Nobody cares about black kids: During this latest press corps stampede, the posing, posturing, pretending and preening can get pretty silly at times.
These upper-end news orgs today! Entities which have never given given a fig about race suddenly care about nothing else. For a clownish example, consider the decision to publish this hard-hitting opinion column in today's New York Times.
The column appears in the hard-copy Times. Presumably, it was published to let us know how deeply this newspaper cares.
The column discusses an utterly pointless "issue." Until recently, the topic would have been seen as highly marginal even in a newspaper's sports section.
The column discusses an utterly marginal topic. But dear lord, how the New York Times cares!
We'll confess that we had a similar reaction to a recent editorial in the Washington Post.
Unlike today's opinion column, that editorial involved an extremely important topic—but the piece struck us as reprehensible. Posturing headline included, the posturing started like this:
WASHINGTON POST EDITORIAL (7/28/20): A Virginia school shows that racial inequities aren’t confined to the justice systemAs the editorial notes, Jefferson High is found in large and populous Fairfax County, part of D.C.'s high-income Virginia suburbs.
Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology has offered admission to the class of 2024 to 486 students. Want to know how many of those students are black? Fairfax County officials won’t say, but the number is so small—fewer than 10—that officials claim its disclosure could lead to potentially personally identifiable information about individual students. That tells you all you need to know about the system’s abject failure to expand educational opportunities to students of color.
The pitiable numbers—African American students make up about 10 percent of Fairfax’s public school system—are a stark reminder that the racial inequities that have been the subject of unprecedented national protest are not confined to the criminal justice system. Education is supposed to be a great equalizer, which makes its failings all the more pernicious.
"Judged by household median income, Fairfax County is among the highest-income counties in the country, and was first on that list for many years," the leading authority on the county has written.
Beyond that, the county's households spill with the highly-educated types who serve in federal agencies, think tanks and universities. The county's public school system is the nation's tenth largest, but Jefferson High is also open to students from four adjacent (high-income) counties and from the (high-income) city of Falls Church, Virginia.
In short, Jefferson High draws its students from a very large, very high-SES population. It's very hard to gain admission to each year's freshman class.
That said, Jefferson High isn't ruled by the region's highest-achieving white kids.
Almost surely, the Post's editorial will convey that impression, but it isn't true. The editors could have learned that fact from this recent analysis piece in their own Washington Post:
NATANSON (7/3/20): There are 486 students in Thomas Jefferson’s incoming freshman class. Seventy-three percent are of Asian heritage, and slightly more than 17 percent are white. There are 16 Hispanic students, equivalent to roughly 3 percent of the incoming class.According to last year's official Census Bureau estimate, Fairfax County's overall population is 50.0% white, 20.1% Asian-American.
The exact number of black students is unclear. The asterisk on the data set indicates the number is fewer than 10...
The Fairfax County Public Schools are 38.5 percent white, 25.9 percent Hispanic, 19.6 percent Asian and 10 percent black. We don't know what the numbers would be for kids of high school age throughout the counties whose kids can apply to Jefferson.)
Asian-Americans constitute 20% of the county's population. But despite that smaller overall number, high-achieving Asian-American kids earn almost three-fourths of all admissions to Jefferson High!
Despite accounting for half the country's population, white households account for only 17 percent of admissions. Black and Hispanic kids gain admission in very small numbers.
You'll note that the Post editorial doesn't even mention this aspect of Jefferson's enrollment pattern. A reader might think that white kids are getting all the seats, which black and Hispanic kids getting kicked to the curb.
A reader will likely get that impression. In fairness, that is Storyline.
As we've noted in the past, this same situation obtains in New York City, where high-achieving Asian kids dominate admission offers to Stuyvesant High, the city's most competitive academic high school. There's one major difference, however:
In New York City, those Asian kids, and their families, are insulted and slandered, in the ugliest ways, by staff of the New York Times. In Washington, a kinder, gentler regime prevails:
When the Post complains about the lack of seats for black and Hispanic kids, those high-achieving Asian kids are simply disappeared! This lets the editors tell the story which Storyline demands:
White kids are in and black kids are out! Also, Post editors care!
