GAPS AND PLANS: The editors address "the best schools!"

TUESDAY, JUNE 26, 2018

Part 2—The Others can just go hang:
The New York City Public Schools is divided into 32 or 34 districts, depending on which document you're reading.

For a map of the 32 contiguous geographic districts, you can just click here. But you get the general idea.

District 3 is only one of those 32 contiguous districts. We mention this for a reason.

At present, the New York Times is very excited about a pair of "desegregation plans." One of these plans would "integrate" the middle schools of District 3, one of those 32 districts.

The other plan was lavishly praised in a full-page editorial in yesterday's print editions. This plan would "integrate" eight of New York City's high schools—eight schools, of the more than 400 high schools the giant school system runs.

The editorial ran from the top of yesterday's editorial page all the way to the bottom. Accompanied by a large photograph and two semi-bewildering graphics, it consumed the day's full editorial section.

The editorial ran 1238 words. It appeared beneath this instructive headline:
Integrate New York's Best Schools
So typical! The editors don't want to "integrate" all the schools. Only the schools which are "best!"

It's hard to fathom the moral blindness which puts a headline like that into print. Truly, the editors seem to be out of their silk (sheet)-pickin' minds.

That said, the editorial provides a useful map to the ground of contemporary upper-class pseudo-liberalism. And while we're at it, let us say that those much-maligned Trump voters have been, in this one respect, right.

The editorial helps us see the moral squalor, and the comical blindness, which infests modern elites. In our view, Trump voters are wrong in almost all other ways. But to the extent that they claim that these elites have pursued a fake culture built upon fake values, to that extent they've been right.

(Beware the "Creeping Dowdism," Katherine Boo wrote in 1992. Katherine Boo was painfully right. For excerpts, just click here.)

You can peruse the Times editorial here; for unknown reasons, it still hasn't appeared as part of Monday's "Today's Paper" listings. But before we look at what the editors said, let's return to our own thoughtful remarks about the sweep of the two "desegregation plans" this foppish newspaper currently loves.

The New York Times is deeply in love with this pair of plans. But one of the plans would only affect the middle schools in one of the school system's 32 districts—and even in that handful of schools, it would affect enrollment only to a limited extent.

The second plan which the New York Times loves would "integrate" eight of the city's high schools. When they described this highly limited plan in a June 6 news report, Harris and Hu offered this account of those schools' overall enrollment:
HARRIS AND HU (6/6/18): The specialized schools carry enormous symbolic weight in the city, and a seat in one of them is seen as a glittering prize. They are among the most distinguished schools in the city, some on par with elite and expensive private schools, and they offer a real pathway out of the working class for many families.

Nonetheless, their impact is actually quite narrow. Of the more than 300,000 high school students citywide, just 16,000 attend these schools. And there are many other schools that screen students academically, like Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Manhattan, where just 16 percent of students are black or Hispanic. Sixty-four percent of the students there are white, and just 21 percent of its students are poor.
If those numbers are accurate, the editors want to "integrate" eight high schools out of more than 400. If those numbers are accurate, the schools they want to "integrate" serve something like 5.3% of the city's high school students.

In other words, these lofty "desegregation plans" affect a tiny percentage of this giant school system's students. As they editors posture and preen, they throw the giant majority of New York City Public Schools kids under that big yellow bus—a big yellow bus which gets left in the dust as the editors speed to the Hamptons of a bright, shining June weekend.

In truth, these "desegregation plans" "desegregate" nothing at all. To the extent that they'll change enrollment patterns in a handful of schools, they'll affect very few of this school system's 1.1 million kids.

That said, the New York Times is deeply in love with these overblown plans, one of which is almost comical in certain respects. The editors are in love with those plans—and, as you may already have heard, they refuse to show you this:
Average scores, Grade 8 math, Naep
New York City Public Schools, 2017

White students: 290.71
Black students: 255.63
Hispanic students: 263.56
Asian-American students: 306.03
We keep showing you those scores because the New York Times won't. Later this week, we'll show you the scores for those four groups at the 90th percentile.

Those data come from the National Asssessment of Educational Progress (the Naep), the venerable, federally-run program which is universally described as the gold standard of domestic educational testing.

Judged by a standard, very rough rule of thumb, those data define gigantic achievement gaps between those groups of Gotham kids. Those gaps have punishing consequences—but the editors, fixed on "desegregation," aren't going to bore you with piddle like that.

(Also, data like those are embarrassing. For that reason, they get disappeared.)

The editors are never going to show you data like those. They want to address admission procedures to the "best," most prestigious schools. Everyone else can go hang in the yard. To the editors, nothing else matters.

