TIMES AND SCHOOLS: How severe is New York City's crisis?

SATURDAY, MAY 21, 2022

A, B and C, long ago: Long ago and far away, we were teaching fifth and sixth graders in the Baltimore City Schools.

We started in the fall of 1969; we left in the early 1980s. We came for the draft deferment, left because the time had come when we pretty much had to.

Along the way, we spent seven full years teaching fifth and sixth grades. We also spent two full years teaching junior high math, with time off for research endeavors.

In the grade school years, we generally taught the kids who were judged to be farthest "behind." Some of these kids really were far "behind." In some cases, we didn't know how they'd received that designation.

In some of these cases, the kids in question had already repeated one or two grades. They were fifth or sixth graders by designation, but they might be eighth graders by age—and they might be reading on (something like) "third grade level."

(You can't measure a child's "reading level" the same way you can measure her height. Also, test scores are higher today.)

These kids hadn't grown up in "high-literacy" homes. As a general matter, they hadn't had the types of reading experiences which are enjoyed by children from higher literacy homes—experiences which may begin before the new-born child even comes home from the hospital.

One of the interesting things about growing older involves the surprises you may experience as you remember the people you've known along the way. Somewhat oddly, we remember some of those fifth and sixth grade kids as some of the best people we've ever known.

In the past, we've mentioned three girls—A, B and C—who we taught for both fifth and sixth grades. By this time, we had come to believe that the best way for kids to learn to read and write was by doing a lot of reading and writing, so we would spend time, every day, just letting everybody do that, in whatever manner they chose.

Often, they were reading paperback books we had bought ourselves, generally six at a time. These were books about more mature subjects written on accessible "reading levels."

In the past, we've described some of the things we saw during those sessions. For example:

We would see A, B and C sitting together in a small circle, gravely listening to one another as they took turns reading aloud from one of these high-interest books. (A readable biography of Florence Nightingale comes to mind.)

A few years later, B asked us for help with a terrible personal matter. (As it turned out, there was nothing we could do, or at least that's what we decided.) Some years after that, A telephoned us out of the blue, telling us what was going on with other kids from that class.

When we look back on A, B and C, we can still see them sitting in their reading circle, having the kind of experience, at age 13, that other kids have at much earlier ages. Especially in the case of A and B, we think of them as two of the best people we've ever known.

It's odd to think about people so young in that way. But our memory breaks through to let us know what we actually saw way back then.

Due to our nation's brutal racial history; due to our nation's unfortunate class structure; some kids grow up having a bevy of reading experiences. Other kids do not. 

Except for the kids who lose their way, they're all good, decent kids. Similar good and decent kids are found all over the world.

At the New York Times (and elsewhere), our tribe doesn't pay a lot of attention to the interests of these good, decent kids. 

At the Times, they produce highly performative front-page reports about the interests of the top few percent. Good, decent kids like A, B and C rarely make the cut. 

When a new mayor suggests a new plan to address the needs of those kids, the Times assigns an inexperienced non-specialist to report on the mayor's proposal. Little experience or expertise is brought to bear in reporting the new mayor's new plan.

(This isn't that young reporter's doing or fault.)

Our tribe is convinced that we're the good, decent, very smart people. The Others are known to be deplorable, irredeemable—racist, misogynist, stupid.

According to legions of major experts, this is a classic human mistake. According to experts, our brains are wired to produce such beliefs at times of tribal conflict.

How bad is the "literary crisis" the new mayor's plan is (said to be) designed to "turn around?" Also, is there any serious reason to think that the new mayor's plan could or will accomplish any such task?

At the Times, you'll never find out! The New York Times [HEART] the kids who might get into Stuyvesant High, then move on to Yale. 

The Times shows every few signs of caring about kids like A, B and C.

Unless they can posture about "segregation," the New York Times doesn't ask us to think about the needs of those millions of kids. The Times likes to perform about "segregation"—and it likes kids who might end up at Yale, especially if they aren't of Asian descent.

A, B and C weren't headed for Yale! B, who is no longer living, spent her (somewhat shortened) adult life as a home health care worker.

Back when she was in sixth grade, she was eighth grade by age. She was bigger than a lot of the other kids and she was a Jehovah's Witness.

She took a lot of teasing. This badly hurt her gentle sensibility.

Also, she sat in a circle with A and C, listening gravely as three girls took turns having a series of belated reading experiences. Those three girls were very good people. 

How bad is the crisis in New York City? How do kids in New York City compare to their peers from around the state of New York? To their peers from around the nation?

