I don't know, maybe Brooks was reading Saletan and was starting to get scared. After all, there aren't really too many non partisan columnists who try to challenge mainstream wisdom and avoid being pigeonholed. Brooks is one of them. So he saw a challenge when he read those Saletan columns.
So, in response to Saletan's agonizing over racial gaps, Brooks pens the The Harlem miracle essay.
Here's his point:
They found that the Harlem Children’s Zone schools produced “enormous” gains. The typical student entered the charter middle school, Promise Academy, in sixth grade and scored in the 39th percentile among New York City students in math. By the eighth grade, the typical student in the school was in the 74th percentile. The typical student entered the school scoring in the 39th percentile in English Language Arts (verbal ability). By eighth grade, the typical student was in the 53rd percentile.
Oh, wait, there's a problems. Though refuted by Half Sigma and Steve Sailer I wanted to add some of my own points:
In math, Promise Academy eliminated the achievement gap between its black students and the city average for white students.
Let me repeat that. It eliminated the black-white achievement gap.
Did you see how sly that is? Basically, he claims that when black students in a highly rigorous, self selective, intensively studied program equal the average white students in an average academic program, that's eliminating the achievement gap.
What? Brooks himself even details what the black students have to go through:
Promise Academy students who are performing below grade level spent twice as much time in school as other students in New York City. Students who are performing at grade level spend 50 percent more time in school.
Assessments are rigorous. Standardized tests are woven into the fabric of school life.
Increase by 50-100% time spent in class, and teach to the test, and you call it a miracle when these students equal non-advantaged white students? This is absurd. Like HS and Sailer said, there was no control group. The gap between black and white exists because given the same resources and opportunities white students will perform better than black students due to innate differences in intelligence.
The desperation of Brook's columns and his previous ones such as:
The waning of IQ which is filled with rubbish
Genius: The Modern View which is well written but ignores the genetic basis of personality and the ability of people to have easy success with certain fields while others toil.
These columns are in response to his astute observations in The Cognitive Age where he writes:
The chief force reshaping manufacturing is technological change (hastened by competition with other companies in Canada, Germany or down the street). Thanks to innovation, manufacturing productivity has doubled over two decades. Employers now require fewer but more highly skilled workers.
The central process driving this is not globalization. It’s the skills revolution. We’re moving into a more demanding cognitive age. In order to thrive, people are compelled to become better at absorbing, processing and combining information. This is happening in localized and globalized sectors, and it would be happening even if you tore up every free trade deal ever inked.
The globalization paradigm emphasizes the fact that information can now travel 15,000 miles in an instant. But the most important part of information’s journey is the last few inches — the space between a person’s eyes or ears and the various regions of the brain. Does the individual have the capacity to understand the information? Does he or she have the training to exploit it? Are there cultural assumptions that distort the way it is perceived?
How can he write this and also claim IQ is losing its relevance? There is some serious intellectual dishonesty going on with Brooks. On the one hand, he espouses relative conservative views and astute observations about human nature and the economy.
But challenge the notion that all humans are exactly the same, and he shrivels.
He isn't alone.