Also, why aren't they in advanced classes?: How far will the New York Times go to wage its war against "segregated schools," wherever such schools can be found?
Today, in a lengthy editorial, the Times extends its war to the battleground of sentence structure itself. Here's how the editorial begins, hard-copy headline included:
NEW YORK TIMES EDITORIAL (9/3/19): Diversifying New York's SchoolsFirst, a tip of the hat to the board! The editors should be commended for using the term "diversifying" in their headline, rather than the more exciting term, "desegregating."
New York’s public schools are among the most racially segregated in the country.
That’s partly a result of decades of policies that have allowed parents of well-off white and many Asian students to steer their children to the most sought-after public schools, while largely consigning the Hispanic and black children, who make up an overwhelming majority of students, to underperforming schools.
In our view, we should be trying to "diversify" student enrollment in our public schools where that's sensibly possible. But when we speak about "desegregating" schools like those in New York City, we start unnecessary, distracting fights about whether the schools in question are "segregated" at all.
In the process, one tribe gets to feel morally pure. Another tribe gets to feel alienated.
We wish the Times would regulate its persistent use of the fraught term, "segregated." Beyond that, though, today's editorial raises a point about Gotham schools which should be explored in depth.
We'll discuss that topic later this week. It's amazing to us that we've never seen this matter discussed in the Times before.
Having said this, alas! After their encouraging use of "diversifying," the editors launch directly into the murky but beloved claim according to which "New York [City's] public schools are among the most racially segregated in the country."
In support of this claim, they clownishly link to this March 26 report in their own newspaper, in which their own reporter, Eliza Shapiro, makes this same assertion. But as we showed you Saturday, Shapiro's link in support of that claim wound its way back to a murky, dated assessment—also in the New York Times—according to which Gotham's schools were less "segregated" than those in Chicago, more so than those in L.A.
According to that dated assessment, Gotham's schools (in 2009) were third-most "segregated" among those found in our thirteen largest cities. Though in fairness, Gotham's numbers at that time didn't differ all that much from those attributed to the systems ranked fourth, fifth and sixth.
In short, Gotham's school system, ten years ago, was the third, though not that far from the sixth, "most segregated in the country," though only among a group of thirteen. It should also be noted that this assessment only applied to black and white kids. (No Hispanic kids need apply.)
Beyond that, it isn't clear what the term "segregated" even meant in the original Times assessment. Of one thing you can be totally sure—the people who wrote today's editorial couldn't explain that point!
In a word, sad! That dated, murky ranking is the sole basis on which the editors make today's exciting claim—but having said that, so what? Having started their editorial with this parody of journalistic exposition, they proceeded to craft this spectacularly parodic pseudo-sentence:
"That’s partly a result of decades of policies that have allowed parents of well-off white and many Asian students to steer their children to the most sought-after public schools..."Gotham's policies have allowed parents of "well-off white and many Asian students" to steer their kids to sought-after schools? Go ahead! Those of you who are fluent in English are permitted to laugh out loud!
Why did the editors craft that laughable sentence, in which the term "well-off" somehow exists in parallel construction with the term "many?"
Why did the editors hand you that parodic construction? Given the fact that they're professional writers, why didn't they simply write this?
"That’s partly a result of decades of policies that have allowed parents of well-off white and Asian students to steer their children to the most sought-after public schools..."Why didn't the editor write that sentence? Because they know that the Asian students in question come from the lowest-income demographic in the New York City school system! This fact has been noted, again and again, in the Times itself.
However "well-off" those white kids might be, those Asian kids, as a group, aren't "well-off" at all! But the editors wanted to pimp home their point, and so they decided to play you.
The sentence they crafted is cause for laughter; the editors themselves are the joke. As much as they despise the level of "segregation" which they themselves could never explain; as much as they enjoy reviling the families who send their kids to the best schools available; as much as their minions have enjoyed sliming those Asian families with a well-worn "racial trope:"
As much as they enjoy these games, we'd love to see the actual facts about where their children are going to school—about the heroic ways they themselves have avoided playing a role in the "school segregation" they so impressively loathe.
We note, for example, that the editorial page editor has two sons. So it says in his company biography, on this apparent list of the 15-member board.
It isn't the editor's fault that he himself prepped at St. Albans, but where do his kids go to school? Given the ardor with which these horrible people keep sliming low-income Asian families for their role in segregation, we'd like to see the actual facts about the conduct of the members themselves!
For the record:
Though the Times makes it amazingly hard for an observer to be sure, we assume that that is the current membership of the board. Let it be said that, despite their horror concerning the segregation they see all around them, there are only two blacks, and no apparent Hispanics, listed among their current fifteen members.
In short, these showboats seem to be having a difficult time "desegregating" themselves! Beyond that, none of the fifteen has a background in education reporting—and dear God, how it does seem to show!
Whatever! That sentence today is laugh-out-loud faux, but it's also an insult to journalism. So is the recurrent claim about where Gotham's schools rank among the nation's most segregated, whatever that term is supposed to mean in the present context—and we'll guarantee you that the editors could neither explain that point nor cite the source of their claim.
That pseudo-sentence today is parodic, but so, we'd have to say, was Saturday's scolding news report, live and direct from South Orange and Maplewood, New Jersey.
In that case, the news division had sent someone out to report on the segregation which had been spotted in those adjoining locales. As we noted yesterday, the reporter in question was Kimiko de Freytas-Tamura, who prepped at Lycee International de Saint-Germain-en-Laye and doesn't have a background in education reporting herself.
It isn't de Freytas-Tamura's fault that she was sent on this mission. That said, we think the report she produced helps us consider an important anthropological point:
How do we humans start to behave at times of substantial tribal division and resulting cultural stress? What happens to the "rationality" for which our vastly self-impressed species has long claimed to be famous?
When de Freytas-Tamura met Maplewood, a bit of truth was perhaps revealed about the actual nature of our floundering species. By way of full disclosure, top anthropologists have helped us place last weekend's report in its proper context.
Aristotle to the side, what are we humans actually like? The Times' Maplewood monologue may help us see, though we'll have to postpone till tomorrow.
Tomorrow: "Academically three grades behind," the puzzled reporter said