"SEGREGATION" AND SCOLD: Stupid old Biden opposed it back then!

FRIDAY, JUNE 14, 2019

No one supports it now:
Among the fifty allied states, what makes New York—that is to say, the state of New York—the most heinous state of them all?

We'll admit that we still don't exactly know! In fairness, the authors in question seemed to offer and explanation at the start of their widely-cited 2014 report:
KUCSERA AND ORFIELD (page vi): New York [State] has the most segregated schools in the country: in 2009, black and Latino students in the state had the highest concentration in intensely-segregated public schools (less than 10% white enrollment), the lowest exposure to white students, and the most uneven distribution with white students across schools.
That passage is drawn from the Civil Rights Project's 2014 report, New York State’s Extreme School Segregation: Inequality, Inaction and a Damaged Future. To peruse that report, click here.

With that passage, Professors Kucsera and Orfield begin their Executive Summary. A footnote directs the reader to this earlier report from 2012, in which the Civil Rights Project had presented the voluminous data on which these later claims about the state of New York were based.

Those claims about the state of New York do indeed seem to be true, if we assume the accuracy of the Project's 2012 data, which are based on the 2009-2010 school year. That said, we're still not sure why Kucsera and Orfield were so determined to declare New York State the most heinous state of them all.

We say that because there seems to be little to choose in the professors' data between the state of New York and such states as California and Illinois. Consider black kids, for example.

It's true! During the school year under review, black kids in the state of New York had a "highe[r] concentration in intensely-segregated public schools (less than 10% white enrollment)" than their counterparts in Illinois.

New York [State] was worse than Illinois, but the margin was very slender. The numbers looked like this (page 46, 2012 report):
Percentage of black kids attending schools which were 90-100% nonwhite (2009-2010 school year):
Black kids in New York State: 63.6 percent
Black kids in Illinois: 62.1 percent
There isn't a great deal to choose there. Similarly, this was the difference between the two states when it came to black kids' exposure to white students:
Percentage of white kids in the school of the typical black kid (2009-2010 school year):
New York State: 17.7 percent
Illinois: 18.8 percent
The typical black kid in Illinois attended a school which was 19 percent white. In the state of New York, the figure was 18 percent! There wasn't a whole lot of difference.

There wasn't a lot of difference there. But take another look at these numbers, numbers we showed you yesterday:
Percentage of black kids attending schools which were 99-100% nonwhite (2009-2010 school year):
Illinois: 41.4 percent
Michigan: 34.1 percent
New Jersey: 26.1 percent
Tennessee: 25.9 percent
New York State: 23.6 percent
Illinois' numbers were much more dismal in that ultimate measure of "racial isolation." When it comes to the racial isolation of black kids, we can't exactly see why you'd want to say that New York State was the most heinous state of them all.

It's also true that everyone knows why states like Illinois and New York appear at the top of the charts in measures like these. We'll arrive at that topic below.

Future experts with whom we've consulted tell us we're missing the point of all this. They say these reports about school "segregation" emerged as part of the so-called "Liberal Scold Culture" which dominated pseudo-progressive politics in the last few decades before the conflagration known, though only in the future, as Mister Trump's All-Inclusive War.

Showing great deference to Kucsera and Ofield, these experts blame the professors' "implicit biases" for many of their scholarly decisions. But the major point of these studies, these future experts say, was the way they let liberals and progressives engage in the widespread scolding of Everyone Else, especially on matters of gender and race, a practice our flailing political tribe had come to embrace and adore.

"New York was the perfect state to attack," these despondent future scholars have ruefully said. "As the reigning emblem of American liberalism, its apparent shortcomings let the performative pseudo-progressive complain that Amerika had failed to realize its principles in ways which went well beyond what Mother and Father had said."

We're reporting the views of thee future experts; you can decide on their merits. That said, we had to chuckle when these experts pointed to certain small passages in the 2014 report—passages in which the professors showed the world that they understood the reasons behind the heinous numbers on display for the heinous New York State.

Why in the world does New York State have so many racially-unbalanced ("segregated") schools? In truth, everyone knows the answer to that, including Kucsera and Orfield.

In a very few brief, shining moments, the scolding professors briefly agreed to explain. In the brief passage shown below, they described the remarkable concentration of this state's nonwhite students in one gigantic, major school district—the New York City Public Schools:
KUCSERA AND ORFIELD (page 57): These findings also indicate the extremely large proportion of minority students attending schools in New York City in comparison to other areas. Close to 60% of total black students, and over two-thirds of Latino and Asian students across the state[,] attended New York City schools in 2010 in comparison to only 10% of total white students across the state.
As the professors note in that one brief passage, large percentages of New York Sate's "minority" kids were found in one gigantic school system at the southeastern tip of the (rather large) state. By way of contrast, a much smaller percentage of the state's white kids were attending school in that district.

