BREAKING: Agent Strzok had a strong sense of smell!

THURSDAY, JUNE 21, 2018

We've been down this road before:
We're sorry to raise such a negative point, but we think it'd worth recording. We refer to the sense of smell of the FBI's Peter Strzok, as described in the New York Times:
APUZZO AND FANDOS (6/20/18): At the heart of Republicans' criticism were two senior F.B.I. officials, Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, who exchanged text messages about their dislike of Mr. Trump, his supporters and his policies—even as they investigated his campaign's ties to Russia.

''Just went to a southern Virginia Walmart,'' Mr. Strzok wrote in August 2016, just a few weeks into the Russia investigation. ''I could SMELL the Trump support.''

Representative Jim Jordan, Republican of Ohio, said such quotes have undermined public faith in the F.B.I. in ways that stretch beyond the Clinton investigation. ''The arrogance and condescension and the elitist attitude, that's what ticks people off,'' he said. ''As they look at all this and see what Strzok said throughout these investigations, that's why their confidence is so shaken.''
A lot has been said, and correctly so, about Donald J. Trump's sense of "infestation." Agent Strzok's acute sense of smell reminds us that we finer folk, the ones Over Here, can sometimes lose our way too.

''The arrogance and condescension and the elitist attitude, that's what ticks people off?" Strzok made it amazingly easy for the perpetually furious Jordan when he texted that remark.

Long ago and far away, we've been down this road before. Soon after Nixon's re-election, film critic Pauline Kael offered a famous remark:
KAEL (12/28/72): I live in a rather special world. I only know one person who voted for Nixon. Where they are I don’t know. They’re outside my ken. But sometimes when I’m in a theater I can feel them.
Kael could feel The Others in darkened rooms; Strzok can smell Them at Walmart. In this and a million other ways, our team can sometimes show the world that we may not always be as fine as we tend to say we are.

We tend to look down on The Others. Have you seen a single person discuss this Washington Post report about The Others' lack of access to dental care?

The report appeared in the Outlook section on Sunday, June 10. And no, you haven't seen it discussed. Such things simply aren't done.

As many people mentioned this month, Robert Kennedy famously went to Appalachia and famously showed that he cared. That was long ago and far away. Today, such incomprehensible things are no longer done!

BREAKING: Our heroic Resistance has done it again!

THURSDAY, JUNE 21, 2018

First thoughts about what has occurred:
It didn't take long for us to start clapping ourselves on the back. The New York Times published the official congratulatory letter this morning:
LETTER TO THE NEW YORK TIMES (6/21/18): Well done, resistance. The protesters, the media that told the stories of the children, the politicians, medical professionals and celebrities who spoke out, the many who donated money to organizations that support immigrant families, and the Americans who took to social media let President Trump know what we want America to look like.

And he backed down. The people spoke, and the people were heard.

H— A—, OAK PARK, ILL.
Are we tired yet? Tired of all the winning?

We'll admit that we've had a slightly different reaction to what has occurred in the past week, though we haven't thoroughly researched our reaction. We'll offer it among a few other first reactions:

How did it get so far: Attorney General Sessions announced the switch to "zero resistance" back in April. We're not sure why it took two months to figure out what was going to happen—indeed, to determine what was happening in more than two thousand cases.

For the past day or two, we've been puzzling about the apparent slow reaction. This morning, though, the Times let us know that our amazingly insightful team has brilliantly done it again!

Concerning Donald J. Trump: Is it possible that Donald J. Trump is some type of "sociopath?" We ask for the following reasons:

Pundits keep saying that Trump didn't anticipate the way the separation of children from their parents would look to the American public. Apparently, Stephen Miller wasn't able to make this prediction either.

Could it be that these guys are "sociopaths?" We ask because a certain percentage of people are, and because, unless we're mistaken, sociopaths may tend to have difficulty grasping the way certain behaviors will appear to others.

Could the president possibly be a sociopath? We regard that possibility as a matter of pity, not as a matter of hatred. Unfortunately, any such discussion is officially verboten. At the start of the year, the New York Times ruled that such discussions are bad.

Pity the fool: We pity the poor American citizen who tries to get clear on the basic facts concerning what has happened. We've been especially puzzled by Linda Qiu's fact-check piece in yesterday's New York Times.

As she started, Qiu fact-checked the following statement by Trump. We'll admit that we were more confused by the time we were done than we'd been when we started:
TRUMP: We have to get the Democrats to go ahead and work with us. Because as a result of Democrat-supported loopholes in our federal laws, most illegal immigrant families and minors from Central America who arrive unlawfully at the border cannot be detained together or removed together, only released. These are crippling loopholes that cause family separation, which we don’t want.
As best we can tell, three statements have been made there:
Three statements by Donald J. Trump:
1) As a result of loopholes in our laws, most illegal immigrant families and minors...cannot be detained together.

2) As a result of loopholes in our laws, most illegal immigrant families and minors...cannot be removed together.

3) Illegal immigrant families and minors...can in fact be released.
At the end of her fact-check, Qiu seems to acknowledge that the third statement is accurate. We were puzzled by her treatment of the first two claims. Here's the way she started:
QIU (6/20/18): Mr. Trump is again wrongly claiming that Democrats are responsible for “loopholes” that necessitate breaking apart families at the border.

The White House cites a 1997 court settlement and a 2008 law as these loopholes. Neither mandates detaining parents and separating children from their families.
Alas! In the quoted statement, Trump didn't claim that the settlement or the law mandated detaining parents and separating children. It seems to us that the murk in Qiu's treatment grows deeper from there. We thought her next paragraph was a genuine semi-doozy.

We're frequently puzzled by Qiu's work. For our money, the Times offered a much clearer "explainer" report today.

That said, we liberals are currently being propagandized too. Our president may be some type of sociopath, but there's a great deal of disordered behavior within our modern elites.

How did this latest disaster get so far? Did all the watchdogs abandon their posts? Does anyone know the answer?

GAPS AND TRACKS: We'll just pour resources into the schools!

THURSDAY, JUNE 21, 2018

Part 3—Solutions from those who don't care:
Should New York City operate "highly selective" schools at all?

Should the city identify the highest achieving kids and let them attend their own middle and high schools? Should the city run a Stuyvesant High or a Bronx High School of Science?

Should Boston run its own "exam schools?" Should it run Boston Latin School, Boston Latin Academy and the O'Bryant School of Mathematics and Science, each of which is "selective?" Should our big city systems operate such schools at all?

These are perfectly sensible questions. We're discussing public education here, not private institutions. And the creation of "highly selective" schools may have undesirable effects throughout our public school systems.

Perhaps it's just a lousy idea to operate such "prestigious" schools at all. On the other hand, it's definitely a lousy idea to approach this important topic through the kind of journalism the New York Times tends to provide.

Why is this an important topic? Because we're talking about 1.1 million public school students in Gotham alone, most of them black and Hispanic. Also, because we're talking about a giant school system which produces data like these:
Average scores, Grade 8 math, Naep
New York City Public Schools, 2017

White students: 290.71
Black students: 255.63
Hispanic students: 263.56
Asian-American students: 306.03
You're looking at punishing data—at giant achievement gaps. They affect those 1.1 million kids, and they affect the whole nation. But while Rachel is crying and breaking down about two thousand mistreated kids, the 1.1 million kids of New York are consigned to the incompetent journalism of Harris and Hu.

The 1.1 million kids of New York don't get mentioned by stars like Maddow. It simply isn't done. And when they're left to the likes of Harris and Hu (and their unnamed, incompetent editors), we're left with such efforts as this:
HU AND HARRIS (6/18/18): In Los Angeles, the country’s second-largest district, there are only two selective high schools and two “highly gifted” magnet schools. Boston has seven schools that screen—all high schools—including the prestigious Boston Latin School, a feeder for Harvard University that has an entrance exam akin to New York’s specialized high school test. In Seattle, the only screened schools are two elementary schools with accelerated curriculums for “highly capable” students who pass a district-administered gifted test.
For details, see yesterday's report. But given the entire nation to choose from, who other than Harris and Hu would compare New York City—unfavorably!—to glorious distant Seattle, a largely middle-class district which is heavily white and Asian-American?

To a city where the black-white achievement gap is much larger than it is in New York? To a city whose black kids are half a year behind New York City's black kids in the sixth grade, according to Professor Reardon's recent study?

Given the entire nation to choose from, who except the New York Times would come up with such a miscast comparison? And by the way, Boston seems to screen its middle and high school students just as much as New York does. Seven high schools may not seem like a lot, but Boston's a much smaller system!

Does anyone give a flying flip about the nation's black and Hispanic kids? Or does a different agenda obtain at am upper-class newspaper like the Times, which seems to focus on assuring liberal readers that We are the morally good advocates of "desegregation," as opposed to Them, the bad people found Over There?

Monday's front-page report by Hu and Harris was an insult to the nation's intelligence. For our money, the wheels had finally come all the way off the wagon with this insultingly clueless late passage:
HU AND HARRIS: The process at every level can be grueling for children and their families. “I don’t think anyone who’s gone through the high school application process thinks it’s anything but legalized child abuse,” said Clara Hemphill, the editor of the popular school guide InsideSchools, a project of The New School’s Center for New York City Affairs. “I think it would be a healthier system if we poured resources into neighborhood schools to make them stronger.”
Ignore the thrilling, quotable claim about "legalized child abuse." (No alternate view is offered.) Like everyone else the scribes quoted that day, Hemphill seems to oppose the operation of "highly selective" schools.

That's a perfectly valid position, but good God—that final quotation!

At least as presented, Hemphill seems to have said that New York should return to neighborhood schools, the kinds of schools the city ran before it began permitting so many schools to "screen" students for admission.

That's a perfectly valid position. The insult comes when Hemphill, at least as quoted, explains why this would work out so well:

“I think it would be a healthier system if we poured resources into neighborhood schools to make them stronger.” That's how Hemphill is quoted.

