Friday, January 15, 2010

Amnesty International attacks meritocracy at Czech schools

Amnesty International has published another 80-page document
Injustice remained: discrimination in education of Roma persists in the Czech Republic
What a pile of waste! Needless to see, this stinky PC stuff has been amplified by The Financial Times, BBC, and others.

Jan Bendig (*1994), a singer of Gypsy origin, became the 4th most successful contestant in the first Czecho Slovak Superstar (Pop Idol), showing that Czech and Slovak people do appreciate if Roma people do something well. There have been others, too.

These days, the Czech Republic has elementary schools of many diverse kinds - including schools affiliated with churches, schools with a special language education, as well as "practical schools" that used to be called "special schools" for the kids that can't be expected to achieve the same results as the average kids.

The increased diversity and the demise of uniformity is a part of the transition from communism to freedom. But it's fair to say that there has been some diversity during socialism, too.

This structured education system is useful for the pupils and their teachers who can focus on particular talents (or the lack of them) and who work with students of comparable abilities, so that common teaching methods may be applied. Everyone benefits. If this system were not adopted, less talented or industrious students would always be slowing down the faster ones, everyone would feel painful, and the efficiency would go down. Purely meritocratic ideas are being applied. These things seem to work very well and I am sure that the Czech elementary schools belong among the best ones in the world.

Nor surprisingly, a very large portion of the pupils in "practical schools" turns out to be gypsies. This is guaranteed by simple statistics.

For example, a 2002 study at the Masaryk University of Brno has studied the IQ scores of 1357 non-Roma and 87 Roma children between 6 and 16 years. The average IQ between the non-Roma kids was measured to be 101.4 while the corresponding figure for the Roma kids was 79.6: the difference exceeds one standard deviation (15 points). The algorithm to "segregate" may effectively be described as a cutoff: kids with IQ below 70 - those with at least mild mental retardation - are being sent to the "practical schools".

Assuming the normal distributions around the mean values written above, with 15 as the standard deviation, you may see that 2% of the non-Roma and 26% of the Roma children will sink below 70. Just calculate the error functions. Do you know what is the reality? 2% of the non-Roma children and 27% of the Roma children ended up in "practical schools" in 2009: see a Romani radio web page.

Both numbers almost exactly match the predicted numbers of children from the two groups who would attend the "practical schools": the Roma children are inevitably a major segment of the pupils over there. So this is a statistical proof that if there are errors, they're not systematic. The selection process is as color-blind as you can get.

Now, you could ask why the Roma average IQ score is more than 20 points below the non-Roma one. Everyone who has tried to work with a statistically significant number of gypsies must know that innate differences surely do play some role. Certain things can't really be changed.

But even if the difference came "mostly" from social imbalances in their families, the consequences are pretty much identical. If the biological differences or the family environment makes a kid unable to attend a "normal school" when he or she is 6 or 7 years old, so that he or she can't learn how to read within two years (and be sure that this has been tried many times - it's no speculation), it's simply more sensible to send him or her to a "practical school".

Children actually do learn many important things before they are six. And if they don't, the difference can be seen at schools, too. And it doesn't seem to go away. You should realize that the "segregation" is designed to improve the results and make the life of teachers and pupils for 8+ years happier and more fruitful, not to express some hypocritical racial compliments. They would be damn too expensive.

A one-week-old Slovak TV program, "No One Is Perfect". Mostly Roma people were asked questions on the streets. For example: What does it mean that Slovaks have assimilated in Hungary? Because they're romantic, and the Hungarians are crazy, it means that they had sex - you can have sex everywhere today, including a phone box. :-) Can an EU man marry his widow's sister? No, because a sister is her mother which is her father and it's her mom but the father is her father etc. If they measure your IQ, what do they measure? Pressure. In which countries is the law of gravity valid? In all of them because all women have the right for gravity [he meant "gravidity" i.e. pregnancy]. How many months does a leap year have? 13. Why 13 and what is the name of the 13th month? Probably the month of the Czechoslovak-Soviet friendship. :-) Can you enumerate exempt words starting with C [y, not i, is written in these words after some consonants]? Holy shit, it's so many years I attended a school. Do you know that I have forgotten even the words starting with A [there can't be any]?

Now, you could propose to remove the small gypsy kids from their families and give them a special, state-sponsored treatment before they're six - to compensate the "injustices of the history" that has been transformed into a social handicap residing in their families. But be sure that such a separation from their families is kind of insulting and inhuman, it wouldn't be agreed upon, and moreover, even if you did it, you would be very disappointed with the results simply because biology does play a major rule whether you like it or not.

Pretty much everyone in the Czech Republic does understand these issues - the actual experience with the co-existence guarantees that it is so. There is no significant political force in the Czech Republic that would be ready to buy and resell the PC propaganda by Amnesty International or to even rebuild the school systems according to their ideas how the world should work (but doesn't). That doesn't mean that the Czech society is racist. The last party with an active anti-gypsy agenda - Dr Sládek's "Republicans" - simply failed to return to the Parliament again, sometime in the 1990s. No one misses them.

I wonder whether the ladies and gentlemen in AI are genuinely incapable to understand these points and the reality that makes the observed facts at schools inevitable. If that is so, then it is a big mistake that they haven't been sent into "practical schools" themselves because their lack of comprehension of these basic issues does indicate borderline mental retardation.