You'll rarely read about such boring topics in the New York Times. Next week, we'll show you the data from the 2019 Naep and we'll answer as best we can.

Our tribe doesn't much care about A, B and C. Also, very few members of our tribe are aware of this ongoing fact.


Nothing that's said won't be good enough!

FRIDAY, MAY 20, 2022

Carlson tackles replacement: Last Tuesday night, Tucker Carlson offered his take on the so-called "great replacement theory." At one point, he said this:

CARLSON (5/17/22): You've heard a lot about the great replacement theory recently. It's everywhere in the last two days and we're still not sure exactly what it is. 

Here's what we do know for a fact. There is a strong political component to the Democratic Party's immigration policy. We're not guessing this. We know this, and we know it because they have said so.  

They've said it again and again and again. They've written books on it and monographs and magazine articles. They have bragged about it endlessly. They talk about it on cable news constantly, and they say out loud, "We are doing this because it helps us to win elections."

That's not something that is said once. It's something they've gloated about again and again and again and we think that's wrong and in case you doubt us, here they are. 

To read the transcript or watch the tape, you can just click here.

Are the highlighted statements true? Is there, or has there ever been, some sort of "strong political component to the Democratic Party's immigration policy?"

If so, what is that political component? And when have "they"—presumably, Democratic officials and office holders—actually said so out loud? Who has written the books and the articles bragging about this (alleged) component of policy?  

We don't doubt that there may have been some such political component to Democratic policy thinking, but it's Carlson who's making the claim. He said that Democrats "have gloated about it again and again and again."

After that, he played videotape of four alleged examples.

He played tape of Stacey Abrams, of Julian Castro, of Dick Durbin and even Joe Biden (on C-Span in 2015). At this point in the monologue, Biden was offered to viewers as Carlson's fourth and final example. Here's the way it went down:

BIDEN (videotape): An unrelenting stream of immigration, nonstop, nonstop. Folks like me, who are Caucasian, of European descent, for the first time in 2017 will be in an absolute minority in the United States of America, absolute minority. 

Fewer than 50% of the people in America from then on will be white European stock. That's not a bad thing. That's a source of our strength.  

CARLSON (laughing): So you play clips of them saying it, and you're the deranged conspiracy nut!

You aren't required to agree with or to like what Biden said. But where did he say, let alone "brag," that Democratic immigration policy was somehow being affected by some demographics-based political assessment?

Answer: Biden didn't say any such thing in that videotaped statement! Did Carlson believe that he did? 

We don't know how to answer that question, but you can feel fairly sure that some of Carlson's viewers believed that they had just seen Biden making some such statement. At times like these, we're all inclined to hear the things we came in wanting to hear, or to hear the things our tribal leaders tell us that we just heard.

In fact, none of those four Democratic officials actually said, in the tape Carlson played, that their party's immigration policy was being affected by the desire to change the political balance of the electorate.

That doesn't mean that Carlson's original claim might not be true in some respect. It means that, when Carlson gave four (4) examples of Democrats allegedly saying that and bragging about it, none of the Democrats actually said any such thing.

Later in his monologue, Carlson cited several magazine articles from 2013 in which journalists seemed to say that the immigration reform package of the day was going to make Democrats unbeatable in future elections. 

One of these essays came from Politico. The other came from the Center for American Progress, a Democratic-aligned think tank.

Those writers did seem to say that the proposed immigration reform of that day would be a massive political boon for future Democrats. But those writers weren't Democratic officials, and even they weren't directly saying that Democratic policy had been shaped by the desire to affect future elections.

Is there now, or has there ever been, a political component to Democratic Party immigration policy? We'd be surprised if the answer was no, just as we'd be surprised to learn that there has never been a "low wages for business owners" component to Republican immigration policy.

Having said that, we'll also say this:

We've reached the point where any purported bit of evidence will be "close enough for Storyline work" for tribal true believers. We wish that practice only obtained among the reds, but we increasingly see that sort of behavior all over blue cable too.

Nothing that's said won't be good enough. If it's said by our tribunes, it's true!


TIMES AND SCHOOLS: New York City's proficiency rates!

FRIDAY, MAY 20, 2022

Let's take a look at the record(s): Long ago and far away, we performed at an annual meeting of Baltimore City teachers.

Or was it teachers from the whole state of Maryland? Actually, we think it was, but we can't exactly recall.

We were no longer a Baltimore City Public Schools teacher ourselves. Operating now as a comedian, we joked about the various "simple solutions" we Baltimore teachers had been encountering over the past dozen years.