White kids were found all over the state. Nonwhite kids were largely found in the New York City Public Schools, an entity serving the very large, well-known city where those kids' parents lived.

Why does the state of New York have so many "segregated" schools, as compared to most other states? As everyone knows, these data largely explain it:
Student enrollment, New York City Public Schools, as percentage of statewide enrollment (2010-2011 school year):
White kids: 141,105 (10.5%)
Black kids: 289,995 (58.8%)
Hispanic kids: 390,228 (66.5%)
Asian-American kids: 146,944 (67.3%)

Total enrollment: 973,136 (36.5%)
Two-thirds of the state's Hispanic and Asian kids were attending school in this one school system, by far the nation's largest. Almost 60 percent of the state's black kids were enrolled there as well.

By nature of this system's enrollment, these kids' exposure to white schoolmates could only be quite limited. In the school year under review, only 14.5% of New York City's public school students were white. This explains why this state's "school segregation" numbers are worse than those found in other states which lack such demographic patterns in such giant metropolitan centers.

Presumably, New York City could find ways to limit "racial isolation" in its schools beyond the current state. We'll examine that topic next week.

But when it comes to the schools of New York State, there is no obvious way to address the residential concentrations which obtain across the state. At one pint, Kucsera and Orfield make a semi-comical reference to this fact:
KUCSERA AND ORFIELD (page 44): States have been ranked by the severity of school segregation trends (measured in three different ways) for many years. New York, Illinois, and Michigan have consistently topped the list of the most segregated states for black students, and California joined this list in 2009-10 (Table 18). The large and hyper-segregated metropolises of New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles and Detroit, along with the high percentages of minority students who reside in them, likely influence these trends. A staggering two-fifths of black students in Illinois attend a school where less than 1% of the student body is white. In Michigan, more than a third of black students experience the same situation.
The high percentages of minority students who reside in those "hyper-segregated" metropolises likely influence these public school trends?

"Sometimes you just have to laugh," future experts advised us.

As Kucsera and Orfield engage in their endless scolding about our "segregated" and "apartheid" schools, it's amazing to see how rarely they stop to explain why states with giant metropolitan centers (New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago) will tend to have a larger number of racially unbalanced schools.

This is an American situation, one we must address as a nation. But the professors scold a great deal of the time, and they explain very rarely. This tracks the basic impulse of Liberal Scold Culture, an unattractive tribal approach which helped put Trump where he is.

For the record, there is no way for the state of New York to bus its way out of this situation. Nor do Kucsera and Orfield make any serious attempt to explain how the state or city of New York could improve their racial isolation numbers in a major way.

That said, we can all be certain of one thing as we continue to ponder this state of affairs. No one will say a word about any of this in our upcoming Democratic debates.

Candidate Biden was recently scored because he opposed mandated busing back in the 1970s. We pseudo-liberals rose on our haunches to voice our deep concern about his highly disturbing past conduct.

To peruse an extreme example of this "performative virtue," see this jeremiad from Slate. Meanwhile, an unintentionally comical moment occurs in this piece from TPM, in which we're told that the way Biden "argued his points" would be unacceptable among Democrats today.

According to various experts with whom we've consulted, this attack on The Ghost of Biden Past was merely the latest example of Liberal Scold Culture. Sadly, these future scholars turned to us with a basic question, one we couldn't answer:

"Can you name one Democrat, or one major liberal, who supports mandated busing today?"

In fact, no one cares about these topics at all, except as a way to engage in our trademark Scolding of Others. This is nowhere more clear than in the New York Times' ridiculous jihad concerning the schools of New York City, a topic we'll examine next week.

Simply put, our liberal tribe doesn't care about low-income kids, except to the extent that they allow us to stage our acts of performative virtue.

We don't care about their actual interests or about their actual lives. Down through the years, we've made this fact abundantly clear again and again and again.

Low-income schools won't be mentioned in the upcoming Democratic debates. Low-income schools, and the kids who attend them, won't be mentioned on MSNBC at any point in the next thousand years.

Meanwhile, racially unbalanced schools won't be going away in the foreseeable future. How can we best serve the kids who will continue to attend them?

Within our tribal councils, you'll never see that question asked! As we continue to scold The Others, the truth is we simply don't care.