We'll just "pour resources" into those schools! Might we note a few shortcomings with this stirring suggestion?

We'll note that Hemphill doesn't say what those "resources" might be. Nor does she say why the city didn't simply pour these resources into these schools in the first place.

Beyond that, there's no sign that Harris and Hu ever got off their upper-class ascots and took the time and the trouble to ask her. But so it goes when the New York Times pretends to report on the schools.

We'll just "pour resources" into those schools! This will make them "stronger." But would it erase the brutal achievement gaps we've already posted today? Trust us! New York Times readers will never be asked to consider a question like that.

New York Times readers are skillfully shielded from any such unpleasant questions! Times editors would hold hands and leap from the George Washington Bridge before they'd ask their upper-end readers to gaze on data like these, or to know what those data seem to mean:
Average scores, Grade 8 math, Naep
New York City Public Schools, 2017

White students: 290.71
Black students: 255.63
Hispanic students: 263.56
Asian-American students: 306.03
Judged by a standard, very rough rule of thumb, those data mean that the average black kid in New York's public schools is (something like) five years behind the average Asian-American kid at the end of eighth grade.

Five years behind at the end of eighth grade! But don't worry! We'll "pour resources" into our neighborhood schools. That will make the schools stronger!

The insouciance of that quote (as presented) contrasts with glimpses offered by Harris and Hu of those neighborhood schools in the old days. Why did Gotham ever decide to take the "highly selective" route? In paragraph 9, the reporters start to explain:
HU AND HARRIS: Until at least the 1970s, most New York City students attended their neighborhood schools. Over the years, more options to these neighborhood schools emerged, often appealing to middle-class families and providing an alternative for families of many backgrounds to large comprehensive schools that were overwhelmed with struggling students, according to educators and parents.
Interesting! According to educators and parents, those large comprehensive neighborhood schools "were overwhelmed with struggling students" back in the good old days! When other options were provided, those options "appeal[ed] to middle-class families" and to "families of many backgrounds."

("Families of many backgrounds?" That's a disguised way of saying that many of these educationally ambitious families actually weren't white or middle-class.)

Breaking! Apparently, middle-class families, along with families of many backgrounds, prefer to send their kids to schools which aren't "overwhelmed!" Here's the way that ended up in New York:
HU AND HARRIS: Then, during Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s administration, the city required all children to apply to a high school in their eighth-grade year. Students rank up to 12 choices, and then get matched to one school by a special algorithm. The idea was to allow students to escape failing neighborhood schools and apply anywhere they chose.
Intriguing! Under the Bloomberg procedures, Gotham's students were "allowed to escape failing neighborhood schools." Or at least, some students were allowed to escape those schools—the students able to gain admission into selective schools.

Might we offer a thought? In these brief glimpses, Hu and Harris paint an extremely unattractive picture of those old neighborhood schools.

Gotham's large neighborhood schools were "overwhelmed with struggling students," we're told. They were "failing" schools, which families longed to "escape."

Today, though, there's no need for concern! We'll just "pour resources" into those schools! That will make them "stronger!"

The point we're making is simple. Harris and Hu and their unnamed editors seem to have one thing on their minds. They want to pose as apostles of "integration." There's little sign that they know or care about anything else.

There's no sign that they have the first freaking clue about the size of the academic challenge facing the nation's public schools. Beyond that, we'll make the obvious point:

There's no freaking sign that they care.

New York City's schools are full of good, decent kids. They're also full of good, decent kids who are black and Hispanic. Many of those kids are struggling badly in the classroom, though, without question, not all. (More on that tomorrow.)

In response to that mountain of pain, Harris and Hu and their hapless editors want to change a few diversity numbers a tad. They want to call this "desegregation." But that seems to be where their interest ends. They have no apparent understanding or concern beyond that.

In fairness, Harris and Hu aren't education specialists. The New York Times is too uncaring to bother with piddle like that.

Tomorrow: Where does "tracking" come from? A look at Gotham's astonishing (non-racial) achievement gaps

The basic takeaway here: The New York Times will never ask you to come to terms with data like these:
Average scores, Grade 8 math, Naep
New York City Public Schools, 2017

White students: 290.71
Black students: 255.63
Hispanic students: 263.56
Asian-American students: 306.03
The Times doesn't seem to care about that. It cares about something else.

BREAKING: Things you never hear about!

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 20, 2018

Dumbest culture ever:
Basically, it's against the law for upper-end journalists to report basic information.

Especially on "cable news," they'd rather spend each waking minute engaged in pointless discussion about whatever Donald J. Trump said ten seconds ago. Or speculating, for hours on end, about aspects of the Mueller probe they can't possibly know about.

Basically, our upper-end journalism, especially on cable, is conducted as if we were all subhuman. Yesterday, we listed a few of the basic statistics you never hear discussed, given this subhuman culture.

We forgot to include the basic facts about the decline in crime. Today, Kevin Drum notes one result of this subhuman corporate behavior.

"Crime Is Down But Most People Don’t Know It," Drum's headline says. Actually, we'll make a correction:
Crime is actually way, way down, but most people don't know it.
Drum offers some of the reasons for this public ignorance. Most of it takes us back to the behaviors of the national and local press.

People haven't been told that test scores are up. People haven't been told that crime rates are down. People don't know that they're getting massively looted through the astonishing costs of American health care.

(Do people know about incarceration rates? When Patrisse Khan-Cullors published her Black Lives Matter memoir early this year, did you see her on the cable shows of our favorite corporate stars? Of course you didn't! The people who have been locked up are the people our mugging and clowning cable stars persistently disregard.)

People don't know that crime rates are down! But if you watched Rachel last Wednesday night, you possess eighteen minutes of useless knowledge about Herb Kalmbach, Nixon's personal lawyer. This pleasing but pointless tribal porridge was served to you under liberal cable's Retro Schadenfreude Rules!

We've asked you many, many times if our journalists are actually human. Sometimes, people think we're joking or engaged in hyperbole.

For the record, we've never been sure that we are. We wouldn't bet that they're nonhuman, but we wouldn't be shocked by that news.

They should talk about Yemen, Seymour Hersh said. Maybe they could even talk about basic matters at home!

There Went the Sun: "Here Comes the Sun," George Harrison said.

Regarding American social pathologies, the sun has pretty much come and gone. Remarkably, no one was told!

GAPS AND TRACKS: A "shadow system" feeds "segregation!"

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 20, 2018

Part 2—Slanted all the way down:
The New York Times thinks Gotham's public schools shouldn't engage in "tracking."

Check that! The Times believes that tracking—or "screening" by academic achievement—shouldn't be part of the school admission process. Or at least, the Times believes that the New York City Public Schools allows too much screening of this type.

Alas! It's a bit hard to know what the Times believes because the paper didn't announce its beliefs in an editorial. It announced its beliefs in a front-page "news report" this Monday—a front-page news report which was spectacularly slanted.

The report appeared on Monday's front page. Tomorrow, we'll start to show you why some form of "tracking" is inevitable—unavoidable, unless we're all crazy—in a gigantic school system like New York's.

For today, though, let's take a look at the slanting in Monday's front-page report. The report was slanted all the way down, in a way which might helps us see why some conservatives say they don't believe a thing they read in the New York Times.

How slanted was Monday's news report? The slanting began in the headlines.

Yesterday, we showed you the highly evocative headline which appeared on the front page of Monday's print editions. ("Cherry Picking Students Leaves Minorities Behind.")

In fact, the "cherry picking" in question only left some minorities behind, if you want to use that evocative term. Asian-Americans are a "minority" too, and Asian kids are the monumental winners in the "cherry picking" at issue, in which kids are required to take an achievement test and are admitted to the schools in question based upon their scores.

Do we want to call that process "cherry picking?" At the Times, some editor did, in a front-page headline! But here's the headline which originally appeared on line. In this highly evocative headline, we'd say the slanting is good:
A Shadow System of Tracking by School Feeds Segregation
In that headline, the process of deciding admission by means of a test is described as "a shadow system of tracking." This shadow system "feeds segregation," the suggestible reader is told.

(Note: That online headline has been changed. It now reads, "A Shadow System Feeds Segregation in New York City Schools.")

When it comes to the pushing of buttons, no button was left behind in that original headline! In fact, the high schools which result from this "shadow system" aren't "segregated" in the traditional sense of the term. Students from all racial/ethnic groups attend these schools, though not in the percentages found throughout New York's schools as a whole.

Deciding admission by academic performance does create something like "racial imbalance," both in the admission schools and in the system's remaining schools, which tilt more heavily black and Hispanic kids as a result of the "screening" procedure.

That said, the term "segregation" stirs the soul in a way which "racial imbalance" doesn't. As a result, some editor at the Times decided to make that choice.

That on-line headline was heavily slanted. Before the week is through, we'll show you the more accurate headline the Times would never publish.

We'll set that embarrassing task aside for another day. For today, this is the way the front-page news report started:
HU AND HARRIS (6/18/18): No other city in the country screens students for as many schools as New York—a startling fact all but lost in the furor that has erupted over Mayor Bill de Blasio’s recent proposal to change the admissions process for the city’s handful of elite high schools.

One in five middle and high schools in New York, the nation’s largest school district, now choose all of their students based on factors like grades or state test scores. That intensifies an already raw debate about equity, representation and opportunity that has raged since Mr. de Blasio proposed scrapping the one-day test now required to gain entry into New York’s eight elite high schools. Black and Hispanic students are underrepresented in many of the most selective screened middle and high schools, just as they are in the specialized high schools.

In Los Angeles, the country’s second-largest district, there are only two selective high schools and two “highly gifted” magnet schools. Boston has seven schools that screen—all high schools—including the prestigious Boston Latin School, a feeder for Harvard University that has an entrance exam akin to New York’s specialized high school test. In Seattle, the only screened schools are two elementary schools with accelerated curriculums for “highly capable” students who pass a district-administered gifted test.

