THE SEVEN PERCENT COLLUSION: The Times supports the mayor's plan!

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 10, 2019

Gay doesn't want winners and losers:
The New York City Public School face a very large problem.

So do our public schools all across the nation. That very large problem is defined by data like these—data you will never see in the New York Times:
Average scores, Grade 8 math
New York City Public Schools, 2017 Naep

White students: 290.71
Black students: 255.63
Hispanic students: 263.56
Asian-American students: 306.03

Average scores, Grade 8 math
Public schools nationwide, 2017 Naep

White students: 292.16
Black students: 259.60
Hispanic students: 268.49
Asian-American students: 309.52
According to a standard rule of thumb, those data define gigantic "achievement gaps." According to that rule of thumb, black kids are years behind their white and Asian-American peers, perhaps as five years behind by the time of eighth grade!

No one with an ounce of sense believes those giant achievement gaps are the product of "test prep" in any major sense. There is no test prep for the Naep. You'll never hear this is in the New York Times, but those brutally large gaps are real.

Across the nation as in Gotham, those giant achievement gaps are a major educational problem. They affect the lives and the interests of millions of good decent black kids. But you'll never read about the gaps in the New York Times, a famously upper-class, Hamptons-based newspaper whose denizens simply don't care.

At the New York Times, you're never asked to think about those embarrassing, very large gaps. At the Times, they only care about black kids who might end up going to Yale and proceed from there to elite cocktail parties in Manhattan's most swish salons.

The New York Times only cares about the talented two percent. For that reason, the paper dispatches people like Mara Gay to throw the vast majority of black kids under the bus.

Gay did just that on March 26 in an excruciating conversation with Slate's Mary Harris. That conversation ran 19 minutes. Brace yourselves, then click here.

Gay is concerned with helping a relative handful of black kids gain admission to Stuyvesant High, the most selective of New York City's eight high-powered "specialized high schools." She's concerned about black kids who might end up at Stuyvesant, and she seems to be concerned about nobody else.

She'll never describe the brutal data we've posted above—data which make it easy to understand why so few black and Hispanic kids gain admission to Stuyvesant High.

According to the rules of the game, you can't be told why so few black kids get admitted to Stuyvesant High. Indeed, the New York Times' Eliza Shapiro will even go on All Things Considered and say the problem has two causes—"test prep" and test "awareness." They'll even tell you that!

That said, it gets even worse. In the conversation at Slate, we were instantly told, by Harris, that "advocates like Mara say that, while segregation...used to look like Jim Crow in the South, it now looks like Stuyvesant."

You can't be told about the brutal data which define "the problem we all choose to ignore." Instead, you get your heartstrings tugged by a rank propagandist who keeps sliming Asian-American families while saying the current system is the modern face of "segregation."

(It's also said to be "unfair," in some way which never quite gets defined.)

Eventually. the following absurd exchange occurred between these twin propagandists. In this exchange, we're finally told about Mayor de Blasio's plan:
HARRIS (3/26/19): New York City's mayor, Bill de Blasio, he's struggled to be direct about the city's schools. He even avoided calling them "segregated" until this latest admissions story popped up last week. But he has come up with a plan.

GAY: The one good thing he has done so far is put forth this plan, which we have endorsed at the board, the editorial board of the Times, to take the top seven percent highest achievers of every middle school and try and offer them admission to the city's specialized schools.

It's not perfect, but I think something drastic is required, and so that's a decent plan.
Imagine that! The mayor had been slow to say that he was running "segregated schools!" In fact, students from all major demographic groups do attend Stuyvesant High. It's just that, for the brutal reason Gay won't discuss, they gain admission to that school in vastly disproportionate numbers as compared to New York City's student population as a whole.

Gay won't tell you why that is; she and Harris just keep saying, "Segregation today, segregation forever!" But in that exchange, Gay does describe, and does endorse, this mayor's simple-minded plan. Let's look again at what she said:
GAY: The one good thing [the mayor] has done so far is put forth this plan, which we have endorsed at the board, the editorial board of the Times, to take the top seven percent highest achievers of every middle school and try and offer them admission to the city's specialized schools.