Concerning the state of New York: Across the state of the New York, student enrollment looked like this in the 2017-2018 school year:
Student enrollment, New York State's public schools, 2017-2018:
White kids: 42.5%
Black kids: 17.1%
Hispanic kids: 27.0%
Asian-American kids: 9.6%
Multiracial kids: 2.4%
Native American kids: 0.7%
That's what the average (though not the typical) school is like in the (rather large) state of New York. That said, there's no way to bus kids around this large state to produce schools which all look like that.

If you could produce a school like that, we'd call it a fabulous school. Thanks to our tribe's dominant culture, Kucsera and Orfield have a different term for a school like that:

They'd call that school "segregated!" Our floundering, failing, performative tribe may need to rethink such instincts.

24 comments:

  1. You sound so cute, Bob, when you seriously analyze zombie bullshit, as if it had some real meaning.

    This gig you've found and occupied yourself with is quite unique, I must say. And fascinating, in an absurdist sort of way.

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  2. If you read the sources mentioned in comments, it makes it clear that (1) people do care about the lives of black and other minority kids, (2) there is an intersection between race and class that is especially problematic, (3) there are a wide range of efforts to decrease isolation, especially of kids who are both poor and minority, (4) these are reports of the current situation or proposals for change, not scolding in any sense.

    Maybe the heart of Somerby's series is his complaint about the way Biden is being criticized for his past actions. Somerby says:

    "Candidate Biden was recently scored because he opposed mandated busing back in the 1970s. We pseudo-liberals rose on our haunches to voice our deep concern about his highly disturbing past conduct."

    The problem with Biden is that he also has a policy of never apologizing for anything. That means that today's voters have less opportunity to understand that he would do things differently today (and tomorrow if elected).

    I cannot vote for a man who cannot apologize when it is clearly important to do so, such as to Anita Hill or to the various women and girls (and boys too) who he has inappropriately touched over the years. Have you thought about why he doesn't similarly touch men? They wouldn't tolerate it. But kids and women have little choice and he does owe them an apology.

    So, this isn't so much about the past and busing but about the need to acknowledge that better behavior is required of men these days.

    Somerby decries performative virtue. That performative virtue is a promise of better behavior in the future. It shows understanding of right and wrong. Just like Trump's performative evil in that interview with Stephanopolis is hurting his chances in the next election and confirming his guilt in ways the Mueller report will never achieve.

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  3. "That's what the average (though not the typical) school is like in the (rather large) state of New York. That said, there's no way to bus kids around this large state to produce schools which all look like that."

    As was noted in comments earlier this week, it is possible to mix middle class and high performing minority kids with poorer kids, regardless of race/ethnicity, and that too would yield benefits and improve education for the poorest minority kids.

    Somerby ignores that, almost as though he hadn't read the report he keeps criticizing.

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    1. Would it? Or would it worsen the outcomes of the high performing kids?

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    2. Why should it worsen the outcomes for high performing kids?

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    3. I think once 2:43 PM gave it some thought the response from that quarter would be that whereas the high performing kids would be in the same school as the non-high performers they would not be in the same classes and study groups as their counterparts.

      That or 2:43 thinks we've gone back to the blab school method where the high-performing students would be instructing the non-high performers sitting on the benches next to them which would result in a win-win for both groups just as it does in the storybooks 2:43 PM reads.

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    4. Should the achievement gaps between the two groups narrow under such a regimen then the analysis could return to blaming bigoted teachers for there being any gaps at all. Low achievers would be seen as the victims not of disadvantaged economic and social circumstances outside of school, they could go be back to being seen as the victims of the their teachers' low academic expectations for them manifested by their being assigned a less challenging curriculum than their higher achieving peers.

      The real goal here is to put off narrowing the class divide by directing more income and expensive resources to households that are not affluent through subsidized pre-K through early teen child care programs, a $15 an hour federal minimum wage law, guaranteed full employment through a public works program that would be part of a Green New Deal commitment, and single payer health care.

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    5. @CMike:
      “Subsidized pre-K”...you mean like DeBlasio implemented in New York, and most liberals advocate?

      When I went to school, there were no advanced or remedial classes. We all went to the same class. The “smart” kids didn’t resent the presence of “dumb” kids, nor was their performance negatively impacted. That you think they shouldn’t mix is odd. Studies have shown a clear benefit for lower performers, if you care to research the facts.