“When we have a publicly funded school system, the notion that you can pick and choose your students is problematic,” said Matt Gonzales, director of the school diversity project at New York Appleseed, an organization that pushes for integrated schools. “It undermines the democratic, and free and open nature of public education.”
In our view, the slanting is already general. To wit:

Is it "problematic" to "pick and choose" public schools' students in this way and to this extent? That's certainly possible—though, inevitably, it's a matter of judgment.

That said, the thumbs are already on the scales when we're told it's "a startling fact" that New York screens admission this much—and when the person the New York Times chooses to quote is devoted to "integration."

Why did Hu and Harris choose to quote Gonzales, rather than someone with a different view? Why did they introduce the evocative term "integration" into their news report?

We can't answer those questions! We can tell you this—it may not be such a "startling fact" that New York "screens" students in twenty percent of its schools, while Boston only screens students in seven high schools.

According to the system itself, the Boston Public Schools only runs something like 24 high schools. If students are screened for admission to seven, that's almost 30 percent!

That said, we've found find no record of which seven schools screen admission in Boston. The system itself repeatedly says that it runs three "exam schools."

That's even fewer than seven! However, this blog report from last July makes the following statement: "The three exam schools enroll roughly a quarter of BPS students in grades 7 through 12." If, as seems to be the case, that statement is even dimly accurate, how "startling" is the degree of screening in New York City's schools

None of this tells us whether New York's amount of screening is a good idea. It does help us see the way our biggest newspapers may sometimes slant their front-page "news reports," with various thumbs on the scales.

That said, let's return to the question at hand. Does New York City's amount of screening "undermine the democratic, and free and open nature of public education?"

Everything is possible! It's even possible that someone will be able to explain what that evocative statement means!

The amount of screening in New York may be a bad idea. But as Hu and Harris continue, so does the lusty slanting of their news report:
HU AND HARRIS (continuing directly): Unlike many cities, New York, with its 1.1 million students, also has a large base of middle-class families that attend the public schools, said Richard D. Kahlenberg, a senior fellow at the Century Foundation. Screened schools are a way to appeal to them and keep their children in the public schools, especially in a city where public housing projects sit beside million-dollar apartments, he said.

But the result has been that New York, in essence, has replaced tracking within schools with tracking by school, where children with the best records can benefit from advanced classes and active parent and alumni associations. According to the city, of the more than 830 middle schools and high schools, roughly 190 screen all of their students. Many of these screened schools are clustered in Manhattan and Brooklyn, with enrollments that are more white, Asian and affluent than the overall school population.

Edwin Franco, a father of two girls who lives in the Bronx, said that too many selective schools cherry pick the best students—and deprive everyone else of opportunities. “They’re almost like a factory,” he said. “They’re churning out high-performing kids who are doing great while the rest of the kids are trying to figure it out on their own because they don’t have the same resources.”

Richard A. Carranza, the schools chancellor, said in an interview that screened schools have a limited place in a public school system, providing an option for those students who want an “intense academic environment” and can thrive in it. But, he said, “the role of those kinds of schools in a portfolio as large as New York City’s is very specific.”
Let us translate that:

In paragraph 5, we're told that Gotham's screened schools constitute " a way to appeal to [middle-class families] and keep their children in the public schools."

Almost surely, that's true. The reference to "million-dollar apartments" suggests that these screened schools also represent an outreach to wealthy families.

Almost surely, this presentation will make Times readers think of middle-class and wealthy white families. The role these schools play for lower-income immigrant families goes unmentioned here. Asian-American kids disappear.

In paragraph 6, we're told that this admission screening is really a form of "tracking." This is a perfectly reasonable statement—though we'll note the fact that the term "tracking" has long been tangled, in our liberal tribe's lore, with allegations of racism.

In paragraph 7, a highly opinionated parent is quoted—Edwin Franco from the Bronx. He thinks the screening is a rip-off and a scam, aimed at families like his.

He says the kids who don't get admitted to the screened schools are being deprived of opportunities and resources. (He even says that kids like his end up "on their own.") Regarding the loss of opportunity, Hu and Harris have already said something similar in paragraph 6.

Why is this one parent quoted? Why are no other parents quoted? There are many parents in New York City who regard these schools are godsends. In Monday morning's front-page report, you didn't hear from them!

Hu and Harris composed a front-page report. Journalistically, it was a mess.

You only heard from those who oppose the screened schools or find them barely tolerable. You didn't hear from those who support them. Every evocative button got pushed, including the buttons about "tracking," "cherry picking," "shadow systems" and of course "integration."

Tomorrow, we'll offer a public service! We'll help you see why some form of "tracking" is inevitable in a system like New York's, unless we're all out of our minds—which in fact we've basically been since the 1960s.

"Tracking" has long been a dirty word in pseudo-liberal circles. Tomorrow, we'll show you how utterly clueless—and how deeply uncaring—we liberals can actually be.

For today, let's end with a note about Seattle, the shining city school system on a hill the authors cited at the start of their report. Unlike New York, with its shadow system and its segregation, heroic Seattle barely screens admission to schools at all:
HU AND HARRIS: ...Boston has seven schools that screen—all high schools—including the prestigious Boston Latin School, a feeder for Harvard University that has an entrance exam akin to New York’s specialized high school test. In Seattle, the only screened schools are two elementary schools with accelerated curriculums for “highly capable” students who pass a district-administered gifted test.
Three cheers for high-minded Seattle! But here's what got left out:

According to it basic data page, Seattle is a rather small, heavily middle-class system. Its enrollment this years was 53,000. The New York City Public Schools enroll 1.1 million students.

Only 34 percent of Seattle's students are "low income." In New York City, the figure stands at 77 percent.

Aside from being middle-class, Seattle's system is heavily white and Asian-American. It faces many fewer demographic challenges than New York City's does.

Despite these facts, and for all its greatness, Seattle boasts an enormous achievement gap between its white and black students. According to the New York Times graphics which illustrate Professor Reardon's recent study, Seattle's black/white achievement gap stood at 3.7 years at or around the start of sixth grade.

In horribly segregated Gotham, Reardon placed the black/white gap at 2.3 years. According to Reardon, Seattle's black kids were 1.7 years behind grade level. Gotham's black kids were exactly one year in arrears.

Gotham's figure is unacceptable. But it's much better than Seattle's.

Middle-class cities like Seattle don't have to struggle to forestall middle-class flight (of all races and ethnicities) in the way a city like Gotham might. Despite this fact, it sounds to us like several of Seattle's twelve (12) high schools are involved in something like the academic selectivity the New York Times now decries:
James A. Garfield High School is a public high school in the Seattle Public Schools...Garfield draws students from all over the city. Garfield is also one of two options for the district's Highly Capable Cohort for academically highly gifted students, with the other being Ingraham International School. As a result, it has many college-level classes available ranging from calculus-based physics to Advanced Placement (AP) studio art.
Whatever! But at the start of Monday's report, Seattle's small, middle-class system was used to help us see how vile New York's "segregation" is. So it goes as readers of the Hamptons-based Times are dumbed down within an inch of their lives—and as black kids are thrown under the bus as part of our tribe's long tradition.

(The logic behind that claim follows.)

Monday's report by Hu and Harris was a parody of public school reporting. In the main, it served the purpose of telling pseudo-liberal Times readers that they're moral, upstanding and good.

Along the way, Hu and Harris seemed perhaps a bit concerned by the very notion of "tracking." Why can't we all get along? Perhaps in one big rollicking ninth-grade math class?

Yes, Virginia, we have to have "tracking!" Prepare for a giant heart attack when we show you why.

Tomorrow: Gotham's (non-racial) achievement gaps. Warning! Percentiles involved!

BREAKING: Talking Barbie said math is hard!

TUESDAY, JUNE 19, 2018

The Washington Post seems to prove it:
Has there been a big increase in apprehensions at the southern border?

Kevin Drum was trying to figure it out. Along the way, he came across the Washington Post's attempt to work with numbers.

He quoted a passage by the Post's Philip Bump. Warning! As Talking Barbie once thoughtfully said, math can be quite hard:
BUMP (6/18/18): [Secretary Nielsen] repeated a data point that she had mentioned earlier, a data point that Nielsen suggested necessitated taking a zero-tolerance approach to families arriving at the border.

“Again, let’s just pause to think about this statistic: 314 percent increase in adults showing up with kids that are not a family unit,” she said. “Those are traffickers, those are smugglers, that is MS-13, those are criminals, those are abusers.”

[...]

A DHS representative provided The Washington Post with the hard numbers behind Nielsen’s statistic. There were 46 cases of fraud—“individuals using minors to pose as fake family units”—in fiscal 2017, the period from October 2016 through September 2017. In the first five months of 2018, there were 191 cases.

That's an increase of 315 percent.
Except that isn't an increase of 315 percent. We'll let Drum explain:
DRUM (6/18/18): This is kind of weird. That’s not an increase of 315 percent. On a monthly basis, which is all that matters, it’s an increase from 3.8/month to 38.2/month. That’s an increase of 905 percent...
Drum continued on from there, seeking the bigger story. We decided too stop right there, to marvel at what Bump had written.

Everybody makes mistakes. But in his comparison, Bump was comparing the alleged number of apprehensions for an entire fiscal year to the alleged number of apprehensions over a recent five-month period.

No, you can't sensibly do that. Not when you're working with numbers!

Everybody makes mistakes; perhaps this remarkable groaner was just a random brain cramp. That said, we'll admit it. When we checked the text from Bump to see if Drum's account could possibly be right, this is what we were thinking:

It's impossible to get our major journalists to report essential data. They refuse to report the major gains which have occurred in Naep scores. They refuse to report the giant achievement gaps contained in those same stats.

They refuse to report the astounding statistics about the per person cost of American health care. All in all, basic data don't exist within the work of our upper-end press corps.

Basic data don't exist within the work of our press corps! We'll admit that, when we read Drum's post, this thought came to mind:

Top scribes refuse to report basic data? Maybe it's just as well...

