DESEGREGATING THE GOTHAM ONE: "Where's the outrage?" one commenter asks!

THURSDAY, JUNE 20, 2019

Thoroughly apt response to New York Times' clueless post:
Back in March, New York City's eight "specialized" high schools sent out their annual admission offers.

Demographically, this year's admission offers were almost exactly the same as they've been in recent years. Here's something else that's true:

On the most obvious, straightforward level, everyone knows why the bulk of these admission offers go to Asian-American and white kids, with black and Hispanic kids receiving far fewer offers.

Sadly enough, this year's numbers weren't surprising at all—and the basic reason for the numbers is completely obvious. But over at the New York Times, the reporting team of Eliza Shapiro and Dodai Stewart (Shapiro's editor) were completely gobsmacked when the data appeared.

Sad! In this "Times Insider" report, Shapiro said that when she and Stewart saw the (fully predictable) numbers, "our jaws dropped." Excitedly, Shapiro then turned to a Reddit "Ask Me Anything" forum to broadcast her amazement and incomprehension.

Shapiro seemed to lack the first clue. This is what she wrote:
SHAPIRO (3/22/19): I’m Eliza Shapiro, an education reporter for the New York Times who reported Monday that only 7 black students were admitted to the next class of New York City’s Stuyvesant High School, one of the most prestigious public schools in the nation. AMA.

How is it possible that out of 5,500 black students who took the high-stakes test to gain entry into New York’s eight elite public high schools, only 190 black students got in? And only 7 of those students got into Stuyvesant, the most prestigious of the schools, which offered admission to 895 students?

Though the number of black and Hispanic students in the schools has been dwindling for decades, this year’s admissions statistics are especially important: NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio has proposed a plan to scrap the specialized high school entrance exam altogether. But he has faced a huge backlash: some alumni of the schools say a system that admits top performers from each city middle school would water down the schools’ academics. And some Asian-American families say they feel the mayor is discriminating against them, under his proposal, the population of Asian students would drop by roughly half at the schools. Stuyvesant is currently 74 percent Asian-American.

This has become one of the biggest fights in New York politics, and has raised the stakes of the debate about affirmative action and the college admissions scandal.

You can read the story here.
Later, Shapiro thanked her Reddit readers "for all the great questions."

At the risk of being unkind, we'll once again state the obvious. On the most straightforward level, everyone knows "how it's possible"—how it's possible "that out of 5,500 black students who took the high-stakes test...only 190 black students got in."

Everyone knows how that's possible—everyone but the eager young scribe the Times has assigned to this topic.

As stated, of course, Shapiro's comment doesn't exactly make sense. In her Reddit post, she failed to compare the percentage of black (and Hispanic) kids who gained admission to these schools with the percentage of such kids in the New York City system as a whole.

That said, Reddit readers seemed to understand that black and Hispanic kids are vastly underrepresented at these eight "elite" schools. The part of this that's hard to fathom is Shapiro's apparent failure to understand why this undesirable situation comes to pass each year.

It's hard to be more clueless than Shapiro seemed to be this day. What explains the gross imbalance in annual admissions to membership among the elite?

We've answered that question again and again. Which part of "brutal achievement gaps" doesn't the Times understand?
Average scores, Grade 8 math
New York City Public Schools, 2017 Naep

White kids: 290.71
Black kids: 255.63
Hispanic kids: 263.56
Asian-American kids: 306.03
By a common though very rough rule of thumb, ten points on the Naep scale is often said to be roughly equivalent to one academic year. There is no "test prep" for the Naep, and achievement gaps like these appear on a national basis, not just in New York City.

Once these basic facts are in place, how hard is it to understand the answer to Shapiro's question?

That said, whatever! As usual, the highly-connected though rather young scribe seemed to lack the first freaking clue about the enrollment patterns at those eight "elite" schools. Meanwhile, she was being assisted by a newly-hired editor who had no apparent background in education reporting, and who had recently answered a profile question like this:
INTERVIEWER (9/17): What is your favorite thing right now?

FUTURE NEW YORK TIMES EDITOR: I love tarot and fortune telling, and just got these Art Oracle cards—you draw one and get some life/work/inspiration advice. Tonight I really wanted to draw a Warhol, a Koons, a Basquiat or an O'Keefe but instead I pulled a William Blake: “Hell is hypocrisy on earth. Vision requires not sight but spirit. Madness in life, genius in death.” Thanks? I suspect soon my favorite thing will be Rihanna’s new Fenty Beauty line, which drops later tonight.
There's a whole lot more where that came from. That idea that this person was given this crucial assignment by the Times makes our low-income kid-lovin' blood boil every single time.

At any rate, those were a few of the future education editor's favorite things. Having a clue about public schools didn't appear on the list.