It's not perfect, but I think something drastic is required, and so that's a decent plan.
The mayor's plan "isn't perfect?" We'd call that the understatement of this, or any, year.

On the bright side, the mayor's simple-minded plan is easy to describe. He'd take the top seven percent from each of Gotham's middle schools and grant them admission to Stuyvesant or one of the other high-powered high schools.

It's isn't perfect, Gay vapidly says. But it's a decent plan.

Sadly, it pretty much isn't. Consider a few likely effects:

Some of Gotham's existing middle schools are high-powered academic schools which only offer admission to high-achieving students. Other middle schools in New York City are much, much lower-performing.

The mayor's plan would encourage ambitious black kids to stay in their lower-performing neighborhood middle schools, from which they'd be likely to emerge in the top seven percent.

In that way, de Blasio's "Seven Percent Solution" might tend to increase racial separation at the middle school level. It would encourage ambitious black kids to avoid challenging themselves in academically demanding schools on the middle school level.

It's also true that not all "top seven percents" are alike. For better or worse, the mayor's plan would almost surely lower the overall achievement level of the incoming classes at Stuyvesant High and the other specialized high schools.

For better or worse, this would likely affect the academic level on which these schools would operate in the future. Perhaps it's time to phase out such "elite, prestigious" schools altogether. But this is one likely effect of the major's simple-minded plan.

That said, there's one other major effect this simple-minded plan would have. On the individual level, the mayor's plan would have major winners and losers.

That's precisely what Mara Gay says she doesn't want! We know this, because that's what Gay told Harris:
GAY: I don't think this is an issue where there should be winners and losers. I think it's unfortunate, and it shows you what the need is in this city for great public education.

You know, I wish that we could just snap our fingers and expand and have more seats in these schools automatically. We can't do that, at least in the time being.
Mara Gay doesn't think there should be winners and losers here. We completely agree with that thought.

Tomorrow, we'll show you the basic reality concerning winners and losers with this horrible plan, as reported right in the New York Times.

We'll also touch on that second point—the possibility of "having more seats" at these high-powered high schools, so no one gets left out.

Gotham's mayor could always add seats at these high-powered schools. Instead, he supports total war, a war of the all against all.

He's proposed a simple-minded plan, a plan which is rich with winners and losers. Gay wishes we could just snap our fingers, but she says we can't.

That conversation between Harris and Gay is one of the god-awful conversations ever recorded. That said, what's going to happen to the vast majority of Gotham's black kids, the kids who are producing those horrible Naep scores?

Neither Harris nor Gay seems to care about questions like that. Upper-class elites have behaved this way for the past fifty years.

Tomorrow: Choosing which kids will "languish"

31 comments:

  1. "No one with an ounce of sense believes those giant achievement gaps are the product of "test prep" in any major sense. There is no test prep for the Naep. You'll never hear this is in the New York Times, but those brutally large gaps are real."

    Everything a child does in life and everything that happens to him or her is "test prep" in a sense, since it will have an impact on those test scores.

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    1. Except "test prep" has a specific meaning in this context. But if you clever wordsmiths insist, let's restate Somerby's passage:

      No one with an ounce of sense believes those giant achievement gaps are the product of educational course[s], tutoring service[s], educational material[s], or a learning tool[s] designed to increase students' performance on standardized tests [LINK] in any major sense. There are no educational course[s], tutoring service[s], educational material[s], or a learning tool[s] designed to increase students' performance for the Naep. You'll never hear this is in the New York Times, but those brutally large gaps are real.

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  2. "Gotham's mayor could always add seats at these high-powered schools. Instead, he supports total war, a war of the all against all."

    Seems to me it is Somerby who is supporting war, a war of Asian students versus black students.

    How does the Mayor of New York get to allocate school budget funds without support of politicians, administrators and parents? Does Somerby imagine he can print money, like Trump does, or reallocate it from his defense spending or some such?