BREAKING: Eighteen minutes on Herb Kalmbach!

TUESDAY, JUNE 19, 2018

What Hersh was talking about:
Last Wednesday night, Seymour Hersh complained to Don Lemon about the conduct of cable news.

Hersh was perhaps a bit inarticulate, so we're going to translate for him. For yesterday's report, just click here.

Hersh said that corporate cable's stars should stop focusing on whatever Donald J. Trump said in the last ten seconds. He said they're playing Donald Trump's game when they play that ratings-boosting game.

At one point, he even said they should actually talk about some actual issues which matter:
HERSH (6/13/18): I sometimes think that—I just wish sometimes, instead of so much about Trump and how awful he is, and there's certainly a lot of things not to like about him, I wish sometimes we'd talk more about what's going on in Yemen, about mothers having their children taken away at the border and all that.

I wish that was more of a focus. But I can understand Trump is great for ratings. He just is. That's just the reality.
In the days since Hersh appeared with Lemon, cable stars have talked about children at the border non-stop. But when have you seen your favorite stars discuss events in Yemen?

For that matter, when have you seen your favorite stars talking about events in Honduras, Guatemala or El Salvador? When have you seen our big major stars discussing life in our major cities? When have you seen your favorite stars seem to give a fat flying flip about S-hole places like that?

Hersh said cable is playing Trump's game by speaking of Nothing But Trump. It's good for ratings and profits, he said. But it's "terrible for journalism."

That very same night, a major corporate cable news star displayed the kind of behavior to which Hersh referred. She came on the air at 9 PM—and she spent the next eighteen minutes [sic!] talking about Herb Kalmbach!

To watch that ridiculous segment, click here. To read the transcript, click this.

Who the heck is Herb Kalmbach? You're asking an excellent question! Kalmbach was Richard Nixon's personal lawyer during the Watergate era. That was 45 years ago! In 1973!

Kalmbach ended up going to jail. Such otherwise pointless recollections make our corporate star quite glad. Wasting eighteen minutes of time, she fed us our nightly partisan porridge.

Eighteen minutes on Kalmbach! If this were a decent, intelligent land, this multimillionaire TV star would be frogmarched off to the countryside for some good solid re-education.

Alas! This is a world in which we liberals are suckers for corporate pander. This star keeps pleasuring us with pointless tales about the depredations of Richard M. Nixon. By way of contrast, black kids in our cities can go hang in the yard, as can the kids of Honduras.

At present, every star from Mika and Willie on down is posturing about the border. They're playing tape of children crying and adopting their best stricken pose.

BREAKING! Children are crying every day in the tormented countries from which the migrants are emerging—from the situations our star ignores so she can pleasure us with pointless tales of Herbert Kalmbach instead.

The suffering people who come to our border have come from Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador. What is happening in those countries? What has become of civil order? What could the United States do to help their frayed situations?

You haven't heard such topics discussed by this overpaid circus clown on her profit-rich TV program. In fact, we decided to run some Nexis searches. This is what we found:

We searched on "Maddow Show AND Honduras OR Honduran." We got no relevant hits for the past two years, starting this June 1.

We searched on "Maddow Show AND Guatemala OR Guatemalan." No relevant hits for that same two years!

We searched on "Maddow Show AND Salvador OR Salvadoran." No relevant results! (One hit for Salvador Dali.) Instead, she frequently played the Bentley sex tape, mugging and clowning as she did, and she likes to dumb the whole world down by yakking about Herb Kalmbach, who's supposed to be just like Michael Cohen and is therefore Totally Trump.

That eighteen minutes she spent on Kalmbach is eighteen minutes she didn't spend on the major gaps confronting black kids in Chicago and New York City. It's eighteen minutes she didn't spend on the suffering children of Central America, who suffer fears and indignities every day and cry pretty much every night.

Children have been crying in all those places for many years by this time. Our big cable star didn't seem to care. But now that the sound of children crying is very hot and Trump-related, she played the tape of the crying children on her show last night.

This is what Hersh was talking about! Indeed, two hours before he spoke with Lemon, one corporate star had devoted eighteen minutes to pointless chatter about Herb Kalmbach. Pleasing tribal message received! It's just like Cohen and Trump!

That eighteen minutes was a low-IQ journalistic disgrace. On the whole, our deeply self-impressed liberal team neither sees this nor cares.

Just to be clear: No really! She rattled on about Kalmbach for eighteen minutes! To convince yourself, click this.

GAPS AND TRACKS: The New York Times doesn't like "screening!"

TUESDAY, JUNE 19, 2018

Part 1—"Cherry picking" practiced, decried:
The New York Times doesn't like screening, a practice it also describes as "tracking" and "cherry picking."

More specifically, the New York Times doesn't like the amount of screening (or tracking) which is permitted by the New York City Public Schools as part of the school admission procedure.

The New York Times thinks too many of the city's schools are permitted to "screen" incoming students on the basis of academic achievement. And who knows? In that ardent if cloaked belief, the paper may even be right!

Does New York City permit too many high schools to "screen" incoming ninth-graders? That question is hard to answer, but the New York Times thinks it does.

How do we know what the New York Times thinks? The paper didn't publish an editorial in which this view was stated.

Instead, the Times published a comically slanted "news report" on yesterday's front page. The report appeared under this hard-copy headline:
Schools Cherry Pick, Leaving Minorities Behind
Already, the editorial view seems abundantly clear. But we knew the famous newspaper thinks the screening is out of hand when we reached the comical passage shown below.

The passage appears fairly late in the report by Hu and Harris. The reporters are discussing the procedures by which New York City kids gain admission to many high schools and middle schools:
HU AND HARRIS (6/18/18): The process at every level can be grueling for children and their families. “I don’t think anyone who’s gone through the high school application process thinks it’s anything but legalized child abuse,” said Clara Hemphill, the editor of the popular school guide InsideSchools, a project of The New School’s Center for New York City Affairs. “I think it would be a healthier system if we poured resources into neighborhood schools to make them stronger.”
Sometimes you just have to laugh.

Having said that, we're willing to take a wild guess! We'll guess there's someone in New York who thinks the application procedure is something other than "legalized child abuse!"

In effect, the scribes cherry-picked that eye-catching description from a wider range of possible views. Before the week is done, we'll also ask you to consider the second part of Hemphill's statement, in which she alludes to all the "resources" New York City could allegedly "pour into" neighborhood schools. Problem magically solved!

Hu and Harris cherry-picked that evocative statement about the child abuse. That said, such cherry-picking is on display all through yesterday's "news report," in which elbows, thumbs and even asp cheeks are constantly placed on the scales, leading to a front-page headline in which the New York Times describes the city's current admission procedures as a form of "cherry picking" which "leaves minorities behind."

Every button is being pushed in that heavily slanted headline. For the record, the argumentative term "cherry picking" isn't taken directly from Hu and Harris themselves. It's taken from another cherry-picked statement—a statement by one of the New York City parents Hu and Harris chose to quote.

(They chose to quote exactly two such parents, out of a possible roughly two million. How did they choose those particular parents? Only their editor knows!)

Does New York City permit too much admission "screening" on the middle and high school level? Certainly, that's possible, though it's also a matter of judgment.

What's abundantly clear is the fact that the Times adopted that stance yesterday through the medium of a front-page news report. Basically, every standard button was pushed as the paper tried to persuade its gullible readers to adopt its own high-minded view.

This was terrible news reporting—and it appeared on the front page of our most important newspaper. On the upside, this slanted report can help us see why conservatives will sometimes say, not entirely without reason, that they feel they can't believe a thing they read in the New York Times.

Does New York City permit too much "screening"—Hu and Harris also refer to the practice as "tracking"—in the school admission process? Like everything else, that's possible! We'll ponder the question all week.

That said, Hu and Harris went to heroic lengths to avoid confronting the obvious reasons for "tracking," whether done within a school or in the admission process.

Why would public schools in New York City engage in screening or tracking, even in "cherry picking" or "picking and choosing?" Also, why does screening or tracking tend to "leave [certain] minorities behind?"

Duh! It's because of the size of some of the gaps—the extremely large achievement gaps the New York Times refuses to tell you about. We've published these data again and again. They aren't allowed in the Times:
Average scores, Grade 8 math, Naep
New York City Public Schools, 2017

White students: 290.71
Black students: 255.63
Hispanic students: 263.56
Asian-American students: 306.03
Unless there's something wrong with the Naep, extremely large achievement gaps are defined by those punishing numbers—and virtually everyone agrees that the Naep provides our most reliable educational data.

If anything, the gaps confronted by Gotham's schools are even larger than those data may suggest, as we'll show you (again) with other Naep data this week. Prepare to run screaming from the room when we show you percentiles again!

At any rate, the New York Times refuses to report or discuss the basic data we've shown you again and again. Yesterday, the paper also refused to run the awkward headline it could have run instead of the propagandistic headline which graced the paper's front page.

In so doing, Hu and Harris, and their editors, walked away from the black and Hispanic kids who sit on the short end of those enormous gaps. This continues a fifty-year process in which we liberals pretend to care about those kids, while consigning them to the "second-class citizenship" reflected in those Naep scores.

Who's committing the "child abuse" now? We'll ponder the question all week.

Tomorrow: Classic slanted "reporting"

The data which mustn't appear: For all Naep data, just click here. From there, you're on your own.

BREAKING: Seymour Hersh assails cable news!

MONDAY, JUNE 18, 2018

Says stars may be playing Trump's game:
We're returning today to our sprawling campus. Full services resume tomorrow.

In the meantime:

Seymour Hersh is a very famous journalist. Last Wednesday night, he tangled a bit with Don Lemon, the much younger CNN star.

Hersh appeared on Lemon's show to promote his new memoir, Reporter—or at least, Lemon seemed to think his guest was there for that purpose. In reality, Hersh took the occasion to challenge the way cable news is conducting The Chase against Donald J. Trump.

