Nobody cares about this: Last week, we recommended the lengthy report in The Atlantic about the Tuscaloosa City schools—more specifically, about the “return of segregation” to those schools over the past fifteen years.
The lengthy report, “Segregation Now...,” was written by Nikole Hannah-Jones of ProPublica. In our view, the report is fascinating in various ways, though we don’t always mean that as a compliment.
As noted, Hannah-Jones’ report is quite lengthy. In our view, it seems to cover some parts of this story well.
We’d say it covers other parts of this story very poorly. On the brighter side, it does so in ways which help us see the shortcomings in the way public schools tend to get covered, even or perhaps especially by liberals and progressives.
After Hannah-Jones’ piece appeared, Ta-Nehisi Coates offered a fairly short post about it. This is Coates’ nugget summary of the lengthy piece:
COATES (4/18/14): Hannah-Jones profiles the schools in Tuscaloosa where business leaders are alarmed to see their school system becoming more and more black, as white parents choose to send their kids to private (nearly) all-white academies or heavily white schools outside the city. It's worth noting that the school at the center of Hannah-Jones' reporting—Central High School—was not a bad school. On the contrary, it was renowned for its football team as well its debate team.Is that true? Did Tuscaloosa “effectively resegregate its schools?”
But this did very little to slow the flight of white parents out of the district. (This is beyond the scope of Hannah-Jones's story, but I'd be very interested to hear more about the history of housing policy in the town.) Faced with the prospect of losing all, or most of their white families, Tuscaloosa effectively resegregated its schools.
We think Coates is offering a reasonable summary of the feel of Hannah-Jones’ piece, though he overstates what she literally says. On balance, though, we’d have to reject that account of what has happened.
Did Tuscaloosa “effectively resegregate its schools?” In the next week or so, we’ll attempt to answer that question, and we’ll offer information about the schools in question. For today, we’ll offer one chunk of information—the student enrollment by race in Tuscaloosa City’s three high schools.
Hannah-Jones focuses on high schools in her piece. The Tuscaloosa City school system has three.
Here they are, with student enrollment by race, according to greatschools.org. Overall, Tuscaloosa City’s student population was 22 percent white as of 2007, according to Hannah-Jones:
Tuscaloosa City high schools:Have those schools been “resegregated” by the Tuscaloosa board? Everybody gets to decide how to use that word! For now, let’s add some new information:
100 percent black
75 percent black, 19 percent white
61 percent black, 35 percent white
Tuscaloosa City is part of Tuscaloosa County, but it has its own school system. Outside the city limits, the Tuscaloosa County School System runs six additional high schools.
Here they are with their demographics. Again, we’re relying on great schools.org for our data, largely because the state of Alabama provides rather poor reporting:
Tuscaloosa County high schools:Those nine high schools serve the students of Tuscaloosa County, which includes Tuscaloosa City. As noted, three of the schools are run by the Tuscaloosa City schools; six are run by the Tuscaloosa County school system.
Brookwood High: 91 percent white, 8 percent black
Hillcrest High: 57 percent white, 41 percent black
Holt High: 44 percent white, 51 percent black
Northside High: 96 percent white, 4 percent black
Sipsey Valley High: 73 percent white, 25 percent black
Tuscaloosa County High: 60 percent white, 36 percent black
Question: Have those schools been “effectively resegregated,” even the three in Tuscaloosa City? We’d call that statement a stretch.
When Tuscaloosa’s schools were legally segregated, no one went to school with kids from the other so-called race. Overall, it’s no longer anything like that.
We think it’s time for the liberal world to ask ourselves why we keep overstating such matters in ways which seem to please us so much. We’ll do more posts on Tuscaloosa in the coming days, focusing on the strengths and weaknesses in Hannah-Jones’ reporting.
We strongly recommend Hannah-Jones’ report, though only if you care about black kids, which very few liberals seem to have the time to do. Perhaps we’re too busy chasing NBA owners around, while boo-hoo-hooing about how hard the millionaire players have had it.
Boo-hoo-hoo for the poor millionaires! But does anybody care about schools, or about the poor children within them?