Thank God that President Klaus was at least able to erase the Czech Republic from the "charter of rights" of the EU because I suspect that this document is exactly a method to make unelected prejudiced idiots and reverse racists and sexists such as those in Amnesty International powerful across Europe. But their stuff is fashionable in many Western countries, so these retarded NGOs happily thrive in their countries and beyond.

Let me hope that they will never thrive in my homeland.

And that's the memo.


  1. At last a post I disagree with.

    I usually score between 130-160 in IQ tests. That's because I'm good at IQ tests and the language doesn't confuse me, nothing more. I don't think I'm in the top .01% or whatever, nor do I believe that roma IQ scores are any more useful or indicative than my own.

  2. Well, your personal IQ is secondary.

    But do you agree that saying that a repeatable and sharp result of a measurement is "not indicative" (or useful) is nothing else than a plain and utter denial of reality?

    How the hell can IQ scores not be indicative? All intellectual activities are correlated with others - and with IQ tests - and very heavily.

  3. I want to say that these things are not just some academic disputes.

    For years, the children learn something at school - and in some broad ways how the brain is used during these years, it is a long sequence of "something like the IQ tests".

    So it's clear that if a kid is given to a vastly different school than what corresponds to his or her IQ test and/or other expectations one can have before the school, it will almost certainly destroy at least 8 years of his or her life - either because the kid will feel impossibly painful between kids who find the school much easier, or because it will have to wait for classmates who find it hard and whom the teacher will have to dedicate a lot of time (which will usually not be really appreciated by anyone).

    It's very important to have at least "remotely sensible" assignment of kids to classes where they can do things that are useful for them effectively enough. One can't teach classes of kids who are at completely different levels - and a 20-point difference in IQ tests surely proves a vastly different level, at least in 95% of cases.

    BTW, concerning your IQ 130-160, well, there are many U.S. and some EU people exactly in this category who learned to deny the reality, the evidence, because this particular kind of hypocrisy has become fashionable exactly among this class. So it is really no argument that you're unbiased - quite on the contrary. It's the main group that approaches these things as irrationally and counter-productively as possible.

  4. IQ tests measure more things than 'intelligence': they also measure how well a person (student) compares to the 'cultural baseline' - if you excuse the expression.

    In other words, how well the person is able to function within their culture....because the questions on the test are necessarily couched in a cultural background.

    It is predictable that children from backgrounds which are not 'successfully integrated' (I'm not touching the 'assimilovali' pun) will not score as high on an IQ test as children who are.

    BUT - and this is the important bit - teachers CANNOT teach students without some 'cultural context'...they have to use 'common cultural experience' thingies to explain the material, so that it is comprehensible by the student.

    Therefore, regardless of the 'accuracy' of IQ tests in measuring 'intelligence', they are indicative of the methods that teachers will need to use to best educate these kids.

    In other words - even if IQ tests of 6-7 year-olds are not indicative of intelligence, they are indicative of the teaching methods which will best help them learn!

    Perhaps if the Czech government re-labeled the tests from 'IQ tests' to 'receptivity to teaching methods', scaled the scoring so it would not 'look' similar to IQ scores, and then claimed this has nothing to do with IQ but is a 'methodology of learning' or 'best learning/comprehension system', or some such similar name touting 'cultural sensitivity in learning' and so on, the AI people might change their minds and tout your system as 'accommodating cultural sensitivities' and hold you up as an example of 'excellence in education'!

  5. Dear Xanthippa,

    thanks that you got the point that the XY teaching methods are analogous to the IQ and intro tests, so they are useful to determine the schools regardless of the origin of the differences.

    Still, I want to say that the IQ tests don't play any role in the actual admission process. It was a piece of scholarly work - a university paper (which are surely not banned in Czechia, unlike the PC countries) - and I only used it to show that the admissions seem to agree with the distributions obtained by "more scientific" means.

    Of course that the actual entrance pre-testing usually looks at the kids from a broader, more alive, more informal perspective - and it doesn't give them the IQ tests which are for older children (who are already at school) only.

    For AI, it doesn't matter how you call it etc. What AI obviously doesn't like are the results (regardless of the methods) - they dislike the very fact that various groups are represented at various schools non-uniformly. This can't be changed by any technical modifications of the pre-testing or by renaming them because it reflects a reality. It could only be changed by introducing AI-style (reverse) racism into the Czech education system and people would surely oppose it (especially because they know that it would only make everything worse).


  6. Yes, of course it would make things worse.

    Still, I was trying to make another point - perhaps I failed in doing so clearly (as I so often do...).

    Organizations like AI (gosh, that makes them sound like 'robots'!) have no problem with discrimination or racism or anything along those long as it 'sounds good'!

    As in, it does not sound like a specific group is being 'put down' - or their kids put into 'dumb schools' - but rather if these 'dumb schools' are re-labeled as 'culturally sensitive education centres' which teach Romani children all the skills that other schools would, but with specific 'cultural sensitivities' which would make learning for 'Romani' children more accessible.

    In other words, I was trying to say that a simple 'PC label' will make ALL discrimination 'acceptable' in the eyes of the 'illiberal left'!

    'Discrimination' is 'evil' but 'reverse discrimination' - which is STILL discrimination! - is perfectly O.K.!!! So, you Czechs can do exactly what you are doing - but, by changing a few 'labels' and 'playing along' with these hypocrites, you will be praised for your 'sensitivity' instead of being criticized for your 'racism'!

    Sad, but, in my never-humble-opinion, true!