Hersh's remarks weren't perfectly cogent, and they weren't fully fleshed out. But we think his critique is well worth reviewing. For the full transcript, click here.

As the interview started, Lemon teed Hersh up to criticize Trump's latest attack on the press. But Hersh took a different route:
HERSH (6/13/18): Disliking Trump is like catnip for American audiences. Obviously, television is doing much better. You guys are getting better ratings. The newspapers, the New York papers and the Washington Post, are getting more audience, and going after Trump is really good news.

And I sometimes think that—I just wish sometimes, instead of so much about Trump and how awful he is, and there's certainly a lot of things not to like about him, I wish sometimes we'd talk more about what's going on in Yemen, about mothers having their children taken away at the border and all that.

I wish that was more of a focus. But I can understand Trump is great for ratings.
He just is. That's just the reality.
Oof. Right off the bat, Hersh suggested that cable news spends all its time chasing Trump because it's good for ratings. He said he wished they would spend more time discussing serious issues, including issues which may have nothing to do with Trump.

Obviously, the cable networks have been discussing the situation with children at the border in the days since this interview aired. But after Lemon pushed back a bit against Hersh's remarks, Hersh kept pouring it on:
HERSH: The problem is, [Trump] is going up in the ratings the more we complain about him.

I complain about him too. Nobody likes his cabinet, those people, what's going on in the cabinet and the various divisions of the government. The mistreatment of people, the federal workers, is outrageous.

On the other hand, he's going up in ratings. And so I don't see the Democratic Party doing anything but basically running, sort of as Hillary did, running against him for the last two months of the campaign. And I'm not sure that, if I'm not in the major cities in America, I'm not sure—

This guy is different. And I think people are tired of politicians. And he appeals for a lot of reasons that maybe we don't all understand...
Once again, Lemon pushed back, saying the press is just doing its job. Hersh didn't quite seem to agree:
HERSH: You know, with all due respect, and I'm not talking about you or your show...We now have a situation where a lot of people tune in to what they like, and don't listen to what they don't like.

LEMON: Right.

HERSH: It's good for cable television on both sides, mostly for Fox News, CNN, MSNBC. And you guys, you've got great ratings, you're making money. I think The New York Times, every quarter, says it's picked up another 200,000 subscriptions because they're very critical of Trump.

And so you have this notion, if you don't like Trump, you're going to go here. If you like Trump, you're going to go somewhere else. And where is the middle ground? Where is the media that is accepted? Where is the media that, whatever they say, is going to have some standing? It's not going to be tuned out by 40 percent of the people, whatever percentage?

It just seems to me that at this rate, if I'm watching, yes, Trump went to the summit not knowing much about it. Yes, he doesn't read anything. And yes, he's famous for just doing running on instinct. But you know...

He's been in public life for 15, 20 years. There is just that outside chance...with all these tweets and all that other stuff, he just may have some idea what he's doing. He's keeping it focused on him, whether good or bad or otherwise. It works for him. And so I don't know if we're not all caught up in a pantomime that he's probably, maybe, doing better at running.
Hersh just wouldn't stop. His critique didn't make perfect sense, nor was it fleshed out thoroughly. But he seemed to be saying that Trump is the eventual winner in the game of polarized "news" and in The Eternal Chase conducted by cable news. The stars are playing a role in a pantomime Trump is running, a game he's going to win.

Once more, Lemon tried to make Hersh stop. He tried, but still didn't succeed:
LEMON: I got to get you to tell us about the book, though, because that's why you're here.

HERSH: Let me say one more point. The last thing I expect you to do is agree with me.

LEMON: Of course.

HERSH: I'm just giving you a point of view. I'm thinking about, what's he going to do after the next election? You know, I'm just worried. He just may be playing a longer game than we think.

LEMON: Of course he is. We know that. I know that.

HERSH: Then we're all sort of playing his game. It's his game. That's what bothers me.
To watch this whole segment, click here.

Is the press corps playing Donald Trump's game? Is that especially true on cable, where the various high-minded stars talk about Nothing But Trump, and do so All Day Long?

Could that be why Trump's approval ratings seemed to be inching up in the past month or so, with Mueller's approvals inching down? Increasingly, we've been wondering about that, much as Hersh has done.

We'd guess that the current treatment of children at the border will hurt Trump politically. That said, we share Hersh's overall sense of the way The Chase on CNN and MSNBC may be working out.

Is cable news playing Trump's game by making their product All Trump All The Time? We suspect they possibly are.

Tomorrow, a recent cable news example of Trump Perpetual Chase Disorder. The segment in question aired on June 13, the same night Hersh appeared.

Also this, from north of the border: In this interview with CBC's Diana Swain, Hersh explained his view with a bit more clarity.

The cable news focus on Every Trump Utterance is "so easily manipulated by the White House," he complained.

It's "good for ratings," he told Swain. But it's "terrible for journalism."

We're inclined to think that Hersh is right. Recent examples to follow.

BREAKING: Ways to normalize The Crazy!

SATURDAY, JUNE 16, 2018

The Times soft-soaps Donald J. Trump:
Yesterday, Donald J. Trump did a lot of high-decibel talking about some very important topics.

In this morning's editions, the New York Times made the following statement in a front-page news report about the president's remarks:
BAKER AND SULLIVAN (6/16/18): As he often does, Mr. Trump misstated or distorted a variety of facts, large and small, over the course of the television appearance and subsequent conversation with reporters.
Trump had "misstated or distorted a variety of facts, large and small." The Times was willing to say that as a statement of fact, as part of a major front-page report.

Trump misstated or distorted a variety of facts? This included large misstatements?

At one time, that would have been regarded as a major news event. Today, though, the New York Times normalized Trump's wild misstatements in two major ways.

First act of normalization: The statement we've quoted doesn't appear at the top of the Times' report. It doesn't even appear on the Times' front page.

The statement appears inside the paper, on page A15, midway through the continuation of the front-page report. The Times quoted an array of misstatements before it bothered informing its readers that many of the president's statements had in fact been false.

In our view, the paragraph we quoted should have appeared on page one, at the very start of the news report. If the Times is prepared to say that a sitting president made a variety of misstatements, including large misstatements, the Times should report that fact early on.

Second act of normalization: In the hard-copy Times, the continuation of the front-page report consumes the top half of page A15. The bottom half of page A15 is consumed by Linda Qiu's latest strange "Fact Check" report.

What makes Qiu's report so strange? In hard copy, her report appears beneath this heading:
FACT CHECK OF THE DAY
That said, this was a highly abnormal "fact check." Qiu's report starts like this:
QIU (6/16/18): President Trump appeared on Friday outside the White House for a wide-ranging interview on “Fox and Friends.”

The interview, which started at 8:30 a.m., morphed into an impromptu question-and-answer session with other reporters.

The following are highlights and fact checks of some of his statements.
Alas! Qiu reprints all sorts of wild statements by Trump, but many of these apparent "highlights" don't get fact-checked at all. Employing a confusing array of frameworks, Qiu and her editors reprint a wide array of statements by Trump, but fact-check only some.

Why would a major newspaper structure a "fact check" this way? We have no idea, but Qiu's report reprints many misstatements which never get fact-checked at all.

The New York is a very strong brand; it's also a very strange newspaper. Its judgments are persistently odd. Today, the paper's treatment of Trump's wild statements provides the latest example.

Modern history of The Crazy: The normalization of The Crazy started long before Trump. It was well underway in the 1990s, when upper-end newspapers like the Times normalized the headlong pursuit of pseudo-scandals involving Bill Clinton, then involving Al Gore.

The Crazy started getting normalized long ago. The process continued this morning. Our liberal world only began to complain when the normalization was extended to the crazy claims of Donald J. Trump—and in truth, we liberals only began to complain in earnest after the normalization of The Crazy helped get Trump elected.

We gamboled and played for a very long time. We knew Trump couldn't win!

We're off on a mission of national import!

FRIDAY, JUNE 15, 2018

That said, how did it happen:
We're off on a mission of national import. We'll have no fish today.

That said, how did it happen? Given yesterday's IG report, which finalizes judgments about Comey's actions, how did these events occur?
1) On the liberal world's favorite cable news program, Comey's July 2016 sliming of Clinton was aggressively applauded, on two consecutive nights, by the program's guest host!

2) When the corporate program's star returned from vacation the next week, she never mentioned Comey's name until late October 2016, when he struck for the record time. From early July through late October, no pushback occurred at all.
World literature is full of imagery in which the protectors are asleep at, or have abandoned, their posts. (Picture Sonny Corleone, getting shot down at the tollbooth.)

With that in mind, how did it happen? How did it happen that your interests were so completely abandoned on this wonderfully enjoyable TV show, whose mugging and clowning we so much enjoy? Not to mention its enjoyable, 18-minute stories about Herb Kalmbach, Nixon's lawyer!

For the past thirty years, we've been living in a world increasingly built on The Crazy. Donald J. Trump has become the leading example, but the culture of our own floundering pseudo-liberal world isn't real far behind.

Postscript: With establishment Washington, Comey had been anointed as the latest example of the world's most upright person. How do such errors so constantly happen? Also, does this explain why your protector had chosen to walk off her post?

BREAKING: Dahlia Lithwick is going numb!

THURSDAY, JUNE 14, 2018

Numb for the past thirty years:
We're sorry to pick on Dahlia Lithwick, who, we're completely sure, is a very nice person.

We've avoided citing her despairing essays in the past few months. But this sort of thing never stops, and yes, it is instructive.

In this new, featured piece at Slate, Lithwick says we're all going numb. This is the way her essay starts, despairing headlines included:
LITHWICK (6/14/18): It’s All Too Much, and We Still Have to Care/
What’s going on at the border is horrifying, but we can’t go numb and turn away.