In our view, yesterday's giant editorial is a conceptual mess. It's also a road map to the mental world of the noxious, upper-class elite which can tell you how to get to sleep on a warm summer's night, but refuses to address the basic needs of the many struggling kids found in their own city's schools.

Tomorrow, we'll take a look at various aspects of that editorial. On Thursday, we'll look at the the District 3 "desegregation" plan. certain aspects of which are almost Onion-level perverse.

For today, we'll finish with yesterday's headline as we cite its two basic parts. In the New York Times print edition, that lofty headline said this:
Integrate New York's Best Schools
That headline constitutes a road map to the editors' minds. We'll direct you to two points:

First, these schools aren't being "integrated" or "desegregated" in any normal sense of those terms. But the central conceit of modern pseudo-liberalism is this:

It's still 1958, and we're bravely marching along next to Dr. King.

Luckily, it isn't 1958. It's June 2018. At present, we liberals are bravely doing exactly nothing at all.

Nothing is being "desegregated" in these ballyhooed plans. But when these posers arrive in the Hamptons, they very much like to pretend.

We also direct you to this. The editors don't even bother to pose about all New York City schools. They only care about the best schools—about their city's prestigious, elite public schools.

Kids in the other schools can just go hang in the yard! This is very much who and what we modern liberals are.

We've been this way for a very long time. As has always been true in the realm of the tribe, we're unable to see this about ourselves—to see this obvious fact.

Tomorrow: What the editors said, including this pitiful quote of the fortnight:
NEW YORK TIMES EDITORIAL (6/25/18): Some opponents of the plan have also said the city should focus on improving education at schools already attended by black and Latino students. (Of course, the city ought to do that, too.)...
"Of course," the editors say. The city should improve education where Those Kids go to school too!

Literally, that's offered as a parenthetical remark—as a mid-paragraph aside! Who except the New York Times could be so perfectly unaware?

So it goes in the world of these amazingly foppish elites. In this one sense, we're forced to say that Trump voters may possibly, on the rare occasion, have perhaps been a tiny bit right.


  1. "Kids in the other schools can just go hang in the yard! This is very much who and what we modern liberals are."

    The point of integrating the so-called best schools is to enable kids in the remaining schools to have a chance to attend them. How is that letting them hang in the yard?

    I find it disgusting that Somerby uses a term like "hang in the yard" to refer to kids who are black and Hispanic. It is a reference to lynching. But Somerby has been getting pretty crude in his old age.

    I would like to see some evidence that the gaps that exist between test scores of white and black students are caused by educational neglect. Since those gaps exist in the earliest tests and close slightly with increased age, it seems to me the schools are addressing the gaps. It also seems to me that they exist from kindergarten, a point at which kids have been unaffected by the public schools. How then are the schools responsible for the gaps?

    It would be nice to have some sort of magic that could improve performance of all kids. But Somerby never explicitly states what the schools are doing wrong, nor does he suggest what else they should do. He only criticizes whatever steps are being done. This one, for example.

    Desegregation of schools is a good idea for social reasons, for reasons related to our aspirations as a democracy with equality of opportunity for all. Even if this is a largely symbolic gesture, it seems like a good idea.

    Somerby pretends he is opposed to the NY Times taking a position and using its pages to influence readers. But is there any truly neutral way to write about anything? Is there any reason a newspaper shouldn't write editorials (opinion pieces) taking a position?

    So I just don't see what has motivated Somerby to harp on this single issue for days now. And I don't see what he has against Hispanic and black kids having greater opportunities in District 3. It isn't as if kids are being mandated to attend any schools.

    1. "So I just don't see what has motivated Somerby...."

      This is because you are clueless and more intent with finding fault with anything Somerby says, despite the fact that you so completely misunderstand his purpose here.

    2. Somerby pretends to be a liberal while spouting the conservative talking points of each day and defending scoundrels.

      I think it is you who misunderstands his purpose here.

    3. What is Somerby's point about the gaps?

      Does he really think the gap must be addressed to the exclusion of anything else (such as desegregation of special schools)?

      Does he think reporters are uninterested in children's education? Does he even know how journalism works? For example, does he know the difference between sociology and current events?

    4. The point of integrating the so-called best schools is to enable kids in the remaining schools to have a chance to attend them.

      Huh? NYC kids of all races and from all schools are already able to attend these special schools.

  2. I find this line interesting

    "a real pathway out of the working class for many families"

    So the unstated point is

    1. it sucks to be working class in America
    2. it is unfair that a higher percentage of non-whites do not get the opportunity to escape the working class (and thereby have a decent life)

    Thus, we the compassionate liberals have already accepted the fact, I guess, that life for most people is gonna suck. We just want to make sure it sucks for the same percentage of whites as it does for non-whites.

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