Part 1—It involves disappearing the gaps: The New York Times is deeply invested in "desegregation."
The paper seems less interested in Gotham's giant achievement gaps, and in the hundreds of thousands of good, decent kids those gaps define and affect.
(With a few screwballs thrown in.)
When we've spoken about "desegregation" in recent weeks, we've been speaking about "desegregation" of the New York City Public Schools, the nation's largest school system. We've especially spoken about the proposed "desegregation" of the "highly selective middle schools" of the school system's District 3, which covers part of Manhattan.
This week, we'll add a related matter. We'll be discussing Mayor de Blasio's new proposed plan for the city's eight (or nine) "specialized high schools," the elite, sometimes famous schools to which admission is gained, at the end of eighth grade, by taking a one-day test.
Let's start by recalling this:
As we've noted on several occasions, there's only so much "desegregation" you can perform in a giant, sprawling school system whose student population is only 15 percent white.
On the other hand, the system's giant achievement gaps affect the bulk of the city's million students. Those gaps affect the nation itself. They affect all those students' lives.
At any given time, only two percent of New York City's students are enrolled at one of those "specialized" high schools. By way of contrast, well over half a million kids, in all grades, stand on the brutally short end of the city's giant achievement gaps.
The Times, so in love with the two percent, doesn't seem real invested in them.
Due to a mission of national import, we'll only be posting four days this week. During those four days, we'll be looking at several intriguing proposals concerning our biggest school district.
We'll continue looking at District 3's proposed plan to "desegregate" its "highly selective middle schools." We'll also look at some of the stranger aspects of such proposals citywide—proposals Winnie Hu described, without analysis or comment, in this wonderfully strange news report last week.
Beyond that, we'll be looking at Mayor de Blasio's plan for the specialized high schools. You've actually heard of some of these schools. Some of these schools are famous:
New York City's "specialized high schools:"To gain admission to one of those schools, a student has to take a a single, one-day, high-stakes exam—Gotham's own Specialized High School Admissions Test. (To attend LaGuardia, the student must also perform an audition.)
The Bronx High School of Science
The Brooklyn Latin School
Brooklyn Technical High School
High School of Mathematics, Science and Engineering at the City College of New York
High School of American Studies at Lehman College
Queens High School for the Sciences at York College
Staten Island Technical High School
Stuyvesant High School
LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts
Some of those schools are famous; they teach advanced courses of study. For generations, New York's leaders have emerged from those elite schools—but dating at least to the 1960s, those schools have exhibited a type of problem.
Jim Dwyer described this problem in his column in Saturday's Times, perhaps disappearing the gaps a tad along the way. As he started, he linked to a recent essay by the mayor at the education web site, Chalkbeat.
Over at Chalkbeat, de Blasio's essay appears beneath this headline:
Mayor Bill de Blasio: Our specialized schools have a diversity problem. Let’s fix it.At least he didn't say "desegregation," the way the Times always does.
The mayor wants to fix the diversity problem at those high-powered high schools. That sounds like a good idea to us—but along the way, he almost seemed to disappear, perhaps even misstate, the problem of the gaps.
If you keep choosing to disappear a problem, when will you ever try to address it? We tend to regard such essays with contempt. Tomorrow, we'll start to say why.
Tomorrow: Is the mayor perhaps engaged in a small tiny bit of deception?