As a purely descriptive matter, it’s surely true: We are all going numb. As Donald Trump makes war with Canada and peace with dictators and human rights abusers, the narrative is that everyone’s lost all feeling. Polls show the public believes that Trump paid off a porn star, and they don’t care. They believe that he lies habitually, and they also don’t care. A Pew poll released last week showed that nearly 7 in 10 Americans “feel worn out by the amount of news there is these days,” which is how we end up with real journalists like Chuck Todd pushing a humorous pharmaceutical solution to the problem of constant breaking news destroying our minds.
We're sure that Lithwick is a very good person. But these repeated essays help explain how we all got to this place.

According to Lithwick, "we're all going numb."

"Constant breaking news" is "destroying our minds," she says. Despite this, "we still have to care."

Earth to Lithwick:

Many of us aren't going numb. And many of us—specifically, the useless meritocratic elite of which Lithwick is a member—has been utterly useless, and thoroughly numb, for at least the past thirty years.

That sat through every assault on reason conducted by the mindless elites to whom they hoped to belong. They sat through the endless charades of the endless Whitewater pseudo-scandals. They then sat through the twenty months of their press corps' "war against Gore," the war which sent Bush to the White House.

They noticed nothing. They spoke about nothing. Now, as they start losing their grip. they tell the world that we are all going numb.

We're sorry, but that isn't true.

How numb are members of Lithwick's class? Good God! Look again at the way her mind works, even today:
LITHWICK: As a purely descriptive matter, it’s surely true: We are all going numb. As Donald Trump makes war with Canada and peace with dictators and human rights abusers, the narrative is that everyone’s lost all feeling. Polls show the public believes that Trump paid off a porn star, and they don’t care....
In fairness, she mentioned Canada and North Korea first. But what's the very next thing that bothers her?

On one occasion, in 2006, Donald J. Trump is alleged to have had sex with a money-grabbing porn star; in a world which goes crazy when someone has sex, he paid her not to say so. For unknown reasons, this is the first thing that pops into Lithwick's head, other than the news of the past few days.

Lithwick belongs to a profoundly useless "meritocratic" elite which functions a lot like a cult. They've failed the public every step of the way. She keeps failing again.

We have no doubt that Lithwick is a very good person. But the elite to which she belongs is a grasping, useless elite.

They've persistently kissed the ascots of power. How devoted are they to the people who hold it? Neither Lithwick, nor anyone else (except Clark Hoyt), ever wrote a serious profile of Maureen Dowd's repellent work. Neither Lithwick, nor anyone else, ever wrote a profile of the lunacy which Chris Matthews produced for roughly ten years, before he finally flipped in 2008.

Dearest darlings, it just isn't done! But decades of silence from this elite is what made Trumpism possible.

Dowd and Matthews, and many others, were Trumps before Trump became Trump. The Lithwicks averted their gaze and agreed not to speak. They had important careers to build—careers among this utterly preposterous, brain-dead elite!

First it was Yale, then Stanford Law. From there, we got to this:

Everybody's going numb! Why can't Emma save us?

The constant breaking news: Stating the obvious, the "constant breaking news" of which Lithwick speaks isn't news at all. It's just a bunch of corporate hacks speculating about The Chase—and doing so all day long.

Why do they speak about nothing else? Why are they happy to speculate? It's because they actually care about nothing else, and they never have! And by the way:

Watching them do this convinces the public that maybe they should vote for Trump. That, plus the C-bombs and F-bombs from our most brilliant "artists."

In the end, this is the broken-souled culture of Lithwick's meritocratic elite. Yes, they "went to the finest schools." But because they're so empty, they're useless.

GAPS AND THEIR DENIAL: Why not open more high-powered schools?

THURSDAY, JUNE 14, 2018

Part 4—Plus, more about "advanced classes:"
How many of New York City's kids attend their city's eight (or nine) prestigious "specialized high schools?"

Quite possibly, more than you think! In last Saturday's New York Times, Jim Dwyer said the current fight about admission procedures at those schools "affect[s] just about 2 percent of the city's students."

We're not sure what Dwyer meant. But a healthier chunk of New York's high school population seems to attend those eight (or nine) challenging, high-powered schools.

Four of the prestigious nine are actually quite large. Others are quite small. Here are the approximate enrollments of the eight schools currently in question, the schools which base admission on one lone admission test and on nothing else:
Approximate enrollments at eight specialized high schools:
Bronx High School of Science: 3100
Brooklyn Latin School: 560
Brooklyn Technical High School: 5800
High School of Mathematics, Science and Engineering: 440
High School of American Studies: 400
Queens High School for the Sciences: 415
Staten Island Technical High School: 1560
Stuyvesant High School: 3400

Total enrollment: Roughly 15,700 (four years)
As best we can tell, total enrollment in New York City's high schools is somewhere north of 230,000. That would mean that roughly seven percent of Gotham's high school students attend one of those eight specialized high schools.

If you throw in the famous LaGuardia High School for the arts (enrollment, roughly 2700), something like eight percent of New York City high school students attend one of the city's nine "specialized" schools.

In theory, that means that a fairly large number of kids are attending high-powered, "academic" high schools. As we noted yesterday, Mayor de Blasio thinks there are a lot more kids in the city's schools who could benefit from this type of instruction.

The mayor could be right! Sadly, though, the mayor hasn't proposed the obvious step which seems to follow from such an assessment. He hasn't proposed that the city should open additional high-powered schools to serve all these talented kids.

Instead, the mayor has taken the approach our deeply strange, peculiar tribe seems to adore. He has proposed leaving the total number of seats pretty much where it is, but inaugurating a racial/ethnic war over who gets to occupy them.

On its face, this approach seems a bit cruel and obtuse. It seems so obtuse that it seems to capture our liberal tribe's love of "identity," and of the endless identity wars in which we get to pretend that our tribe is the tribe which is morally great.

Why doesn't Gotham simply open a few more high-powered schools? Below, we'll provide an additional way for you to ponder that fairly obvious question.

For today, we thought we'd help you think about the many kids who may not be prepared to benefit from high-powered high schools. Those kids tend to get left behind—essentially, abandoned—when emotional liberals like Dwyer and de Blasio adopt the standard position.

Let's return to something Dwyer said near the start of his column. Crocodile tears splashed onto the page as he cited one of the roadblocks faced by Gotham's many talented high school students:
DWYER (6/9/18): Now, in a system where the overwhelming majority of students have no access to advanced science or math classes, no matter how capable they are, the mayor and the new schools chancellor, Richard A. Carranza, are campaigning to change the admission process at the specialized schools, the most famous and prestigious in the city.

A single competitive test on one day decides admission. Black and Latino students, who make up about two-thirds of the public school population, are only 15 percent of those offered seats at the eight specialized schools.
As noted, we don't know where Dwyer got the figure of 15 percent. In the essay to which he refers and links, de Blasio says the actual figure is "around nine percent."

These data seems to say that the figure this year was at least 10.4 percent. Whatever the actual number may be, we're talking about massive under-representation in these high-powered schools by the city's black and Hispanic kids.

Let's skip that point for now. Instead, let's focus on Dwyer's complaint about the way "the overwhelming majority of students have no access to advanced science or math classes, no matter how capable they are."

No matter how capable they are! Keep that phrase in mind.

Later in his column, Dwyer laments this state of affairs again. As he does, the tells a sad, misleading story—a story our addled, repulsive tribe had told for at least fifty years:
DWYER: Most city students never come near a physics classroom. Although it is the keystone discipline of modern science and technology, the subject is barely taught in the public high schools, outside a select few programs such as those at the specialized schools and elsewhere.

That lack of opportunity hits with greatest force in schools where most students are black or Latino, according to Angela Kelly, a professor of science education at Stony Brook University.

''If a student wants to pursue a college major in life science, engineering, or health, physics is really a gateway course for being able to be succeed,'' said Dr. Kelly. ''Having limited opportunity to learn physics has many social and economic ramifications.''

That tells us something else. Hidden behind the proxies is another monumental injustice: The supply of excellent schools cannot meet the demands of capable students, whatever their backgrounds.
That's how Dwyer ended his column. As de Blasio had already done to a greater extent, he painted a familiar picture:

The city is full of capable high school students. These capable students are getting screwed by the lack of "advanced classes" in their crappy high schools.

We liberals have been painting this picture ever since we started pretending to care about black kids. As we do, we throw hundreds of thousands of New York City kids under a big tribal bus, after which we pretend they aren't there.

We misinform complacent Times readers about the actual state of play in New York City's schools. We disappear the city's gigantic achievement gaps. In their place, we position a pretty, false picture.

Alas! Right in his second paragraph, as he decried the lack of "advanced classes," Dwyer linked to this report from July 2015.

The report, by Hemphill, Mader and Cory, is, in fact, highly instructive. But it flies in the face of the pretty picture Dwyer and de Blasio paint for our uncaring, self-impressed tribe.

The instructive report to which Dwyer linked was published by The New School's Center for New York City Affairs. The report described the upsides and downsides of New York City's decision to replace its gigantic, traditional "neighborhood" high schools with a large number of much smaller schools—with smaller high schools in which struggling students were less likely to fall through the cracks.

On balance, the authors felt this had been a constructive move, but there had been some downsides. At one point, they described the lack of those "advanced classes" in many of these reconstituted smaller schools, though it turns out that Dwyer slightly misstated the situation:
HEMPHILL, MADER AND CORY (7/15): Another finding of the Center’s analysis shows just how daunting that challenge could be. Today, 39 percent of the city’s high schools do not offer a standard college-prep curriculum in math and science, that is, algebra 2, physics and chemistry. More than half the schools do not offer a single Advanced Placement course in math and about half do not offer a single Advanced Placement course in science. For a complete list of schools click here.

Roughly 21 percent of New York City high school students attend schools that don’t offer courses in both chemistry and physics. Many of these are the new small high schools that proliferated during the administration of Mayor Michael Bloomberg. And even at Marie Curie and other small schools where both chemistry and physics are taught, too many students lack the grounding in math needed to take or pass them.
In fact, the authors were talking about the lack of "Advanced Placement" courses, not about "advanced classes." The difference will seem minor to some. It's a difference nonetheless.