We'll briefly recall that moment below. First, let's focus on an important question:

How serious is the "literary crisis" Mayor Eric Adams is (said to be) hoping to "turn around?"

In a recent report in the New York Times, a young reporter framed the situation that way. The mayor had proposed a plan "to turn around a literacy crisis in New York City," she inexpertly said.

Four paragraphs later, this young reporter described the shape and the size of the "crisis." Once again, and for the last time, this is what she wrote:

New York [City] is facing a literacy crisis: Fewer than half of all third to eighth graders and just 36 percent of Black and Latino students were proficient on the state reading exams administered in 2019, the most recent year for which there is data. Research suggests that the coronavirus pandemic has only worsened those outcomes.

Fewer than half of Gotham's kids were proficient on the 2019 reading exams, the young reporter said. And not only that:

Thanks to the pandemic, things are believed to be worse today. Black and Hispanic kids seemed to have the lowest rates of proficiency back in 2019.

Question! Does it make sense to suppose that Mayor Adams can "turn [that situation] around?" Also this:

In the vast sweep of things, just how severe is that crisis?

The New York Times rarely bothers itself with questions of that type. The famous and famously upper-class newspaper rarely assigns itself the task of defining the shape and the size of this problem. 

Today and tomorrow, we'll try to show you some basic data—data from the annual New York State exams, but also from the National Assessment of Education Progress (Naep), the federally-run program which is considered to be the gold standard of domestic educational testing.

What is the shape and the size of New York City's "crisis?" Below, we'll run you through the types of information you'll never find in the New York Times, which routinely restricts its focus to kids who might end up at Yale.

We'll start with the annual New York State exams—the exams which Lola Fadulu cited in her report for the Times.

The New York State exams

Fewer than half of New York City students were proficient on the state reading exams in 2019, Fadulu noted in her lengthy report.

As best we can tell, that's an accurate statement. (It's amazingly hard to find full data sets from New York City for this annual testing program.) That said, we should quickly add this:

Across the entire state of New York, the proficiency rate seems to have been slightly lower than it was in New York City. New York City's proficiency rate trumped that of the state as a whole!

At this official site, the state of New York reports that the proficiency rate for the entire state stood at 45 percent. In Gotham, the overall proficiency rate was slightly higher. 

In Gotham, the proficiency rate on the 2019 reading exam seems to have been 47.4 percent. That is indeed "fewer than half," but it's slightly higher than the proficiency rate for the state as a whole. 

And not only that! If you "disaggregate" those test results—if you look at the proficiency rates for different groups of kids by ethnicity and race—then Gotham's kids tended to outperform their peers across the state in those measures too. At the Manhattan Institute, Ray Domanico broke it down as shown:

DOMANICO (3/26/20): Students in every racial group in NYC traditional public or charter schools outperform their peers in the rest of the state.

[...]

In traditional public schools, white students in New York City score well above white students in the rest of the state. Other racial groups do better in NYC than in the rest of the state by smaller margins than white students.

That may not be what a subscriber might be inclined to suspect. As best we can tell from the scattershot availability of reliable data, Domanico's account is fully accurate, at least as far as it goes.

That said, several problems lurk. For starters, this doesn't erase the "achievement gaps" found within these data. Here are the proficiency rates for different groups of kids in the New York City Public Schools:

Proficiency rates, 2019 statewide reading exams
New York City Public Schools, Grades 3-8
White kids: 66.6%
Black kids: 35.0%
Hispanic kids: 36.5%
Asian ancestry kids: 67%

Those are the data on which Fadulu drew in her brief account of the "literacy crisis" the city is facing—the literary crisis the mayor's new plan is (said to be) designed to "turn around."

Is there any reason to believe that the mayor's plan might accomplish something like that? We're going to guess that the answer is no, for reasons we'll touch on below.

Now for a few other problems:

A significant number of parents across the state of New York refuse to let their kids take the annual statewide exams. Our guess would be this:

Those refusals may tend to tilt the results of the statewide tests in the favor of Gotham's kids.

With that in mind, we'll turn to results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, the federally-run testing program we mentioned above. 

On the Naep. the bar for proficiency is set a good deal higher than on the New York State exams. (In the end, these are always subjective assessments.) 

Some experts have said that the bar for "proficiency" on the Naep is set artificially high. Keeping that assessment in mind, we'll show you Grade 8 proficiency rates from the 2019 Naep for New York City, for New York State, and for the nation's public schools as a whole.

