BREAKING: A humane paragraph in the Times!

THURSDAY, APRIL 12, 2018

Homelessness and suspensions:
It's the rare morning when you get to read a passage in the New York Times which is deeply humane.

This morning, we read such a passage in a news report by Elizabeth Harris. Harris described the emotional burdens of homeless public school students:
HARRIS (4/12/18): The upheaval of homelessness means those children are often anxious and traumatized, and that their parents are as well. Many of them travel long distances from where they sleep to school in the morning, leaving them exhausted before the day begins. Drained and frightened, they bring all of that with them to school.
Good for Elizabeth Harris! Major newspapers rarely include such overtly humane writing. That said, Harris' report struck us as perhaps a bit puzzling on the whole.

Harris describes a new report concerning suspension rates of homeless students in New York City's schools. The study was published by the Institute for Children, Poverty and Homelessness.

Surprise! Homeless students get suspended from school more often than their more advantaged peers. Given what you read in the passage above—given what anyone would assume about the burdens of homelessness—we were surprised that the difference in suspension rates is so small:
HARRIS: During the 2015-6 school year, the citywide suspension rate for middle schools was 4 percent. For homeless middle school students citywide, it was 7 percent.
In principle, it would be better if no one ever got in trouble or got suspended from school. That said, it hardly seems shocking to see a differential that small—and to see that 93 percent of those traumatized kids didn't get suspended that year.

Wouldn't a sensible person tend to assume that homeless kids would have a harder time in school due to their major challenges? Would anyone be surprised if their suspension rate was higher?

The answer may be yes! Given modern outrage culture, the people who published this new report seem to maybe perhaps be surprised—and they seem to be outraged:
HARRIS (continuing directly): “This report is another indicator of what’s happening with homeless children,” said Ralph da Costa Nunez, chief executive of the Institute for Children. “These kids are dropping out at much higher rates than regular students. They’re being suspended. They’re repeating grades. It’s almost becoming a death sentence for their future.”
Outrage culture is powerful! But what is the actual problem here? Is it the fact some of these kids are getting suspended? Or is it the fact that, through no fault of their own, these traumatized children are homeless?

No one claims in this report that the different suspension rates mean that homeless kids are being met with some sort of bias. But given the low-IQ bull-roar which tends to suffuse our mountains of such reporting, will people read such an idea into this report?

(Assuming that anyone reads it.)

Needless to say, the New York Times introduced an element of journalistic puzzlement into this matter. Online, the headline on Harris' report says this:
Homeless Children Are 3 Times as Likely to Be Suspended at Some Schools
It's always dangerous to say that some claim doesn't appear in an article. But Harris' report isn't real long, and we can find nothing in it which explains that extremely typical New York Times accusatory thunderbomb headline.

Where in the world did that headline come from? Except for one wild speculation, we have no idea. Maybe you can figure it out!

Harris included a passage which was deeply humane. Surrounding that, the deluge!

33 comments:

  1. Note the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy, These unfortunate kids don't necessarily get suspended more frequently because they're homeless. The type of people who are raising homeless kids might be part of the cause. That is, even if these particular parents had homes, their children still might have a harder time in school than average.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No one said the students were suspended because they were homeless. The Times article states the fact of their higher suspension rates, and that suspension leads to more problems later.

      Bob is simply saying that homelessness in itself is bad for kids.

      Delete
    2. No, Bob is claiming the New York Times is misleading in its facts and low IQ liberals will read into the article facts which are not in the article and exaggerate the problem. And he is using misleading characterization of facts himself to do so.

      Delete
    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    4. I gather, David, you support the notion that society should be a meritocracy. Strange then your support of Trump over Clinton. I would love our society to be integrity-based, David would be living in poverty.

      Delete
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    ReplyDelete
  3. "Where in the world did that headline come from? Except for one wild speculation, we have no idea. Maybe you can figure it out!"

    From Harris' story:
    "The report focuses on 102 middle schools that had high rates of suspensions during the 2015-6 school year, which it calls suspension hubs."

    According to the report linked to in the story (http://www.icphusa.org/new_york_city/suspensionhubs/):
    "In suspension hubs, 1 in 7 homeless students (14%) were suspended—compared to 1 in 25 middle school students overall (4%)."

    ReplyDelete
  4. "Or is it the fact that, through no fault of their own, these traumatized children are homeless?"

    Yes. And not just "traumatized children"; homelessness is the problem.

    The liberals, however, don't really mind people being homeless, unless they are 'black'. 'White' people (except for the liberals themselves, obviously) deserve to be homeless -- because of their 'white privilege'.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Unless you also know what percentage of kids are homeless and how many children there are in the school districts, you cannot figure out how many kids are being suspended. A change in rate from 4 to 7 might mean that 1 non-homeless kid is being suspend while 2 homeless kids are, or it could mean many more homeless kids are being suspended, 40 compared to 70. It could be a negligible number of kids or it could be a lot. Neither Somerby nor the article gives sufficient info to figure that out.

    Somerby thinks it is inhumane to get excited about such a difference, to use hysterical language. He thinks that only those who talk calmly actually care. What a moron Somerby is these days. Handwaving has nothing to do with caring or not caring. His preference for Harris instead of da Costa Nunez, who she quotes, and who is actually working as an advocate for children, is just a matter of style. Harris is removed and objective because she is a reporter. An advocate plays a different role and his job is to whip up some enthusiasm for actually helping those children.