The greater significance lies in the last highlighted statement. Uh-oh! Even at the smaller schools where chemistry and physics are being taught, "too many students lack the grounding in math needed to take or pass them."

This starts to challenge the pleasing picture painted by Dwyer and de Blasio. A bit later in their essay, the authors—to whom Dwyer had linked—blew that picture apart:
HEMPHILL, MADER AND CORY: [T]he new small schools also operate under severe constraints. Many of their students, for example, arrive in 9th grade two, three or even four years behind grade level. In these schools, remediation is the order of the day. In the arena of science and math, the schools’ response has been to focus resources on helping kids meet the minimum required for earning a Regents diploma: passing one Regents exam for math (usually algebra), one for science (usually living environment), as well as Regents tests in English language arts, U.S. history and world history.

Some struggling high school students, of course, are late-bloomers. They hit their stride as freshmen, bring themselves up to grade level and then are ready for more advanced coursework in their upper-class years. But while small schools may help such students catch up, with notable exceptions they’re also generally not helping them advance to higher-level coursework—or even offering such classes.

[...]

Consider the now virtually extinct large neighborhood high schools of New York City. Perhaps only 1 percent of the 3,000-plus students at one of them might have been prepared for advanced math, chemistry or physics. Those 30 or so students, however, represented a critical mass large enough to warrant offering such courses. So a late-blooming learner might well have been able to land a seat in such a classroom. In a high school of 400 kids, however, the comparable critical mass for creating advanced classes has to be much larger than just 1 percent of the students before it makes sense to commit the necessary time and effort. Sometimes, that critical mass simply doesn’t exist.
In that essay, to which Dwyer linked, you see the reality he disappeared.

According to Hemphill, Mader and Cory, it actually seems to be true! Some capable students really are missing out in New York City's other high schools—in the high schools which are neither prestigious nor "specialized."

Some students may be missing out in those schools. But the number is perhaps one percent of their students!
!
The other 99 percent of the students may be years behind "grade level" when they enter these high schools. It will take a major act of remediation for them to get back to mere "grade level." By no sane assessment are they prepared for "advanced classes" in physics, let alone for formal Advanced Placement courses.

In his column, Dwyer did what our liberal tribe has done for the past fifty years. He threw the 99 percent under the bus and showcased the kids who were left.

This helps us liberal readers feel upright, moral and pure. It also lets us go back to sleep in the face of the enormous gaps their favorite paper, the New York Times, makes a point to avoid:
Average scores, Grade 8 math, Naep
New York City Public Schools, 2017

White students: 290.71
Black students: 255.63
Hispanic students: 263.56
Asian-American students: 306.03
Judged by a very rough rule of thumb, the average black kid is five years behind the average Asian kid in math—at the end of eighth grade! However accurate that very rough assessment may or may not be, that's the basic reality which was being discussed by Hemphill, Mader and Cory.

Dwyer, who linked to their report, disappeared those gaps. De Blasio did so to a greater extent in his earlier essay, to which Dwyer referred and linked.

Giant, enormous achievement gaps exist in New York City's public schools. A certain percentage of Gotham's ninth-graders are prepared to be challenged by the high-powered courses of study offered at those specialized high schools. But a very large number of Gotham's kids are living a different reality.

Our horrible tribe has always chosen to wish those kids away. We've been playing that game for at least fifty years, praising ourselves for our moral greatness as we peddle fake stories about them.

For today, we close with that one basic question. If de Blasio feels there are so many talented kids ready to enter those high-powered schools, why doesn't he open additional high-powered schools? Why doesn't he expand the number of high-powered seats available to such kids? Why does he seem to prefer to start the latest race war?

Why would anyone make such a choice? To ponder this important question, you can just click here.

Still coming: A few more thoughts about different groups of New York City's kids

BREAKING: Citizen dumps The One True Channel!

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 13, 2018

What David Von Drehle said:
In today's column, David Von Drehle says he spoke to three non-journalist friends in the past week.

We were struck by what the third friend said. The third friend told him this:
VON DREHLE (6/13/18): The third [anecdote] involves a friend who says flatly, “I hate Trump”—yet adds that his TV is no longer set to MSNBC. “They’re just so biased and slanted, it has become painful to watch.”
We agree that The One True Channel is sometimes painful to watch. A times, the work is utterly foolish. CNN can be worse.

At tribalized times, members of tribes may differ from Von Drehle's friend. They'll be able to see the lunacy Over There, perhaps not where they themselves live.

More on The One True Channel tomorrow. Kat Stoeffel's piece in the Sunday Review was painful to read but important.

BREAKING: Drum is flummoxed by what he sees!

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 13, 2018

He's seeing the soul of our species:
Yesterday, Kevin Drum said he was flummoxed by what's going on around him.

Though he cited no specific examples, he seemed to refer to press and pundit reaction to Donald J. Trump's "historic" summit, the one which has saved the world.

"I feel like I’m in some kind of parallel dimension or something," Drum wrote. He referred to "folks who are suggesting this is a 'good first step,' or we’re 'no longer on the brink of war,' or 'maybe Trump really does have a new relationship with Kim.' "

"Have I lost it completely?" Drum asked. "Where is this stuff coming from?"

We're happy to say that Kevin Drum hasn't lost it at all! But we can explain where that stuff is coming from:

The current ludicrous behavior is coming, live and direct, from the soul of Homo sapiens. We simply aren't built for times like these. It's all anthropology now.

Needless to say, Drum's aim is true; the punditry has been astounding. We'll suggest you start with David Ignatius' column in this morning's Washington Post.

In his specific assessments, it's clear that Ignatius knows that the summit was a farce engineered by a madman. But his specific assessments alternate with the repetitive praise he showers on Trump, starting in paragraph 1.

Ignatius writes like a North Korean who knows he must praise Dear Leader. He signals the fact that he knows what occurred.
But as he starts, he says this:

"Credit President Trump for seizing the diplomatic moment at the Singapore summit." And as he ends, he says this: "Let’s celebrate Trump’s success in Singapore."

Along the way, Ignatius says that Trump "is getting some deserved global applause." At one point, he even says this:

"It was a breathtaking piece of mutual audacity for Kim and Trump to push each other to the edge of the cliff and then walk back." Ignatius seems to be in thrall to a pair of dear leaders today!

Simply put, this is The Crazy. It's being expressed from within the soul of a floundering, ill-equipped species. That said, Ignatius reads like a fiery critic of Trump compared to much that appears in this morning's New York Times, whose headlines and boxed sub-headlines speak to the craziness which emerges from our profoundly non-"rational" kind.

The Times' headlines and sub-headlines are straight outta La-la-land. On our hard-copy front page, the headlines atop Mark Landler's featured news report say this:
PRESIDENT'S PITCH TO KIM GETS A VOW BUT NO GUARANTEE
Trump Trusts Gut in Persuading North Korea to Disarm
Did Mika write that second headline? The notion that Trump "trusted his gut" is straight outta her daily disordered talk. It's a lingering staple of Late 1990s Speak, when the boys and girls decided that "authenticity" was all.

Meanwhile, when in the world did Donald J. Trump "persuade North Korea to disarm?" Atop page 1, the New York Times seems to be explaining a major accomplishment which, of course, didn't occur!

(Inside the paper, a boxed headline on Landler's piece helps explain how Trump managed to do what he hasn't done. "Using flattery, cajolery and a slick film for persuasion," the boxed sub-headline says.)

Also on the Times front page, a NEWS ANALYSIS by David Sanger appears beneath this secondary headline:
PRESIDENT'S PITCH TO KIM GETS A VOW BUT NO GUARANTEE
Major Gamble Rests on 'Special Bond'
The foolishness of the "special bond" basically speaks for itself. Also on the front page, we get some palaver from Motoko Rich, who may have been the most incompetent reporter we've ever seen during her run as a Times education reporter.

Rich is covering world affairs now. The headline on her front-page report says this:
Pageantry Aside, a Summit Drama Built on Impromptu Moments
Bring on the body language experts! Also, send in the clowns!

Inside the Times, Max Fisher's "10 Takeaways" almost defy comprehension. Most incredibly, the paper's featured editorial flashes this boxed sub-headline:
The rest of the world holds its breath waiting to see if this new relationship will lead North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons.
In his own new column today, Nicholas Kristof wrote an excellent lede paragraph—but he used it as paragraph 14. Meanwhile, consider what we found today on the silly, upper-class newspaper's reimagined page A3.

According to the daily Spotlight section, Landler, who wrote the paper's featured news report, chatted with Mark Barbaro by phone "just hours before the historic handshake" between the two lunatic leaders. More specifically, the pair of Timesmen chatted about the way each of the summitteers "spent his pre-curtain call hours" in Singapore.

How did the the dear leaders spend their free time? According to the Spotlight section, this is part of what Landler said:
"It's a fact that Kim Jong-un is a fun-loving guy. Intelligence reports on North Korea will tell you that he likes a party. In fact, people say he's pretty much a carouser. It is a surprise that he would be so public about it in a place he's never visited. This is a guy who continues to surprise people."
With that, we return to Drum's very important questions. As we do, we remind you of certain things we've told you for many years:

All too frequently, it's very, very hard to believe that our journalists are actually human. On various occasions, we've asked you if it's possible that they're actually misfiring androids, or possibly extraterrestrials or some unknown kind.

Today, we'll tell you what they actually are—they're failing members of Homo sapiens, breaking down during an historical epoch which requires skills our species lacks.

Final point:

We said long ago that we should be discussing the possibility that Trump is "mentally ill" in some way. In January, the New York Times, apparently cribbing from Josh Marshall's work, said we mustn't do that, and the children all fell in line.

Sorry! If you don't discuss Donald J. Trump within that admittedly difficult context, you can't discuss Donald J. Trump at all.

