The shape of liberal discourse: Are America's public schools "resegregating?" Are increasing numbers of our kids attending "segregated schools?"
These have become familiar talking-points in liberal circles. These claims have always struck us as annoying, unhelpful, unwise.
Yesterday, we perused the start of Will Stancil's new piece for The Atlantic. It appears beneath these headlines:
School Segregation Is Not a MythWe're inclined to be one of those "skeptics!" Let us tell you what we found when we examined the start of Stancil's report.
Skeptics claim that concerns over racially divided schools are false alarms—but they’re missing the full picture.
First of all, who is Will Stancil? He's eleven years out of Wake Forest (class of 2007). Since then, he's acquired a master’s degree in modern history from Queens University Belfast, and a law degree from the University of Minnesota Law School.
Currently, he's a research fellow at UM's Institute on Metropolitan Opportunity. His work "focuses on civil rights law and policy in housing and education, with particular emphasis on affordable housing and charter schools."
Will Stancil doesn't fool around—except perhaps when it comes to claims about "segregation." Here's the early passage from his report in which he defines the heavily fraught historical term:
STANCIL (3/14/18): According to my analysis of data from the National Center on Education Statistics, the number of segregated schools (defined in this analysis as those schools where less than 40 percent of students are white), has approximately doubled between 1996 and 2016. In that same span, the percentage of children of color attending such a school rose from 59 to 66 percent. For black students, the percentage in segregated schools rose even faster, from 59 to 71 percent.Already, we'd have to say "Yikes." According to Stancil, a school is "segregated" if fewer than 40 percent of its students are white. That strikes us as a remarkable definition, considering the historical meaning of the term.
Historically, when black kids attended a "segregated school," that school would have zero percent white students. It would have no white students at all. No white kids need apply!
"Segregated schools" were either all-white or all-black. There was no in-between at all. This regime was mandated by law. The law enforced complete total separation on the basis of "race."
According to Stancil, a black kid today is attending a "segregated school" if as many as 39 percent of its students are white. This definition strikes us as an insult to the memory of the people who fought and died to eliminate "segregated schools" from the land.
It also strikes us as an insult to human intelligence. Here's why:
The defintion seems especially strange if you consider our current public school demographics. Below, you see the state of play as described by the National Center for Education Statistics:
NCES FAST FACTS: Of the projected 50.7 million public school students entering prekindergarten through grade 12 in fall 2017, White students will account for some 24.4 million. The remaining 26.3 million will be composed of 8.0 million Black students, 13.6 million Hispanic students, 2.8 million Asian/Pacific Islander students, 0.5 million American Indian/Alaska Native students, and 1.5 million students of Two or more races.Let us do the math! Based on those numbers, the student population, nationwide, is now 48.1 percent white. But in the world Stancil creates, a school which is 39 percent white is tagged with the ugliest, most inflammatory term our brutal history provides us.
Does this definition make any sense? We're inclined to say it makes no sense, but it illustrates and explains many things.
First, this kind of inflammatory statistical toying is all too common within the modern liberal world. We liberals are constantly playing these games to make it seem like 1) it's still 1955 out there, and 2) we modern liberals are bravely confronting Bull Connor all over again.
Except it isn't 1955, and we aren't confronting Bull Connor. Beyond that, we liberals aren't being brave; we're being silly/offensive.
Earth to liberal academics and liberals of all descriptions:
This kind of thing helps explain why so many people hate us. They hate our seamy moral preening. They hate the way we insult the public's intelligence.
The "conservative" world is full of clowns and has been for some time. Our liberal world is catching up. Each tribal group tends to have a hard time spotting its own team's offenses.
In closing, let's review:
Nationwide, our public schools are now 48.1 percent white. A school which is 39 percent white is, therefore, only slightly "unbalanced."
Such a school isn't "segregated" in any useful or meaningful sense of the term. It's an insult to our martyrs to make this childish claim.
Luckily, Virginia, no—it isn't 1955! Unlike our martyrs from that era, our current crop of liberal academics, pundits and activists don't always show spectacularly good judgment.
Other people do notice these things. We'd have to say this sort of piddle is part of the way Trump got there.