    Cue Somerby to suggest that the needs of high school kids are being traded off against those of pre-K kids because De Blasio doesn't want Asian kids to thrive, or some such garbage.

    This is not what a reasonable discussion of school budget priorities should sound like. If Somerby were interested in how cities should balance such priorities, he might be presenting actual budget numbers instead of NAEP scores. Clearly his goal is not to understand education trade-offs, but to rail against De Blasio for having different ideas than Somerby -- or just for daring to run against darling Bernie, who never says anything about NAEP scores and probably couldn't even spell it.

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    1. 10:59 AM,

      Here's the perfect comment space for you as a New Democrat to perform the simple task of squaring this circle by laying out the just solution to all this. Take a break from Resisting and enlighten us.

      Delete
  3. "The mayor's plan would encourage ambitious black kids to stay in their lower-performing neighborhood middle schools, from which they'd be likely to emerge in the top seven percent.

    In that way, de Blasio's "Seven Percent Solution" might tend to increase racial separation at the middle school level. It would encourage ambitious black kids to avoid challenging themselves in academically demanding schools on the middle school level."

    If this is happening already, how would it be any more likely to happen under De Blasio's plan?

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. It's not happening now. That's pretty much the point. Whatever the drawback to the SHSAT, it can't be gamed by picking a middle school.

      You can increase your odds of getting into a specialized high school, however, by letting the middle school pick you. According to citylimits.org, just 15 of the 600 middle schools in NYC got a majority of their test-takers in one of the specialized high schools.

      And guess what? All 15 of those middle schools screen their enrollees based on 4th grade test scores.

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  4. "Across the nation as in Gotham, those giant achievement gaps are a major educational problem."

    Bullshit, Bob. It's only a problem to you if you're some sort of ethnocentric 'black' nationalist.

    And even then, unless you're a completely stupid 'black' nationalist, you would probably manage to figure out that this is just a symptom of the underlying 'racial' socioeconomic imbalance.

    And for those of us who aren't obsessed with 'race', any ethnocentric statistic should simply be ignored. Be it your 'racial' "achievement gaps", or IQ by 'race', or violent crimes by 'race'.

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    1. Of the available realistic solutions, ignoring racial differences is the most moral course. Racial obsession is crippling. If only Democrats would stop basing their identities on cruelty toward minority groups.

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    2. "If only Democrats would stop basing their identities on cruelty toward minority groups."

      Ditto to the Justice Department, local police forces, and the nation's banks.

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  5. “It would encourage ambitious black kids to avoid challenging themselves in academically demanding schools on the middle school level.”

    The alternative, which is presumably the current situation, is that neighborhood schools keep losing their top performers, who get siphoned off to “better” middle schools. This has the effect of producing schools with ever worsening overall academic performance. And guess what? Those schools become candidates for being shut down. (This is part of what the Renewal plan was supposed to address: trying to improve and keep schools open.) What happens to all those students left behind?

    I have yet to see Somerby address this unfortunate side effect of all of this school choice.

    I don’t know precisely how it works in New York, but in my state, the state mandates testing and will close schools or take them over if they don’t perform adequately.

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    3. [T]the current situation, is that neighborhood schools keep losing their top performers... What happens to all those students left behind?

      Are those top performers "worse" off going to "better" middle schools? Are those left behind "worse" off? What's the evidence that poorer performing students would be better off if they were being taught in classes with better performing students?

      What if the top performers were better off going to "better" schools, how much worse off would those left behind have to be to justify denying the top performers what, for them, would be the optimal arrangement?

      As for what Somerby has addressed, he's been a long-time (one of the earliest) and a continuous critic of the use of high stakes testing, i.e. testing used for teacher and/or school evaluations (but only in part because of the difficulty in assessing the results for diverse school populations). It must have been hard to have missed that if you've read much of what he's written about education at this site.

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  6. “Across the nation as in Gotham, those giant achievement gaps are a major educational problem.”

    This is a vague statement. Does Somerby mean that our schools are doing something wrong and are not properly addressing achievement gaps? Perhaps schools are mostly doing all they can, and the gaps are mostly externally caused.