That question is a deeply important question. It could lead a lesser person to loathe Donald Trump. It could make a kinder person pity him.

That said, that question take us well beyond the limited capacity of our species. Our species is failing quite badly right now. You can see the androids breaking down on "cable news" each night.

Correctly, Drum praises the West Coast Times: One newspaper got it right. For Drum's report, click this.

Kristof's graf 14: In hard copy, this was Kristof's fourteenth paragraph:

"It’s breathtaking to see an American president emerge as a spokesman for the dictator of North Korea."

That would have been a great place to start. He ran it as graf 14.

He opened with the softer claim that Donald J. Trump was "hoodwinked." That implies that Trump is basically sane, and that he was acting in basic good faith.

Does anyone know such things to be true? Of course! Our "press corps" does!

GAPS AND GAP AVOIDANCE: Inventing a cadre of superstar students!

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 13, 2018

Part 3—The breeze from Wobegon:
It's the con our liberal world simply never stops selling.

This con has been active for at least fifty years. Our team never quits with this con.

To which con do we refer? We refer to the con in which we pretend that our low-income, urban, minority schools are crawling with superstar students.

The beauty of this particular con is fairly obvious. It absolves our team from the task of addressing the giant achievements gaps which obtain in a city like New York. It lets us dodge an obvious fact:

In the end, we simply don't care about struggling, low-income kids; few things could be more obvious. In effect, the con to which we refer today lets us borrow Garrison Keillor's joke about Lake Wobegon, "where the children are all above average."

Full disclosure: Lake Wobegon was fictional, but New York City is not. For ourselves, we may have encountered this con for the first time in the late 1960s, when we read Herbert Kohl's 36 Children—an iconic book about Kohl's allegedly giant success teaching sixth grade in New York.

Enough with all the background noise. Let's return to the present.

We thought we encountered a hint of the "Wobegon con" when we read Jim Dwyer's column in last Saturday's New York Times. As we noted yesterday, Dwyer wrote about the imperfect process by which New York City's eighth-graders get admitted to eight of its nine high-powered "specialized high schools."

The eighth-graders take a one-day test. Admission to those high-powered schools is granted on the basis of those test results alone. Plainly, that's an imperfect system. But even as Dwyer began his piece, we almost thought we sensed a breeze blowing off Wobegon:
DWYER (6/9/18): In New York's ragged history of race, class, privilege and equity, the city's specialized high schools have long been proxies. For some, they are the ideal of meritocratic opportunity, incubators of working-class genius and talent; others see their admissions policies as the picture of ''monumental injustice,'' as Mayor Bill de Blasio described them this month in Chalkbeat.

Now, in a system where the overwhelming majority of students have no access to advanced science or math classes, no matter how capable they are, the mayor and the new schools chancellor, Richard A. Carranza, are campaigning to change the admission process at the specialized schools, the most famous and prestigious in the city.
As we noted yesterday, that's the way Dwyer started his column. In that highlighted statement about all those capable students, we almost thought we sensed that breeze from Wobegon.

For the record, that statement about "advanced classes" is perhaps slightly misleading; we'll discuss that point tomorrow. For today, we'll show you the part of Dwyer's column where the breezes began blowing harder:
DWYER: Most city students never come near a physics classroom. Although it is the keystone discipline of modern science and technology, the subject is barely taught in the public high schools, outside a select few programs such as those at the specialized schools and elsewhere.

That lack of opportunity hits with greatest force in schools where most students are black or Latino, according to Angela Kelly, a professor of science education at Stony Brook University.

''If a student wants to pursue a college major in life science, engineering, or health, physics is really a gateway course for being able to be succeed,'' said Dr. Kelly. ''Having limited opportunity to learn physics has many social and economic ramifications.''

That tells us something else. Hidden behind the proxies is another monumental injustice: The supply of excellent schools cannot meet the demands of capable students, whatever their backgrounds.
For what it's worth, those highlighted statements all seem to be accurate, or at least technically so. Still, we thought a breeze was possibly blowing off a (fictional) lake as Dwyer seemed to describe a giant school system crawling with "capable students."

An obvious question arises at this point in Dwyer's column. If New York City has that many capable students seeking advanced classes in math and physics, why doesn't the city open additional "specialized high schools?"

Why stick with eight high-powered schools? Why not start eight more?

Also, why stage a racial/ethnic war about the seats in the schools which exist? Why not open additional high-powered schools to serve all those high-powered students?

We'll discuss that obvious question tomorrow. For today, let's move on to the essay by Mayor De Blasio—the essay Dwyer cited right at the start of his column.

Could a breeze be detected in Dwyer's piece? In de Blasio's essay, the winds began to howl.

We have no doubt that Mayor de Blasio is a good, decent person. But fifty years later, we think progressives should perhaps react with angry contempt to essays which start like this:
DE BLASIO (6/2/18): I visit schools across this city and it never fails to energize me. The talent out there is outstanding. The students overflow with promise. But many of the smart kids I meet aren’t getting in to our city’s most prestigious high schools. In fact, they’re being locked out.

The problem is clear. Eight of our most renowned high schools–including Stuyvesant High School, Bronx High School of Science and Brooklyn Technical High School–rely on a single, high-stakes exam. The Specialized High School Admissions Test isn’t just flawed–it’s a roadblock to justice, progress and academic excellence.

If we want this to be the fairest big city in America, we need to scrap the SHSAT and start over.

Let’s select students for our top public high schools in a manner that best reflects the talent these students have, and the reality of who lives in New York City. Let’s have top-flight public high schools that are fair and represent the highest academic standards.
De Blasio is blown away by all the smart kids he meets. He sees talent in New York's schools in something which may resemble the way Trump sees talent in Kim.

Alas! According to de Blasio, many of Gotham's brainiac kids are being "locked out" of the specialized high schools, all because of the SHSAT. (Actual acronym.) In his next paragraph, he cites the small number of black and Hispanic kids getting admitted to those "prestigious schools," and he calls the existing state of affairs a "monumental injustice."

Perhaps the mayor believe what he says! A bit later on, he instructs the gods to make the winds howl off that lake:
DE BLASIO: My administration has been working to give a wider range of excellent students a fair shot at the specialized high schools. Now we are going to go further. Starting in September 2019, we’ll expand the Discovery Program to offer 20 percent of specialized high school seats to economically disadvantaged students who just missed the test cut-off.

This will immediately bring a wider variety of high-performing students, from a wider number of middle schools, to the specialized high schools.
For example, the percentage of black and Latino students receiving offers will almost double, to around 16 percent from around 9 percent. The number of middle schools represented will go from around 310 to around 400.

This will also address a fundamental illogic baked into the high-stakes test. A great score and you might be in, but beware a point too low and you might be out. Now, a disadvantaged student who is just a point or two shy of the cut-off won’t be blocked from a great educational opportunity.
Amazing! Those schools are full of Asian-Americans kids because so many excellent, high-performing black and Hispanic students missed the cut-off by just one or two points!

We liberals have thrilled to stories like this since at least the 1960s. And how do we know that this is twaddle? For starters, just consider what the mayor just said:

Under his magical instant reform, "the percentage of black and Latino students receiving offers will almost double, to around 16 percent from around 9 percent."

Imagine! The number of admission offers will go all the way up to 16 percent, in a city where black and Hispanic kids make up roughly two-thirds of the student population! That's what happens if you adjust for income, and lower the acceptable score, in ways which aren't here defined.

For ourselves, we aren't necessarily opposed to adjusting for income, though tribal wars start as you do.

Beyond that, it may be a perfectly decent idea to lower the admission score. If you want to read his whole essay, de Blasio goes on to recommend other changes in admission procedures which would bring black and Hispanic enrollment in those schools all the way up to 45 percent.

De Blasio goes on ot swear that none of this would lower standards at these high-powered schools. "Anyone who tells you this is somehow going to lower the standard at these schools is buying into a false and damaging narrative," he dictatorially states.

It may be true that de Blasio's reforms would open these high-powered schools to lots of kids who would benefit from admission. It may be true that the specialized schools would be just as good academically as before—and that they'd be much better socially due to their greater inclusion.

What de Blasio doesn't do is answer that obvious question:

If there are so many excellent, capable students out there, why doesn't the city simply establish additional high-powered schools? More on that question tomorrow.

It might be a very good idea to admit more kids to these high-powered schools. There may even be ways to accomplish this task without igniting the inevitable race/ethnicity wars we liberals seem to enjoy. More on those wars tomorrow.

That said, we merely want to comment today on a familiar breeze off a certain lake. Specifically, we were struck by the way this appalling mayor blew right past his school system's achievement gaps as he ran a decades-old street-level con in his essay:
Average scores, Grade 8 math, Naep
New York City Public Schools, 2017

White students: 290.71
Black students: 255.63
Hispanic students: 263.56
Asian-American students: 306.03
Those are gigantic achievement gaps, right there in that mayor's schools. They suggest the possibility that quite a few kids in this man's Wobegon may not be "above average" after all, or anywhere close to same.

Where do those achievement gaps come from? How should those gaps be addressed? When people like de Blasio hand us pleasing pabulum from Lake Wobegon, they are telling us pseudo-liberals that we should stop worrying about the hundreds of thousands of low-income kids on the very short end of those gigantic achievement gaps, the gaps we love to avoid.

They're telling us it's all a mistake, that those punishing gaps don't exist. In the process, those kids are thrown under a big yellow bus and the mayor, pleasing our uncaring tribe, drives the bus over their bodies.

We liberals have run this familiar old con since the dawn of time. We keep finding ways to avoid the gaps. This allows our disinterest in low-income kids to live on.

It's just one or two points on some test, we declare. This allows Times readers to return to their weeping about the late Kate Spade and her wonderful bags.

More on that topic tomorrow. We'll incldue this trip, by private yacht, to the Washington Post.

Tomorrow: Concerning those "advanced classes"