      No one who advocates for integrating schools misunderstands the difficulties, CMike. The professors in this study, but also many others, understand that integration of schools is equivalent to integration of neighborhoods, which is ultimately dependent on policy change. Some of it is economic, as you outline, but there are specific policies which have driven segregation over the years that need to be addressed. Perhaps you’ve read the reports in the Civil Rights project. The authors are not blaming bigoted teachers. They and other such studies lay out a clear case of what is actually happening. You simply can’t fix the problem with economics alone. This is a good study to read, if you haven’t:
      “The Racial Achievement Gap, Segregated Schools, and Segregated Neighborhoods – A Constitutional Insult”
      By Richard Rothstein • November 12, 2014

      https://www.epi.org/publication/the-racial-achievement-gap-segregated-schools-and-segregated-neighborhoods-a-constitutional-insult/

      It’s hard to understand why you don’t think people like Prof Orfield et al are on the same side as yourself. They see a specific racial problem that, as I said, is the result of hundreds of years of policy, and can’t be fixed simply by economic measures. Why can’t we do both, integrate schools where it makes sense and lift everyone up economically?

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    6. The authors are not blaming bigoted teachers.

      Right, that was yesterday's excuse. It'll come out of moth balls if needed as an excuse to delay redistributing wealth and resources once it is acknowledged experiments with relatively low cost integration solutions fail to rectify the problem of achievement gaps.

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    7. 5:32 PM writes,

      When I went to school, there were no advanced or remedial classes. We all went to the same class. The “smart” kids didn’t resent the presence of “dumb” kids, nor was their performance negatively impacted.

      First off, interesting it's 5:32 PM who uses the term "dumb" to reference non-high achievers on the way to schooling my lefty self with the insights of a Democratic liberal. Second, exactly how big were the achievement gaps in this school you went to back in the day when everyone got an optimum result? Sounds like 5:32 PM is half way advocating for a variation of the blab school model, except in place of a cacophony, the ideal is to introduce everyone to the same lesson plan at the same time. Somerby has indicated, from his experience, this is a highly problematic approach.

      Studies have shown a clear benefit for lower performers, if you care to research the facts.

      So you're arguing against AP and remedial classes because low-achievers benefit from being in a class or, at least, a school with high achievers when compared to what exactly? Low achievers being taught age/grade appropriate material that is beyond them in a class which, on average, is populated by fellow struggling low-achievers? Yeah, duh, that would be the expected result.

      How about showing some concern for the high-achievers -even if they belong to a privileged group- and for trying to maximize the outcomes for those who are not at grade level by tailoring a curriculum to the level of academic achievement where each of them, as individuals, are at?

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    8. When you are a hammer everything looks like a nail.

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    9. When you're a hammer, you're in worse trouble than Gregor Samsa. The aphorism is "When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail." And I think that's TDH's complaint about using terms like segregation and apartheid. They look like the proverbial nails suitable for hammering with tools like court actions from fifty and sixty years ago.

      But I think TDH has misread the report he objects to.

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    10. When all you have is poop, everything looks like a toilet.

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  4. Oddly, Somerby says, in so many words, that none of the candidates care about helping low income minority kids learn. This is not true. For one thing, Kamala Harris, while CA Attorney General, carried out a program addressing truancy, requiring parents to send their kids to school regularly, because this is essential to learning and much higher among poor minority families. Harris did this because of the connection between low education, poverty, and minority racial/ethnic status among those incarcerated.

    She was not performatively signaling virtue. She enacted programs to address truancy using her elected office in order to produce change. She is being criticized for it, because it was not easy for poor parents to make changes that would permit their kids to attend regularly, so those parents suffered penalties as a consequence.

    If you consider Bernie Sanders' plan to affect the lives of low income black kids, it consists largely of increasing the minimum wage to $15. If you improve the financial status of poor families that will help the kids in school.

    Maybe Somerby wants more direct action? He didn't like Hillary enough to reward her efforts to help black kids, even though she devoted her first years out of law school to working on a non-profit project specifically to help kids and then spent the rest of her career helping women and families. (Maybe her work helping women prevented Somerby from admiring her support for minority kids?) She should have been Somerby's ideal candidate but oddly was not. I think she was insufficiently performative and too busy doing actual work to help people, work that goes ignored when people don't talk performatively about it.

    Or maybe Somerby admires Betsy DeVos? Instead of performatively scolding anyone, she is quietly giving lots of money to her cronies and to charter schools which are undermining funding for public schools and not being held accountable for anything, including how the money is spent. Does Somerby perhaps admire her non-scolding and think that she is doing good stuff for poor black kids? Does he think there is an inverse correlation between talking about virtue (scolding) and performance of good work? (Probably not, since it is unlikely he knows what "inverse correlation" means.)

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  5. “Those claims about the state of New York do indeed seem to be true, if we assume the accuracy of the Project's 2012 data, which are based on the 2009-2010 school year. That said, we're still not sure why Kucsera and Orfield were so determined to declare New York State the most heinous state of them all.”