    Then we have David who thinks the way to help homeless kids is to blame their parents and tell the kids they will probably door poorly no matter whether their parents have homes or not. Because fate dictates such things and they are just screwed, losers in the genetic lottery. No point in trying to succeed, since you know, they are shit out of luck. Way to show empathy, David. Why not just kick them all out proactively and spare them the pain of being suspended altogether.

    Meanwhile, Finland thinks the way to cure homelessness is to give people homes. David won't give them a meal, so that's really going to happen here, isn't it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Corby, it's vital to know what the real cause of a problem is. About 38% of the homeless abuse alcohol. About 26% of the homeless abuse drugs other than alcohol.

      Don't you think that a child with an addicted parent is more apt to be troubled?

      Delete
    2. DiC, read the study. It demonstrates your "blame the parents" theory is probably wrong. It divides middle schools into four categories based on their annual suspension rate, Low, Medium, High and Extremely High (called Suspension Hubs). In the Low category, many schools have homeless student populations higher that the city wide average, yet their suspension rate in 2016 was 1.4%, well below the overall rate of 4%.

      The study notes that from 2010 to 2016, the suspension rate of homeless students fell in all categories except in the Suspension Hub schools, where it increased.

      Delete
    3. Some people become homeless as the result of addiction but others use alcohol and/or drugs to cope with being homeless. It is unclear whether homelessness is the cause or the effect of addiction or vice versa.

      The real cause of homelessness is lack of a home. For many homeless people that happens due to economic insecurity (lack of jobs, lack of low cost housing, financial emergency). Certainly children with homeless and addicted parents have more to cope with, but that is the point -- homeless kids have extra problems that nonhomeless don't have.

      When someone is troubled, do you kick them out of school or do you help them? If you kick them out, not only do the kids have more problems down the road, but so does our society.

      Delete
    4. Corby -- I didn't address solutions. I simply argued that factors other than homelessness contribute to the higher suspension rate of homeless students. I mentioned addiction, because I could find actual figures. But, I would guess that a higher percentage of homeless parents are single parent families, uneducated, unemployed, suffering from physical and mental illnesses, and other problems.

      I am all for providing housing for the homeless. Our society has more than enough wealth to provide housing for all.

      Delete
    5. "I am all for providing housing for the homeless. Our society has more than enough wealth to provide housing for all."

      Now just extend that to food, education, health care and we will have a decent society.

      Delete
    6. Utter nonsense, David you provide no information on the cause of homelessness. Your stats on alcohol and drug abuse amongst the homeless are reasonably close to the rates amongst those with "homes". Alcohol abuse is the third highest cause of preventable death in the US, it is widely abused. Low wages and high housing costs cause homelessness to rise above normal levels.

      Delete
  6. "Outrage culture is powerful!"

    Higher rate of school suspension seems to be another byproduct of homelessness. Highlighting this particular aspect of homelessness in this particular article helps us understand one of the burdens of homelessness.

    Worrying about a homeless child's possible bleak future, brought about by problems in school such as being suspended and thus potentially not receiving an education and thus perpetuating the problem, is showing concern for the child. If the city can help these kids stay in school, they have a much better chance of lifting themselves out of homelessness in the future.

    ReplyDelete
  7. "In New York City, there are 102 suspension hub middle schools where students are disciplined at extremely high rates. In suspension hubs, 1 in 7 homeless students (14%) were suspended—compared to 1 in 25 middle school students overall (4%)."

    This, Mr. Somerby, is the opening paragraph of the study upon which the article is based, and perhaps the basis for the headline.

    http://www.icphusa.org/new_york_city/suspensionhubs/


    But your greatest piece of nonsense is this:

    "we were surprised that the difference in suspension rates is so small...That said, it hardly seems shocking to see a differential that small"

    Uh, Bob, you could benefit from some of today's eight grade math students. The difference is a suspension rate for the homeless that is 70% higher. Talk about low IQ bullroar.

    ReplyDelete
  8. 1:16 I came up with a rate about 30% higher for homeless students. I'm not great with numbers, and percentages sometimes flummox me, so I'd appreciate a lesson. Thanks.

    Leroy

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm not 1:16, but 7% is 75% more than 4%. If you use actual numbers, like 70 and 40, you can see that 70 is 75% more than 40. In other words, 40 + 30 = 70...the increase of 30 is 3/4 of 40, so 40 + 3/4(40) = 70. If the numbers were 8% and 4%, (or 80 and 40 if you like), then 8% represents a doubling of 4%, i.e. it is a 100% increase.

      Delete
  9. “I'm not 1:16, but 7% is 75% more than 4%.”

    That’s the crux of the biscuit. We’re talking about percentages v. real numbers. If you divide 40 by 70, multiply by 100, you come up with 57%. But percentages aren’t calculated that way, and I don’t know how they are. It’s obvious that 8% is double 4%, but 1:16 states that 14% v. 4% results in a 70% differential. How did 1:16 actually calculate that number?

    That’s all what I want to know. Thanks.

    Leroy

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bob used the figure of 7%. The actual number in the study was 6.9%. That is 2.9% higher than the overall rate of 4%. To find out how much 6.9% is as a percentage higher than the overall rate, you divide the difference, 2.9, by the original ov erall rate, 4. The result is 72.5%

      Delete
    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
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