Except to the extent that it may be feigned, the cluelessness of Shapiro and Stewart ranks as a public disgrace. For what it's worth, the cluelessness isn't restricted to Shapiro's apparent incomprehension concerning the basic, straightforward explanation for the enrollment patterns at those "elite" high schools—the only high schools the New York Times seems able to care about.

In her Reddit post—as in all her Times reporting—Shapiro was also rich in incomprehension about the mayor's proposal for those eight elite schools, a proposal which is astoundingly ham-handed, bizarre and unwise. (More on that to come.)

For today, we'll only direct you to this. After Shapiro posted her ask, she was greeted, very quickly, with a very apt reply.

Shapiro wanted to know "how it's possible" that so few black and Hispanic kids gain admission to Stuyvesant High each year. That would be an excellent question, if the answer wasn't already so clear.

At any rate, she e quickly got a straightforward reply from someone less clueless than she. Her respondent wondered about all Gotham's schools and all Gotham's kids, not just the handful of kids admitted to the elite eight.

Here's what the respondent said:

MR. ZIP: Why is there so little outrage at the quality of elementary and middle schools until the stark results of the poor education are laid out in sharp relief in the form of specialized high school results? The demographic makeup of specialized high schools is a SYMPTOM of the root issue, not the actual issue that needs to be addressed.

It seems like cheap politics to allow the mayor/chancellor to claim a diversity victory despite not fixing the actual lack of good education for most black/hispanic students in NYC. What am I missing?
"What am I missing?" this commenter asked. We'd be inclined to say, "Not much."

In truth, we'd be inclined to challenge this commenter on some basic points. He's asking a very good question about how those brutal achievement gaps come to be so large and so daunting, but it isn't as simple as simply suggesting that the schools screwed things up in third grade.

That said, this respondent's basic point of view is entirely apt.

Despite his humble status as a mere Reddit respondent, the commenter understood that there's more to the New York City Public Schools than a tiny number of "elite" schools serving The Gotham One [Percent].

He seemed to know that the vast majority of Gotham's kids will never go to Stuyvesant High or to the other seven. Incredibly, he seemed to think that the lives and interests of the 99 percent count as much as those of The Gotham One! The basic type of understanding cannot be found at the Times.

Shapiro's respondent wanted to know how it is that black and Hispanic kids, on average, get so far "behind." He seemed to think that their lives and interests matter too, not just those of people like Shapiro and Stewart. (Each bears an Ivy pedigree, with a stint at Dalton thrown in.)

The respondent even seemed to see the dumbness, and the possible ugliness, of the mayor's proposal, in which huge numbers of high-performing Asian kids would be denied admission to these highly academic schools so that other kids—kids who would often be much lower-performing—could take their places instead. Now for an obvious question:

If de Blasio feels there are lots of kids who can handle the Stuyvesant curriculum, who doesn't he create additional seats, perhaps opening a Stuyvesant Two? Shapiro never raises this blindingly obvious question.

The Times is sunk in "performative desegregation virtue" pretty much all the way down. The only thing that seems to matter is kicking out one group of kids in the course of admitting another.

We have a visitor today and tomorrow—an old friend from high school! With that in mind, we may not post again until Saturday. For today, we thought it was worth comparing Shapiro's apparently clueless post with that respondent's instant reply.

"Where's the outrage?" the respondent asked. Amazingly, he seemed to think that all Gotham's kids should count!

For ourselves, we're not sure we've ever seen journalism as bad as the work that's being churned by Shapiro and Stewart in the Times' "desegregation" crusade. Nor have we ever seen black and Hispanic kids thrown so completely under the bus—not counting the one percent!

That commenter was asking a very good question. He wondered why Shapiro doesn't seem to care about the 99 percent—doesn't seem to wonder how they got to be on the short end of those brutal achievement gaps in the first place. Of course, that's a major American question—a question which is being ignored all over the country.

Does the New York Times care about the black and Hispanic kids who won't be going to Stuyvesant High? That question occurs to us every time we read Shapiro's work.

We ask it about the New York Times, not about the paper's young scribe and her fortune-teller editor. Can the newspaper focus on all the kids, or just on The Gotham One?

Still coming: Much more to come, though likely not tomorrow

10 comments:

  1. "That idea that this person was given this crucial assignment by the Times makes our low-income kid-lovin' blood boil every single time."

    Wait until you find out they report what Newt Gingrich says about anything. Either the media is a Right-wing echo chamber, or they're stupid enough to think Gingrich might some day make a good faith argument.

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  2. Nobody is buying what TDH is peddling.

    Somerby claims to be "low-income kid-lovin'", sorry but, notwithstanding his long and dedicated career as a school teacher(he scooted out of there as soon as it no longer served his needs), he has not earned that self proclaimed status.

