The reason for which should be clear: Yesterday morning, the New York Times ran a fascinating op-ed column by a pair of professors.
The column appeared in the hard-copy Times; it concerned the interests of black kids. For that reason, the column has been completely ignored. Your favorite liberals haven’t discussed it, and they never will.
Intentionally or otherwise, our favorites have been pushing a lot of our buttons this week. They've fed us a steady diet of outrages, real and imagined, concerning events in the South.
Unfortunately, our favorite liberals don’t give a rat’s ascot about black kids. There’s no sign they ever will.
Yesterday’s column appeared beneath this headline:
“Is Special Education Racist?”
Incredibly, even the R-bomb couldn’t pique the interest of our favorite liberals! Special ed is so déclassé! Who could possibly care about that?
(In fairness, your favorites are not alone. The column garnered just 97 comments from Times readers. By way of contrast, the column in which Roxane Gay condescended to those Charleston rubes racked up 885.)
What did the professors argue in their column? Unfortunately, the professors make a complex bevy of points. Their basic thesis can be found here:
MORGAN AND FARKAS (6/24/15): The belief that black children are overrepresented in special education is driving some misguided attempts at policy changes. To flag supposed racial bias in special-education placement, the United States Department of Education is thinking of adopting a single standard for all states of what is an allowable amount of overrepresentation of minority children.The piece details a depressing set of risk factors to which black kids are disproportionately exposed. But who could possibly care about that when a great flag hunt is on?
If well-intentioned but misguided advocates succeed in arbitrarily limiting placement in special education based on racial demographics, even more black children with disabilities will miss out on beneficial services.
Black children face double jeopardy when it comes to succeeding in school. They are far more likely to be exposed to the gestational, environmental and economic risk factors that often result in disabilities. Yet black children are less likely to be told they have disabilities, and to be treated for them, than otherwise similar white children.
If you care about actual kids, you can read the piece. That said, you’ll never see the authors’ claims discussed or assessed at any major site.
Now for a different approach! In this morning’s New York Times, Nicholas Kristof wrote a column which blended the current flag hunt with comments about public schools.
He started, as he often does, stressing his own moral greatness.
No, we aren’t making this up—and it isn’t clear that this passage was meant as a joke. In fairness, this isn’t the start of the column:
KRISTOF (6/25/15): Suppose American women waved flags of Lorena Bobbitt, who reacted to domestic abuse in 1993 by severing her husband’s penis and throwing it into a field? The aim wouldn’t be to approve of sexual mutilation, of course—but Bobbitt’s subsequent acquittal was a landmark in the recognition of domestic violence!In fairness, three other examples were less absurd although, we would say, not a whole lot more helpful, unless we’re mainly trying to Keep Regional Rancor Alive.
Well, you get the point. That’s how the Confederate battle flag looked to many of us...
Eventually, Kristof began listing additional efforts we can make, now that Bobbitt has been banned from various states’ license plates. He hurried through some familiar remarks about low-income schools and the kids who attend them:
KRISTOF: More consequential than that flag is our flawed system of school finance that perpetuates inequity. Black students in America are much less likely than whites to attend schools offering advanced science and math courses.Kristof’s work on public schools often strikes us as dilettante-ish, perhaps even tilting toward simple-minded.
So I’m all for celebrating the drawing down of the Confederate battle flag, but now let’s pivot from symbolic moves to substantial ones.
That means, for example, early childhood programs, which offer the most cost-effective interventions to create a more even starting line. These include home visitation, high-quality preschool and literacy programs.
A Stanford University randomized trial examined a simple, inexpensive program called Ready4K!, which simply sent three text messages a week to parents to encourage them to read to their preschoolers—and it was astonishingly successful. Parents read more to children, who then experienced learning gains—and this was particularly true of black and Hispanic children. And because this was text messaging, the cost was less than $1 a family for the whole school year.
Today, he rushed his work even more than usual, thanks to the time spent on You Know Who’s you-know-what. That said, his educational nuggets may have left readers feeling good, thanks to the mandated reference to a program which has allegedly been “astonishingly successful.”
People like Kristof have been typing such anecdotes since the 1960s. Such anecdotes leave the upper-class reader with a bounce in his step—with the sense that simple solutions are sitting out there, just waiting to be applied.
Was Reading4K! really “astonishingly successful?” If so, how successful is that? Kristof doesn’t say, and no one you see on cable TV is ever going to ask.
Concerning these dueling columns, let’s offer a few quick points:
Black kids are scoring much higher, in reading and math, than was true a few decades ago. On its face, this is important good news.
That said, it’s virtually impossible to learn this important fact from writers like Kristof or from newspapers like the New York Times.
You really have to hate black kids to keep that fact a secret. For what it’s worth, that improvement has been earned despite the obstacles listed by Morgan and Farkas—and a substantial “achievement gap” still exists, due to the fact that white kids are scoring higher in reading and math as well.
Is the achievement gap mainly due to “our flawed system of school finance?” We’d say it pretty much is not. But you will never see the column, the broadcast or the report which thoroughly thrashes out such questions. Simply put, the press corps doesn’t care, not even on our own “liberal” channel.
In truth, our heroes don’t seem to care about black kids very much. Even in this heroic week of the flag, few things could be more clear.
For extra credit only: “Black students in America are much less likely than whites to attend schools offering advanced science and math courses?”
We all know how we’re supposed to react to that statement. We’re supposed to say, “If we simply provided the funding, low-income kids could take advanced math classes too!”
We aren’t supposed to ask this question: “Due in part to the obstacles cited by the two professors, how many kids in those low-income schools wouldn’t quality for those advanced math courses?”
Those anecdotes help make us feel good about our educational challenges. We’ve been reading such anecdotes in our major newspapers for the past 45 years.