We'll present those data tomorrow. As you will be able to see, Gotham's kids will no longer be outperforming their statewide peers in every case. Also, they won't be outperforming their counterparts nationwide in every case, though in general they'll come fairly close.

While we're at it, please remember this:

In the end, "proficiency" is a subjective assessment. You can't measure a student's "reading proficiency" in the same precise and "objective" way you can measure his height and his weight. 

That said, the achievement gaps are still visible, and are quite substantial, in the Naep reading data. This is part of a long-standing American "literary crisis" which does, in fact, need to be "turned around."

Evening at the Teachers' Meeting: a comedy performance

Long ago and far away, we entertained a group of Baltimore City and (we think) Maryland public school teachers. 

If memory serves, the commissioner was there. She was quite good-natured and gracious.

We joked about the endless array of miracle cures which urban teachers of that era had been asked to negotiate—the endless array of programs designed to "turn around" our nation's public school problems.

We recall joking about the one-year reign of "open classrooms"—the weird idea that there shouldn't be any actual walls between kids in different classrooms. 

That revolutionary idea came and went within the space of a single year. From there, it was on to the next miracle cure. And yes, the audience laughed.

Over the past sixty years, many proposals have come and come—proposals designed to "turn around" the deeply engrained shortcomings in our public schools. In the modern era, newspapers like the New York Times no longer seem to care about matters like this, or about the vast number of good, decent kids who are involved, through no fault of their own, in this undesirable situation.

Mayor Adams has made a proposal. We applaud him for his interest in the vast array of Gotham's kids, as opposed to the top few percent.

That said, no experienced person with an ounce of sense would accept his proposal at face value. The fact that his intentions seem to be pure doesn't mean that his ideas are sound.

Meanwhile, sure enough! When the mayor released his plan, the New York Times assigned a young non-specialist to report on the proposal. 

Lola Fadulu is very bright; as far as we have ever heard, she's done everything right in her life. But the Times was showing its endless disdain for Gotham's kids when it made that assignment.

Is there  any reason to think that the mayor's proposal can "turn around" New York City's public schools?

History suggests that the answer is no—that experienced and savvy people should function here as skeptics.  On the brighter side, you won't likely be asked to encounter such downers in the New York Times (or in the Washington Post).

When it comes to New York City's schools, the New York Times writes about the top few percent—the kids who might end up at Yale, or maybe just at Brown.

It throws the rest of the students away. This pattern is quite well established. 

We've never seen a "career liberal" journalist say even one word about this journalistic preference. Dearest darlings, use your heads! It simply isn't done!

In part, this is who, and this is what, our self-impressed, endlessly moralizing blue tribe really is. 

We care about black kids when they get shot (but only when they get shot by policemen). Other than that, we pay such good and decent kids amazingly little mind.

This doesn't mean that we're bad people over here in our tribe. It simply means that we're people people. 

It tends to suggest that, in the end, our treasured journalistic elites just don't ginormously care. They do like to entertain and edify us with endless dreck like this:

In Court, Johnny Depp and Amber Heard Dress to Suggest

None of this is Fadulu's fault. This is in no way her doing.

Tomorrow: For whatever it may be worth, proficiency rates from the Naep


When are "white people" like a mass killer?

THURSDAY, MAY 19, 2022

Our blue tribe's Pizzagate crowd: Recent years have supplied a punishing anthropology lesson.

The red tribe has painfully taught us this: 

At times of tribal dislocation, there's no claim that makes so little sense that millions won't believe it. You can start with the Pizzagate lunacy, move on to the stolen election.

Our own blue tribe is starting to teach a painful related lesson. Consider the headline which sat atop the featured report at Slate this very morning:

What Everyday White Americans and the Buffalo Shooter Have in Common

That's what the headline on the featured essay said.

Question! Just how much do "everyday people" have in common with an 18-year-old mass killer? We'd be inclined to start with this question:

How many "everyday white Americans" have shot and killed ten people in recent days?

The answer, of course, would be just one—but then again, so what? Letting his love and his wisdom show, Professor Matthew W. Hughey arranges to come up with this right in his second paragraph:

HUGHEY (5/18/22): Over the past several years, a half-dozen white supremacists committed acts of violence under the belief that their country belongs to white people and they must suppress any risk of replacement by force. This delusion led Anders Breivik to kill 77 people in Norway in 2011 and inspired Frazier Glenn Miller Jr. to kill three people outside of a Jewish community center in Kansas in 2014. Elliot Rodger espoused the same notion in 2014 when he killed six people in Santa Barbara, California. So did Dylann Roof before he killed nine parishioners in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015. Patrick Crusius, who killed 23 people in a Walmart in El Paso in 2019, and Brenton Tarrant, who killed 51 worshippers in Christchurch, New Zealand, in 2019, also composed and shared lengthy white supremacist screeds. 