    The respondent referenced is at least as dumb as the journalists Somerby rails against, blaming the quality of elementary and middle schools as the root issue.

    The NYC mayor has a comprehensive plan including creating more schools, outlined in multiple news reports.

    It has been a long time since Stuyvesant High School has produced a noteworthy person, going back to the number of black kids the school had in the 70's, when it could still produce, is fine.

    Somerby hints at a meritocratic society being a worthy goal, one would shudder if Somerby had any actual influence.



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    1. My sperm level is low.

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    2. Your comment is good and reminds me of a good memory of mine. It occurred just a few months ago....

      My lady-friend Smupa and good friend Pratha and I were adrift on a small vessel in the vast ocean, participating in a journey of the mind, body, and spirit.

      While contemplating the very existence of time and its corollaries, we were suddenly jolted by a series of large and violent bubbles surfacing just beneath our tiny vessel, nearly capsizing us in the process.

      Soon after regaining our composure, a seriously foul odor was realized.

      Within seconds of inhaling the noxious fumes, I began to envision a wildly amusing collage of surreal colors and creatures, causing me to vomit all of my life's frustrations in one major upheaval.

      Pratha reacted to the foul odor by chanting backwards in his native tongue while deep in his trance.

      Smupa began to smile in a most uncontrollable fashion and then proceeded to break wind from her bottom.

      Smupa's gas pass served as the eureka moment. I then posed the question:

      Do whales fart??

      Smupa and I did some research and found the following:
      The short answer is yes, whales do indeed fart, flatus or pass gas depending on how you like to phrase it.

      In fact whales, dolphins and porpoises are all marine mammals belonging to the cetacean species and they are all known to fart.

      Today there are around 80 – 90 known species of cetacea currently in existence and they encompass all of the worlds major oceans from the tropics to the coldest of the northern and southern polar hemispheres.

      When it comes to passing gas, farting is a common characteristic that most land and marine mammals have in common with one another.

      Passing gas allows animals to release air that is trapped inside their stomach, which could lead to digestive problems, stomach cramps or other complications if not removed from the body.

      When an animal passes gas or farts the air that comes out of the body comes primarily from two main sources.

      The first source comes from oxygen that is pulled in through the air either while breathing (inhaling and exhaling) or when consuming food or drinking water; and since all mammals eat food and require oxygen to survive they all take in air.

      The second source of air or gas comes from food that is broken down by enzymes, stomach acids and bacteria in the stomach, which creates toxic gasses that need to be removed from the body to prevent it from doing harm to the individuals digestive system.

      In order to release these gases animals need a way to expel them from the body and for most mammals this means that the toxic gas has to exit through either the mouth, which causes burping or through the anal tract which causes farting.

      The gases that are expelled from a fart are mostly composed of hydrogen, carbon dioxide, and methane.
      The reason some gasses smell worse than others is because of breakdown of the foods involved.

      Certain foods can cause obnoxious orders when released as gas while others do not.

      From some of the statements researchers have made about whales farting they have concluded that yes, it stinks when a whale farts.

      When a whale farts or passes gas underwater the sound is believed to be suppressed by the surrounding water making it silent or at least quite compared to the gas that is expelled from land based animals.

      In some cases bubbles or clouds can be seen rising to the surface of the water when a whale passes gas.

      Those most likely to experience whales farting are likely to be researchers involved in following whales and researching their dung or gathering information about their gestation period, habitat, social structure and other important factors.

      In some cases this may also be observed by tourists and whale watchers that are hoping to get a glance of these marine mammals in their natural habitat.

      Unfortunately not much research has been done on this topic, however there have been researchers who have experienced and confirmed that yes whales do indeed fart.

      Thank you for your time.

      Propaar

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  3. Indeed! Why aren’t there more Stuyvesant schools, given that the one is run by the NYC Dept. of Education?

    What I skimmed from Wikipedia showed the elements of a Montessori-school setup. I went to one at around third grade, I’m kind of a fan of that method of opening up the minds of young children. Pretty much the bulk of my memories in terms of actually enjoying enforced education come from that experience.

    We all know the story (I hope) that current curricula are meant towards job placement, and not stretching young people’s minds. Been that way for a long time, of course.

    Glad you’re still kicking at the ankles of the establishment, Bob. A toast to you and your buddy.

    *glug*

    Leroy

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  4. “our low-income kid-lovin' blood”

    This is an illustration of what is called “virtue signaling.”

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    1. Word count analysis makes it obvious that 7:52 PM is a some sort of wingnut conservative- probably of the alt-right variety. Stop posting here 7:52 PM! These comment threads are for liberals only.

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  5. What does this have to do with nougat?

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  6. I love to rub nougat on my flaccid, pasty corpus.

    Mostly my chest and head.

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