Segregated schools in New York City!


Our new year begins next week:
With apologies, we'll be extending our holiday break through the start of next week. We're attending to some personal matters. And when have you seen us do that?

For today, you might want to peruse this recent report from New York Magazine concerning the desire to reduce "segregation" in New York City's "specialized" (academically high-powered) public high schools. We were struck by a fairly obvious possible step the author doesn't seem to consider. We expect to discuss this report next week, but can you see what the possible missing step is?

We expect to return full time next Monday. We'll propose a new focus for a new year:

You've heard of Alexander's ragtime band, but have you heard of "Aristotle's error?" As we wait for the trump to hit the fan, we expect to start our new year with that framework next week.


  1. "We were struck by a fairly obvious possible step the author doesn't seem to consider."

    Yeah, Bob, indeed: the obvious step not being racist liberal zombie journo who lives and dies by race-baiting, by assigning 'races' to children.

  2. The fable of cutting open the golden goose comes to mind. Bronx Science is a wonderful high school for black and Hispanic children as long as they are qualified to learn at that level. Admitting unqualified blacks and Hispanics will just kill the school's effectiveness for children of all ethnicities.

  3. Former New York Times editor Jill Abramson agrees with Bob that the young reporters are worse than the old-timers

    In “Merchants of Truth: The Business of News and the Fight for Facts,” reviewed by Fox News, Ms. Abramson complains about the unabashed liberal bent taken on by her successor, executive editor Dean Baquet.

    “Though Baquet said publicly he didn’t want the Times to be the opposition party, his news pages were unmistakably anti-Trump,” she wrote, according to Fox News. “Some headlines contained raw opinion, as did some of the stories that were labeled as news analysis.”

    Citing late New York Times owner and publisher Adolph Ochs, Ms. Abramson wrote that “the more anti-Trump the Times was perceived to be, the more it was mistrusted for being biased. Ochs’s vow to cover the news without fear or favor sounded like an impossible promise in such a polarized environment.”

    Ms. Abramson said part of the problem lies within the generational split at The Times, with younger writers coming to accept a more opinionated form of journalism.

    “The more ‘woke’ staff thought that urgent times called for urgent measures; the dangers of Trump’s presidency obviated the old standards,” she wrote, Fox News reported.

    1. The article Somerby links to is not in the New York Times, by the way.

    2. The media was in the bag for Trump. If they weren't, they would have dismissed his old, senile, uninformed rantings. Instead, during a Presidential election year with real repercussions, they broadcasted an empty dais waiting for Trump to appear for a speech.

    3. Oops. Who ya gonna believe, Howard Kurtz, or the author herself?

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  5. My guess is The Daily Howler wants to look at whether school scores are as disparate as they were under Jim Crow. It's definitely worth a look! What factors go into test scores? The article mentions school sorting and teach-the-test, but there are also malnutrition and food deserts, disability, English-as-second-language. It's possible this is all true in some combination. I don't blame them for not saying, it's difficult to take all this research and make sense of it at once.

    One criticism I have of the NY Mag article is that I don't think the author really understands what the corporate education lobby wants to talk about, or not talk about. Anyone who has read JD Salinger's semi-autobiography knows that prep schools are there to "mold" you. Students are to behave a certain way, the correct way, and these social cues are picked up in job interviews since the interviewer also went to the right school.

    Put yourself in the shoes of a so-called successful private school. Who wouldn't want to talk up the plight of poor schools if they are a rich school? You can't lose that argument. Why wouldn't a private school lobby want to talk about how being able to easily fire teachers is great (not once demonstrated in the article to connect to test scores)? Maybe you'll be called rude but it's what the kids call a "humblebrag." Oh woe is us, we have all the good teachers and the good schools! Poor us! These elite schools are creating a language of caste themselves, and are getting free ink to do it.

    I think the article has a lot of interesting and worthwhile points. I fully support trying to desegregate the schools, mostly because it will make students grow up a lot less fearful of other people!

  6. Somerby has blogged about DeBlasio’s plans for NYC’s specialized high schools many times, beginning in June of 2018 (“GAPS AND LAVIZZO: One of the city's worst passing rates!

    Somerby is all bent out of shape over a proposed plan that would affect no more than nine NYC schools. In the course of his discussions, Somerby accused DeBlasio of, among other things, trying to start a race war: “In the world of the mayor's race war, we vow to freeze the number of seats, and we kick the Asian kids out.”

    Somerby thereby contributes to the debasing of our discourse by adopting the overcharged, emotional, incendiary rhetoric of DeBlasio’s opponents that precludes any rational debate of this or any other issue.

    Somerby also accuses the mayor of ignoring the achievement gaps that are the underlying problem: “It isn't just that Dwyer and de Blasio fail to mention Gotham's enormous achievement gaps. We'd have to say they make it sound like the gaps pretty much don't exist.”
    (“GAPS AND THEIR AVOIDANCE: Dwyer describes a troubling state of affairs!”

    “he almost seemed to disappear, perhaps even misstate, the problem of the gaps.”
    (“GAPS AND THE AVOIDANCE OF GAPS: Mayor de Blasio has a plan!”

    Except that DeBlasio *had* a plan to alleviate achievement gaps back in 2013:

    “Bill de Blasio: Universal Pre-K Closes Achievement Gap”

    “Published on Oct 17, 2013

    Bill de Blasio, the Democratic candidate for mayor of New York City, argues that expanding universal pre-kindergarten is a sure-fire investment, resulting in higher test scores, better jobs with higher wages, lower rates of welfare enrollment and incarceration.”

    DeBlasio even says the phrase “achievement gaps.”

    And nowhere does DeBlasio suggest that changing the admissions requirements for the specialized high schools will fix the achievement gaps.

    Somerby derides the simplistic notion expressed by a commenter: “"The best way for the city to increase diversity at these schools is to improve the students’ primary school education," this concerned parent says today. He makes it sound so easy!”
    (“GAPS AND LAVIZZO: One of the city's worst passing rates!”

    Then he proceeds to tell us how bad the achievement gaps are. How DO you fix them? “The answer to that question is daunting.”

    But then again, some students will do better on tests than others, and it’s a poisonous notion that it’s a “giant mistake when we get the idea that some groups of kids are more academically advanced, as a general matter and on this day, as some other groups are.”

    So why worry about achievement gaps exactly, which Somerby constantly does, but then proceeds to say that these gaps are a fact of life, unavoidable in the here and now?

    You either advocate teaching all students at their level and quit worrying about achievement gaps, or you worry about them and try to fix them. Which is it? For Somerby, they’re a giant problem, but at the same time it’s a poisonous thing to worry about the fact that some students score higher than others.

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