    If he means the gaps represent a significant challenge for our schools, then are schools taking adequate steps to teach children in the best way possible? You would need to examine the whole range of details, from teacher training, to curriculum, to testing, to facilities, etc at individual schools to know what problems, if any, exist.

    Ultimately, every school reform effort, including integration, has attempted to increase the academic performance of all students. Perhaps these efforts were successful to some extent, judging by an increase in average NAEP score for all groups over time. The gaps, while narrower, have mostly persisted.

    If you come to believe that the problem is mostly externally caused, then how do you fix it? How do you improve the socioeconomic conditions of inner city blacks, or poor rural whites? How do you fix parenting skills?

    Ultimately, it’s unclear exactly what schools can do differently, other than teach kids as well as possible. That would seem to make more sense than focusing on how well black kids are doing on average versus white kids. By continually emphasizing the gaps, you open the door once again to cries of “our schools are failing.”

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    1. If you come to believe that the problem is mostly externally caused...

      This is what Somerby believes. If you go through his archives you'll see he has discussed socio-economic conditions and parenting.

      Ultimately, it’s unclear exactly what schools can do differently, other than teach kids as well as possible.

      Somerby's criticism at this blog has largely been aimed at notions and claims that there are adjustments to teaching methodologies from the simple to the revolutionary that are available to close the gaps between children from certain demographic groups with those in other groups despite the repeated claims by pundits and politicians there are such readily available alternative approaches.

      And, absolutely, Somerby believes each child should be taught with a curriculum tailored to that child's current abilities- not one determined by their grade level or age.

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  7. Good comment 1:20.

    It's not clear integration helped blacks at all. What is the effect of these large, consistent GAPS on kids who live their entire childhoods performing more poorly than kids of another color? Persistent gaps whether the school is predominately white or black.

    A grade system is also a problem but again the black kids would notice a concentration of differently-colored kids at the higher achievement level.

    Integration itself could be the biggest culprit.

    "Separate but equal" should be revisited. The obstacle to any effective solution is white liberals who cling to their need to victimize others in order to "save" them.

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    1. "Separate but equal" should be revisited.

      Read the decision in Brown v Board.

      Then go fuck yourself.

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    2. Just because the SC said separate by equal is inherently unequal doesn't make it so. E.g., Dunbar High School in Washington D.C. was an outstanding school before 1954, when it was segregated. Separate but equal women's colleges, like Hillary's alma mater Wellesley, continue to do an outstanding job of educating women.

      To be clear, I think Brown v Bd of Ed was correctly decided, but the justification was incorrect. It opened the way for virtue-signaling ignoramuses. Really improving the education of black students is challenging. OTOH any know-nothing can look at the numbers and call for more integration.

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    3. *** Public Service Announcement ***

      It has come to my attention that some here have refused to follow my directive to read the decision in Brown v Board. I include the salient point below:

      The effect of this separation on their [school children's] educational opportunities was well stated by a finding in the Kansas case by a court which nevertheless felt compelled to rule against the Negro plaintiffs:
      "Segregation of white and colored children in public schools has a detrimental effect upon the colored children. The impact is greater when it has the sanction of the law; for the policy of
      separating the races is usually interpreted as denoting the inferiority of the negro group. A sense of inferiority affects the motivation of a child to learn. Segregation with the sanction of law, therefore, has a tendency to [retard] the educational and mental development of negro children and to deprive them of some of the benefits they would receive in a racial[ly] integrated school
      system."
      ...
      We conclude that in the field of public education the doctrine of "separate but equal" has no
      place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal. Therefore, we hold that the
      plaintiffs and others similarly situated for whom the actions have been brought are, by reason of
      the segregation complained of, deprived of the equal protection of the laws guaranteed by the
      Fourteenth Amendment.


      The folks who still can't figure this thing out should follow my second directive.

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    4. "Separate but equal women's colleges, like Hillary's alma mater Wellesley, continue to do an outstanding job of educating women."