As he starts, Professor Hughey says that he's talking about the past "several" years. By the time he's done, he's talking about the past twelve years—and, in order to pad his numbers, he has to include an everyday white person from Norway and another everyday white person from New Zealand.

Breaking! If you're from Norway or New Zealand, then you actually aren't an "everyday white American." This means that Professor Hughey has identified four (4) everyday white Americans who behaved in much the same way the Buffalo shooter did, over the course of the past dozen (or more) years.

Needless to say, that's four people too many. But in his screeching, unintelligent rhetoric, Professor Hughey—and whoever decided to publish his essay at Slate—becomes our own tribe's equivalent of the lost souls who believed that Hillary Clinton had a bunch of children locked up in the basement of that pizza restaurant.

The crazy rhetoric emerges from Slate and serves to make everything worse. The crazies in the other tribe see their worst suspicions confirmed. Tucker takes over from there.

Meanwhile, let's take a look at the record:

Setting infants and children aside, there are well over 100 million "everyday white Americans" crawling about on the land. Very few such people ever have, or ever will, engage in conduct anything like the conduct the Buffalo shooter authored.

Don't tell that to Professor Hughey, who is one of Ours. Professor Hughey is one of the people who are increasingly making it clear that, at times of societal breakdown, there's nothing so dumb that it won't be loudly and dumbly screeched, by our tribe if not by theirs.

Who the Harold Hill is Professor Hughey? We began to suspect, some years ago, that our nation might not be able to survive biographies like this from our own tribe's exalted "thought leaders:"

Matthew Windust Hughey is an American sociologist known for his work on race and racism. He is Professor of Sociology at the University of Connecticut, where he is also an adjunct faculty member in the Africana Studies Institute; American Studies Program; Institute for Collaboration on Health, Intervention, & Policy; Sustainable Global Cities Initiative, and; graduate certificate program in Indigeneity, Race, Ethnicity, & Politics. His work has included studying whiteness, race and media, race and politics, racism and racial assumptions within genetic and genomic science, and racism and racial identity in white and black American fraternities and sororities.

He first came to national attention for his book White Bound: Nationalists, Antiracists, and the Shared Meanings of Race, originally published in 2012.

Within Professor Hughey's work, everything looks like a nail.

The other tribe has lost its mind. Increasingly, our tribe is catching up. 

These bands of defectives need each other, and they need publications like Slate.


TIMES AND SCHOOLS: How serious is Gotham's "literary crisis?"

THURSDAY, MAY 19, 2022

And does the New York Times care? When the mayor announced a major new plan, the New York Times couldn't be bothered.

More precisely, the New York Times couldn't be bothered to assign an experienced education specialist to report on the mayor's new plan. 

Instead, the Times assigned a bright young "general assignment reporter" to the project. This isn't the doing or fault of that very bright young reporter, but it does reflect the uncaring culture of the paper by whom she's employed

To what extent does the New York Times care about the (roughly) one million kids who attend Gotham's public schools? We'd say the newspaper tends to favor two approaches to this area of concern:

On the one hand, the newspaper seems to favor a policy of benign neglect, in which the only kids who get discussed are the school system's top few percent. 

This approach is augmented by the paper's widely observed "performative antiracism."  In accord with this approach, the only topic which gets discussed is racial imbalance within the system's various schools, a state of affairs the performative paper describes as "segregation."

The newspaper motors on these twin tracks, weekending out in the Hamptons. We've rarely seen a group of people who seemed to care so little about so many good, decent kids—about the toughly one million good, decent kids within their city's public schools.

It was in this context that the Times assigned Lola Fadulu to report on the new mayor's new plan. Fadulu is good and decent and very bright, but she's also very young—and she isn't an education specialist or an experienced education reporter. 

This last fact seemed to scream out at us at the start of last Friday's report:

FADULU (5/13/22): Mayor Eric Adams announced Thursday the details of a plan to turn around a literacy crisis in New York City and, in particular, to serve thousands of children in public schools who may have dyslexia, an issue deeply personal to the mayor, who has said his own undiagnosed dyslexia hurt his academic career.

