Reply
Note That It Begins with a Quoted Paragraph from Another Blogger
The quoted remarks that follow refer to the latest PISA study (2006), which is administered every three years by the OECD to 15 year old students in all 30 OECD countries, plus several others that participate. The study assesses student knowledge and performance in science and mathematics on several categories. American 15 year-old students tend, on balance, to score somewhat below the average level for all the participating countries, but the performance of our students varies markedly across ethnic/racial divisions, and those differences entail all sorts of debates, and especially two: the controversy over immigration --- largely out of Mexico and the poor Central American countries --- and the IQ contrversy and what factors (genetic and social) explain the large differences in IQ between European- and Asian-Americans on one side and Hispanic- and black-Americans on the other.
We won't enter into the IQ controversy here, though --- for what it's worth noting --- prof bug has delved into it in the past. The rapidly growing Hiispanic population in the US is, to repeat, the focus of our current interest. Here is a summary by the quoted poster (referring to an earlier post in the Marginal Revolution thread by prof bug) of the ethnic/racial differences in the PISA exam of 2006:
"The word "diversity" can mean a lot of things. What really matters is that Canada has higher median human capital than America. Canada has very little illegal immigration and thus practically no Mexicans, and is only about 2% black. It's system of legal immigration is explicitly designed to benefit current Canadian citizens by carefully selecting those applicants with the highest human capital. I, for example, took the Canadian immigration online assessment in 2001 for an article I was writing and failed to score high enough to qualify for an interview with a Canadian immigration official. (Their opinion was that they had plenty of journalists already, thank you very much, don't call us, we'll call you.)
"Here's the executive summary of the latest PISA report from the federal National Center for Educational Statistics on U.S. performance:
" 'In the combined science literacy scale, Black(non-Hispanic) students (409) and Hispanic
students (439) scored lower, on average, thanWhite (non-Hispanic) students (523), Asian (non-Hispanic) students (499), and students of morethan one race (non-Hispanic) (501)."
[The OECD average is set to 500.]' " --- Steve Sailer
Observe, in passing, that the buggy prof had posted earlier there the link to the latest PISA exam results (2006)
Prof Bug's Own Comments: