Part 3—The gaps of Fairfield County: The microaggressions of Yale University have come to play a recurrent role in our national discourse concerning matters of race.
There was the microaggression contained within the email about the Halloween costumes. Not long after that, there was the microaggression within the speech about free speech, which led to the fiery spitting incident.
Other microaggressions have been discussed, some of which were maybe perhaps more worth discussing that others. A few weeks ago, we finally faced the microaggression in which a slumbering graduate student was asked by a campus policeman to produce her Yale ID. This led to the essay at Slate which ran beneath these headlines:
“We Need to Make Sure You Belong Here”In the headline, as in the essay, we find the type of jargonized tribal language which helps alienate progressives and liberals from many voters. That said, we'll have to say that the writer's descriptions of "unequal treatment" at Yale didn't strike us as hugely egregious, at least as described, though it would be a much better world if young people never had to feel that they were being perceived or assessed on the basis of so-called race.
On being black in the white space of Yale.
True story! When we read about the graduate student and watched the videotape of the incident, we recalled the time when we ourselves were ordered, by a gun-wielding campus policemen, to go into our own dorm room and produce our own student ID. It was our very first weekend in college. The campus policemen seemed very old, and yes, we had to assume that his weapon was loaded.
We'll guess he wanted to make sure we belonged there, we thoughtfully said to ourselves. At any rate, perhaps because of our own worldly experience, the latest horror stories from Yale haven't strike us as completely horrendous. Of course, that also may be because we also thought of the arguable "macro"-aggressions which routinely occur just twenty miles down I-95 from Yale's micro-laden campus.
We'll admit it! We thought of the macroaggressions—and of the gaps—of Connecticut's Fairfield County! And when we thought of the problems of Fairfield County, the microaggressions of Yale University no longer seemed quite so bad.
The achievement gaps of Fairfield County are extremely large. That said, you rarely hear about such topics in the leafy pages of Slate, or from those who've been forced to endure the hardships of life at Yale.
The macroaggressions of Fairfield County can largely be found in Bridgeport, Connecticut, which at the time of the 2010 census was, if only by a whisker, the largest city in the state. (Bridgeport, Hartford, New Haven and Stamford vie rather closely for this distinction. None are huge cities by national standards, but they're all rich with large gaps.)
Bridgeport is a low-income city located next to a wealthy suburb. The suburb in question is Fairfield, Connecticut, gateway to New Canaan.
Bridgeport and Fairfield sit side-by-side. Two years ago, Elizabeth Harris and Kristin Hussey set the scene at the start of a front-page report in the New York Times:
HARRIS (9/11/16): The two Connecticut school districts sit side by side along Long Island Sound. Both spend more than the national average on their students. They prepare their pupils for the same statewide tests. Their teachers, like virtually all the teachers in the state, earn the same high marks on evaluations.As is often the case in such matters, this Times report was pegged to a court case—in this instance, to a trial concerning school funding issues. (You've never heard anyone say a word about how that case turned out!)
That is where the similarities end: In Fairfield, a mostly white suburb where the median income is $120,000, 94 percent of students graduate from high school on time. In Bridgeport, the state’s most populous and one of its poorest cities, the graduation rate is 63 percent. Fifth graders in Bridgeport, where most people are black or Hispanic, often read at kindergarten level, one of their teachers recently testified during a trial over school funding inequities.
A trial was underway concerning funding issues. That said, where are the "macro"-aggressions in this tale of two communities?
So a reader might sensibly ask. A bit later on, Harris offered this, among other possibilities:
HARRIS: Harding High School, a once-grand red brick building now long past its heyday, sits on Central Avenue in Bridgeport. Ground has been broken on a new $106 million school nearby, on a site of a former General Electric plant."Is a what?" you might sensibly ask. We can't help you with that one today. Nexis and nytimes.com both end that paragraph there!
But for now, the school’s 1,100 students make do with crumbling walls, peeling paint and classrooms that on Friday were sweltering. By late morning, teachers and students mopped sweat from their faces as they marched through the building.
Finding and keeping qualified teachers, especially those certified to teach math and science, is a
Do the kids of Bridgeport, in Fairfield County, really face "macro"-aggressions? You're unlikely to see such questions addressed in the leafy pages of Slate.
You won't hear about their minor problems when you watch your favorite cable shows. You see, the children of Bridgeport don't count.
Few Yale grads appear in Slate discussing those kids and their problems. For today, let's outline the achievement gaps which could even be viewed as a macroaggression in a world whose overwrought elites cared.
Yesterday afternoon, the executives of Mapquest.com abandoined therir afternoon mah-jong game to help us detail the geography. Bridgeport is 19.9 miles down the coast from New Haven, these experts reported. It's 20.4 miles south of Yale if you take the scenic route.
You can almost see Bridgeport from Yale! Fairfield is a leafy suburb one more town to the south.
We've now positioned the players, including the next-door neighbors on whom Harris reported. But uh-oh! According to Professor Reardon's nationwide study, the student populations of the two school districts at issue looked like this a few years back, Grade 3 through Grade 8:
Student population, Grades 3-8There you see it! These communities are next-door neighbors, twenty miles down the coast.
Bridgeport Public Schools
White kids: 8 percent
Black kids: 41 percent
Hispanic kids: 48 percent
Asian-American kids: 5 percent
Median family income: $40,000
Fairfield Public Schools
White kids: 84 percent
Black kids: 2 percent
Hispanic kids: 7 percent
Asian-American kids: 7 percent
Median family income: $158,000
With those data, we've outlined the basic lay of the land. Now we'll show you the gaps, as best we can manage, from Professor Reardon's study:
Where the average student stoodThose are Reardon's numbers, as derived from the New York Times graphics to which we link once again.
Bridgeport Public Schools
Grades 3-8, reading and math
White kids: 0.7 years below grade level
Black kids: 1.9 years below grade level
Hispanic kids: 1.9 years below grade level
Fairfield Public Schools
Grades 3-8, reading and math
All students: 2.0 years above grade level
We can't disaggregate the Fairfield numbers. But the average student among all the district's kids was 2.0 years above grade level, according to Reardon's data.
Right next door, in Bridgeport, the average black or Hispanic student was 1.9 years below grade level. As such, that average student in Fairfield was 3.9 years ahead of the average black or Hispanic student in Bridgeport, right next door.
That's a 3.9 year achievement gap—at the start of sixth grade!
A overwrought progressive could almost call those numbers a record of macroaggression. In our view, such fiery language tends to shed a lot more heat than light, but you needn't worry:
You're unlikely to see or hear any such language about Bridgeport's kids from the students of Yale. Beyond that, you can safely go to Slate today without any fear of being bored by talk of the gaps of Fairfield County. Nor will Rachel or Lawrence depart from their scripts to talk about any such topic at any point in the next year.
We quit on such topics a long time ago. Today's corporate liberals don't care!
Good decent kids in Bridgeport, Connecticut are getting a rather tough break at the start of life. But people! Someone looked sideways at someone at Yale! We progressives can't fairly be asked to focus on every injustice!
Tomorrow: Possibilities of "desegregation." Also, the whole darn state!
Coming Friday: On to Clark Atlanta