School officials plan to screen nearly all students for dyslexia, while 80 elementary schools and 80 middle schools will receive additional support for addressing the needs of children with dyslexia. The city will also open two new dyslexia programs—one at P.S. 125 Ralph Bunche in Harlem and the other at P.S. 161 Juan Ponce de Leon in the South Bronx—with a goal of opening similar programs in each borough by 2023.

Officials also plan to train all teachers, and will create a new dyslexia task force. School leaders are requiring school principals to pivot to a phonics-based literacy curriculum, which literacy experts say is the most effective way to teach reading to most children.

“Dyslexia holds back too many of our children in school but most importantly in life,” Mr. Adams said during a press briefing Thursday morning, adding that it “haunts you forever until you can get the proper treatment that you deserve.”

New York is facing a literacy crisis: Fewer than half of all third to eighth graders and just 36 percent of Black and Latino students were proficient on the state reading exams administered in 2019, the most recent year for which there is data. Research suggests that the coronavirus pandemic has only worsened those outcomes.

That's the way the report began. The framework struck us as odd.

Are the New York City Public Schools "facing a literacy crisis?" That's a somewhat peculiar way to describe a situation which has obtained all through our nation's public schools ever since the mainstream world began keeping track of this matter in the 1960s.

The language employed by this young scribe almost makes it sound like this "literary crisis" is some sort of novel event—is something has just recently appeared on the scene. The notion that the mayor is prepared to "turn the crisis around" speaks to the cheerful ignorance which may perhaps accompany an unavoidable lack of experience.

In fact, the "literary crisis" which the mayor is (said to be) planning to "turn around" has dogged the nation's public schools ever since roughly forever. Over the course of the past sixty years, a wide array of simple solutions to this crisis have been brought forward and ballyhooed, and have then been quietly abandoned.

We don't blame Mayor Adams, in any way, for the Pollyannist tinge to the language which animates this description of his new proposal. Nor do we blame the bright young Fadulu, though we do think her framing is odd. 

(Are there any experienced editors at the New York Times?)

Lola Fadulu is a good young person. It's the upper-class newspaper by whom she's employed which has long been at fault.

As far as we know, the New York Times has never had an education specialist on its editorial board. When it does appoint the occasional journalist to serve as lead urban education writer, it may bring the eternal note of nepotism in, naming another young person whose mother has served as foreign editor and deputy executive editor of the Times, and as senior correspondent on gender issues.

Not that there's anything wrong with it! But that's how this newspaper functions.

Out of this unsalted stew comes the scent of benign neglect. In Times reporting, the message about the city's public school students is clear:

If you're headed for Brown, you can stick around! But if you're just black, get back!

We'd planned today to go beyond Fadulu's brief account of the "literary crisis" the mayor is (said to be) planning to "turn around." We don't blame Fadulu for the brevity of that account. If anything, this passage takes us a bit beyond what we normally read in the Times:

New York is facing a literacy crisis: Fewer than half of all third to eighth graders and just 36 percent of Black and Latino students were proficient on the state reading exams administered in 2019, the most recent year for which there is data. Research suggests that the coronavirus pandemic has only worsened those outcomes.

In that passage, Fadulu offers some data from New York's statewide testing in 2019. Her data are quite limited, but they go beyond what one normally finds in the New York Times.

Having said that, let us also say this:

It's amazingly hard to find the data which emerge from New York City on this statewide testing program. 

Almost surely, Gotham's scores on this testing program are somewhat better than you might have suspected or guessed. It's also true that test scores in reading and math had been improving over the past fifty years, in New York City itself and around the nation, although the lordly Times has rarely bothered itself, or its readers, with information of that encouraging type.

At any rate, the New York City Public Schools seems to show little interest in letting the public see the data from the statewide program. Similarly, the New York Times simply motors along, periodically screeching about "segregation" and talking about nothing else.

What kind of "literary crisis" will the mayor's plan encounter? To the extent that it can be measured, Fadulu's report offered a tiny peek at the size of this crisis in question. 

We'd planned to run you through some data today, using performance from the federally-administered National Assessment of Educational Progress as well as from the New York statewide testing program, whose data are more problematic.

That said, we think we'll push that service back to tomorrow. 

The woods are lovely, dark and deep, and the New York City Public Schools are full of good, decent kids. That said, it's depressing to swim in the seas of the New York Times' education reporting. 

That isn't the fault of the young Fadulu. She's a good decent person herself, one of the many kids in our floundering nation who have done everything right.

Tomorrow: A fuller look