    If the claims are true, then there isn’t any reason to be unsure about why the professors made the claim. And of course Somerby conveniently forgets that the professors say “black AND LATINO students in the state had the highest concentration in intensely-segregated public schools (less than 10% white enrollment)” [capitalization mine].

    Why does Somerby want to disappear Latino students?

    Here are the numbers for Latino students, 1st and 2nd highest:

    Most Segregated States for Latino Students, 2009-2010

    % in 90-100% Minority Schools
    New York: 57.6%
    Texas: 52.7%

    % in 99-100% Minority Schools
    New York: 20.0%
    Texas: 16.6%

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  6. Somerby quotes some stats about racial makeup of the State of New York, then says:

    "That's what the average (though not the typical) school is like in the (rather large) state of New York. That said, there's no way to bus kids around this large state to produce schools which all look like that."

    This is wrong. There is no school in the state of New York that would have that distribution because the various races are not spread out evenly across the state but concentrated in specific areas. That makes the average makeup of the entire state pretty meaningless. It is odd that Somerby attaches so much importance to it and keeps endlessly talking about it.

    Somerby needs to stop insisting that racial isolation us here to stay and that attempts to desegregate schools are a fool's errand. He needs to join the people who are not engaged in performantive virtue signaling toward the alt-right and conservatives and instead join the liberals who are working to make schools more diverse and inclusive, even if it is hard to do in some areas. Why? Because it is good for kids to go to diverse schools.

    Based on the extreme effort Somerby keeps making to convince us that this is hopeless, I find myself wondering what Somerby's motives are in posting this endless barrage of stats. Is it to embarrass professors, prove the he really is smart despite failing at Harvard, push people away from calling themselves liberals, what?

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  7. Teachers unions endorsed Hillary. Somerby called her a failure. Who cares more about kids?

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  8. Somerby lists these numbers:
    “Student enrollment, New York City Public Schools, as percentage of statewide enrollment (2010-2011 school year):
    White kids: 141,105 (10.5%)
    Black kids: 289,995 (58.8%)
    Hispanic kids: 390,228 (66.5%)
    Asian-American kids: 146,944 (67.3%)

    Total enrollment: 973,136 (36.5%)”

    This implies that approximately 40% of black kids, 33% of Latino kids, and 89% of white kids are enrolled in other parts of New York, outside New York City. With that imbalance, those numbers lend themselves quite readily to the possibility of integration. Perhaps he forgot that the study is about the entire state of New York?

    Somerby says this:
    “In the school year under review, only 14.5% of New York City's public school students were white.”

    That is true. Where did he get this figure? Oh yeah. It’s right there in the professors’ report. And guess what? They aren’t trying to hide the number, or gloss over it, or whatever Somerby seems to be implying about their work.

    There is another, more serious problem with Somerby’s statement as quoted. He limits himself to the figure for New York City, whereas the report actually looks at 5 well-defined areas: New York Metro, Long Island, inner ring, and outer ring. The percentage white and black are considerably different for these other areas.

    Somerby misrepresents the purpose of the study, and worse, he cherry-picks its findings to fit his own narrative. That is what hack work looks like.

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    1. Omitted: The fifth area being New York City proper.

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  9. Will Bob “Jumps the gun” Somerby be as humble as Uncle Drum to admit he was wrong:

    https://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2019/06/yeah-trump-was-talking-about-dirt-from-foreign-governments/

    Or perhaps, Trump himself admits the media was right all along, and Somerby can quit trying to convince his analysts that “anyone would take that dirt!”:
    https://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2019/06/trump-of-course-you-report-foreign-campaign-dirt/

    It’s probably wisest for Somerby to stick with the “Trump is mentally ill” line, rather than assume sanity, however fleeting. It will save him the trouble of defending Trump’s latest verbal diarrhea against a media that Somerby is a bit too willing to attack on a hair trigger.

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  10. “"New York was the perfect state to attack," these despondent future scholars have ruefully said. As the reigning emblem of American liberalism, its apparent shortcomings let the performative pseudo-progressive complain that Amerika had failed to realize its principles in ways which went well beyond what Mother and Father had said."”

    If the existence and abysmal academic performance of racially isolated schools resulting from a history of racism, deliberate policy and/or apathy doesn’t represent a clear failure of America’s principles, then it’s unclear what does.

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  11. “But the major point of these studies, these future experts say, was the way they let liberals and progressives engage in the widespread scolding of Everyone Else”

    That isn’t the point. But, if these studies do assess blame, it isn’t “Everyone Else” who is at fault. It’s “Everyone”. Including me and Bob Somerby. All of us.

    And that is Somerby’s fundamental misunderstanding.

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