      Yes, but there's a difference between occasional segregated private school here and there, or voluntary segregation (like Amish settlements) - and government-mandated segregation.

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    5. "Deadrat" thinks court decisions contain insight acquired from on high and that they're always right and moral. Childish. "Separate cannot be equal" is wrong, even absurdly stupid.

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    6. "A sense of inferiority affects the motivation of a child to learn."

      Which is why black students would be better off in separate schools, where they do not witness every day the fact that they do not perform, as a group, as well as other groups.

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    7. " and government-mandated segregation. "

      Correct but forced, government-mandated integration is undesirable as the data bear out.

      Separate is not "inherently" unequal if the result is less cruelty and possibly better outcomes for those groups that are doing poorly.

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    8. I agree that forced integration (such as busing in the 1970s-80s) is extremely problematic.

      I don't believe classifying people by 'racial'/ethnic/confessional characteristics is government's business. It should be forbidden, really.

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    9. @2:52,

      There’s no need for scare quotes around my nym, which, by the way, does not employ an initial cap.

      You may quit telling me what I think any time now. I don’t think court decisions contain insight from “on high.” In fact, I don’t even think there is an “on high.” Decisions like Brown v Board are made by jurists based on the facts as determined by the trial court and the interpretation of the law as determined by the jurists themselves. It’s all sublunary.

      Court decisions are not always “right”; some of them get overturned. Court decisions are not always “moral”; see Dred Scott v Sandford and Bowers v Hardwick.

      The “separate” in “separate cannot be equal” means state-enforced segregation by reason of skin color; “equal” means equal treatment before the law. Nothing to do with equality of brains, talent, beauty, ambition or other aspects of human description.

      When the majority fences off a minority from participation in some aspect of public life, the result is disparagement that cannot be reconciled with the 14th Amendment.

      Consider that your benighted opinion matches that of this commentariat’s village idiot, David in Cal. That should give you pause. If it doesn’t, please follow my second directive from 4/10.

      Delete
  8. I with Bob 1000%. Another problem, which he implies, is that aside from being counter-productive, the "7% solution" ignores the plight of 98% of black students. Many of these kids desperately need more effective education. The focus on race balance is a distraction from where the real need is.

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    1. Their scores have risen quite a bit over the past 40 years, thanks perhaps in large part to efforts at school reform from liberals (and conservatives). How can education be made more effective? Is it ineffective now, or do factors external to school have a greater impact? If so, what can schools do about them? Or is this just another way to shout “our schools are failing?”

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    2. How can education be made more effective? Bob mentioned one way, some time ago. He said that some textbooks for students reading well below grade level were not appropriate. So, maybe they could get more effective textbooks.

      I'm not an educator, but there are some things we should not do, such as social promotion. Simply promoting and graduating kids undeservedly is a way of giving up on the kids. Replacing social promotion with lessons appropriate to each child's level would require acknowledging how far behind these kids are. It's a huge challenge. If a kid is 4 years behind grade level, you can't just put him or her in a class with kids 4 years younger. Maybe kids like that should be required to go to special after-school classes to help them catch up.

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    3. Our families are failing.

      Delete
  9. It has come to my attention in my journeys through the google that back in the day before back in day (50 years ago), the (then fewer) specialized high schools were populated overwhelmingly by Jews. Back in the day (30 years ago), 20% of high school students attending specialized high schools were black. Over this period, all groups' scores on the NAEP increased but the gaps remained.

    What happened? Did Jews get dumber and blacks get smarter over the course of the '70s and '80s? Subsequently, did Asians get much smarter than both? In any case, this leads to my agnosticism on the diagnostic effectiveness of NAEP scores.

    A clue may be had from two trends in the '90s. The first is that "tracking" students fell out of fashion. It was felt that segregating higher achievers from lower achievers was just another type of segregation. The higher achievers took classes focused on prep for the SHSAT.

    The second trend was electing that clown Rudy Giuliani, who managed in his terms as mayor to cut $2B from school operating budgets and $4.5B from school construction budgets. There was no money for test prep. This leads to my agnosticism on the effectiveness of test prep.

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