So it goes! So it goes as our journalistic slumlords change us our daily rents.
For ourselves, we've never seen the slightest sign that the editors care, at the Post or the Times. With these basic points of background established, let's consider what the Post said in Tuesday's editorial:
In our view, the lower performance of black and Hispanic kids should be a point of major concern. In our view, that lower performance is part of the ongoing backwash to our nation's brutal racial history, dating back to the magical date—1619—next to which the modern-day Times preens and postures.
That lower performance by good, decent kids should be a point of concern. In fairness, it has been a point of feigned concern perhaps since the mid-1960s. Today, that feigned concern expresses itself in one of the phoniest sentences ever composed:
"That [small number of admissions for black kids] tells you all you need to know about the system’s abject failure to expand educational opportunities to students of color."
Heinous! In fact, that small number tells you nothing about the way our nation's "achievement gaps" have been formed.
It tells you nothing about the degree of responsibility which can sensibly be charged to the Fairfax County schools. It tells you nothing about what our various institutions, including our schools, might do to address those gaps.
Beyond that, it tells you nothing about what might be done in the first few days, and the first few years of life of the children in question. It tells you nothing about what could be done in the years before a child ever sets foot in a school.
Those numbers tell you nothing useful; the editors say nothing useful. That's because the editors don't seem to know a whole lot, and don't much seem to care.
Consider the earlier analysis piece from which we drew Jefferson's admission figures. Astoundingly, that lengthy piece was written by Hannah Natanson, a very young journalist with exactly zero background in education reporting.
None of what follows is Natanson's fault. That said, what follows is true:
Who the heck is Hannah Natanson? Good God! She's exactly one year out of college, having graduated from Harvard in June of last year.
Did we mention the fact that she has no background—zero; none—in education reporting? When the Post sent this inexperienced kid to report on so important a topic, the paper was showing its utter contempt for every black kid who ever lived.
Natanson brought one great talent to that assignment; as with many very young journalists, she knows current Storyline. With some editor's consent, or possibly at some editor's urging, she played the Jefferson enrollment figures as a black v. white issue, as today's Storyline requires.
The editors preened the exact same way, all the while letting us see how very much they care. As they continued, they offered this. Phoniness rarely gets phonier:
WASHINGTON POST EDITORIAL (continuing directly): The racial and social composition of Thomas Jefferson has never, since its opening in 1985, come close to reflecting the racial and economic composition of the Northern Virginia communities from which it draws students. Each year, when stories are written about the scant numbers of black and Latino students and those from poor and low-income households, there is hand-wringing by school officials. But promises to do better and tweaks to the admission policies invariably fall short.In that passage, the editors assail those slacker school officials. In this way, the editors show us how much more they care.
Indeed, from the highlighted sentence, a reader might get the impression that the Washington Post has been attacking this matter year after year after year.
Using Google, we found no evidence on any such report or editorial over the previous two school years, whether in 2018 or in 2019. How many past years do we have to check before we conclude that the editors are feigning concern this year because of a current stampede—in response to Storyline?
At the start of our adult life, we spent the bulk of twelve years teaching fifth grade in the Baltimore City Schools. From that day to this, we're not sure we've ever seen a serious attempt, in the Post or the Times, to discuss the sorts of things which may impact the achievement levels, and the day-to-day happiness, of this nation's very large number of very good decent "black" kids.
In fact, nobody cares about black kids at all. We've noted this fact many times.
We've seen no sign that anyone cares at the Post or the Times—or, perhaps, that anyone is bright enough to know how to care. At present, though, a stampede is on:
Beware of Storyline.
Monday: Back to that disproportion in shooting deaths