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: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.
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)
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.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."
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.
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's how Dwyer ended his column. As de Blasio had already done to a greater extent, he painted a familiar picture:
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.
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.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.
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.
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.In that essay, to which Dwyer linked, you see the reality he disappeared.
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.
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, NaepJudged 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.
New York City Public Schools, 2017
White students: 290.71
Black students: 255.63
Hispanic students: 263.56
Asian-American students: 306.03
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